A woman accused of helping to cover up the murder and dismemberment of an Urbana woman will spend the next six years in prison.
Kandis Forney was sentenced to six years in prison and forfeited her van, which was used to transport the body of Jessica Rae Sacco.
Sacco would have turned 22 on Aug. 28. She was found dead in her West Light Street apartment in March. According to Champaign County Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio, she and ex-boyfriend Matthew Puccio got into an argument and he stabbed her in the abdomen. Hours later, he would suffocate her with a plastic bag. Sacco fought Puccio off at first, ripping the first bag and scratching him, but succumbed after he wrapped her face in a second bag, Selvaggio said.
On Monday, Puccio was sentenced to 42 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. Three of the four friends charged for helping him try to cover up the crime were also sentenced Monday. Forney was sentenced Tuesday.
In an attempt to hide the crime and Sacco’s identity, Selvaggio said Puccio enlisted the help of four friends who were in the living room at the time of the murder. Christopher Wright, 37; Sharon Cook, 35; Kandis Forney, 25; and Andrew Forney, 26, also pleaded guilty to several charges for helping cover up the crime by dismembering Sacco’s body and helping Puccio dispose of limbs in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.
Over the span of several hours, Puccio, Wright and Andrew Forney cut up Sacco’s body using a sword and knives. Selvaggio said at one point, the five defendants took a break from the dismemberment, going to Speedway and McDonald’s before finishing the job. All the defendants except Wright said they did not use that opportunity — or the seven days that elapsed between the murder and the discovery of Sacco’s body — to inform police because they were afraid of Puccio.
Selvaggio said they were given ample time to get away from Puccio and report the crime.
“We would note for all four co-defendants of Mr. Puccio that each of them had an opportunity to save a life,” Selvaggio said.
After his capture in Hamilton in April, Puccio told investigators at least five versions of what happened to Sacco before they learned the truth. Selvaggio presented Puccio as a liar who made up stories about his family and home life and exaggerated his mental illness. Puccio originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but was found competent for trial. He then pleaded guilty to all charges.
Before sentencing, Common Pleas Judge Roger Wilson asked Puccio if he loved Sacco. Puccio replied yes.
“How could you kill and butcher someone you love?” Wilson asked.
“That’s what I’m still trying to figure out,” Puccio said.
Selvaggio and Wilson agreed Puccio did not deserve a life sentence without the possibility of parole because what made the case especially “notorious and heinous” was what he did to her body after the murder. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 30 years on the aggravated murder charge. However, Puccio will have to serve a consecutive term of 12 years for felonious assault, tampering with evidence and two counts of gross abuse of a corpse. He was also fined $500 and will have to pay a portion of the $5,048 ordered in restitution to the victim’s family.
Co-defendants Andrew Forney, Cook and Wright were also sentenced Monday. Forney will serve 10 years for his part in the case. Cook will serve three years, and Wright will serve four years. All three were also fined $500 each and ordered to pay a portion of the restitution.
A final co-defendant, Kandis Forney, will be sentenced today at 10 a.m. She pleaded guilty to single counts of failure to report a crime, complicity to tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
Sue Taynor, Sacco’s mother, said the sentences have brought some closure for her family. She said Sacco’s nine siblings have had trouble sleeping the past few months, afraid Puccio and his friends would come after them. While Taynor cried during much of the proceedings, clutching a red velvet bag containing Sacco’s remains, she smiled and waved her hands in the air when Puccio’s punishment was read.
“We’re very happy about the 30 years, so you know you can’t really help but dance when you get good news,” she said.
For Sacco’s birthday next week, she said they will buy a “really big cake” and “just remember how much she’s missed.”
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