In 2015, there were 1.25 million violent crimes committed in the United States, and if this seems like a staggering and terrifying number to you, you’re not alone.
These crimes can happen at any time, often when you’d least expect it. Our story today is one that begins with a terrible crime in Texas, but that isn’t truly the start of the story. It actually began many years earlier, on a cold and empty road, one fateful winter’s night…
Air Force Kid
Cristie Schoen was born in Madrid, Spain. Her father, an officer in the U.S. Air Force, traveled a lot for his job. This of course meant that Cristie was able to see a good deal of the world growing up, but it also meant that she would struggle to find her ‘place’ whilst moving around so much. Still, her father was a constant in her life and it was because of his influence that she began to cook.
Food Network Star
Cristie and her family moved from state to state, living briefly in Mississippi, Texas, and of course, Louisiana. It was there that she learned to cook Cajun cuisine, which was Cristie and her father’s favorite. In 2012, she was even invited to compete in season 8 of the reality cooking contest “Food Network Star”. It was while living in Hollywood that she met JT Codd…
Like Cristie, who often catered for TV shows in the industry, JT Codd was a teamster of sorts who worked behind the scenes on TV and movie sets. The two met while working together on the television program “Without a Trace.” It was love at first sight and before long their budding relationship blossomed into something more.
Married with Children
In 2014, AJ and Cristie were married. Soon enough, Cristie became pregnant with their first child, a little girl who they’d decided to name Skylar. But Los Angeles was no place to raise a family and although they liked the film industry, both the Codds knew they had to find a quieter place to build their new life…
So the Codds picked up their lives in California and moved east to Leicester in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Before long they’d found new jobs, a new home, and were about 4 months away from welcoming little Skylar into the world. Sadly, neither AJ nor Cristie would live to see their daughter enter the world.
In March of 2014, AJ and Cristie’s families were facing a disconcerting reality. They had been trying to get in touch with the couple for days with no reply. It wasn’t like either of them to not respond to texts or calls. They immediately called the police, who came to the Codd home to investigate. Inside they found no sign of AJ or Cristie, nor any clue that would indicate where they might have gone…
At first glance, it appeared as if Cristie and AJ Codd had disappeared into thin air. There were no plane tickets anywhere, no packed suitcases, their cars were missing, as were some of their more valuable possessions. Perhaps it had been a robbery gone wrong? Yet, there were also no signs of a struggle in or around their South Carolina home. The mystery of their miraculous disappearance was only just beginning.
Alert the Community
Not long after completing their initial investigation, the police decided to ask the community for assistance. Alerts went out to all of Buncombe County, which eventually prompted a post on 48 Hours. The police and the media were asking for anyone with information on the Codd family to step forward. As it happened, there was a witness who might have had an idea what happened to them…
A few days after the Codd’s disappearance, a local man came forward saying that he’d seen one of his neighbors doing something suspicious on the night of their disappearance. That night, Robert Jason Owens had been seen hauling several large trash bags and placing them in a nearby dumpster.
Robert Jason Owens was a home contractor who had worked for the Codds when they were just moving into their new home. An unusual, if well-meaning individual, Owens had lived with depression for many years but was taking medication for it. Surely depression didn’t make Owens a killer though. Still, it was the only lead the police had…
The cops went to Owens’ property and it was there, in the wood stove, they found the dismembered remains of AJ and Cristie Cobb. According to the Buncombe County District Attorney, the crime scene was “among the most disturbing killings in Buncombe County history…Jason Owens had exclusive control of the crime scene for several days, and he had nearly completed the gruesome project of cremating his victims’ remains.”
They had Owens red-handed. Police didn’t have to interrogate him for long before he admitted to what he had done. He confessed to not only having killed the couple, but also dismembering their bodies and burning the physical remains in the wood stove on his property. Yet it wasn’t the fact that he’d killed them that was most interesting to the police, but the circumstances that led to it…
You see, on the day of the murders, Owens’ truck had gotten stuck in a ditch. The Cobbs, including five-months pregnant Cristie, had come to help him get it out and Owens, who had been on prescribed medication for his depression, accidentally ran them over. According to his lawyer, the medication was so potent that it had impaired both his driving ability and his judgement.
Owens had panicked. He was aware of what he had done and knew that if police found him, he would surely go to prison. With no other choice, he took the bodies to his home, dismembered them, and began to burn them. Next, he moved both of their cars and sold their personal belongings in a vain attempt to make it look like a robbery. Unfortunately for him, someone had seen him with the bags…
In the end, Robert Jason Owens pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of dismembering remains. Because he plead guilty, it meant he could not be served the death penalty. Instead, he will serve a minimum of 59 1/2 years and maximum of 74 1/2 years in prison: the rest of his natural life.
The Codd family, though glad that he will be punished for his crimes, has come out as saying that they don’t believe “any punishment that exists would be justification for what he did…hope that he suffers for the remainder of his life on Earth and again as he rots in hell.” It was only after his sentence for the Cobb couple’s murder that police began reinvestigating Owens’ connection to another crime: one that happened nearly 15 years before…
In January of 2000, Owens was out with his high school friend and fellow North Carolina native, Zebb Quinn. The two had met up after Quinn’s closing shift at Wal Mart in order to drive to the Mitsubishi dealership outside town so that Zebb could take a look at the new Eclipse model. Little did Zebb know, that night would change both of their lives.
Buying a Car
On the way to the dealership, the two stopped at a Citgo station on Hendersonville road so that Zebb could run to the payphone and make a call. According to Owens’ initial statement, Zebb was in a panic once he got off the phone and drove off frantically in the opposite direction. He was never seen again. Several days later, his car was found…
Because he was the last person to ever see Zebb Quinn alive, Owens was questioned by the police. They immediately believed that Owens had something to do with Zebb’s disappearance, but couldn’t prove it. As such, he was never charged. It wasn’t until his sentencing in 2015 for the murders of the Cobbs, that police decided to take another look at his involvement in the Quinn case.
Finally, after 17 years of difficult police work, one of the longest running murder mysteries in America’s history was finally solved. In July of 2017, Robert Jason Owens was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder for the death of Zebb Quinn. Though Owens has yet to be sentenced, and is already serving a life sentence for the murders of the Cobbs, it’s good to know that the Quinn family will have some answers at long last.