Man admits to killing his wife and burning her body in shed, authorities say

KATY, TX (KTRK/CNN) – A Texas city is stunned by a violent crime that police say happened in their quiet community.

According to authorities, Jay Hammersley, 44, confessed to killing his wife Mara Vestal and burning her body.

And it was Hammersley’s longtime friend who helped police arrest him.

Twenty-nine-year-old Vestal was strangled by her husband on Feb. 16, according to prosecutors. They say Hammersley then burned Vestal’s body in a shed.

Vestal was the mother of three children, including a toddler, with Hammersley.

Prosecutors said it’s the attempted coverup that’s disturbing, too. They said Hammersley reported his wife as missing on March 19.

Meanwhile, he confided in his friend Robert, telling him he’d killed his wife, and even asked Robert to help dispose of the body, authorities said.

“He told me he just murdered somebody,” Robert said. “He told me he just murdered his wife. That was obviously pretty shocking.”

Robert told Hammersley to call police. When he didn’t, Robert made the call to authorities himself.

“Never in a million years would I think he’d be capable of killing his wife,” Robert said.

Prosecutors say Hammersley burned the body in a shed and put it in a trash bag. There’s no word on whether the body has been recovered.

Neighbors said they did see law enforcement officers going through trash bags at the home, which was a strange sight in the quiet Katy-area neighborhood.

“It’s sad. I mean, I just don’t know what to think,” Kruti Patel said. “I just never thought that anything like that would happen here, because there’s, you know, kids and it’s more family-oriented.”

As for Robert, he said he called authorities because it was the right thing to do.

Hammersley is charged with murder and tampering with evidence. His total bond is $105,000. He remains is jail and is expected in court on Friday.

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