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Regina Butler is a suspect in the 2013 death of Stanley Jacobson.

SAN JOSE -- A woman accused of killing and concealing the body of a San Jose man has a nearly three-decade litany of criminal convictions covering prostitution, theft and assault, and actually pleaded guilty to a theft charge during the time the victim lay buried in house clutter, undetected for a month.

Regina Louise Butler, 46, was arraigned in a San Jose courtroom Monday but did not enter a plea, and is scheduled to return to court March 25 with an attorney from the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender.

Butler is facing a murder charge in the killing of Stanley Jacobson, a 69-year-old San Jose man and resident of the Hilltop Manor retirement community. He was found stabbed to death in his apartment Thursday, after being hidden for a month underneath a pile of bedding.

The discovery was surprising in that police, relatives and neighbors did not notice the presence of Jacobson's body within what police described as the clutter of his apartment. When he was reported missing Feb. 18 -- about two weeks after his last sighting -- relatives told police that Jacobson might have been experiencing the onset of dementia.

Butler appeared in court Feb. 13 to plead guilty to a theft charge, a week after Jacobson was last heard from and when police now believe he was killed. Court records show she has 14 criminal convictions going back to 1986, several involving loitering with intent to commit prostitution, along with theft, forgery, drug possession, auto theft and assault with a deadly weapon. Five of those convictions were handed down in jury trials.

When police publicized Jacobson's disappearance, they noted he might be with Butler, with whom he had recently become romantically involved, according to neighbors at Hilltop Manor. In the weeks leading up to his death, the man the community knew as "The Magician" -- thanks to his deft magic tricks and handcuff-escape acts -- had become more reclusive and withdrawn as he spent more time with the woman now accused of killing him.

An alert neighbor spotted Butler on the grounds Thursday and contacted Jacobson's granddaughter, who engaged Butler long enough to allow police to arrive. During her efforts to keep Butler around, she uncovered her grandfather's body. Police claimed the amount of bedding and rubbish concealing Jacobson was enough to mask the odor of decomposition.

Clad in the red Santa Clara County Jail jumpsuit reserved for murder defendants, Butler stood stoic during the brief Monday arraignment before being led back to custody, where she is being held without bail.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.