Bonney Lake man now admits he killed girlfriend

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. -- A Bonney Lake man now officially admits he killed his girlfriend and then tried to burn her body in a burn barrel.

Both are immigrants from Zimbabwe here to chase the American dream. But the victim's friends say Mary Mushapaidzi was attaining that dream when her life was cut short.

"Mary was a vibrant, happy person who loved her kids." said Mushapaidzi's friend Marsha Mutisi. "She wanted the best for her kids."

Mary arrived from Zimbabwe a decade ago and rose through the ranks of employees at Payless Shoe Source, finally becoming a manager at several stores.

"Every day, it doesn't matter if it was a bad day or a good day, as soon as you saw Mary it was a beautiful bright day," said friend Maureen Belmont. "She used to come to work with eight pieces of bread and butter -- literally eight pieces of bread and butter -- and I'd say, 'Mary what are you...' and she'd say, 'I want to save all my money and give it to my family. I'm so blessed to be here."

But all of that came to end on a cold night in October. Bonney Lake Police say an argument over dirty dishes turned deadly. Her boyfriend, Mthulisi Ndlovu took a pruning shears handle and beat her to death, then tried disposing of her remains in a burn barrel in their garage.

Friday, Ndlovu pleaded guilty to her murder. His family came from back East to be in court, while her family and friends sat in tears across the aisle.

"She's shining on us right now and I feel her presence and we'll miss her every day," Belmont said. "And we'll keep fighting for her and her children."

They'll be watching out for the couple's 2-year-old daughter and her 8-year old son, with their mother gone and their father heading to prison.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 24 and the standard range is anywhere between 12 and 20 years in prison.