Fort Worth

Man Accused of Killing 3, Burning Bodies in Dumpster, to Face Death Penalty

Suspected killer tells investigators he was called to commit sacrifices

charred grass
Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office says they'll pursue the death penalty for a man accused of killing three people and burning their bodies in a dumpster.

Thornburg, 41, was arrested in September and charged with capital murder in the deaths of 42-year-old David Lueras, 34-year-old Lauren Phillips and 33-year-old Maricruz Mathis, whose dismembered bodies were found burning in a dumpster in Fort Worth on Sept. 22, 2021.

"The decision on whether or not to seek the death penalty is a crucial decision this office makes," Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said. "The death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst criminals. It is only fitting that we seek the death penalty in this case."

Police said Thornburg confessed to all three killings and also faces an additional charge of murder and arson related to the death of 61-year-old Mark Jewell on May 21, 2021.

He told officers that he had in-depth knowledge of the Bible and believed he was being called to "commit sacrifices," according to the arrest warrant.

Thornburg, officials said, also said he sacrificed a girlfriend in Arizona. Tanya Begay, a Navajo woman from Gallup, New Mexico, went missing after taking a trip to Arizona with Thornburg in 2017.

Jason Alan Thornburg
NBC 5 News
Jason Alan Thornburg, mugshot, inset.

In March, Thornburg was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, assault with intent to commit murder and assault resulting in serious bodily injury in the March 2017 slaying in the Navajo Nation of a person listed as T.T.B., according to an indictment filed in U.S. district court for the District of Arizona.

Thornburg remained jailed in Fort Worth on bonds totaling $1.2 million for charges of murder and capital murder of multiple persons.

Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Kim D'Avignon and Jim Hudson are prosecuting this case.

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