The remains of Charissia Dawn Bell were discovered Feb. 13 and investigators deemed the circumstances of her death suspicious.
On Feb. 21, Austin Godwin turned himself in to the Norman Police Department. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was notified and he was arrested later that day.
Court documents revealed that on the night of Feb. 12, Godwin was on his way home to the Saratoga Springs Apartments in southeast Norman. He saw Bell walking down the street and invited her to his place.
“The fact that they were strangers leading up to this is different than what we usually see,” District Attorney Greg Mashburn told KFOR in March.
The two went back to his apartment, where officials allege that Bell took a shower and came out of the bathroom wearing a towel.
Godwin then tried to have sex with Bell, but she refused.
The court documents said a frustrated Godwin then got a rope, put it around her neck, and “strangled Bell for about four minutes until Bell was unconscious and then for about another minute until Bell was dead.”
Authorities say Bell’s last words were about her children.
Godwin then dressed Bell’s body.
The probable cause affidavit for the case said on the morning of Feb. 13, a scared Godwin put Bell in a small black tote, but couldn’t carry it.
He then allegedly went to a nearby Walmart and bought a large clear tote with wheels and went back to his apartment, where he wrapped blankets over and around Bell’s body.
OSBI officials say Godwin told investigators he then placed the black tote with Bell’s body inside the clear tote and then loaded them into his vehicle.
He took the body in the totes to Lake Thunderbird, an area he was familiar with and knew was secluded. He placed the totes near some bushes.
Godwin told authorities he wanted Bell “to have a view of the lake.”
That night, two bicyclists found the totes with the body inside and called 911.
Mashburn called the case “very unusual.”
“What you usually don’t see in homicide cases are stranger murders,” he explained. “Usually the parties know each other, have a relationship of some sort. The fact that the body of this young lady was put in totes and placed into a rural area also makes it very unusual. All of those things kind of makes this case stand out a little bit.”
Godwin pleaded guilty to Murder in the First Degree and Unlawful Removal of Dead Body.
He was sentenced to Life without Parole for the murder and five years for moving her body.