Texas authorities find a body, a human ear in a pot and a hunk of flesh at the kitchen table

Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Smith Co.,Texas Sheriff's deputies and crime scene investigators responded to the scene of a homicide Saturday in Tyler, Texas. A man killed his girlfriend, then filleted and cooked parts of her body before calling police to tell them what he was doing, authorities said Sunday. (HERB NYGREN ~ Tyler Morning Telegraph)

TYLER, Texas -- A man who told a 911 operator he killed his girlfriend and cooked parts of her body later described his actions as being compelled by God, police said Monday.

Christopher Lee McCuin, 25, made his initial court appearance Monday on a capital murder charge. He was arrested Saturday after police said they found an ear boiling in a pot on a stovetop and a hunk of flesh impaled on a fork on a plate at the kitchen table at his mother's house in this town about 110 miles east of Dallas.

McCuin, wearing a jail-issue red jumpsuit, was not asked to enter a plea as he appeared before state District Judge Jack Skeen Jr., who continued McCuin's bond at $2 million and appointed an attorney to represent him.

Skeen also sealed the arrest and search warrant affidavits and issued a gag order in the case.

Authorities said it is unclear whether McCuin consumed any part of the woman's body. McCuin told investigators that God made him kill 21-year-old Jana Shearer, Smith County sheriff's Lt. Larry Wiginton said.

"When he said God told him to do it, one of the investigators looked at him and just said, 'What did you say?"' Wiginton told the Tyler Morning-Telegraph on Monday.

McCuin is also the suspect in the stabbing early Saturday of a man described as his estranged wife's boyfriend, authorities said.

Sheriff J.B. Smith said McCuin was known to authorities and had "a history of violence," including assaulting his estranged wife, his girlfriend and his sister.

McCuin has a criminal record that includes driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges. When he was arrested, McCuin had an outstanding felony retaliation warrant.

Officials believe the horrific chain of events began when Shearer was taken by McCuin from her home late Friday night and killed.

Smith said McCuin then drove to his estranged wife's home, where he stabbed William Veasley, 42. His condition was unavailable Monday night.

McCuin was still at his estranged wife's home when deputies arrived, but he jumped into his car and escaped after a short chase, Smith said. "We did not know at the time that he had murdered anyone," the sheriff said. "We thought it was a disturbance or an assault."

McCuin wasn't seen again until Saturday morning, when he arrived at the home he shared with his mother and called her into the garage so she could "come see what he had done," Smith said.

His mother and her boyfriend saw the remains of Shearer, authorities said. McCuin's mother and her boyfriend fled the home and flagged down a police officer. McCuin dialed 911 after they left and told an emergency dispatcher he had killed Shearer and was boiling her body parts, Smith said.

Shearer appeared to have died of blunt trauma to the head, Smith said. She may have been kidnapped Friday night, when her mother saw her get into McCuin's truck.

"You can't sleep. You can't think straight anymore," said Amy Gage, a friend and neighbor of Shearer. "Then you just keep finding out more and more. It's the most difficult thing anyone can go through."

Gage said McCuin and Shearer had been dating only a few months. She remembered McCuin as an unflappably happy friend who had a knack for making her neighbors laugh.

"We really want to focus on her being a person who loved life, and not what happened to her," Gage said. "It was such a tragedy. We have to try to focus on the fact that Jana was a good person."

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