JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A jury found Russell Tillis guilty Friday of first-degree murder, kidnapping and the abuse of a dead human body.
Tillis was found not guilty on the sex trafficking charge.
The charges stem from the discovery of the dismembered remains of 30-year-old Joni Gunter in Tillis’ Southside backyard.
Investigators believe Gunter was killed between April and May of 2015.
Gunter was a prostitute and drug addict, a woman who was Tillis’ “ideal victim,” prosecutors said.
They pointed to a grisly jailhouse confession in which Tillis himself said he beat and confined women at his house, and killed at least three. They also introduced the testimony of a former prostitute who said she was chained and raped in what prosecutors repeatedly called Tillis’ “House of Horrors.”
He was only charged with Gunter’s murder because she was the only body discovered.
Next comes the penalty phase of the trial, which functions as a separate trial.
Jurors will be asked to look at aggravators and mitigators and decide if Tillis deserves the death penalty and life in prison. That process begins next week.