A North Carolina man pleaded guilty to killing a pregnant Food Network chef and her husband this week. According to the New York Daily News, Robert Jason Owens, 37, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of dismembering remains in a March 2015 murder. He is accused of the mutilation and wood stove burning of expectant "Food Network Star" contestant Cristie Schoen Codd, 38, and her husband, Joseph (JT) Codd, 45.
According to the report, Owens claimed he accidentally ran over the couple while they were helping him with car troubles. Owens burned their bodies to avoid manslaughter charges, he told police. Authorities said Owens then tried to stage a hoax robbery involving the couple and he pawned the family's belongings. Owens worked as a contractor for the Codds. His attorney claimed he was "heavily impaired" on prescription medication for a mental illness at the time.
Owen’s neighbor became suspicious when he saw him putting "unusually large" trash bags in a dumpster outside his home.
District Attorney Todd Williams called the murder "among the most disturbing killings in Buncombe County history," in a CBS report. "What we do know is that through both a solid investigation and a competent interrogation by law enforcement, Jason Owens confessed to being responsible for killing the Codds and further admitted to dismembering and burning their physical remains in his wood stove."
Owens accepted a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, according to the report. He was sentenced between 59.5 and 74.5 years.
"We can only hope that he suffers for the remainder of his life on Earth and again as he rots in hell," relatives of Cristie Schoen Codd told the Citizen-Times in a statement.
[Photo of couple courtesy of Facebook]
[Mugshot courtesty of Buncombe County Sheriff's Office]