Investigators think they discovered human remains on the North Carolina property of a man who was charged with murder in connection with a missing pregnant Food Network star and her husband, police said Friday.
Robert Jason Owens, 36, of Leicester, in western North Carolina, was charged Monday with two counts of felony first-degree murder and felony murder of an unborn child in connection with the deaths of Cristie Schoen Codd, 38, and Joseph T. Codd, 45.
Investigators wouldn’t say at the time whether the victims’ bodies had been discovered, and still couldn’t say for sure Friday. But Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said during a news conference that a search of Owens’ property Monday turned up what police "believe" could be human remains in a wood stove. The possible remains are undergoing forensic analysis, Duncan said, but he wouldn’t say whether they were burned.
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Duncan said Owens admitted to police that he had stored and destroyed the bodies on his property, but didn’t admit to killing the couple, who he worked for as a handy man. The suspect’s wife, however, told investigators that he had admitted to her that he struck and killed Joseph (JT) Codd with his truck. Police have declined to say whether they have determined a motive.
In a further complication of the investigation, a fire broke out on Owen’s property Friday morning, Duncan said during the news conference. Duncan said he didn’t know if the fire was connected to the case, but an arson investigator had been called because the blaze "sure does raise a lot of questions."
Owens is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony murder of an unborn child. If Owens is convicted, he could face life without parole or the death penalty, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said Friday.
The Codds were married in September, and Cristie Codd was five months pregnant at the time of her death. Under her maiden name of Schoen, Cristie Codd, was a finalist on season 8 of the Food Network’s cooking competition “Food Network Star.” She was also a chef and caterer on set of several major Hollywood movies.
J.T. Codd was a stage technician in Hollywood. His friend, Meg Miller, told NBC News Friday that she has been left unsatisfied and confused by the information police are releasing about the murder of the couple. "The bottom line is they are gone. I'm looking for closure that does not exist," she said. "The horrific acts of one man have forever changed those who love the Codds."
— Elisha Fieldstadt