With Monday’s announcement by 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark that his office will seek the death penalty against the man and woman charged in the death of a 36-year-old woman, more details are starting to come out.
As first reported by our partners at WBIR-TV, the medical examiner’s report of the autopsy performed on 36-year-old Jennifer Paxton showed that her cause of death was strangulation.
53-year-old Sean Finnegan and 23-year-old Rebecca Dishman are facing a host of charges including first-degree murder in Paxton’s death, which authorities have said they believe occurred sometime around Christmas of 2019. Paxton’s body was not found until the following August.
According to WBIR, Dishman allegedly told one of her neighbors that she and Finnegan had a body in the freezer in their apartment and that the neighbor had told the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, who passed the information along to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and Oak Ridge Police Department.
According to the TV station, the medical examiner found multiple wounds on Paxton’s body, the vast majority of which appeared to have occurred postmortem, most likely when the couple tried to hide the body. Following Paxton’s murder, the couple is accused of cutting off body parts and breaking ligaments and bones in order to put Paxton’s body into a stand-up freezer. Investigators say that when Finnegan knew there would be an investigation, he moved the body from the freezer and hid it under his bed, allegedly cleaning the inside of the freezer to remove evidence.
The body was frozen when authorities got to the house enclosed in two trash bags, according to the medical examiner’s report.
A status hearing is scheduled for March 4th in Anderson County Criminal Court, but no trial date has been set at this time. The case will be heard by Knox County Judge Steve Sword after Criminal Court Judge Ryan Spitzer recused himself due to his prior involvement in the case as a prosecutor before his appointment to the bench by Governor Bill Lee.
Both Finnegan and Dishman have been in custody at the Anderson County Jail since their arrests in August of 2020.