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Lofty Bond Is Set For Tennessee Man Accused Of Handcuffing And Stabbing His Girlfriend Before Shoving Her Into Suitcase

A medical examiner testified Friday that Jasmine Pace had been stabbed 60 times and handcuffed with her legs bound to her right wrist. Her boyfriend has since been charged. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A lofty $5 million bond has been set for a Tennessee man accused of handcuffing his girlfriend and stabbing her 60 times before stuffing her body into a suitcase.

The grisly new details in the case were revealed Friday at a bond hearing for Jason Chen, 22, who is accused of killing his 22-year-old girlfriend Jasmine Pace.

Pace disappeared late last month and was later found dead inside a trash bag stuffed into a suitcase and abandoned on Suck Creek Road, according to WDEF.

Dr. Stephen Cogswell, the chief medical deputy at the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office, testified Friday that Pace was discovered in handcuffs and had both ankles bound to her right wrist, WRCB reports.

She had been stabbed to death.

“Primarily, there’s a total of 60, that’s six-zero sharp force injuries,” he said. “That’s stab wounds and cuts in varying sizes.”

RELATED: Oregon Police Search For Man Suspected Of Killing His Girlfriend, Leaving Body In Portland Nature Park

Cogswell said he believed Pace was placed in the handcuffs — leaving only her left hand free — at some point during the brutal stabbing.

Investigators linked the killing to Chen after discovering a large amount of blood evidence — as well as glass fragments, cleaning supplies and some of Pace’s belongings — inside Chen’s apartment.

Detective Zack Crawford testified Friday that some of the blood stains were only visible to “a trained eye.”

Other blood evidence was later illuminated using a blood enhancer known as Bluestar, which showed evidence of blood in the living room carpet and wood floor, according to an affidavit obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A police handout of Jason Chen

Crawford said the blood evidence suggested Pace would not have been able to survive the injuries.

“I would say that it’s the largest amount that I’ve ever seen,” he testified.

Pace's family reported the 22-year-old missing on Nov. 27 after they were unable to reach her. During the investigation, Chen’s neighbors told Pace’s mother, Catrina Pace, and investigators that they had heard screaming coming from Chen’s apartment around 2 a.m. on Nov. 23, according to the affidavit.

Chen was later arrested at his parent's home in Nolensville, about two hours northwest of Chattanooga, on Nov. 29.

On Friday, District Attorney Coty Wamp argued that Chen belonged behind bars as the case against him proceeds, due to the savage nature of the crime and Chen’s parents’ connections to China, where they once lived.

“The fact that I have to say the word garbage bag and package when we’re dealing with a 23-year-old young woman who has friends who care about her is heinous,” she said, according to WDEF.

Defense attorney Josh Weiss, who is representing Chen, had argued for a $250,000 bond.

“The Tennessee constitution guarantees Mr. Chen not only a right to a bond, but a right to a reasonable and not excessive bond,” he argued, according to WRCB.

Chen’s mother, Shufang Chen, also took the stand to promise through an interpreter that if released on bond, she and her husband would bring her son to court each time.

She said she was afraid for her son’s safety while he remained behind bars and described him as being suicidal in calls he made from the jail.

“He’s telling me he’s very scared here,” she said.

Ultimately, the judge opted to institute a $5 million bond for Chen, who is facing charges of criminal homicide in Pace’s death. If Chen is able to pay bond, the judge said he'd be put on house arrest and have to forfeit his passport.

His next court hearing is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on February 16.

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