On July 25, 2022, Robert Owens pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of first-degree murder. The plea comes after Owens was indicted in 2017 with the first-degree murder of 18 year old Zebb Quinn.
In a written statement, Owens says he saw a family member shoot and kill Quinn with a .22 rifle. That family member is now deceased.
State's Exhibit 1 in State v. Robert Jason Owens: pic.twitter.com/nPtli4JazR
— Buncombe County DA (@BuncombeCoDA) July 25, 2022
Robert Owens says he was with his relative when they burned Quinn’s body and dumped his ashes near Owens Cove Road and Bent Creek. Authorities searched the area, but did not find any evidence to corroborate his statements.
Owens was sentenced to 150 – 189 months in prison, which will run concurrently with the 60 to 75 year sentence he is currently serving for the 2015 slayings of JT and Cristie Codd.
The Disappearance of Zebb Quinn
18 year old Zebb Quinn disappeared from Asheville, North Carolina on January 2, 2000. After finishing work that evening, Quinn went with his former coworker, Robert Owens, to check on a car he was interested in purchasing.
They drove separate vehicles to the dealership, and were seen entering the Eblen Citgo gas station on Hendersonville Road to purchase sodas at 9:15 pm. They left several minutes later and were captured by the security camera heading in the direction of Long Shoals Road.
Quinn never returned home that night and has never been heard from again.
Owens told police that shortly after leaving the gas station, Quinn flashed his headlights to signal him to pull over. Quinn said he received a page and needed to return and left to find a payphone.
Quinn returned around 9:30 pm, rear-ending Owen’s truck. He promised to pay for the damage and said he had to leave, cancelling their evening plan.
The next morning, Owens failed to show up for work and said he had been in a traffic accident the night before, near The Waffle House restaurant on Long Shoals Road by the intersection of Interstate 26.
He was treated at Urgent Care Center on Hendersonville Road for a head wound and fractured rib. No car accident report was filed that night, and his injuries were not consistent with a vehicle collision, according to police.
On January 4, 2000, a Wal-Mart supervisor received a call from a man pretending to be Quinn, saying he wouldn’t be able to make it to work due to an illness. Questioning the unfamiliar voice, the supervisor traced the call back to a Volvo Construction Equipment plant.
Owens worked at Volvo Industries, and admitted to police that he made the call because Quinn had asked him to. He declined to cooperate shortly after.
Robert Jason Owens was considered a primary suspect early on in the investigation into Quinn’s disappearance, but police didn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.