A former Marine from Fairfax County was sentenced to life in prison Friday for strangling his wife and dumping her body into the Occoquan River shortly after she dropped a domestic-abuse charge against him in 2013.

Caleb Crew, 27, of the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, entered a guilty plea to a charge of first-degree murder in October for killing 31-year-old Andrea Crew, the mother of his two young children.

Thomas Walsh, Caleb Crew’s attorney, said at an earlier hearing that the couple had fought as they were leaving the Fairfax County Courthouse on Aug. 7, 2013, after Andrea Crew agreed not to go forward with the abuse case.

Chief Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Casey Lingan said Crew feared that his wife might call authorities again, so when the pair stopped at a credit union on the way home, he dragged her into the back of his Jeep. He strangled her with one hand. When that hand became tired, he used both hands but was interrupted by two people passing the vehicle, Lingan said.

Crew then stuffed part of a suit coat into his wife’s mouth and cinched the tie he wore to court around her neck, telling her, “Goodbye,” Lingan said.

Caleb Crew (Courtesy of Fairfax County Police Department)

Crew then drove to a wooded area and dumped his wife’s body. She still had a faint pulse, Lingan said.

Crew returned to the body that night after putting his then-4-year-old and 11-month-old children to bed. Lingan said Crew attached to his wife’s body a backpack filled with weights and chunks of rock, drove to a bridge and dumped the body into the Occoquan River.

He called police the next day and reported that his wife had disappeared after arguing with him. A fisherman discovered Andrea Crew’s body days later.

Crew’s story eventually unraveled, and he gave a detailed confession to detectives.

Lingan called Crew’s actions “pure evil.”

“Evil visited Andrea Crew in the form of her husband,” Lingan said. “Evil that manifested itself in a man that was able to look his wife in the eye and then choke the life out of her body.”

Walsh said that the couple’s relationship had been strained and that Caleb Crew had been having difficulties at work. He said Crew had “remorse” for what he had done. Relatives suggested that Caleb Crew may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, but Lingan rejected that idea.

Andrea Crew’s family members traveled from her native Colombia to witness the sentencing. Dozens filled the benches in the courtroom, and several of them testified. Among them was Andrea Crew’s oldest sister, who is caring for the two children in Colombia.

Jeimmy Arias Pineda testified that her sister was religious, an excellent student when she was younger and wanted to be a model to her children. Arias Pineda said that that role now fell to her and that she would devote herself to it.

She testified that Andrea and Caleb Crew’s younger child, Bethany, kisses pictures of her mother and her older sister, Bella, and prays for her mom.

“She knows her mom is in heaven,” Arias Pineda testified through a translator. “She’s a little angel. She prays at night. She prays that one day she will be with [her mother]. She asks God to protect her.”