A 27-year-old Batavia man has pleaded guilty in Genesee County Court to killing a woman whose body was hidden under a motel room floor for almost two years.
Joseph A. Schlum killed Pamela J. Smith, then 19, around 1987 and hid her body in the crawl space of the Friendly Motel in Batavia.
He hit Miss Smith with a rock, then strangled her with a piece of cord, police said.
Schlum pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of second-degree murder and assault. He faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison, but court officials said he pleaded guilty on the condition he receive a sentence of no more than 17 years to life. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 17.
At the time of his arrest in 1989, Schlum told police he murdered Miss Smith two to three years earlier and showed them where he hid the body. He had taken up the floorboards in his room and dragged the body down three rooms, then crawled back through the floor into his own room.
Schlum made his confession after being picked up on an unrelated complaint from his girlfriend that he threatened to harm his 5-year-old son and her 5-week-old baby. During questioning, he startled investigators when he mentioned the murder.
"He basically spontaneously said, 'Let me tell you about a murder,' " Genesee County District Attorney Robert Noonan said after Schlum's arrest. "It was totally out of the blue."