OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ The body of man missing for seven months was found buried Tuesday near a doghouse in his back yard, and authorities charged his girlfriend with manslaughter.

Gerald M. Heck, 44, was found after investigators received a tip to look in the yard. His brother had filed a missing person's report in December, but told police he hadn't been Heck since July.

``I had to end the suffering,'' said Maryann E. Kratzsch, 31, who was charged Tuesday with manslaughter and using a deadly weapon in a felony. ``I might have gone about it in the wrong way, but in the end I had to protect me and my children.''

Ms. Kratzsch never reported Heck's disappearance to police, but last July accused Heck of beating her. He was charged with assault.

The couple had dated for several years and lived together with their two children and Ms. Kratzsch's 11-year-old daughter.

Neighbor Terry Slatinsky said he noted Heck's absence at the house several months ago and asked Ms. Kratzsch about it.

``She said, `He's gone. I got rid of him,''' Slatinsky said.