MARENGO, Iowa — A jury has convicted an Iowa man of first-degree murder in the 2000 disappearance of his fiancee even though her body has never been found.

Jurors returned the verdict Wednesday against Tait Purk in the death of Cora Okonski, a 23-year-old waitress and mother of a young child. Purk will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Purk has told police that Okonski left their Tama home to walk to the store and never returned. His defense argued there’s no evidence she’s dead.

But prosecutors noted that there’s been no trace of her, and argued Purk killed and buried her body. One inmate who served time with Purk testified that he confessed.

Purk had been serving time on unrelated federal charges but was due to be released soon.