A man pleaded no contest on Friday and was sentenced to 45 years in prison in the 2018 stabbing death of Deena Zimmerman.

Sean Dowis, a former correctional officer, was scheduled to go to trial on the second-degree murder charge this week.

According to a statement from State Attorney Glenn Hess’ office, an investigation conducted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Zimmerman was employed as a nurse at GEO, a privately operated prison in Graceville.

When she failed to show for work on Memorial Day in 2018, Zimmerman’s supervisor called her mother to inquire about Zimmerman’s absence. This led to a missing person investigation that quickly turned into a murder investigation.

Two days later, Zimmerman’s body was recovered from a shallow grave in a remote area of Sunny Hills.

Officials say that Dowis was Zimmerman’s boyfriend and originally denied any knowledge of Zimmerman’s whereabouts, but during a recorded interview with Sheriff Kevin Crews, made several incriminating statements that led to his arrest.

Both Sean and Greg Dowis, his brother, were arrested on May 31 in connection to Zimmerman’s death, according to information from the sheriff’s office.

Greg Dowis remains held in the Washington County Jail awaiting sentencing.

“This is a case that we will never forget,” the sheriff said in a news release. “Ms. Zimmerman’s family is unforgettably loving and supportive, this should have never happened.”

The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

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