Jury selection is set to begin Monday for a Texas man accused of killing, dismembering and grilling his ex-girlfriend.
Timothy Wayne Shepherd, 28, confessed last year to strangling Texas A&M student Tynesha Stewart, 19, last year, and now faces trial for the murder, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Investigators said Shepherd admitted strangling Stewart because he was angry she had begun a new relationship. Prosecutors believe Shepherd dismembered her body and burned her remains on two barbecue pits over the course of two days, the paper said.
"We have determined through this investigation that the defendant dismembered Tynesha Stewart and . . . he burned the body parts," Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said in March 2007. "There are no remaining body parts."
Despite the confession, prosecutors will have an uphill battle convicting Shepherd as investigators could not link the 30 pieces of charred bone and hair recovered from the defendant's apartment to the dead woman's DNA, the Chronicle said.
He faces life in prison if convicted.
Officials first thought that the body had been disposed in a large commercial trash bin that had since been emptied. Authorities believed her remains were scattered in several overflowing landfills, and that the search would be expensive and nearly impossible.
In the days following the arrest, authorities said they would not search for Stewart's body because there was little chance of success. The decision angered family and friends, and complaints from activists and lawmakers prompted Thomas to get emergency approval to spend up to $500,000 for a search. But the search never began.
Thomas said he knew, but could not disclose, that there were no body parts to find. He said investigators were unable to release that information to the public or to Stewart's family because of the investigation. Stewart's family has since been advised, and understands why there will be no search, Thomas said.
Stewart, a college freshman from Houston, was last seen with Shepherd on March 15, 2007, while she was home for spring break visiting her mother. Friends said Stewart and Shepherd quit dating at the beginning of that school year.