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A homeless man will serve a life sentence for the murder of a Vancouver woman whose body was dumped at city hall last year.

Tracey Ann Guthrie walked away from treatment at Vancouver General Hospital in January 2006 and two days later her body was found underneath bushes at city hall after an anonymous caller phoned 911.

Vancouver police announced Friday that Steve Vezina pleaded guilty to her murder and has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.

"It is very unusual for a suspect to plead guilty to first-degree murder," said deputy Chief Constable Doug LePard, the head of the police's investigation division.

Mr. Vezina, 28, was arrested in Calgary in March 2006 and his DNA linked him to the crime.

Police say he confessed to the murder and also walked investigators through a simulation of how he killed the 39-year-old woman.

He had been convicted of violent crime in the past, police said, and was known to law enforcement.

"We can put the last year and a half behind us and have closure," said Ms. Guthrie's younger sister Robyn Brandow.

"We are lucky in a sense that we don't have to go through the agonizing details of the trial."

Ms. Guthrie had been in hospital for tuberculosis when she walked out wearing only hospital clothes and socks on Jan. 28, 2006.

Later that night, police received a 9-1-1 call from a man with a French accent reporting an assault on a woman near city hall.

The call was made from a pay phone but the caller did not stay on the line long enough for police to get further details about his identity.

The tape was released Friday and on it, the man can be heard directing police to the park area.

Responding to the call, police checked the grounds of city hall but saw nothing.

Ms. Guthrie's body was found two days later.

Police launched a massive search for the caller and even went as far as posting a huge billboard in both French and English at a busy intersection appealing to the public for help.

Thirty investigators worked the case, which was the city's first homicide in 2006.

Ms. Guthrie was known to police, having lived on the streets and in city shelters during the 1990s. She'd been living in a Surrey, B.C., apartment when she was admitted to the hospital.

She told her family two days before she disappeared that she wasn't planning on staying at the hospital much longer.

Ms. Brandow said she would describe her sister as a very outgoing and beautiful person.

"She had a big heart. She would help anybody in need," Ms. Brandow said.

"We had a very good childhood and she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She did not deserve this."

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