Note: This story contains graphic content. Reader discretion is advised.
Bond was set at $1 million on Friday for Rebecca Elizabeth Dishman, one of two Oak Ridge defendants charged with first-degree murder, sex crimes, and kidnapping after a 36-year-old woman was allegedly tortured, raped, and strangled, and her mutilated body was stuffed into a freezer.
The identity of the victim, Jennifer Gail Paxton, hadn’t initially been released because authorities wanted to ensure that family members had been notified of her death. On Friday night, the City of Oak Ridge said Paxton’s family had been notified.
Dishman, 22, one of the two defendants, has been charged with five felonies after Paxton’s death: first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Her co-defendant, Sean Finnegan, 52, has also been charged with five felonies: first-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Finnegan could have his bond set Monday, according to records in Anderson County General Sessions Court.
Dishman reported no income or assets other than a car on Friday, and she was appointed a defense attorney, Paul Sexton. On an affidavit, she said she or her family would be able to post bond, although it’s not clear if that was before her bond was set at $1 million. She is to wear a GPS monitor if she is released on bond, according to an order signed by Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Don A. Layton.
Finnegan reported no income or assets on Friday, and he will be appointed a public defender, according to court records.
His indigency affidavit said he and his family will not be able to post bond. Like Dishman, his bond is expected to include the condition of wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet, according to court records.
Finnegan and Dishman both have court dates set for 9 a.m. August 18 in Anderson County General Sessions Court.
Both remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton around lunchtime Saturday.
Arrest warrants filed for Finnegan and Dishman said they lured Paxton to a home on East Fairview Road in Oak Ridge with the promise of a place to stay.
But once at the home, Paxton became the victim of a series of gruesome crimes, according to the warrants, which were filed by Oak Ridge Police Department Sergeant Marvell Moore.
Paxton was chained to a bed and shackled with a dog collar, said the warrants, which were filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge. She was struck on the head and an arm with a baseball bat so she wouldn’t resist or try to escape the attacks, and her arms were bound with zip ties, the warrants said.
Once she was incapacitated, Finnegan and Dishman repeatedly raped her before strangling her, causing her to die, the warrants said.
Paxton was deprived of food and medical care, the warrants said.
After she was killed, Finnegan and Dishman cut off body parts and broke ligaments and bones in order to put her body into a stand-up freezer, the warrants said. Moore called the mistreatment of the corpse “shocking and offensive.”
When Finnegan knew there would be an investigation, he moved the frozen decomposing body from the freezer and hid it under his bed, the warrants said. He allegedly cleaned the inside of the freezer to remove evidence.
Dishman, meanwhile, used “bleach and a swiffer” to clean up blood and other bodily fluids from the living room floors and bedroom floor, and she used bleach and the bathroom shower to clean the victim’s body of evidence, the warrants said.
The warrants said both Finnegan and Dishman admitted to their crimes after being read their Miranda rights.
It’s not clear when most of the alleged crimes occurred. The affidavits said they occurred on or after December 23, 2019.
The Oak Ridge Police Department responded to the home on East Fairview Road for a report of a possible homicide Wednesday evening. Working through the night with the Seventh Judicial District Attorney General’s Office, investigating officers were able to identify the two defendants, the City of Oak Ridge said Thursday morning.
At 4:26 a.m. Thursday, a search warrant was served at the home with help from ORPD SWAT and members of the Seventh Judicial District Crime Task Force.
Paxton’s body was found during the search of the home.
Anyone with information that may help investigators is asked to call ORPD at (865) 425-4399. Crime tips can also be submitted online at http://oakridgetn.gov/department/ORPD/Home. Information can be given anonymously.