Justin Todd Rey told a Johnson County judge Tuesday that he desperately wanted to keep his family together.
That’s why he didn’t seek medical help when his wife delivered their baby in a Kansas City hotel bath tub last fall.
And afterward, when she killed herself, Rey said, he didn’t call police.
Instead, he spent about eight hours hacking her body into pieces so he could take her corpse to Arizona along with his newborn and 2-year-old daughters.
“It’s something I had to do,” Rey testified Tuesday in Johnson County District Court. “My family is very dear to me. It’s something I had to do to protect my family.”
In an extremely unusual move, Rey testified during his preliminary hearing in Johnson County District Court, where he is charged with two counts of aggravated child endangerment and two counts of contributing to a child’s misconduct.
After the hearing, District Judge Brenda Cameron ruled that there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Rey, 36, is also charged in Jackson County with abandonment of a corpse.
Last October, Lenexa police discovered several containers full of body parts when they were called to a storage facility to investigate someone staying at the facility with two small children.
They spoke to Rey, who was holding the newborn girl and had his two-year-old with him. Officers said the older girl looked pale, had bags under her eyes and had thinning hair.
One officer testified Tuesday that the child “almost looked like she had cancer.”
The baby had a serious eye infection, according to the testimony of several witnesses.
Rey initially told police that his wife, Jessica Rey, was in Arizona. But he later said she committed suicide.
He said that when police stopped him, he was on his way to catch a train to Arizona, where he was taking his wife’s body for a proper ceremony.
The children were taken into protective custody and Rey was arrested.
Lenexa police detective Shannon Murphy testified that when she questioned Rey, he told her that his wife “had suicided.”
Rey said he didn’t call police because he feared that they would take the children away.
So, after having his children pose for photographs with their mother’s body, Rey said, he “skinned her like a fish,” according to Murphy’s testimony.
Body parts that would not fit in the containers Rey had were flushed down the toilet, Murphy said Rey told her.
Deputy Johnson County Coroner Charles Glenn testified that there were “a number” of stab and incise wounds on the parts of Jessica Rey’s body found in the containers.
But it was not possible to tell if the injuries were inflicted before or after she died.
After Assistant District Attorney Sarah Hill was done presenting the prosecution evidence, defense attorney Zane Todd said that Rey wanted to testify.
Criminal defendants rarely testify in such hearings, but Todd said Rey wanted to correct some of the testimony of other witnesses.
Rey said he and the children were not living in the storage locker, but had only been there for about 11 hours while getting ready to travel to Arizona.
He said they were fed and well taken care of.
“I didn’t endanger my children,” he testified. “My children were perfectly healthy.”
Rey also said he only flushed the placenta down the toilet and denied having disposed of his wife’s body parts that way.
“It was not fun for me,” he said.
After the hearing, Todd entered not guilty pleas on Rey’s behalf, and his trial was scheduled for Nov. 5.