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Woman Killed Grandfather Who Was In Her Care, Hid Body In Tool Box In Trash Pit
After A.J. Harden's remains were discovered, Candy Jo Webb claimed she'd taken her grandfather to a retirement facility — but was unable to recall the name of the facility, raising police's suspicions.
She was entrusted with the care of her beloved but ailing grandfather. But when his skeleton was discovered in a toolbox in a Fort Sumner, New Mexico trash pit, Candy Jo Webb’s true relationship with the man who raised her was revealed.
“I snapped after I saw him dead,” the 27-year-old told police in Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen. “I really didn’t mean to do it. And I know it looks so malicious and just horrible. He’s my papaw. I didn’t want him to die. Was I relieved? I won’t lie, yeah.”
The skull of A.J. Harden was discovered in a toolbox in a trash pit on Oct. 15, 2020. Based on the decomposition of the body, police said Harden had been dead for some time. There was duct tape around his mouth and wrists. The only clue to his identity came from a doctor’s office card listing Harden’s next appointment.
Candy Job Webb's Relationship with Her Grandfather
As police dug into Harden’s past, they learned his wife, Virginia, had died in the spring of 2016. His daughter, Candy, was also deceased. He’d raised her children, Candy Jo Webb and Arron Harden, while their mother had substance abuse problems.
By 2019, Webb and her fiancé, Shawn Perkins, had broken up. She also began taking care of her grandfather, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and lived with him in his home — cooking and cleaning for him. Harden ultimately gave the deed to his home over to Webb.
“She did mention his health, and how it was declining,” Summer Huizar, Webb’s friend, told Snapped. “Candy didn’t know how much longer she was going to have with him.”
But some time between Webb taking care of her grandfather, and the discovery of his body in a trash pit, A.J. Harden had died.
Trash Pit Discovery
The people who were renting a home on the property with the trash pit told police they saw a white pick-up truck haul a trailer to the pit weeks before the discovery of the body. The trailer was left there with a flat tire.
“Was this the trailer that was used to haul out the tool chest?” Kenneth Villarreal, New Mexico state police investigator, told Snapped. “From the minute we saw the trailer it just looked like anything else. But at the same time, it was still out of place for us.”
The renters told police one of the people who knew about the trash pit and had used it before was Arron Harden, A.J. Harden’s grandson. Police discovered another connection when they realized the owner of the property was the mother of Shawn Perkins, Candy Jo Webb’s ex-fiancé. Webb and Perkins had lived together in the home on the same property as the trash pit previously.
Candy Jo Webb Caught in Nursing Home Lie
As police tried to pin down the whereabouts of Arron and discover what happened to A.J. Harden, they learned Candy had claimed A.J. had been put in a home.
“Candy texted me asking me would it be a bad idea for A.J. to go to a home,” Shawn Perkins, Webb’s ex-fiancé, told Snapped. “I told her that’s between you and him. So, I texted her one day, asking, did you send A.J. to a home, and she told me, ‘Yes, I did.’”
When officers questioned Webb about the whereabouts of her grandfather, she told police A.J. Harden was in hospice care about six hours away, and she hadn’t talked to him in a month. But she was unable to provide the name of the facility to police.
“So the fact that she doesn’t remember where she dropped him off? Big red flag. Big red flag,” Jerry Hernandez, New Mexico State police sergeant, told Snapped.
Webb also told police she had a no trespass order against her brother, Arron Harden, and insinuated he was “trouble.”
“She was worried about him taking advantage of A.J. and maybe even her,” Huizar said. “She was very protective of A.J. He was that parental figure that she never really got.”
A few days after she was first questioned, police again asked Webb for the name of the facility where she took her grandfather. She claimed one of her grandmother’s sisters checked him out of the facility and she couldn’t locate him. She named the facility as Shady Oaks Retirement Estate.
“Immediately after hanging up with Candy, I looked up Shady Oaks,” Villarreal said. “I could not find a Shady Oaks anywhere. So again that was another red flag for us.”
Candy Jo Webb's Brother and Her Ex Speak Out
Despite Webb pointing the finger at her brother, police said Webb was the primary suspect in A.J. Harden’s death Webb. When police finally got in contact Arron, he was under the impression his grandfather had passed away peacefully. But he painted a different picture about his relationship with his grandfather than Webb had to officers.
“Me and him were on good terms,” Arron Harden said on the phone to police in Snapped. “The best of terms we’ve always been on. We’ve never had no problems.”
Instead, Arron believed his sister took out a no trespass order against him because he’d discovered Webb had been writing “hot checks” from the account he shared with his grandfather. He believed his sister was trying to prevent him from telling his grandfather about the bad checks.
Police decided to speak to Webb’s new boyfriend, Garrett Beene. Beene told them when he asked Webb where her grandfather was, she told him “he passed” and had died in his sleep months earlier.
“I realized this was a lot more serious than I could have imagined, and I felt dumb at this point,” Beene told Snapped.
When Beene later met with police with his lawyer, he said he’d talked to Candy since his last interview with police, and she’d changed her story about what happened to her grandfather, painting it as a mercy killing.
“She told me that he asked her to do it,” Beene said. “She’d given him Xanax and Ambien and he had passed in his sleep.”
Beene also told police he now believed he’d been talking to Webb as she disposed of her grandfather’s body in mid-August, months before it was discovered. He provided important context to the trailer with a flat tire at the trash site.
“While she was disposing of trash, she had FaceTimed me because the tire had blown out on the trailer,” Beene said. “I told her to wait for me and I’ll help you, but she was very adamant about just getting it done right then.”
Candy Jo Webb's Arrest and Aftermath
On Oct. 28, 2020, police issued an arrest warrant for Candy Jo Webb. On Nov. 5, 2020, U.S. Marshals arrested her in Florida. When police questioned her, she once again changed her story about what happened to her grandfather.
“I’m sorry, it was an accident. Everything afterwards, that’s f-cked up what I did. But it was an accident,” Webb told police after her arrest. “He said his back was hurting him. I had a few Xanax and muscle relaxers, and I gave them to him, but it wasn’t — I didn’t drug him. And I didn’t give him that many.”
Webb insisted when she later checked on her grandfather, he wasn’t breathing.
“When I asked Candy why did she tape A.J.’s mouth and wrists, she told me because she didn’t want to look at his face when she was moving him,” Villarreal said. “And taping his hands was the easiest way to move A.J.”
Webb took a plea deal, putting her in prison for 18 years, with parole possible after 12 years.
"I think it was purposely done for monetary gain, because she has a new boyfriend. They’re going to have a bank full of money. A.J. Harden’s money,” said Hernandez.
Webb’s ex-fiancé, Shawn Perkins, doesn’t think 12 years in prison is enough punishment, and said A.J. Harden “deserved more than what he got.”
“I always thought it was a very sad deal,” said Andrea Reeb, prosecutor, to Snapped. “She was supposed to be taking care of him, yet she just got tired of him.”
Watch new episodes of Snapped on Oxygen Sundays at 6/5c and stream episodes here.