A Texas man already charged with killing, dismembering, and burning three people in a dumpster has been indicted for a fourth murder involving his former roommate. A Tarrant County grand jury on Friday returned an indictment against 41-year-old Jason Alan Thornburg for charges of murder and arson in the death of 61-year-old Mark Jewell, prosecutors announced.
According to a press release from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, both of the charges Thornburg is facing are first-degree felonies punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Thornburg in December 2021 was indicted on capital murder charges for allegedly killing 42-year-old David Lueras, 34-year-old Lauren Phillips, and 33-year-old Maricruz Mathis. Their dismembered bodies were found burning in a dumpster outside of an office building located in the 3100 block of Bonnie Drive in the early morning hours of Sept. 22, 2021.
Investigators with the Fort Worth Police Department were able to trace the dumpster fire back to Thornburg using surveillance footage that allegedly showed him pulling up next to the dumpster in a dark colored Jeep Grand Cherokee just hours before the fire. He then allegedly made “multiple trips” from the trunk to the dumpster, each time dumping the contents of a large container into the dumpster then returning it to his vehicle. He allegedly returned to the dumpster just after midnight on Sept. 22 and deposited the contents of several other large containers into the dumpster before setting it on fire and driving away.
Investigators linked the vehicle’s registration back to Thornburg and brought him in for questioning. Police said he voluntarily agreed to speak with detectives and allegedly confessed to murdering the three victims found in the dumpster, as well as Jewell.
According to a probable cause affidavit reviewed by Law&Crime, Thornburg told detectives investigating the triple homicide that he had “an in-depth knowledge of the Bible and believed he was being called on to commit sacrifices.” When asked if he had “sacrificed” anyone else, he allegedly said that he sacrificed Jewell, his former roommate, several months earlier, as well as his girlfriend in 2017.
“Thornburg said that he had sacrificed [Jewell] by slicing his throat,” the affidavit states. “He then uncapped the natural gas line and lit a candle in the room.”
The home shared by Jewell and Thornburg, located in the 4500 block of Valentine Street, exploded on May 21, 2021 just minutes after Thornburg left for work, Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA reported. Due to the state of Jewell’s body following the explosion, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office was initially unable to determine the manner of Jewell’s death.
Jewell’s cause of death was listed as “thermal and blast injuries,” per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. However, following Thornburg’s arrest the manner of death was reportedly amended to a homicide.
Sgt. Joe Loughman told the Star-Telegram that investigators’ suspicion of Thornburg in Jewell’s death helped them narrow down the list of possible vehicle owners responsible for setting fire to the dismembered bodies of Lueras, Phillips, and Mathis.
The girlfriend Thornburg allegedly killed was identified by family members as Tanya Begay from New Mexico, the Star-Telegram reported. Her body has not yet been recovered and Thornburg has not been charged in her death.
A Tarrant County magistrate judge in October reportedly ordered Thornburg to undergo a mental health evaluation, saying there was “reasonable cause to believe [Thornburg] has a mental illness or is a person with an intellectual disability.”
[image via Tarrant County Police Department]
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