A St. Paul man admitted Tuesday that he discovered an intruder in his garage, fatally crushed his skull, then wrapped the body in plastic and left it to decompose for weeks before police discovered it.

John M. Erickson, 50, confessed to killing Allan "Buddy" Bishara Aguilar in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday while pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Before Aguilar went missing, Erickson's garage at 607 Lawson Avenue East was the neighborhood gathering ground where friends would often come over and drink. Erickson used to constantly have his garage door open, according to charges.

That was before Aguilar, 47, was last seen alive on June 13. After his disappearance, the garage door remained closed and Erickson didn't allow anyone inside.

Aguilar's friends grew suspicious of Erickson's changed behavior and recalled Erickson had allegedly threatened to shoot Aguilar.

A witness spoke with Erickson in his backyard three days before Aguilar's body was found, and noticed flies and a strong odor. Erickson asked the witness to help him with a few chores as both entered the garage. The witness told police they recognized the smell since Erickson had previously worked at a slaughterhouse.

Friends of Aguilar forced their way into the garage and found the decomposing body concealed by plastic bedding and under debris. Authorities arrived to recover the body on July 14 and took Erickson into custody.

After Erickson asked for someone to take care of his dog, he allegedly told investigators that Aguilar and another neighbor, who frequently worked on cars with Erickson, had stolen half of his tools from his garage. One week after he confronted the neighbor and Aguilar, Erickson heard the noise from his garage.

According to Erickson, the intruder struck him with a bat, which sparked the struggle that led to Erickson grabbing part of a metal jack and striking the man four of five times to death. He only recognized the body next morning as Aguilar.

A medical examiner found Aguilar's skull was crushed by the blows.

Erickson had a stolen car in his garage and was conflicted on what to do. He told police he was hoping the maggots would take care of the body, according to the criminal complaint.

Erickson will be sentenced on April 9.

Trevor Squire is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.