Pair face five criminal felony charges in death, torture of 36-year-old woman
Bond for two Oak Ridge residents facing five felony criminal counts, including first- degree murder, has been set at $1 million each.
Sean Finnegan, 52, and his 22-year-old girlfriend, Rebecca Elizabeth Dishman, went before Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Layton Friday, Aug. 7, and Monday, Aug,10, respectively. They are each facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with the strangulation death of 36-year-old Jennifer Gail Paxton, described in court documents as a “homeless” woman.
Dishman appeared Friday. She has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Court records show she was given a court-appointed attorney.
On Monday. Finnegan was also given a $1 million bond and appointed an attorney by the court. He faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Both are scheduled to appear in Anderson County General Sessions Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18.
The couple is alleged to have offered Paxton a place to stay in December 2019. The pair allegedly restrained the woman with zip ties, put a dog collar on her, raped her repeatedly and beat her in the upper torso and head with a baseball bat before eventually strangling her.
Court documents said the couple denied Paxton medical care and food during her ordeal before killing her.
They are alleged to then have cut off pieces of her corpse, then breaking bones in her body in order to store her body in a stand-up freezer in their home. Paxton’s body was alleged to have been moved at least once from the freezer and hidden under Finnegan’s bed while the couple allegedly tried to clean up the scene of the crime.
The arrest warrant was filed by Oak Ridge Police Department Sergeant Marvell Moore.
It was not made clear what brought Oak Ridge Police officers to the home of Finnegan and Dishman on East Fairview Road in Oak Ridge other than “investigating a report of a possible homicide” last Wednesday evening. By around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, arrest warrants for the pair were issued and they were taken into custody.
Assisting in the investigation and the arrest of Finnegan and Dishman were members of the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Oak Ridge Police Department SWAT team.
Paxton was offered a place to stay by the defendants in December 2019, affidavits said, and the alleged kidnapping, rape, torture, and death of Paxton happened “on or about” Dec. 23, 2019.
The warrants said both Finnegan and Dishman admitted to their crimes after being read their Miranda rights.
It’s not clear when the alleged crimes occurred. The affidavits said they occurred on or after Dec. 23, 2019.
Should either of the defendants make bail, Judge Layton issued an order that they must wear monitoring devices on their ankles until court proceedings are completed.