WARNING: This story contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing.
The exact motive behind the killing of Catie Miller remains unclear, but the details of her brutal death are now public after Jason Johnson and Kelly MacDonald pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday.
Both Johnson and MacDonald were sentenced to life in prison.
Timeline of the case, according to an agreed statement of facts:
July 15, 2014 – The last time Catie Miller’s mother, Terry Miller had spoken to her daughter. Catie was seen in surveillance video getting in to a vehicle driven by Jason Johnson in Bedford just after 3 p.m.
July 21, 2014 — Catie Miller, 29, was reported missing.
August 2014 — Police start to intercept Jason Johnson’s phone as part of their investigation into Miller’s disappearance and possible murder, after learning the two had been in a relationship that ended in April, 2014.
Sept. 24, 2014 — Johnson was observed by police putting gloves on and entering the trunk of his car which was parked in the driveway in Lawrencetown, N.S. He was seen removing a spare tire and carpet liner and spraying the inside of the trunk with rust sealer. Police seized the vehicle to prevent destruction of evidence.
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A forensic search of the vehicle would later show DNA from both Miller and Johnson in the trunk.
Investigators intercepted a conversation Johnson had where he spoke about wanting to become a notorious killer, and tried to convince someone to help him plan the kidnapping and murder of other women. Documents show Johnson stated that he had done it before and wouldn’t be getting away with it, and wanted to kill again before he got arrested.
Johnson talked excitedly about how he would commit further murders, and talked about about killing Miller, saying he cut off her head and went back two days later to cut her up.
Nov. 22, 2014 — Johnson was arrested for the killing of Catie Miller.
During an interview while in custody, Johnson confessed to killing Miller by slitting her throat. He then said he cut off her head and hands using an axe and buried them. Johnson said he wrapped the rest of her body up in a tarp and hid it below a tree before burning his clothing, shoes and other evidence.
Nov. 24 and 25, 2014 — Kelly MacDonald spoke with under cover police officers about Miller’s death, telling them Johnson called her in a panicked state on July 15, 2014. She met him at the Enfield Big Stop with their child and got into his vehicle.
In her account to the undercover officers, MacDonald said Miller was still alive in the trunk of the vehicle and believed to be unconscious.
Johnson told MacDonald he beat Miller with a tire iron. MacDonald was driving to Lawrencetown to drop the couple’s child off. While enroute, Miller became conscious and started kicking and screaming in the trunk, saying “Jason,” and “You don’t have to do this.”
MacDonald told Johnson they had to “finish her off.”
After dropping their child off, MacDonald took a hooked knife and the pair drove to Sheet Harbour to meet an associate, who they told to have tarps, garbage bags, a shovel and axe ready.
While heading there, MacDonald pulled the vehicle over and Johnson cut Miller’s throat with a hooked knife. Miller continued to kick and make noise in the trunk as the couple continued to drive.
MacDonald pulled over again and Johnson went to the trunk and fatally slit Miller’s throat.
Johnson then dismembered Miller’s remains using an axe and hand saw. Miller’s head and hands were removed from her body to prevent identification through dental and fingerprint records.
Miller’s torso was wrapped in a tarp. Her head and hands were placed in a garbage bag in the trunk of the vehicle. MacDonald told the associate to burn the evidence and throw the knife, Miller’s keys and an axe head into the ocean.
MacDonald led undercover officers to the location where Miller’s torso was wrapped in a tarp and tied to a tree in a wooded area in Lawrencetown. MacDonald said she and Johnson tied the remains to the tree so animals wouldn’t drag them away.
MacDonald told police that Miller’s head was buried in a sink hole on the same property, however police were only recently able to locate it.
MacDonald also said Miller’s hands were thrown in the woods behind the airport. They were not located. The axe used to dismember Miller was located following a search.
Nov. 24, 2015 — MacDonald was arrested for her role in Miller’s death.
September. 2016 — Johnson took police to an area in Lawrencetown to help them locate some of Miller’s remains.
Oct. 27, 2016 — Johnson and MacDonald pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and are sentenced to life in prison.