The round-trip winter cruise to the sunny Bahamas would have been a welcome break from their home in Kansas and the frigid January weather.

Longtime couple Eric Duane Newman and Tamara Tucker boarded the Carnival Elation ship from a Jacksonville, Fla., port on Jan. 18, 2018. Their early weekend would begin in a cabin room on the 13th deck of the 15-deck ship. It would also end there.

Before midnight, Newman, 55, got into an argument with Tucker inside their cabin. Around 12:15 a.m., he attacked and strangled her, the Justice Department said.

In the attack, he pushed her over the cabin-room balcony railing and watched as she fell to the 11th deck, authorities said.

Tucker died Jan. 19 from blunt-force trauma to the head. It was two days after her 50th birthday, according to her obituary. The ship was 30 nautical miles from New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

The loss of Tucker was felt by those who knew and loved her.

Her son, Missouri-based real estate agent Jordan Tucker, posted an old photo on Facebook days after her death of himself as a child sitting on his mother’s lap. Friends and family members wrote him messages of support.

Jordan Tucker declined an interview with The Washington Post.

According to the obituary, Tamara Tucker was a professor at Park University for 10 years. Before that, she was a program director with the Child Abuse Prevention Association. She was remembered as the family historian, loving music of all genres and “painting while listening to Dolly Parton.” Her long red hair was donated to Locks of Love.

Newman was arrested in connection with Tucker’s slaying nearly eight months after her death. He initially pleaded not guilty, but on Thursday he changed his plea to guilty of one count of murder in the second degree, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Before his indictment, Newman had memorialized Tucker and their relationship on his Facebook account, painting himself as a grieving man who missed the woman he loved.

He pined over her for months online, posting pictures of her with captions about how she was the “love of my life” and how much he wished he could hold her close.

Friends commented. They were sorry for his loss and expressed pain for his grief.

On Feb. 14 of last year, he posted a picture of himself lovingly looking at her as she smiled into the camera. His gaze was locked on her. “I remember this Valentine’s,” he wrote, just weeks after her death. “Wish we could go back [in] time.”

His days were becoming more difficult without her, he wrote in July 2018 on an image of him grinning as Tucker rested her head on his shoulder. Relatives and well-wishers encouraged him to keep his chin up and to take it one day at a time.

Subsequent posts showed Newman, who is also a grandfather, spending time with his grandchildren on family outings to hibachi restaurants and the Kansas City Zoo. But Tucker missed the arrival of her most recent grandchild, a baby boy born in September.

Newman is scheduled for sentencing on March 18.

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