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Update: Owens charged with Zebb Quinn’s murder

Those of you who follow this blog may remember the case of Zebb Quinn, the teenager who went missing from Asheville, North Carolina on January 2, 2000.

Finally, seventeen years later, there is a break in the case. Robert Jason Owens, a friend who acted strangely after Quinn’s disappearance, and who was suspected by many, was charged with Quinn’s first-degree murder yesterday. Owens is already serving a life sentence for the murders of Food Network star Cristie Schoen Codd, her husband J.T. Codd, and their unborn child. Police found the Codds’ remains in Owens’ wood stove in 2015. Quinn’s body has never been recovered.

“This indictment is the result of years of investigative work and persistence by detectives of the Asheville Police Department, as well as ongoing partnerships with members of the Quinn family and the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office,” the Asheville Police Department said in a tweet yesterday.

Of all the cases I’ve covered on this blog, this is the only one that has had any kind of closure, sad as that closure is. I hope this indictment gives Quinn’s family some peace. With all the evidence, along with the fact Owens pled guilty to three other murders, there’s little doubt he’ll be found guilty for Quinn’s as well.

But the biggest question is yet to be answered. Assuming he is guilty, why did Owens kill his friend? His actions after Quinn disappeared, while not the smartest, didn’t suggest a psychotic break or a heat-of-passion killing. What on earth was the motive?

Sadly, we’ll probably never know.

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31 Comments

  1. Maybe Quinn knew what he’d done or what he planned to do?

    Reply
    • JH

      Owens killed Quinn (supposing he is indeed guilty) long before he murdered the family. But there is a possibility Quinn knew something else Owens wanted to keep quiet.

      Reply
  2. For me, it’s always a question of wanting to know “why” someone does something – in writing and in life. We can usually find those answers in story but not so much in real life.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s why I love to read the accounts of FBI profilers so much, especially John Douglas. That’s as close to the “why” as we’re ever going to get.

      Reply
  3. I’m glad there is some sort of closure no matter how empty it might feel for the people left behind. The sad thing is this person has no soul and I could easily see him say he killed his friend to see what it felt like. I have heard some killers say this and they actually got off on it and felt powerful..sick as it may be. It’s gross but one has to get into the mind of the killer and this person sounds like he loved the power he felt when he killed.

    Reply
    • JH

      Could be, Birgit. I’m just glad they finally charged him. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for the friends and family, long suspecting he was guilty but not having any justice for Zebb.

      At least he was behind bars for another conviction and not strolling the streets. Small mercies.

      Reply
  4. Ugh…second time trying to write this. I hope the family does find some kind of closure even though it won’t take away their grief. As for this soulless bastard, he could have killed his friend to just know what it feels like to kill. Ten to one, he felt some sort of power of his victims and he may have killed even more people that we have no idea about

    Reply
    • JH

      Hey Birgit,

      I’m not sure what’s going on, since both of your comments posted fine, but my host is running an old PHP version, so I’ve contacted them to update it, in the hopes it will resolve the problem. Please bear with me1

      Reply
  5. That is the big question. Hopefully the family can get some closure.

    Reply
    • JH

      This is definitely a step in the right direction, if nothing else.

      Reply
  6. The murder if the Food Network star, her husband, and unborn child is horrifying. And the fact he out their remains in as wood stove…even more sick.

    Alex’s guess is my guess.

    Reply
    • JH

      It is truly horrifying. I feel for all of his victims and their families.

      Reply
  7. At least they have him. Maybe they can pry a why out of him.

    Reply
    • JH

      I hope so. How honest it would be is another thing. Perhaps Owens himself doesn’t even know.

      Reply
  8. Maybe your blog about the Quinn mystery encouraged some people to open or follow up on the case again!? There was good reason to suspect Owens. It is good to find closure and I hope, with you, that the family can find some peace with it. Maybe Owens will reveal his intentions during the trial…

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh, how I’d love for that to be true! More than anything, it’s my greatest wish to help solve one of these cases. But in this particular situation, I think the police always knew Owens was the guilty party. They just had to keep investigating until they had enough evidence.

      Reply
  9. Psychopaths usually have a reason for their actions, but it isn’t necessarily something ordinary people would understand. At least the family has some closure, no matter how incomplete.

    Reply
    • JH

      True on both counts, Lee.

      Reply
  10. Madeleine makes a good point – often we never know why people do the horrible things they do in real life. I’m glad there’s some closure to this case and hope it does bring the family a little bit of peace.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Ellen. Me too.

      Reply
  11. Crazy. Hopefully, since he’s already in prison and admitted to the others, he will ultimately reveal what happened in this case as well.

    Reply
    • JH

      I really hope so, in order that the family can get a little more closure. Still, I’m not sure any explanation will be good enough to rationalize his behaviour.

      Reply
  12. For all we know it was a curiosity thing. Could he actually murder someone? And if yes, could he get away with it?

    Reply
    • JH

      If so, what a sad, senseless death.

      Reply
  13. Often there is no way of predicting whether someone will become a murderer, or even a mass-murderer.

    Reply
    • JH

      There are always signs, if you know what to look for.

      Reply
  14. It does give some degree of comfort to know that the guilty will be punished. But it’s never enough, is it? I’m always left with the question, “How can any human being commit such atrocities?”

    Reply
    • JH

      The why always haunts me.

      Reply
  15. Hi I’m from England and just watched this case on disappearances, I completely believe this horrid vile monster so called friend killed him for his money as he knew he was out that day looking for cars, I could be wrong but that may have been his motivation for murder of zebb, such a sad story my heart goes out to zebbs family xxx

    Reply
  16. I just found this blog today, and I’m glad i did. I’m one of those people who’s mind just can’t stop wondering,so I’m always glad to find followups. I may have missed it, but did they find his body, or they are just charging him on circumstantial evidence, being the last seen and the other murders makes it more likely?

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome, Angela! I’m so glad you enjoy it–hopefully we’ll see you back here soon.

      Police did find some remains believed to be Zebb’s at the scene of the Food Network couple’s murder, so I suspect the forensic testing confirmed that suspicion, leading to Owens’ arrest.

      Reply

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