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Adrian Thomas sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Pewaukee woman Joanne Curley

Posted at 8:56 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 21:56:37-05

WAUKESHA COUNTY — A man is sentenced to life in prison for killing his neighbor last winter.

Joanne Curley's family was emotional as they sat in a Waukesha County court Thursday.

They sat just feet away from Adrian Thomas, 27, the man who strangled Curley to death in her own home.

Before Curley's death, Thomas had been staying at her place without her knowledge. Curley came home from work one night and found Thomas in her condo.

Thomas went to great lengths to hide Curley's body in her basement. He used Curley's credit cards, had friends come over to party, and had sex in her bed as Curley laid hidden.

"There's nothing that can explain what you did, other than perhaps pure evil. Maybe worse," said Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow.

"My sister Joanne was a hard-working, loving woman who was just trying to mind her own business and get through this life the only way she knew how. She worked as many jobs as she needed to make ends meet. She raised three amazing sons who grew into incredible young men. She had three grandchildren that she adored," Maureen Langenberg said in court. Langenberg is Curley's sister.

"I don't have the words to describe the anger, the sadness, and the helplessness," said Raymond Gallenberg, Curley's son.

Thomas claims he does not remember what happened.

However, prosecutors revealed in court that Thomas bragged about killing Curley to other inmates while he was in jail. Thomas told them it took him 13 minutes to strangle her.

"That sent chills down my spine. I'm sure chills down the spine of everyone here. In that 13 minutes, we know she struggled. We know she was a fighter," said Dorow.

Thomas initially planned to speak at the sentencing but changed his mind.

"Nothing I can say can help what I've done so I'd rather go without a statement," Thomas told the courtroom.

Thomas has two felonies on his record and a history of committing domestic violence in Arizona and Wisconsin. As part of his life sentence, he will have no chance at extended supervision.

Curley was a mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt. She loved her fuschia Harley Davidson and helping rescue animals.

Both sides declined to comment following the sentencing.