A pregnant celebrity and her husband were murdered before their bodies were burned in a wood stove.
A talented chef first hit the headlines when she was a contestant in the eighth season of the US TV series Food Network Star. Her delicious cooking and tenacity made her memorable, despite her early elimination.
Former Food Network TV show contestant Cristie Schoen Codd, 38, and her husband, Joseph “JT” Codd, 45, were reported missing on March 14, 2015, reports WSPA.
A loved one had gone round to the house to check on them – their cars and dogs were still at the house, but it was obvious no one had been there for days. It was out of character for the couple to leave their dogs on their own for so long… so a search began.
A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to killing a married couple and their unborn child, then dismembering the bodies and burning them in a wood-burning stove.
Robert Jason Owens has confessed to killing the couple, reports CBS News.
Owens worked as a home contractor for the Codds, and became a suspect after a resident saw him placing large trash bags in a dumpster, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
A few days later, the couple’s dismembered bodies were found charred in a wood-burning stove on the suspect’s property, according to investigators.
When Robert was called in for questioning, his explanation was baffling. He said his truck had got stuck down a ditch and the couple had come to help. They’d been standing in front
of the vehicle when Robert accidently hit the gas pedal. After running over them, he
was scared of going to prison because of a previous driving conviction.
“Then I reversed back over them because I knew what I had done,” he said.
First, he took Joseph’s body to his home to dismember him with a reciprocating saw. Then he took pregnant Cristie to her house and cut her up in her shower. Afterwards, he’d placed the pieces in plastic bags before burning them in his wood stove.
To cover his tracks, Robert had staged a robbery at the Codd home by taking some of their things. He’d sold them at a flea market and a pawn shop. With some of the money he’d bought petrol and taken his wife out for dinner. He also sent messages from Cristie’s phone to family members saying she and Joseph were unwell.
“I’m not a bad guy. I didn’t mean to hurt them,” he said. “They were my friends.”
The Codds were known for their kindness. They had extended their friendship to Robert, but it certainly wasn’t returned with the same compassion.
Robert was charged with first-degree murder, but when faced with a possible death sentence, he made a plea deal. In April this year, Robert admitted three counts of second-degree murder and two of dismemberment. In return he was given a minimum of 60 years in prison (the plea agreement was in accordance with the wishes of the Codds’ family).