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Haunted by memories, Jersey man confesses to murder after 23 years

A New Jersey man who admitted to murdering a teenager 23 years ago said he turned himself over to police because the guilt has haunted him and made his life "a living hell."

Steven Goff on Monday confessed to police that he stabbed 15-year-old Frederick Hart on May 7, 1990 in Galloway, N. J., according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office.  

The boy's body was not found until December of 1991, and was so badly decomposed that it was unclear what the cause of death was.

In a phone interview from jail with Atlantic City' NBC40.net, Goff said he made the admission because the memory made life "a living hell."

"I wasn't worried about getting caught. I had no chance of getting caught from this crime, whatsoever. I was away scot–free but you know, that doesn't mean that it was away in my mind," he said.

But it may have been more than just guilt.

Alan Rickel, a friend close to Goff, told the Associated Press that the confessed killer would be haunted by a vision of the dead boy's mother. 

"He couldn't bear it anymore," Rickel told The Associated Press. "He told me he had nightmares. He'd go to sleep and see the kid's mother staring in his face."

Rickel said he knew his friend had psychological problems and thought he was in need of medication. He helped Goff return to New Jersey from northern Michigan, where the troubled man had been contemplating a run for the Canadian border. But soon after Goff returned to the Garden State, Rickel got a call from Galloway Township police saying his friend had admitted to the killing.

In a court appearance on Monday to be presented with charged against him, Goff told the judge, "I did the crime" and said he wanted to expedite the judicial process.  

But Judge Michael A. Donio cut Goff off during the unprovoked confession, warning "anything you say here today can be used against you."

As the judge read back the details of the crime, Goff wept.

Goff, who was 18 at the time of the killing, is charged with murder and unlawful possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He is being held on $1 million bail.

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