A Middletown woman accused of killing her husband found dismembered in September at their Stone Path Drive home pleaded not guilty Wednesday during arraignment in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Bonnie Marie Vaughan, 59, initially was charged with murder and John Havens, 33, charged with tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, on Sept. 20 after Jeffrey Fellman was found dead in the garage of the Warren County house.
Fellman, 55, died of multiple gunshot wounds and the dismemberment was postmortem, according to Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove.
Last month a grand jury indicted Vaughan for aggravated murder, murder and felonious assault, all with a gun specification, and tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse. She faces life in prison if convicted.
Havens was indicted for tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and gross abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony. Police say Havens reported Vaughan enlisted him to dismember Fellman’s body in an effort to hide the homicide. Havens reported the incident at the police department, according to detectives.
Vaughan and Havens were arraigned by Warren County Common Judge Robert Peeler who continued bond set in the lower court at $1 million for Vaughan and $15,000 for Havens.
Havens also pleaded not guilty to the charges. Trial dates have not yet been set.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said continued investigation turned up evidence that Vaughan planned to kill Fellman, thus the aggravated murder charge.
“As the investigation progressed in the last few weeks, investigators were able to uncover significant evidence that she had planned this murder out in advance of it occurring,” Fornshell said.
Fornshell said the case went quickly to a preliminary hearing in municipal court before cell phones and data were forensically examined.
“By the time it went to grand jury we believed there was significant evidence of prior calculation and design,” he said.
The indictment states Vaughan shot Fellman “multiple times” at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 19 and had Havens come over the next day to dismember the body.
Vaughan sat shackled and handcuffed at the defense table for her preliminary hearing, where attorney Sam Borst questioned Middletown Detective Brook McDonald about her statements.
During the preliminary hearing in September, McDonald testified Fellman was found dead after Havens came to the police station on the night of Sept. 20 and reported there was a body at the Stone Path residence. Police previously said Havens told detectives he dismembered the body.
Vaughan was found about two hours later at a gas station at Dixie Highway and Coles Road. There were several guns in the car with her, McDonald said.
During questioning, Vaughan said she had shot Fellman the night before, according to McDonald.
“(Vaughan said) she and her husband had gotten into an argument the previous night while inside the garage. She said she got frightened and shot him,” McDonald said. “It appeared his body had been moved because (Vaughan) said when he was shot he was by the refrigerator, but when we found him he was in trash bags,” McDonald said during testimony.
The defense pointed to Vaughan acting in self-defense, not murder.
During cross examination, McDonald said Vaughan told them Fellman threw a chair during the argument then she shot him. She also said he had grabbed her arm.
McDonald said Vaughan also told police Fellman choked her a couple nights before in the parking lot of a local bar.
Both Vaughan and Havens remain housed in the Warren County Jail.