newsCrime

Man accused of dismembering 3 in Fort Worth says he killed 2 more, according to police

Jason Alan Thornburg, 41, was arrested Monday on a charge of capital murder of multiple persons, and he claims he also killed an Arizona woman, authorities allege.

Updated 3:15 p.m.: Revised with additional details throughout.

A man who dismembered and burned three bodies in a Fort Worth trash bin last week says he did it because he thought he had been called to commit sacrifices, authorities say.

The suspect, Jason Alan Thornburg, is also being investigated in connection with two more deaths, including one out of state, Fort Worth police said Tuesday.

Thornburg, 41, was arrested Monday and charged with capital murder of multiple persons in connection with the bodies found burning last week in Fort Worth. His bail was set at $1 million. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

Just after 6:15 a.m. Sept. 22, Fort Worth firefighters found the dismembered bodies when they responded to a call about the fire in a large trash bin in the 3100 block of Bonnie Drive.

Authorities identified one of the victims, 42-year-old David Lueras, through a large tattoo on his back, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The other two victims have not yet been publicly identified. Police initially said one victim was a child but reported Tuesday that the person was a woman.

Investigators said Thornburg also admitted to killing another man in Fort Worth in May and told detectives he killed his girlfriend in Arizona.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members and loved ones affected by this tragedy,” Fort Worth police Chief Neil Noakes said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the first responders who showed up on scene that day and the investigators who investigated this. It’s not something anyone should ever have to see. But they did their jobs and did it well.”

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, surveillance video showed a man in a dark SUV pull up next to the trash bin about 11 p.m. Sept. 21 and make several trips to and from the vehicle.

The man appeared to empty the contents of several tubs into the trash bin, put the tubs back in his trunk and drive away. Just before 1 a.m., he returned and made more trips from his SUV to the trash bin. He then started a fire and drove away, according to the affidavit.

Detectives determined that the SUV in the video was a black Jeep Cherokee made between 2005 and 2010 with chrome accents and rims and a roof rack, the affidavit said. They used a list of more than 7,000 similar vehicles in Tarrant and Dallas counties and found one that matched the SUV in the surveillance videos.

The vehicle was registered to Thornburg, who was previously investigated for the suspicious death of his roommate May 21 in the 4500 block of Valentine Street, near Hulen Street and Chisholm Trail Parkway, the affidavit said.

A gas explosion occurred in their home “minutes” after Thornburg left for work and the medical examiner was unable to determine the victim’s cause of death because of the blast, according to the affidavit.

Investigators contacted the lien holder for Thornburg’s vehicle and used a GPS device on it to track it to Arlington, the affidavit said.

Using data from the GPS device, detectives found that the SUV was often at Mid City Inn in the 1400 block of West Euless Boulevard in Euless. Detectives learned Thornburg had been renting a room there since July 28, according to the affidavit.

Surveillance video from the motel on the night of the fire showed a man leaving Thornburg’s room about 10:30 p.m. after loading several large containers into a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the affidavit said. He returned to the motel around 12:30 a.m. and drove away with another load of containers and was seen again about 1:30 a.m. taking containers out of the trunk and back into the motel.

“The time frame involved in those trips would coincide with the time it would take to leave from Euless, Texas, and get to the offense location in Fort Worth on Bonnie Drive,” homicide Sgt. Joe Loughman said Tuesday.

Detectives spoke with someone who lives in a room above the one Thornburg was renting who said they had seen a man, who they identified as Lueras, and a woman staying recently in Thornburg’s room, according to the affidavit.

Police found Thornburg on Monday evening, and when they interviewed him, he told them he had a detailed knowledge of the Bible and believed he was being called to perform sacrifices, the affidavit said.

He told investigators that Lueras had shown up at his motel room and stayed with him about five days before the bodies were discovered, according to the affidavit. He said that he believed Lueras needed to be sacrificed and that he cut his throat and dismembered him in the bathtub in his room.

A box for a knife matching the one he said he used was found in the motel room, the affidavit said. Thornburg said he stored Lueras’ remains in trash bags before getting plastic tubs.

Two days later a woman came to his motel room and he killed her as a similar “sacrifice,” he said. Two days after that, another woman came to his room, and he said he initially tried to stab her but ended up strangling her before he also dismembered her in the bathtub, the affidavit said.

Police did not provide details about how Thornburg knew the three victims.

When police asked Thornburg about his roommate’s death in May, he told them he performed a similar “sacrifice” by cutting the man’s throat and then uncapped a natural-gas line and lit a candle in the room. Police had found an uncapped gas line and a candle after the explosion, the affidavit said.

Police said they also expect to charge Thornburg for his roommate’s death.

“He gave intimate information that only someone involved in the crime could know,” Loughman said.

He also told investigators he had “sacrificed” his girlfriend in Arizona, according to the affidavit. She had been reported missing, according to the affidavit, but it was unclear when her disappearance was reported or when she died.

Loughman said the department has been in contact with authorities in Arizona about the girlfriend’s death.

Investigators are also reviewing unsolved homicides to determine whether Thornburg may be connected to any, and Loughman said other jurisdictions have begun reaching out to the department about possible connections.

“I’m hoping this gets out nationally ... and if there are any investigations ongoing in other jurisdictions that they will reach out to us,” he said.

Catherine Marfin, Breaking News Reporter. Catherine covers breaking news at The Dallas Morning News. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied journalism and public relations. While at UT, Catherine served as managing editor of The Daily Texan, UT's student paper, and interned at the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle.

catherine.marfin@dallasnews.com @catherinemarfin
Crime in The News

Crime in The News

Stay up-to-date with the crime and public safety news your neighbors are talking about.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy