Oak Ridge couple accused of murdering, dismembering woman, indicted by grand jury

An Anderson County Grand Jury indicted a couple accused of murdering a woman then dismembering her body.
2 suspects charged after woman's body found in Oak Ridge.
2 suspects charged after woman's body found in Oak Ridge.(Anderson County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Sean Finnegan and Rebecca Dishman, the couple accused of murder, rape and exploitation of a child, were formally indicted for murder by an Anderson County Grand Jury on June 1. The grand jury also returned an indictment for the rape and exploitation of a child.

The couple first faced first-degree murder charges in August of 2020 for the death of 36-year-old Jennifer Paxton. Investigators said Dishman and Finnegan lured Paxton into their home with the promise of giving her a place to stay and paid her $100 to participate in sexual relations with him and his girlfriend. Once Paxton entered the home, officials said she was held against her will.

Dishman said she witnessed Finnegan hitting Paxton over the head repeatedly with a baseball bat in the kitchen of the apartment. Dishman said she was instructed by Finnegan to clean up the blood. Finnegan then took Paxton up the stairs and took her into the bathroom where they cleaned her up. The couple allegedly took Paxton to their bedroom where she was chained to the bed by Finnegan. Dishman said Finnegan raped Paxton repeatedly. Dishman also revealed that she participated in the sexual assault.

Paxton was shackled with a dog collar, chained to the bed and had her arms bound with zip ties, according to court documents. The couple eventually murdered Paxton and dismembered her body, according to authorities.

Paxton was held for a period of three or four days, according to officials. Authorities said she was given food but restricted from leaving the room. Paxton was forced to use the bathroom in a bucket, investigators said. This is when her health began to deteriorate, so Dishman told investigators that Finnegan said if Paxton’s condition continued to worsen, they would have to make a decision about killing Paxton.

On the day of the murder, Sergeant Moore said Dishman admitted she and Finnegan unchained Paxton and took her to the bathroom where she was given a shower. Paxton was then taken back to the bedroom where she was instructed to lay face down before Finnegan took a shoestring and strangled Paxton to death, investigators said. Dishman said blood was coming from Paxton’s mouth and Finnegan forced her to watch the incident.

Police discovered Paxton’s body in the home in August of 2020 after the couple allegedly stored it in a freezer by breaking multiple ligaments and bones in order for it to fit. Finnegan later removed the victim’s frozen body from the freezer and hid it under his bed, investigators said.

Officers, initially, did not find the body when executing a search warrant. Moore said the home was extremely “tidy and neat,” but a blanket protruding from under the bed caught his attention. Moore said he pulled the blanket from under the bed and discovered a wet trash bag and Paxton’s dismembered body completely nude. In a closet downstairs, Moore located chains, padlocks and duck tape.

In May, Finnegan and Dishman were also charged with two counts of Aggravated Rape of a Child and 18 counts of Especially Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor following an investigation by the Oak Ridge Police Department, officials with the District Attorney General’s Office said. Aggravated Rape of a Child applies when the victim is eight-years-old or younger, officials said.

Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark said the death penalty would be considered this fall.

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