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Body of missing Flagstaff woman found; husband admits to killing her as part of plea deal

The investigation into the disappearance of Kelly Padukowski ended Friday after her husband cooperated with police in discovering her body as part of a plea agreement.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Flagstaff police and the Coconino County Attorney's Office announced that Kelly Padukowski's body was discovered that morning, but declined to say where the body was found, citing the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors confirmed that her husband, Daniel Padukowski, provided information that led to where he disposed of his wife's body, as well as her cell phone, car keys and the alleged murder weapon. He agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, attempted concealment of a body and possession of a controlled substance.

Daniel Padukowski faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. He must serve the entire sentence as part of a plea agreement.

He was initially taken into custody on Tuesday on charges of aggravated assault and possession and use of dangerous drugs, and has been held in the Coconino County Detention Center since then.

The arrests were made after data from Kelly Padukowski's cellphone placed the device in the Schultz Creek Trail area Sunday morning, and Daniel Padukowski was seen there a short time later.

The cellphone was returned to the couple's Coconino Estates home just after noon. Kelly Padukowski's car was found at the Campbell Mesa trailhead, and security camera footage showed her husband there at the same time.

Police say Padukowski made false statements and attempted to mislead investigators in the search for his missing wife.

The initial report, released Friday afternoon, also detailed how officers found bloodstains outside the Padukowskis' home. Neighbors also told detectives they heard screams coming from the home on Sunday. Investigators found other items in a trash can placed on the street for collection, including clothing that appeared to belong to Kelly Padukowski, a camera in its case and a large amount of unused, untied string.

Police also found Daniel Padukowski's fingernails had been cut “extremely short,” and he had two “cuts/healing cuts or abrasions” on the palm of his left hand and a “small cut” on the back of his right hand, according to the report.

Flagstaff police said they have notified Kelly Padukowski's family and asked for privacy.

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