TYLER, TX (EAST TEXAS NEWS)-It was a case that made headlines across the world. Now, the man charged with killing and allegedly cannibalizing his girlfriend turns up dead in his jail cell. Christopher McCuin, 26, was found unresponsive Sunday in his cell at the Smith County Jail. In January, McCuin was charged with kidnapping, killing, and mutilating 21 year old Jana Shearer of Whitehouse.
Monday, East Texas News 9's Courtney Lane met with those close to the people in that case shortly after they heard the news.
Nearly a year after Jana Shearer was brutally murdered, her accused killer has died mysteriously behind bars.
"Every emotion you can possibly think of comes up," said Erin Cureton, Jana's friend.
McCuin was found in his bed in his isolated cell. The Texas Rangers say there was no evidence of foul play or suspected suicide, but that he was taking several kinds of medication. McCuin's sudden death has triggered a wave of mixed feelings for Jana's friends and family.
"We know how it is to lose a friend and a loved one and son or daughter so we feel for the McCuin family but then again, we didn't get the trial, we didn't get the justice," said Erin.
McCuin's family was not up to talking today, but a former neighbor says they are stunned and saddened.
"It was shocking, devastating for him to be so young and I know he was in pretty good shape when he lived next door to me so I just don't understand," said neighbor Pam Hawkins.
McCuin leaves behind a young daughter. Jana's close friend, Erin, says her heart goes out to his family. At the same time, the Shearer family is relying on their faith that justice will be served for Jana.
"We were all looking forward to seeing what his sentencing would be and just the no justice thing. But God has His own justice and I think it was better for the family not to have to go through the trial...and relive it so this may have been God's way to say here, let me make this easier for you," said Erin.
Erin says she has some peace knowing that it's all over now, and she says Jana's spirit is always present and her memory alive forever.
"She rides around with me in my car, I know she does. She's with everybody."
McCuin's body has been sent to Dallas, and the Texas Rangers are waiting on preliminary autopsy results. They'll also interview other inmates who last talked to McCuin.