A man from Vineland has been sentenced to life in prison in connection to the brutal murder and dismemberment of Tonya Cook in 2018.

The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office says on Friday, 57-year-old Dennis Parrish, who was found guilty by a jury this past summer, was sentenced to life in prison on a first-degree murder charge, 10 years consecutive for second-degree desecration/setting fire to human remains, 10 years concurrent for second-degree desecration/dismemberment, along with charges for obstruction and tampering with evidence.

According to reporting by The Daily Journal, the remains of 32-year-old Tonya Cook of Vineland were found on July 2, 2018, off of Banks Road in the Cedarville neighborhood of Lawrence Township.

State troopers arrested Parrish ten days later at the Luxury Inn and Suites Hotel in Absecon.

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An affidavit of probable cause filed with the original charges on July 12 states investigators linked Cook to Parrish through a partially burnt cardboard box found at the Cedarville scene. A sticker enabled investigators to determine the box had been delivered to Parrish's residence.

Strong evidence

Per The Daily Journal,

  • When Parrish's home was searched, authorities allegedly found blood, trash bags, and matchsticks.
  • A DNA comparison test on blood found in Parrish's home matched Cook's blood.
  • A hatchet containing suspected blood was found in the house.
  • A hand truck containing suspected blood and an accelerant was also found in the house.

Statement from prosecutors

Evidence was presented at trial to show that the Defendant inflicted blunt force trauma upon the victim Tonya Cook, that Defendant dismembered the victim in his Vineland home and then drove the remains to a farm field in Cedarville, Lawrence Township, where he set the human remains on fire.

Parole

Parrish must serve nearly 64 years before becoming eligible for parole, which would make him 120 years old.

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