Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Hearing reveals brutal details of woman's slaying, mutilation



By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE]
Miller
[IMAGE]
Couch
WARSAW - The man charged with killing Jennifer Miller told state detectives he had to think of her as an animal in order to cut her into pieces after her death.

State police Detective Don Mullikin testified Tuesday that evidence supported the statement because of the extreme nature of the crime.

Miller's family cried as graphic details of the 23-year-old Glencoe woman's death were made public during a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Gallatin County District Court.

Tony Couch, 40, of Eagle Tunnel Road near the Gallatin-Grant county line, is charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in his girlfriend's death earlier this month. He remains in the Carroll County jail in lieu of $1 million cash bail while he waits for a Gallatin County grand jury to hear his case within 60 days.

Police, using a cadaver-sniffing dog, have recovered 54 body parts and the hacksaw, hatchet and hunting knife detectives think were used. A forensic pathologist said Miller was likely killed by blunt-force trauma from an ax or hatchet.

Some of the body parts were burned, while others were found only after Couch was arrested and agreed to cooperate with police. Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith said the mutilation was so complete that they had to use a tattoo to initially identify the victim.

"The acts that took place after the death itself demonstrate a depraved heart," said Smith, who will prosecute the case. "When steps such as these were taken to conceal what was done, you can't argue that the death was accidental."

Mullikin said Couch's story surrounding the death has changed. Once he said he snapped Miller's neck while fighting over her drug habit. Another time he said Miller fell and hit her head on a dresser during an argument.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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