ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A couple is heading to prison after pleading guilty to killing an Arlington man, stuffing his body in a refrigerator, and dumping it in Ellis County in 2011.
Thomas Dunham, 45, and Erin Williams, 40, each pled guilty Monday to murder in the slaying of Jerry Vern Roberts. In exchange for their pleas, Dunham was sentenced to 45 years in prison, while Williams received 30 years.
Roberts was reported missing by loved ones in May 2011 after his Arlington homes was found in disarray. His refrigerator was missing, the kitchen was flooded, and the front and back windows were covered with sheets. Police also discovered a large blood stain on the seat of Roberts’ favorite chair.
Williams, who had been staying with Roberts, was quickly identified by police as a person of interest in the case.
Surveillance footage obtained by police showed Williams using Roberts’ debit card at a convenience store. Police later watched video of Dunham, William’s boyfriend, pawning a power-drill that belonged to Roberts. Subsequent surveillance footage showed Dunham driving Roberts’ truck in Shreveport.
The two, who were still in possession of the truck, were located and arrested at a homeless shelter in Colorado.
Text messages on the suspects’ phones revealed that the couple had sadomasochistic interests and had planned Roberts’ murder for more than a week.
On July 4, a father and son discovered the body while in search of buried treasure at an old, abandoned house in Ellis County. The body, still in the fridge, was badly decomposed and required DNA analyses to confirm Roberts’ identity.
“This was a horrendous and violent murder,” said Assistant District Attorney Taylor Ferguson. “Dunham and Williams were a dangerous duo and anyone who crossed their path was a potential victim.”
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