Friday, March 26, 1999

Slaying suspect called jealous


Girlfriend, 18, found dead in her car

BY STEVE KEMME and JANET WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Christopher Hubbard was so possessive of Jill Sexton, his girlfriend, that he once carved her name on his chest with a knife, her friends say.

        This week, police say, a relationship that friends described as tumultuous took a deadly turn.

        On Tuesday, authorities discovered the 18-year-old Ms. Sexton's body under comforters and a suitcase in the back seat of her car in Decatur, Tenn., halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga. Mr. Hubbard, 19, who allegedly drove the car there from Hamilton, has been charged with murder.

        There was no blood in the back seat, but she appeared to have marks on her throat, said Sgt. Bill Nelson of the Meigs County Sheriff's Department in Decatur.

        “The way everything was covered up in the back seat, you would have never known her body was there,” he said.

        Mr. Hubbard is in Athens Regional Medical Center being treated for apparently self-inflicted cuts to his wrist and throat, said Meigs County Deputy Jerry Bidwell.

        He underwent surgery for one of his wounds Wednesday,and will be transported to Hamilton over the weekend to be arraigned on the murder charge. Police said he waived extradition proceedings.

        Ms. Sexton's body was sent to Hamilton Thursday. The Butler County Coroner's Office will conduct a preliminary examination on her body todayand will perform an autopsy later.

        Hamilton police remained tight-lipped about the circumstances of her slaying, the cause of death and the motive.

        Mr. Hubbard and Ms. Sexton, who split time between family members in Fairfield and Hamilton, were reported missing to police by their mothers late Monday.

        Ms. Sexton failed to come home from school Monday and did not report to work at McDonald's restaurant on Nilles Road in Fairfield, a report said. Fairfield police said in the report, filed by Ms. Sexton's mother, Connie Isaacs, that “she is concerned because her daughter always keeps her parents informed of her whereabouts.”

        Mr. Hubbard drove Ms. Sexton's 1989 blue Pontiac Grand Prix to his aunt's house near Decatur, said Athens Police Chief Chuck Ziegler. His aunt took him to Athens Regional Medical Center for treatment for the wrist and throat cuts, he said.

        Suspicious hospital authorities contacted the Athens police. The Meigs County Sheriff's Department impounded the car and contacted Hamilton police.

        Hamilton detectives came to Decatur and, while inspecting the car, discovered the girl's body.

        Ms. Sexton was a senior at Hamilton High School. Mr. Hubbard was expelled from Hamilton High last year and worked at the same McDonald's restaurant she did, officials said.

        Mike Pavloff, Hamilton High assistant principal, said many of the students were stunned. Some wept openly.

        Counselors were on hand to talk to the distraught students. Some students went home to grieve privately, while others stayed and commiserated with friends.

        “When we have to confront the death of any of our students, of course, it's very traumatic,” Mr. Pavloff said, his voice breaking with emotion. “Students caught by surprise with the news this morning were devastated. You just can't comprehend something like this happening. It's just very sad.”

        Ms. Sexton was an average student who hoped to go to a culinary school after her graduation and become a chef.

        “She had an outgoing personality, very friendly, always smiling, and was popular,” Mr. Pavloff said.

        Last Sunday, the day before she was last seen alive, Mr. Hubbard was charged with a hit-skip accident, driving under the influence and underage consumption.

        Since last year, he has been charged with several other misdemeanor crimes, including telephone harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana. The telephone harassment charge, filed in April 1998, did not involve Ms. Sexton, Mr. Carpenter said.

        Ms. Sexton's friends say her relationship with Mr. Hubbard was marked by arguments and violence.

        They began dating last August and, for a while, seemed happy together, said another friend, Amy Erickson. But then Mr. Hubbard became possessive and got angry when Ms. Sexton tried to spend more time with her friends, she said.

        A month ago, Jessica Gill said, she received a frantic call from Ms. Sexton. “She said, "Call the police. Chris is trying to kill me!'” said Ms. Gill, her best friend.

        She said she heard Mr. Hubbard say in the background, “Tell her if she calls the police, they'd better call an ambulance because there's going to be a dead body.” Ms. Gill did not call police, fearful he would carry out the threat.

        “He was jealous, possessive, obsessed with her. If he couldn't have her, nobody could. He carved her name on his chest with a knife,” Ms. Gill said, and later, showed it to her. “He said, "This is so she'll always be with me.'”

        Two weeks ago, Ms. Sexton and Mr. Hubbard argued in the parking lot behind the apartment building where he lived with his mother, said a neighbor, Jerry Shingler Jr.

        “They were face to face, arguing,” he said. “She was crying and everything.”

        Shortly before she disappeared, Ms. Sexton asked Ms. Gill if she would go with her to shop for a prom dress. She planned to go with Mr. Hubbard.

        “She was scared to leave him,” Ms. Gill said. “Everybody tried to tell her he was bad. But when you love someone, you sometimes don't listen.”

       



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