LINCOLN, Neb. — A man was sentenced Wednesday to 71 years to life in prison in the death of a Nebraska college student whose body has never been found.

Loved ones of Tyler Thomas hugged and cried after 38-year-old Joshua Keadle was sentenced for second-degree murder in the killing after a jury had found him guilty in February.

Thomas was 19 when she disappeared in December 2010 after the Omaha student left a party near Peru State College in southeastern Nebraska, where Keadle also was a student, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Kevin Semans, Thomas' father, made a statement before the sentence was read.

"Part of us died when she died," he said of his daughter, who was captain of the college's dance team. "Joshua Keadle does not deserve any leniency for what he has done. Not a shred."

With no body, the case went cold. But in 2016, the Nebraska attorney general's office took a new look at the case at the urging of Thomas' family. That led to the arrest of Keadle, who had been a person of interest in the disappearance and by then was serving time in prison for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in 2008 in Fremont, while Keadle was a college student there.

Keadle, who did not testify at his trial, initially told investigators he was not with Thomas on the night she disappeared. Later, he changed his story, saying that he had offered to give Thomas a ride to Omaha in exchange for a sex act. But he said she later reneged on the arrangement, and after an argument broke out, he left her behind at a Missouri River boat ramp near campus.

The sentencing hearing was delayed because of COVID-19 concerns. Keadle will be eligible for parole in 35 years.