KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Joel Guy Jr. was found guilty earlier this month in the brutal Thanksgiving 2016 deaths and dismemberment of his parents, but a Tennessee judge still must determine if the 32-year-old will be eligible for parole in his lifetime.
Guy will return to court Nov. 19 so Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword can decide if his five life sentences, with the possibility of parole after 51 years, will be served at the same time or consecutively. Guy was convicted Oct. 2 of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the Nov. 26, 2016, deaths of Joel Guy Sr. and Lisa Guy.
According to Court TV, Guy was also convicted of one count of felony murder for killing his mother while committing the first-degree murder of his father and two counts of felony murder while committing a theft. Jurors also found him guilty of two counts of abuse of a corpse.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the jury’s verdict, which took about three hours to reach, was not unexpected. Jurors saw a detailed plan, in Guy’s own handwriting, for how to kill his parents, dismember their bodies and dissolve their bones in chemicals he’d purchased.
The five-page plan, found in a backpack in the bedroom where Guy stayed during his holiday visit, also detailed how he planned to profit from his parents' life insurance policies.
Joel Guy Sr. and Lisa Guy planned to cut their son off financially. Joel Guy Jr. was a former Louisiana State University student living on his parents' dime in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Then 28, he had never held a job and had spent the past decade as a college student, prosecutors said.
One of his sisters, Angela Guy Crain, testified that Lisa Guy, who spent most of her adult life as a homemaker, “only worked to give her paycheck” to her son.
Joel Guy Sr. and his wife had said it was “time for Joel Michael to stand on his own two feet,” WVLT reported.
According to testimony, Joel Guy Sr. wanted to retire from his job as an engineering designer. With his retirement would come a move to a new house – and an end to the cash flow to the couple’s son.
“(The Guys) wanted to retire and deserved to retire,” Assistant Knox County District Attorney Hector Sanchez told jurors, according to the News Sentinel. “The motive is pretty apparent in this case – money … $500,000. That’s what this case is about.”
Chandise Fink, one of the couple’s daughters, thanked the jurors, prosecutors and members of law enforcement who had to witness the brutality inflicted upon her father and stepmother.
“I’m very sorry that this evil had to come into their life, too,” Fink said through tears. “I will be praying for all of them as I do for my family as well.”
Listen to victim impact statements from Joel Guy Jr.'s three sisters below.
Fink told Sword following the verdict that her parents were “wonderful” people who loved their children.
“They were larger than life. They were so happy. They were such really good people," Fink said. “And they loved him (her brother). They loved him so much. They loved all of us. For anyone to do what he did, I don’t understand it.”
Fink said her family will never be the same.
“He has taken something from us that we’ll never get back,” she said. “I pray that we can move on from this and that we can put this behind us. I pray that my children are not going to be scarred for life from this.”
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, but they did not live past Thanksgiving weekend.
Their murders were discovered after Lisa Guy failed to show up for work the Monday after the holiday.
The following story contains extremely graphic details, as well as video containing crime scene evidence.
Joel Guy Sr., 61, was stabbed 42 times, the knife damaging his lungs, liver and kidneys, according to WVLT in Knoxville. Some of the wounds were so severe that his ribs were scraped and, in some cases, cut clean through, and a piece of a knife was found embedded in his shoulder.
Joel Guy Sr.'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, prosecutors said.
His hands were found in a blood-spattered upstairs bedroom he used as a home gym.
Lisa Guy, a mother of four, was stabbed 31 times, the news station reported. 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 the victims' torsos and limbs in 45-gallon containers, covered with corrosive chemicals in what prosecutors described as a “diabolical stew of human remains.”
Joel Guy Jr.'s goal was for the chemicals to dissolve the remains.
According to the News Sentinel, University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Murray Marks testified that it would have taken substantial time and effort for Joel Guy Jr. to dismember his parents' bodies.
“It’s a lot of work to disarticulate the body at the joints,” Marks testified.
Prosecutors argued that Joel Guy Jr. had planned the murders for weeks prior to his Thanksgiving visit. On Nov. 7, he began making shopping trips to purchase knives, chemicals, plastic containers and plastic sheeting.
Evidence introduced at trial showed that Guy killed his father while his mother was grocery shopping on Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The groceries, which included perishable items, were found strewn near the front door, indicating that Lisa Guy was surprised when she returned home.
The News Sentinel reported that Sanchez told jurors Joel Guy’s plan, which included burning down his parents' home, came to a halt when he suffered cuts to his hands during the attack.
Footage from a nearby Walmart showed Guy buying first aid supplies the afternoon of the murders. In the video, one of his hands appears to be bandaged.
Prosecutors said after the murders, Guy drained what he could from his parents' bank accounts. He then returned to Baton Rouge to await the life insurance benefits payout, the newspaper reported.
Guy’s defense team offered little in way of a defense, according to the paper. Public defender John Halstead told jurors during closing arguments that his client was “outgoing, friendly and happy” over the Thanksgiving holiday and his demeanor was not suggestive of someone plotting two gruesome murders.
Assistant Knox County District Attorney Leslie Nassios countered, however, that Guy’s cheerful demeanor was part of the defendant’s plan.
“Outgoing, friendly and happy? I bet he was,” Nassios said, according to the News Sentinel. "(Guy’s sister) Michelle Tyler told you that was unusual. He was usually distant, keeping to himself. He was getting ready to get what he wanted.
“He wanted to deflect attention from himself. If he had acted angry, how would that look when their bodies turned up later?”
Cox Media Group