Food Network Murder Suspect 'Primary Person of Interest' in Student's Cold Case Death

Robert Jason Owens is accused of killing a pregnant TV chef and her husband.

March 20, 2015, 8:36 AM

— -- The North Carolina man charged in connection with the apparent deaths of a pregnant TV chef, her unborn child and husband is also the main person of interest in a 15-year-old cold case, police say.

In the new case, Cristie and Joseph “J.T.” Codd were reported missing Sunday. Robert Jason Owens, 37, a Leicester neighbor whom the family often hired to do work on their home, faces three counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bond, although authorities have not definitively identified the bodies that they believe are the Codds.

He is also charged with breaking and entering and larceny, accused of stealing a laptop, jewelry and a handgun from the couple’s home, said police, who have scheduled a briefing for later today. Owens has not entered a plea.

A phone message seeking comment from Owens' court-appointed lawyer, Assistant Capital Defender M. Victoria Jayne, was not returned.

Cristie Schoen, as she was known in 2012 before she married, was a contestant on the Food Network’s cooking competition, “Food Network Star.”

Friends and business partners say the Codds were kind and forgiving people, so gracious they didn’t hesitate to hire Owens to work around their house, despite his history.

Police say Owens is the primary person of interest in the 2000 disappearance of 18-year-old college student Zebb Quinn.

“Owens was a friend of Zebb Quinn," Ashville Police Sgt. Dave Romick said. “He was a person of interest almost immediately. Over the course of 15 years, he has become the primary person of interest.”

Owens has never been charged in that case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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