KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Lonnie Vann agreed to plea guilty to murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated and especially aggravated kidnapping, and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 40 years.
Vann was charged with first degree murder and kidnapping in the case of Rhonda Daugherty.
Daugherty went missing from her home in LaFollette on December 2, 2014.
Investigators say Vann bought a Christmas tree bag and two light weight cinder blocks at Lowe's just before Daugherty went missing. At Sugar Hollow Marina, a receipt was found in a fishing boat that traced back to Vann. Residue from a cinder block was found in the boat also.
Daugherty's body has not been found, but investigators say they strongly suspect where the body is. They think it must be in Norris Lake, but the area is too deep and dense with tree trunks to recover a body.
Vann, a former LaFollette Middle School teacher, was also indicted on several charges in June following a TBI case that started in November 2013.
Investigators say Vann had allegedly taken a 13-year-old student off school property to a church. They say he hugged her and tried to kiss her, both without consent.
Charles Daugherty was listed as a witness to testify in that trial.
Prosecutors wouldn't comment on Vann's motive in the case. They also wouldn't say if Vann told them where to find Rhonda's body as a part of the plea deal.
Rhonda's mom Nancy Kitts says she's already forgiven Vann.
"I know that Rhonda would have. And I hope that he can find a way in his heart to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Because I know neither Rhonda nor I would want him to go to hell," she says.
Charles says he lays awake at night wondering why Vann did this to her, and wondering what he could have done to protect her.
"That's what makes this pain that my family and I experience even deeper, is that this beautiful woman in the prime of her life was simply discarded and disposed of, without even given a Christian burial," he says.