Familiar with the name Zebb Quinn? You should be. His disappearance some 17 years ago has left holes in many hearts, and still to this day, the investigation looks as though it may never be solved. Read on for one of the stranger missing persons cases out there.
People go missing every day. While a great number of those missing cases end up solved (sometimes with the missing individual resurfacing alive), there are a plethora of similar cases that – to this day – occupy space in the cold case files, virtually forgotten by all but the victims’ families. But few cases are as puzzling as that of Zebb Quinn, who disappeared after an evening shift at Walmart.
It was 9:00 PM on January 2nd, 2000, when Quinn exited Walmart to meet with a friend, Robert Jason Owens. Their plans included scoping out a vehicle that Quinn was interested in purchasing. But those plans would be cut short when Quinn suddenly screeched to a halt (both friends were driving separate vehicles) on the side of the road, ran to a payphone and returned to inform his friend that there would be no car hunting that night.
Whatever that phone call revealed, it left the young man in a “frantic” state, noted Owens.
And that’s about the time this case planted some puzzling facts. To be blunt, shit got weird from that moment forward.
Quinn, obviously in a hurry, rear-ended his friend’s car. Hours later Owens turned up at a local hospital. He was suffering from head trauma and fractured ribs that he – get this – claimed to have sustained in a second car accident.
All the while, Zebb Quinn remained missing. Two days after he’d failed to return home, family phoned the police to report a missing person. And then yet another strange occurrence took place: a voice, not belonging to Quinn, informed his place of his employment that he was going to need a few days off.
But again, it wasn’t Quinn who made the phone call. It was Owens, who later claimed he was simply doing his friend a favor and helping to ensure he didn’t get canned over sick calls. A mounting suspicion grew around Owens, though he insisted in not having anything to do with the young man’s murder. Perhaps a thorough investigation may produce a few more answers.
As it turned out, Owens wasn’t the only man who seemed conceivably capable of ending and disposing of a man’s body.
Wesley Smith, who was the abusive boyfriend of Misty Taylor, soon discovered that Quinn and Taylor had shared a mutual interest in one another. That, obviously didn’t sit well with Smith, and it’s entirely possible that he targeted Quinn. There are indications that Smith phoned Quinn from the home of Misty’s parents equipped with more venom for the young man.
A few weeks after Quinn went missing, his vehicle was found parked near the hospital where his mother worked. But there more strange details (I don’t know that they end) in this discovery. There were lip impressions on the vehicles window. There was a live dog in the car, and by the looks of it, the trash inside the vehicle was not Quinn’s. Someone else was bold enough to take Quinn’s vehicle for a spin… for a stretch of days, apparently. Leaving the vehicle in an area where Quinn’s mother was likely to find it suggests the killer was not only familiar with Quinn, but with his mother as well.
Once more law enforcement intensified the search, all, sadly, to no avail.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Parole and a Conviction
This may be the most shocking revelation yet. And if you’re one who has no trouble burying the old noggin in newspapers and dedicating all television time to the news, then you probably got a glimpse or read an article about the developments in the case since Quinn went missing. The shocking part is that it took 15-years to make justice feel viable.
Owens’ crimes escalated in a terrible way. He was eventually arrested in an unrelated incident stemming around the disappearance and murder of Food Network Star television contestant Cristie Schoen Codd, her husband J.T. Codd, and their unborn child.
Robert Jason Owens had morphed into a remorseless, ice cold killer over the years, and that inspired some additional questions within law enforcement. Was it Owens that murdered his friend some decade and a half previously? The theory certainly wasn’t out of the realm of likelihood, given Owens’ macabre practices.
Evidence slowly began to pile up, and it looked as though a conviction and justice for Zebb Quinn might be around the corner. But another curveball caught law officials off-guard as not a single sliver of evidence gathered could be tied back to Quinn. Not a thing. And furthermore, Owens did openly admit to murdering Cristie Schoen and her husband J.T. Codd. Yet he would not admit to the slaying of Zebb Quinn.
Owens was handed down a guilty verdict (in the triple homicide) before he was sentenced – on April 27, 2017 to spend a minimum of 59.5 years to a maximum of 74.5 years locked away forever. He was denied any possibility of parole.
It’s great to see a murderer lose his freedom. There’s no room in society for the uncontrollable and bloodthirsty monsters of the world. However, Zebb’s final moments are haunting. It’s entirely possible that he gazed into the eyes of his kidnapper/murderer. Beyond an inability to solve the case, it doesn’t get much more difficult than knowing that a young man had a promising future in front of him, until, strangely, he vanished from the face of the earth.