TYLER, Texas – Friends and family of a 21-year-old who police say was killed and mutilated by her boyfriend tried to put aside the grisly details of her death.
"You can't sleep. You can't think straight anymore," said Amy Gage, a friend and neighbor of the victim, Jana Shearer. "Then you just keep finding out more and more. It's the most difficult thing anyone can go through."
Shearer's boyfriend, Christopher Lee McCuin, 25, was charged with capital murder after police said they found her body, an ear boiling in a pot on a stovetop, and a hunk of flesh with a fork in it on a plate at the crime scene.
McCuin, wearing a jail-issue red jumpsuit, was not asked to enter a plea as he appeared before state District Judge Jack Skeen Jr. on Monday. Skeen continued McCuin's bond at $2 million and appointed an attorney to represent him.
Authorities said McCuin's comments in a 911 call that alerted them to the hideous discovery led them to believe he may have intended to eat his girlfriend's remains, but said it is unclear whether McCuin consumed any part of her body.
Smith County Sheriff Lt. Larry Wiginton told the Tyler Morning-Telegraph that McCuin told investigators that God made him kill Shearer.
"When he said God told him to do it, one of the investigators looked at him and just said, 'What did you say?"' according to Wiginton.
The judge sealed the arrest and search warrant affidavits and issued a gag order in the case, which has shocked this East Texas town about 110 miles east of Dallas.
Gage said McCuin and Shearer had only been dating a few months. She remembered Shearer as an unflappably happy friend who had a knack for making her neighbors laugh.
"We really want to focus on her being a person who loved life, and not what happened to her," Gage said. "It was such a tragedy. We have to try to focus on the fact that Jana was a good person."
Officials believe Shearer was taken by McCuin from her home late Friday night and killed. Authorities said McCuin then drove to his estranged wife's home, where he stabbed William Veasley, 42. His condition was unavailable on Monday night.
McCuin was still at his estranged wife's home when deputies arrived, but he jumped into his car and escaped after a short chase, said Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith.
McCuin wasn't seen again until Saturday morning, when he arrived at the home he shared with his mother and called her into the garage so she could "come see what he had done," Smith said.
His mother and her boyfriend saw the remains of Shearer, authorities said. McCuin's mother and her boyfriend fled the home and flagged down a police officer. McCuin dialed 911 after they left and told an emergency dispatcher he had killed Shearer and was boiling her body parts, Smith said.