‘Diabolical stew of human remains’: Graphic details mark start of man’s trial in parents’ 2016 murders

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Lisa and Joel Guy Sr. suffered deaths that one investigator previously described as the “most horrific thing (he’s) ever encountered in law enforcement, in life.”

Jurors on Monday got their first taste of the gruesome details of the Nov. 26, 2016, crime that left the couple dead, their bodies dismembered and strewn about their blood-soaked Knoxville, Tennessee, home.

The couple’s son, Joel Michael Guy Jr., 32, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, felony murder and abuse of a corpse in the brutal killings. The unemployed former Louisiana State University student, then 28, is accused of killing his parents over the Thanksgiving holiday after they told him they would no longer pay his bills.

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Prosecutors believe both the murders and the dismemberment of the bodies were premeditated, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. Assistant Knox County District Attorney General Leslie Nassios said during opening statements Monday that Joel Guy Jr. made a list of things to do prior to the murders and brought items with him, including a blender and a food processor, that he planned to use in the crime.

Joel Guy Jr.’s notes also mentioned his parents' assets.

“Money all mine,” one entry read. “I get the whole thing.”

According to their joint obituary, the couple had been married for 31 years.

“They both had a great sense of humor, were loving and kind-hearted, and the most compassionate people. They were the loves of each other’s lives,” the obituary said. “They enjoyed anything that involved being together, which included being in nature and on the water. They loved their kids and adored their grandchildren.”

The couple’s three daughters are listed as survivors. Their son is not.

Joel Guy Jr.'s trial is being streamed live by local news media, as well as by Court TV.

The following story contains extremely graphic details, as well as video containing crime scene evidence.

Nassios on Monday detailed for the jury the brutality of the couple’s wounds, according to WVLT in Knoxville. Joel Guy Sr., 61, was stabbed 42 times, the knife damaging his lungs, liver and kidneys.

Some of the wounds were so severe that his ribs were scraped and, in some cases, cut clean through, the news station reported. A piece of a knife was found embedded in his shoulder.

The engineering designer’s hands were severed, and his arms were severed at the shoulder blade. His legs were removed at the hip and his right foot was removed, Nassios said.

Lisa Guy, a mother of four, was stabbed 31 times, the prosecutor said. The force of the blows was so extreme that nine of her ribs were severed. Her legs were cut off below the knee and her arms, at the shoulder.

The 55-year-old’s head was found boiling in a pot on her stove.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office investigators found most of the victims' limbs in 45-gallon containers, covered with corrosive chemicals in what prosecutors described as a “diabolical stew of human remains.”

Jurors on Monday saw graphic body camera footage that showed the deputies' discovery, as well as crime scene photos.

Officials have said that Joel Guy Jr. traveled from Baton Rouge, where he remained after dropping out of LSU in 2015, to his parents' home on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, to spend Thanksgiving with them and his three sisters. It was to be the family’s last holiday in the house, which Lisa and Joel Guy Sr. had recently sold.

His sisters, who said nothing seemed amiss during the holiday, returned to their own homes after the meal. Authorities said in 2016 that the women were surprised their brother planned to stay the weekend.

Joel Guy Sr.'s sister, and the defendant’s aunt, Robin White, testified Monday that her brother had told her he was planning to retire, WVLT reported. With retirement would come a move to a new house – and an end to the cash flow to the couple’s son.

Two of the couple’s daughters testified that they were aware their parents planned to cut their brother off financially. The Guys planned to tell their son at Christmas, the women said.

One of the women, Angela Guy, testified that Lisa Guy, who spent most of her adult life as a homemaker, “only worked to give her paycheck” to her son, the news station reported. Joel Guy Sr. and his wife had said it was “time for Joel Michael to stand on his own two feet.”

Authorities believe the couple decided not to wait until Christmas to deliver the news to their son.

Joel Guy Jr. returned to Baton Rouge on Sunday, Nov. 27. His parents' bodies were found the following day after Lisa Guy failed to show up for her job in the accounting department of Jacobs Engineering in Oak Ridge.

Her boss, Jennifer Whitehead, testified that she called Lisa Guy repeatedly, but got no answer, WVLT reported. She said she knew something was wrong, so she called 911 and asked deputies to do a welfare check.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jeremy McCord in 2018 described the scene inside the couple’s home as the “most horrific” thing he’d ever seen, according to the News Sentinel. McCord was one of the deputies who conducted the welfare check that day.

The detective found both of the Guys' vehicles in the driveway. Through the glass on the front door, he could see groceries, including perishable items, on the floor of the foyer.

Outside the back door, which was missing a doorknob, he could feel heat emanating from the house, along with a “really odd chemical smell.”

He and fellow deputies found a garage door opener in one of the couple’s cars and used it to gain access to the attached garage. When he opened the door leading into the home, the odor hit him.

“The smell is never going to leave me,” McCord said, according to the News Sentinel.

Deputy Steven Ballard, the first deputy to arrive for the welfare check, testified that the mixture of chemicals inside the house made the skin on his forehead tingle, WVLT reported.

The deputies found the thermostat inside the house turned up to 90 degrees. Heaters had been plugged in and left on, bringing the temperature to 93 degrees.

Somewhere upstairs, a dog barked. A pot on the stove caught McCord’s attention, the News Sentinel reported.

“The stove is on. The pot is on,” McCord said. “There’s something in that pot. You could feel the heat coming off the stove.”

McCord initially left the pot alone as he checked the rest of the house. The detective found Joel Guy Sr.'s hands on the floor of a bedroom and the couple’s torsos inside two blue plastic containers in a bathroom.

Another of the couple’s daughters, Michelle Tyler, testified Monday afternoon that she recalled seeing blue containers in her brother’s car over the holiday, WVLT reported.

Multiple body parts were found in “Tupperware containers,” McCord testified, according to the News Sentinel.

He and other deputies later found Lisa Guy’s head cooking on the stove.

Blood stained the walls and the floors, and piles of clothing were left where they had been cut from the bodies after the murders. McCord found an array of chemicals – bleach, acid, peroxide and rubbing alcohol – and the odor of death mixed in with the smell of the chemicals, he testified in 2018.

Investigators would later find receipts showing that Joel Guy Jr. bought the chemicals at a Walmart in Knoxville, the newspaper reported.

They also discovered what they’ve described as a checklist Joel Guy Jr. made of things to do, including “get killing knives,” WVLT reported. He also noted reminders to “flush chunks down toilet, not garbage disposal,” and that “body gives time of death, alibi.”

He also listed other items, like a sledgehammer, he planned to use when committing the crime, Nassios said Monday. The sledgehammer, he planned to use to crush his parents' bones.

He also brought along a blender and a food processor.

“Bring blender and food grinder,” the notes said. “Grind meat.”

Nassios said there was no evidence that Guy used the appliances following the murders.

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