An Army Staff Sergeant planning to surprise her father with news of an engagement instead learned he was murdered.

Police say the body of John R. Neff was discovered in the backyard of a home in the 5400 block of Sunbury Drive Monday night by a family which employed Neff as a maintenance man.

Neff's daughter Haley told 12News Neff did full time work renovating homes. He is described by family as a simple man with a big bright smile.

Haley Neff said she had a deal with her father he would trim up his hair and beard if and only if she was getting married.

Haley says the same day she returned from deployment in Afghanistan to surprise her dad that she was engaged he had been murdered.

"I don't want to come here and be angry or bitter. That won't fix anything. I want to hold my head high and I want to be proud (of her father)." Staff Sgt. Haley Neff said.

A police spokesperson said the man who murdered Neff, Samuel Thomas IV, admitted to the fatal stabbing.

Thomas' mother told 12News that her son suffers from mental illness.

Thomas remains in the Jefferson County Jail charged with murder.