Austin Godwin has pleaded guilty to Murder in the First Degree and Unlawful Removal of Dead Body in the case involving the death of Charissia Dawn Bell at Lake Thunderbird in Norman, Oklahoma. Bell’s remains were discovered on February 13, and investigators deemed her death suspicious.
Godwin turned himself in to the Norman Police Department on February 21 after seeing Bell walking down the street and inviting her to his apartment at Saratoga Springs Apartments. According to court documents, Godwin attempted to have sex with Bell, but she refused. In frustration, he strangled her with a rope for approximately four minutes until she was unconscious, and then for another minute until she was dead.
Following the murder, Godwin dressed Bell’s body and placed it in a small black tote. Unable to carry it, he purchased a large clear tote with wheels from a nearby Walmart. He then wrapped blankets over and around Bell’s body before placing the totes in his vehicle. Godwin took the body to Lake Thunderbird, a secluded area he was familiar with, and left the totes near some bushes, wanting Bell to have a view of the lake.
The case has been described as unusual by District Attorney Greg Mashburn due to the fact that Bell and Godwin were strangers. Typically, homicide cases involve individuals who know each other in some capacity. Additionally, the manner in which Bell’s body was placed in totes and left in a rural area adds to the unusual nature of the case.
As part of his guilty plea, Godwin has been sentenced to Life without Parole for the murder charge and five years for the unlawful removal of the dead body charge.