Central Point man charged with murder, arson, abuse of corpse

A Central Point man suspected of killing his former girlfriend has been indicted on a murder charge, five counts of first-degree arson and a charge of first-degree abuse of a corpse.

A Jackson County grand jury indicted Jeffrey Wayne Wheeler, 36, Thursday after hearing testimony from 13 people in the course of four hours, a news release from the Jackson County District Attorney's Office this morning reported.

In the release, Deputy District Attorney David Orr said the abuse of a corpse and arson charges stem from Wheeler's alleged actions after the murder.

Evidence from Jessica Bethany's Central Point apartment shows that the 31-year-old mother was stabbed multiple times in the neck. Then the kitchen stove gas was left on and a piece of paper attached to a bookcase near the front door was set on fire, damaging the bookcase. The body of the victim was partially burned, prosecutors said in the news release.

Murder carries a possible life sentence with a mandatory 25-year sentence. Arson carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven and a half years. Abuse of a corpse is a class B felony with a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years.

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