Jason Thornburg Kills Multiple People as Sacrifice

Jason Thornburg, 41, was arrested for killing and dismembering three people. He had been a person of interest in the death of Mark Jewell, 61, and the disappearance of his girlfriend, Tanya Begay, who went missing in 2017.

On (approximately) September 17, 2021, Jason Thornburg killed and dismembered a man in his hotel room. The man, identified as David Lueras, had been staying with Thornburg for a few days before he was murdered. According to an arrest warrant, Thornburg sliced the man’s throat, dismembered him in the bathtub, and stored his body in trash bags before transferring them to “Rubbermaid” tubs.

Thornburg believed God was calling him to commit sacrifices and had through knowledge of the bible.

Two days later, a woman Thornburg was familiar with visited his hotel. Thornburg described her to the police to be “a very small Hispanic female”. He sliced the women’s throat, dismembered her, and stored the remains the same way- in “Rubbermaid” tubs. Thornburg also described this killing as a sacrifice.

Another two days later, Lauren Phillips visited. Thornburg’s hotel room. Thornburg told police that he “initially tried to stab her but ultimately had to strangle her” to death. He dismembered her and stored her in “Rubbermaid” tubs, as well.

On September 21, 2021, video surveillance picked up Thornburg leaving the Mid City Inn, which he had been staying in since July 28, 2021, wearing a fully body hazmat or painting jumpsuit. He can be seen loading his car with tubs and leaving the motel. The next time surveillance catches him, he can be seen pulling up next to a dumpster around 10:50pm. Thornburg made multiple trips to and from his car and the dumpster, emptying the contains of the tubs in the dumpster, and placed the tubs back into his car. The vehicle leaves the dumpster and returns at 12:50am. He placed one more unknown item into the dumpster, which he ignites a few moments later. Thornburg then drives away. Footage at the Mid City Inn shows Thornburg return at 1:28 am, exit his car, and being the tubs back in his room.

On September 22, 2021, around 6:17am, the Fort Worth Fire Department was called about a dumpster fire located at 3120 Bonnie Drive, Tarrant County, Texas. The firefights extinguished the fire and noticed the dismembered bodies. Homicide detectives were called.

Medical Investigators were able to determine that there were at least three bodies. The medical investigators told the lead detective that not all the remains were accounted for, but they could estimate the ages, originally believing a victim was a child. The first victim identified was David Lueras, 43, was identified through his tattoo and penis implant. Due to the severity of mutilation it took several weeks before both women could be identified. They were definitively identified as other two victims have been identified as Maricruz Reyes-Mathis, 33, and Lauren Philips, 34.

Investigators were able to identify Thornburg through his vehicle, a 2005-2010 black Jeep Cherokee with chrome rims. While going through Jeep Cherokees registered in the county, investigators identified one with a similar description that was registered in Thornburg’s name. Police used location data from a GPS that is fixed to Thornburg’s Jeep through his lien-holder company. They found it to frequent the Mid City Inn. Employees at the Mid City Inn confirmed that Thornburg was the only occupant listed for the room.

Investigators were able to locate Thornburg, who was working a job as an electrician. Homicide detectives asked him to answer some questions, which he agreed to do. During this questioning, Thornburg did reveal to police that he did murder his victims because he believed they needed to be sacrificed.

During questioning, detectives asked Thornburg about the suspicious death of a man, Mark Jewell, that had happened earlier in 2021. Thornburg admitted to killing this man, stating he slit his throat, uncapped the gas line, and lit a candle. These details matched the crime scene. According to news reports, police suspected Thornburg of foul play, but did not have enough evidenced. The explosion did not allow medical investigators to determine a cause of death.

Detectives asked Thornburg if he had sacrificed anyone else, which he answered yes to. Thornburg has killed his girlfriend in Arizona. Tanya Begay, 36, went missing in 2017. She was last seen in New Mexico at her father’s house. Thornburg was arrested and brought for questioning, but he requested a lawyer. The interview ended, and no evidence was ever found. Tanya’s remains have not been located.

Detectives asked Thornburg if he had sacrificed anyone else, which he answered yes to. Thornburg has killed his girlfriend in Arizona. Tanya Begay, 36, went missing in 2017. She was last seen in New Mexico at her father’s house. Thornburg was arrested and brought for questioning, but he requested a lawyer. The interview ended, and no evidence was ever found. Tanya’s remains have not been located.

Investigators are looking to see if any cold cases may be linked to Thornburg. Investigators still consider Tanya to be missing. Thornburg is being held on $1,000,000 dollar bail in the Tarrant County Jail. A judge has ordered a mental health evaluation, stating “There is reasonable cause to believe [Thornburg] has a mental illness or is a person with an intellectual disability.” 

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