Jennifer Gail Paxton was offered a place to stay, but then she was chained to a bed and tortured before her death, authorities say

By Harriet Sokmensuer
August 10, 2020 05:32 PM
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A Tennessee couple is accused of kidnapping, torturing and sexually assaulting a woman before murdering her. They had initially offered her a place to stay, according to police.

Rebecca Elizabeth Dishman and Sean Finnegan were charged with the murder of Jennifer Gail Paxton after her body was found dismembered in a freezer on Aug. 6, according to Oak Ridge Today and WJHL.

Dishman, 22, and Finnegan, 52, have both been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Finnegan also faces aggravated rape and abuse of a corpse charges while Dishman faces aggravated sexual battery and tampering with evidence charges, WATE reports. 

Authorities responded to reports of a homicide at the Oak Ridge home Wednesday. During a search of the property, they found Paxton's body.

The couple is accused of luring Paxton to an Oak Ridge home in December 2019, promising her a safe place to stay. However, once she was there, authorities say the couple held Paxton against her will, torturing and sexually assaulting her before killing her.

Rebecca Elizabeth Dishman and Sean Finnegan
Anderson County Sheriff

According to arrest warrants filed by Oak Ridge police and reviewed by local press, Paxton was allegedly chained to a bed in the home and shackled with a dog collar, her arms bound with zip ties. Finnegan and Dishman allegedly used baseball bats to beat Paxton so she wouldn't resist or try to escape, and they also allegedly denied her medical care and food. They also allegedly raped Paxton before strangling her to death.

Finnegan and Dishman allegedly admitted to cutting off Paxton's body parts, breaking ligaments and bones to make her body fit into a freezer, according to the arrest warrants. Finnegan allegedly moved the body under his bed once he realized Paxton's death would be investigated.

In an attempt to hide evidence of the alleged murder, Dishman allegedly used “bleach and a Swiffer” in the living room, bedroom and bathroom to clean up the blood.

Finnegan and Dishman allegedly confessed to the crimes.

Neither of the defendants' attorneys could be reached for comment Monday.