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Zebb Quinn, two decades later a confession changes everything

The Zebb Quinn case is a mystery solved over a decade later. The young man disappeared after leaving work in the year 2000.

Zebb Wayne Quinn was born on May 12, 1981. He was 18 years old when he mysteriously disappeared after a shift at a local Walmart. The case took place in the year 2000 in Asheville, North Carolina, USA.

Zebb and his coworker, Robert Jason Owens, decided to meet up after work to discuss the purchase of a car on the night of his disappearance. The young man apparently followed Owens in his vehicle but soon after got involved in a car accident. When the police arrived at the scene, Zebb was no longer there.

Witnesses claimed to have seen Zebb and Owens arguing in a parking lot before Zebb followed Owens in his own vehicle.

Last phone contact

Before his disappearance, Zebb made a phone call to his mother from a payphone. During the call, he seemed agitated and mentioned that there had been an emergency and he needed to leave. However, Zebb never disclosed the specific nature of the emergency.

Shortly after the call to his mother, Zebb made a call to a girl named Misty Taylor. During the conversation, Zebb told Misty to meet him at a specific location. When Misty arrived there, she did not find Zebb but saw his car parked with the headlights on and a damaged bumper.

Mysterious car accident

Zebb’s car had a front tire puncture, but there were no evident signs of damage that would explain the puncture.

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Pair of lips drawn on Zebb Quinn’s car. / Photo: Reproduction.

An intriguing clue was found in Zebb’s car. On the rear window of the vehicle, there was a pair of lips painted with red lipstick. This detail had no apparent connection to Zebb’s disappearance, leaving investigators and theorists perplexed.

Investigators found a trace of blood inside his vehicle. The amount of blood was small but enough to raise suspicions. However, it was not possible to determine the origin of the blood, and there were no indications of a serious injury to Zebb.

In addition to the painted lips on the rear window of Zebb’s car, other intriguing elements emerged during the investigation. For instance, an enigmatic note was found under the windshield wiper of another vehicle belonging to Zebb. The note read, “I’m in a strange place, if anything happens, investigate.”

However, it is unclear whether this note was related to Zebb’s disappearance or if it was just a coincidence.

Robert Jason Owens’ involvement

According to Owens, after leaving the gas station, Quinn signaled for him to pull over by flashing his headlights. Zebb told him that he had received a message and needed to return the call.

After returning from a payphone, Owens described Quinn as “frantic.” Quinn told him that he needed to cancel their plans and eventually ran off, hitting the rear of Owens’ car.

Hours later, Owens sought treatment at a hospital for fractured ribs and a head injury that he claimed to have sustained in a second car accident that night. No accident report had been filed with the police.

The next afternoon, Zebb Quinn’s mother, Denise Vlahakis, filed a missing person report. Two days after he was last seen, a man claiming to be Quinn made a phone call to the Walmart where he worked.

The man told Quinn’s coworker that he wouldn’t be coming to work due to illness, but the coworker thought the voice sounded strange and didn’t believe it was Quinn. The call was traced back to a factory where Owens worked.

When questioned, Owens admitted to making the call, claiming that he was doing a favor for his friend after Quinn called and asked Owens to make the call on his behalf, claiming he was sick.

March 17, 2015, fifteen years later

Robert Owens was arrested for accidentally killing a family by running them over. He also pleaded guilty to two charges of dismembering human remains.

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Joseph “J.T.” Codd and Cristie Schoen Codd, victims of the hit-and-run. The woman was pregnant with the couple’s first child. / Photo: Reproduction.

Owens was sentenced to serve between 60 and 75 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

In June 2015, detectives investigating Quinn’s disappearance announced that they had unearthed “tissue, leather materials, and unknown hard fragments” beneath a layer of concrete on Owens’ property.

According to the warrant, investigators also found an unknown white powder substance, as well as pieces of metal and concrete. In another part of the property, authorities discovered “numerous plastic bags containing possibly powdered lime or a powdered mortar mix.”

In July 2022, it was announced that Owens had told investigators in 2018 that a family member had killed Quinn, dismembered his body, and burned the remains, and that evidence could be found in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest.

Boyfriend’s revenge?

On July 25, 2022, Robert Jason Owens pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

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Robert Jason Owens in custody. / Photo: Reproduction.

Through his lawyers, Owens accused his late uncle, Walter “Gene” Owens, of murdering Zebb Quinn. Robert claimed that Gene was hired by Misty Taylor’s boyfriend to kill Quinn.

Robert claimed that he and Quinn were unknowingly lured by Gene to meet Taylor in the forest. Robert alleged that Gene was present in the park instead of Taylor and shot Quinn with a rifle, killing him. Robert stated that Gene then dismembered and burned Quinn’s body, and that he assisted Gene in covering up the crime.

The district prosecutor stated that the conviction of Robert James Owens legally establishes that Zebb Quinn was murdered. Robert Owens continues to serve a life sentence in prison.

Indeed, the information available on this case was last updated in July 2022. As investigations continue and new evidence emerges, it is possible that further developments may arise in the near future.

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