Lee Cawthon shot and killed his wife, Rebecca Murray on April 17th, 2017 after she wanted out of their open marriage. After killing her, he put her body in a 55-gallon oil drum under a tractor and then used her cell phone to text her relatives to make it look like she was still alive.
Reports have it that Rebecca was only a victim of domestic violence and wanted to free herself from it. According to the 10th Circuit Solicitor David Wagner, Lee Cawthon was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder and also five years for possession of a weapon. However, he died of suspected suicide on October 12, 2021, at the age of 45 in prison.
Lee Mikeal Cawthon and Rebecca Murray were together for more than a decade
Oconee native, Rebecca grew up in a conservative place hence her desire to want to explore. Lee on the other hand used to be a long-haul trucker and was always on the road.
Lee had first met her when she was only 8 but they became an item when she was 17 and Lee, was 24. They spent a lot of time together and in 2006, they got married. While it was the first for Rebecca, it was the second for Lee. He was previously married to a woman named Jessica.
After they tied the knot, they moved to Lee’s grandfather’s property in South Carolina and settled there to start a liquor store business together.
Seven years into the marriage, they decided to make it an open relationship. They eventually met a lady named Allite Franks, an exotic dancer through a dating website.
To earn more, Rebecca started working at the same place the dancer was also working. Lee started to get jealous because Rebecca and Allite became so close and were spending more time together.
According to reports, Lee always asked Rebecca to send pictures for him to know who she was with and where she had been. They soon tried another polyamorous relationship with a man called Thad Sosebee.
On April 16, 2017, the couple got back from spending time with their new partner and got into a heated argument that led to Lee assaulting Rebecca. She ended up having six stitches on her wound but lied to the doctors that she fell from the stairs. However, she sent her friends a picture of the wound.
How he killed his wife Rebecca Murray
Lee Cawthon and Rebecca were virtually inseparable throughout their marriage. Reports say the former couple worked at the same places to spend time together.
However, Rebecca got a new job somewhere else and soon started hanging out with other friends. On April 16, 2017, Cawthon’s wife went drinking with another man and when she got home, they argued that later became physical.
Rebecca then went to stay with Thad Sosebee. On the day she went back to pack her things, she told Lee she wanted a divorce. He became infuriated and allegedly shot her in the stomach. According to him, he did not want her to suffer so he shot her a few more times. He shot her eight times in her chest and head.
After killing her, he placed coins on her eyes as part of a Greek mythological death ritual. He then cleaned the scene and hid the body in a 55-gallon oil drum in the oil pit under the tractor on his property.
Cawthon immediately travels to Clayton but later comes back to dispose of Rebecca’s body. During that time, he texted several messages to Rebecca’s relatives to make them think she was still alive.
After she missed her family’s annual Easter dinner, Rebecca’s mother contacted the authorities to check on her. As the police were looking for her, Lee turned himself in on May 3, 2017, and confessed to killing his wife.
Rebecca was 33 when she was killed.
Lee Cawthon died of a suspected suicide
Lee Mikeal Cawthon pled guilty to the murder of Rebecca Murray in September 2018. He was convicted of murder in addition to possessing a weapon during a violent crime and was sentenced to 40 years for the murder and 5 years for the weapon possession.
Scheduled to be released in May 2062, Cawthon was incarcerated at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville South Carolina before he died of suspected suicide on October 12, 2021, at the age of 45.
On April 2, 2023, the murder case was featured on the show, Evil Lives Here on ID.