A North Carolina man is accused of stashing a woman’s body in an old, unused church alongside a desolate stretch of road on Thanksgiving.
Jonathan Andrew Weeks, 44, is accused of abandoning Jessica Renee Blackwell’s corpse in the Golden Church of the Brethren outside of Bostic, North Carolina last Thursday, November 28, according to an arrest warrant obtained by Oxygen.com. He’s been charged with breaking and entering a place of worship and concealing or failing to report a death.
Police believe Blackwell died at Weeks' home earlier that day and that her corpse had been sitting in the church for up to 12 hours.
“She had not been there a long time,” lieutenant Jamie Keever told Oxygen.com. “Basically she passed away at Weeks' residence and he took her to the church and just placed her body there.”
The exact cause of Blackwell’s death is unknown. Foul play isn’t suspected at this time, pending autopsy results, Keever said, who noted it could take up to six months for a medical examiner’s report to come back.
“It is possible she had some medical issues that caused her death,” he said. “We do not think that he had anything to do with her death. There’s always a possibility [charges] could be upgraded. We’re still early in the investigation. We’re still doing interviews and trying to see what led up to her death.”
Keever, who is the lead investigator on the case, said the woman was a “bad diabetic” who had recently been released from the hospital days earlier.
Detectives weren’t ruling out the possibility that drugs were possibly involved in the woman’s death.
The police spokesperson suspected that Weeks frantically abandoned her body in a state of panic.
“Weeks just didn’t know what to do and just went and dumped her body,” he said.
The 44-year-old, who cooperated with investigators, also appeared “remorseful,” Keever said.
Nevertheless, authorities are flummoxed as to why Weeks chose to break into an isolated and archaic church to deposit Blackwell’s body. The small parish, which was reportedly built with dual entrances for men and women, is flanked by hiking trails as well as a cemetery, and is miles from any town. It has no known listed phone number and is rarely used, according to police.
“They only have service there once or twice a year,” Keever said. “I don’t know why he picked there. It’s better placing her in a church than just on the side of the road.”
However, Weeks is familiar with the area and “knew that church,” Keever said. According to his arrest warrant, Weeks is from Spindale, North Carolina, which is about 35 miles south of the Golden Church of the Brethren.
Initially, investigators were unable to identify Blackwell. Detectives unsuccessfully ran her fingerprints and later turned to social media on Friday afternoon to identify Blackwell, whose family quickly came forward after they recognized the 32-year-old’s tattoos.
“Her family happened to see the press release and started calling in,” Keever explained. “The mother called and said that was her daughter. They recognized the tattoos.”
Police said several tips also led them to Weeks, who was interviewed on Monday, and subsequently arrested on the following day.
Weeks appeared in court on Wednesday. His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 18. He’s being held on a $10,000 bond.
Martin Jarrard, Weeks’ court-appointed attorney, didn’t immediately return Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
Weeks has a past criminal history. He was convicted for filing a false police report in 2017 and was found guilty on drug charges in 2016, separate court documents obtained by Oxygen.com show.
He had also been charged with breaking and entering earlier this year but the case was tossed out after the state’s witness was incarcerated, according to the Rutherford County Clerk.
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