A South Carolina man sentenced himself to death before police even realized there'd been a murder, per authorities.
Joseph McKinnon, 60, died of a heart attack while burying the girlfriend he'd just strangled, investigators claim.
Just before 10 AM on Saturday, paramedics were called to a home in Tanglewood Drive after a man was found unresponsive in his backyard; the person who found him attempted chest compressions and called 911 until first responders arrived and took over, but he could not be revived.
Investigators determined he had been working in the garden, as evidenced by the freshly filled pit and shovel nearby, and had suffered a cardiac arrest just as he finished and had started to walk away.
There was no-one else at home; the victim's live-in girlfriend, 65-year-old Patricia Dent, was mysteriously nowhere to be found, having failed to turn up for work at Mount Vintage Golf Club earlier that day.
She wasn't responding to calls or texts, so her co-workers reached out to her twin sister, Pamela Briggs.
"She wanted to know if I knew where my sister was, and I said, 'No I have no idea,' and then it just started to play out from there," Briggs told Fox Carolina.
That's when police decided to take a closer look at that pit in the back yard -- and discovered Patricia's freshly buried body.
According to Edgefield County Sheriff's Office, she had been strangled to death by McKinnon inside the home they shared, before he dropped dead while burying her.
"I'm shocked. I didn't see any of that coming," her sister told the outlet.
"Everybody who ever met her liked her. She was just full of energy. She was 65 and working."
According to police, there had never been any callouts or any signs of trouble at the address previously.
"I would say a nightmare, and I want to wake up, and it's a dream. I know it’s not," Pamela added. "This is reality and life, and a big part of me is gone, and now I'm going to have to live with that."