D.J. Jarvis, 24, arrived at the Franklin County Courthouse ready to admit he killed his father earlier this year.
"It is very rare that we have someone missing for five months and nobody reported him missing," Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said.
For the first time, prosecutors outlined what happened to Dale Jarvis Sr., 48. They say back in February, he and his son got into an argument inside their Chateaugay home. It quickly turned violent.
"As Dale Jr. Was rising from being down on the ground in the residence, he saw essentially a broken piece of a sledgehammer and he went ahead and hit his father in the back of the head," Champagne said.
It is believed Dale Sr. died instantly. For the next several months, D.J. told people different stories about his dad disappearing in the middle of the night Feb. 21. It was even marked on a calendar police later seized as evidence. But it is now believed Dale's body was buried in a homemade coffin in a crawl space under the home. It wasn't until this summer, during a separate unrelated drug investigation, that police learned Dale was actually missing.
"The inference, given at the time of the initial conversation, was he was murdered," Champagne said.
Police immediately interviewed D.J. about what happened to his dad. They became suspicious of newly planted grass in the backyard, in the same area where neighbors saw him using a backhoe to dig a hole. Prosecutors believe D.J. moved his dad's body when the ground thawed. Investigators found Dale's body and some of his personal belongings buried in the backyard.
"I don't think he was in the ground for several weeks, if not a month or two," Champagne said.
Originally charged with murder, D.J. Jarvis pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge to save the family from the pain of going through a trial where they would see and hear the horrific details of what happened.
"Several of the family members said it was an accident," Champagne said.
D.J. Jarvis will be sentenced in November. He faces 5 to 25 years in prison.
Champagne says this is the quickest he has ever resolved a homicide case in his 15 years as a prosecutor. And he believes it's one of the fastest resolutions in state history.
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