Two of the four people charged in the grisly slaying and dismemberment of 19-year-old Megan Metzger were convicted of multiple charges Tuesday in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court.
Keelyn Rose Codynah, 24, of Spotsylvania and Juan Benavidez III, 19, of King George County entered pleas to charges that include being an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder, concealing a dead body and defiling a dead body. They were scheduled only for arraignments Tuesday, but both decided to plead guilty.
Codynah entered straight guilty pleas, while Benavides pleaded no contest. Both will be sentenced on May 9.
The other suspects charged in connection with Metzger’s death, 20-year-olds David Weston Newton of Fredericksburg and Robert P. Keating of Spotsylvania, were arraigned as scheduled Tuesday. Both pleaded not guilty and had trials set for different dates in April.
Newton is charged with murder. The slaying took place in Keating’s home on Post Oak Road and he is accused of directing much of the ensuing cover-up.
Metzger’s mother and other supporters were in court listening Tuesday as prosecutor Jeff Adams summarized the horrific details of her death for Judge Joseph Ellis. They cried during portions of the summary.
According to the prosecutor, Metzger, a Pamplin resident, drove to Keating’s home on July 17 last year to meet up with Newton. The four defendants were at the home during the days in question, Adams said, along with two other people—Laura Denekis and Brandon Keating, Robert Keating’s brother.
Prior to her death, which court records state took place the same day Metzger arrived at the home, Robert Keating went through her purse and found a pretrial services card that he mistakenly thought was evidence that she was a police informant, Adams said.
Newton confronted Metzger in the basement of the home as Benavidez and Codynah looked on. The prosecutor alleged that Newton eventually pointed a handgun at her and shot her in the face, saying, “You’re a [expletive] narc.”
Metzger died at the scene and there was initially talk of trying to make the shooting look like a suicide. Instead, according to Adams, the group went to Denekis’ trailer to get high, leaving the body in Keating’s basement.
Robert Keating and Denekis later took the murder weapon to Washington, Adams said, where Keating traded it for 16 grams of an unspecified illegal drug that he split with Newton.
The others returned to the crime scene to clean it up. Adams said Codynah and Benavidez were directed by Newton to dispose of the body and to remove identifying parts.
Adams said the pair used tools to sever the victim’s head, cut off each of her fingers and toes and remove her teeth. They also broke her legs below the knees to make it easier to fold up her remains.
Most of the mutilated body was placed into plastic totes, Adams said, and a dolly was used to roll the body parts to Metzger’s car. Most of the remains were stashed in her trunk.
Adams said Denekis told the group that she knew of a pig farm in Louisa where the body could be dumped and she, Newton, Benavidez and Codynah went looking for the farm. They didn’t find it, and Adams said investigators believe Denekis made up its existence.
The investigation showed that the walls, floors and baseboards were thoroughly cleaned with chemicals, while rugs and curtains were replaced and furniture was removed. Adams said the cleaning products were placed in the victim’s car, which was later torched.
Keating used a foam cleaner to clean the gun, Adams said, and directed the others to use bleach to scrub under their fingernails. Benavidez was then directed by Robert Keating to take Metzger’s car to a rural location and burn it, the prosecutor said.
Benavidez drove the car with most of Metzger’s remains to Westmoreland County, where it was set on fire off Leedstown Road on July 19, the same day Metzger was reported missing. Benavidez was apprehended early the next day and is still facing arson and other charges in Westmoreland.
Newton was supposed to pick Benavidez up after he set the car on fire, Adams said, but the pair apparently got separated while driving in the Northern Neck. Benavidez later accompanied investigators to Fairview Beach in King George, where the victim’s head and some other remains were recovered early July 21.
Codynah’s attorney, Susan Fremit, told the judge that she had considered a defense that her client was acting under duress “but that only goes for so long.”