Couple pleads guilty to killing Arlington man, stuffing him in refrigerator

Posted Monday, Apr. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A couple who bound and killed a Vietnam veteran inside his Arlington home in 2011, then stuffed the man's body into his own refrigerator and dumped it in Ellis County, pleaded guilty Monday to murder.

In exchange for their pleas, Thomas Dunham was sentenced to 45 years in prison and Erin Williams to 30 years. They entered their pleas in State District Judge Robb Catalano's court.

Williams, who also went by the last name of Guthrie, had been staying with the victim, Jerry Vern Roberts, before the 62-year-old man's disappearance in May 2011.

When Roberts failed to show up at work at his nephew's trucking business, concerned relatives went to his home on West Sanford Street where they found sheets covering the windows, the refrigerator and Robert's truck missing, and what appeared to be blood on their uncle's chair.

A witness told police that Roberts and Williams had argued the night before Roberts disappeared. Surveillance video obtained by police showed Williams using Roberts' debit card and Dunham pawning a cordless drill that had been taken from Roberts' home.

The couple was arrested June 7 in Alamosa, Colo.

According to a news release by the Tarrant County district attorney's office, text messages exchanged between the couple and recovered by Arlington police "revealed sadomasochistic interests and that they had planned Roberts' murder for more than a week."

A month after their arrests, a father and son discovered remains inside a refrigerator in Ellis County. DNA tests later confirmed that the remains were of Roberts.

"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."

Dunham's attorney, Terri Moore, did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

Brian Goza, Williams' court-appointed defense attorney, said his client had planned to testify against Dunham if his case had gone to trial.

"She just wanted to accept responsibility and accept her punishment which was quite a lengthy sentence," Goza said.

Deanna Boyd, (817) 390-7655

Twitter: @deannaboyd

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