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Long IslandCrime

Centereach man sentenced for strangling wife, hiding body

Joseph Jones, who is charged in the death

Joseph Jones, who is charged in the death of Nicole Tessa, 31, found Dec. 21, 2010, near their North Patchogue home, appears in court in Riverhead, March 7, 2016, where he was charged with second-degree murder. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A Centereach property manager treated his wife “like an animal” when he strangled her and buried her in the woods more than six years ago, the woman’s father said in court Wednesday.

Jack Tessa addressed Joseph Jones, 34, shortly before Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. sentenced Jones to 18 1⁄2 years in prison for killing Nicole Tessa, 31, on Dec. 17, 2010.

When Jones pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter, he admitted strangling and bashing his wife’s head in during an argument near their Patchogue home.

“I don’t understand why you did this,” Tessa said. “She was the mother of your only son. She loved you, for some reason.”

Yet Jones, during an argument over the pain pills they were both addicted to, killed her and buried her under twigs and sticks, Assistant District Attorney Peter Timmons said in Riverhead.

“You buried her in the dirt like an animal,” Tessa said. “I’ve treated my pets better than that.”

Nicole Tessa’s younger sister, Danielle Cotty of Hauppauge, told Toomey she didn’t believe the punishment was tough enough. She wondered how Jones could lie about what he did for so many years.

Outside court, Jack Tessa said the family’s pain has been compounded by the fact that Nicole’s twin sister, Jennifer Tessa Travis, died in March.

“She never got her life together,” the women’s father said. “This [Nicole’s killing] had tortured her.”

Jones said nothing in court.

“It’s a true tragedy whan a family gets torn apart due in large part to drug abuse,” said his attorney, George Duncan of Central Islip. His client had been stealing pain pills prescribed to Tessa and selling them, prosecutors have said.

Duncan said the opioid epidemic is out of control. “Something’s got to be done to stop this,” he said.

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