ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Authorities have charged a North Carolina man with first-degree murder in the deaths of a former contestant from the TV show “Food Network Star,” her husband and their unborn child.
Robert Jason Owens is being held without bond in the deaths of Cristie Schoen Codd, 38, and Joseph “J.T.” Codd, 45, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported Wednesday.
Cristie Codd was originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, and had worked as a movie-set caterer. She was a contestant on “Food Network Star” during its eighth season.
Owens, 36, did odd jobs for the couple at their home in the small mountain community of Leicester, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said. They were reported missing by family members on Sunday, after their cherished dogs were found alone in the house.
Investigators wouldn’t disclose where or when the couple’s bodies were found, though search warrants in the case said they may have been killed Thursday.
A phone message seeking comment from Owens’ court-appointed lawyer, Assistant Capital Defender M. Victoria Jayne, was not returned.
In addition to the murder counts, Owens is charged with breaking and entering and larceny. According to investigators, Owens broke into the Codds’ home, stealing a laptop, jewelry and a Glock handgun.
Sheriff Duncan told the newspaper that Owens was the “primary suspect” 15 years ago in the disappearance of college student Zebb Quinn, whose body was never found.
The case, which remains open, is one of the region’s best-known unsolved crimes and was featured on the Investigation Discovery Channel show “Disappeared” in 2012.
Quinn vanished on the night of Jan. 2, 2000. A student at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Quinn had gotten off work at the Hendersonville Road Walmart at 9 p.m. He planned to go look at a car for sale with a co-worker – Owens, who was 21 at the time.
Surveillance video recovered from a convenience store video showed Quinn and Owens buying sodas and driving away. It was the last time anyone is known to have seen the teen alive.
A judge later issued a search warrant authorizing officers to draw hair, blood and saliva samples from Owens.
But with no body, police never had the evidence to charge Owens in Quinn’s disappearance, the newspaper reported.