(Update: DA provides more details; property's owner missing since March; court records show domestic violence in the past)
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Culver woman was arraigned on second-degree murder and other charges Friday, accused of fatally shooting a man whose body was found in a refrigerator on property southwest of Madras nearly a month ago.
The property owner, with whom she'd had an at-times violent relationship in recent years, has been missing for months, but officials have not yet identified the man's body.
Charina Jeanette Owen, 36 also known as Charina Janette Mathews, was very emotional and cried through most of the brief court proceeding as she appeared by video from the Jefferson County Jail before Circuit Judge Annette Hillman. She wiped tears from her eyes and at times put her hands over her ears.
Owen is also charged with unlawful use of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm and second-degree abuse of a corpse.
When Hillman referred to the defendant as Mathews, she corrected the judge, saying that was her ex-husband's name and she now goes by Owen. She acknowledged understanding the charges and said her attorney, Timothy Gassner, would speak for her.
The judge granted a motion by Chief Deputy District Attorney Brentley Foster to seal an 18-page probable cause affidavit filed in the case. He said its release could jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
The property the body was found on is owned by Byron Hilands, 34, who District Attorney Steve Leriche says has been missing since around March.
Leriche told NewsChannel 21 that Hilands and Owen had a relationship for some time, and a friend of Hilands called in a welfare check after noticing his disappearance.
The DA said they are still working to identify the body found on the property.
“The only thing that I would like to put out there is that Mr. Hilands has been missing for a matter of months," Leriche said.
"This investigation has been going on for about May 7," the DA said, "so if there is anyone out there who has information regarding the relationship of Charina Owen and Byron Hilands, or has any information on the disappearance of Mr. Hilands or has spoken or taken a statement from her, they can contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office."
Leriche did not disclose how the victim was killed or whether he was killed in the area where he was found.
The prosecutors' initial charging document indicated the crimes involved a gun and occurred between Feb. 1 and when the body was found on May 7.
Hillman ordered Mathews to remain held without bail pending her arraignment next Thursday afternoon on an expected formal grand jury indictment.
Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies and Oregon State Police arrested Owen around 3 p.m. Thursday, Sheriff Jim Adkins said.
Around 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, deputies were called to a property at the corner of state Highway 361 and Southwest Bear Drive on a report of a neighbor seeing “something suspicious” there, Adkins told NewsChannel 21 a few days later.
Adkins said a multi-agency investigation soon began at the property, which he said at the time had nothing on it but an apparent old potato cellar, half-buried underground. He said investigators were interviewing suspects and the public was not in danger.
Court records show Owen has a lengthy criminal record, including a March 2018 conviction on charges of burglary and unlawful use of a weapon, for which she was sentenced to two years in prison.
But past court records show a history of domestic violence in the past between the couple.
In 2017, he told an officer that Owen had hit him in the head with a rock, breaking his glasses off. "Byron said he thinks Charina is on drugs and she is not acting herself," the affidvavit showed.
"She threatens to kill me all the time," he told the officer "Sometimes she is joking, sometimes she is serious, and I am on guard all the time around here."
Asked if she ever threatened to harm or kill him or his children, Hilands replied, "Oh, she will just go ahead and do it." But he also said she had no access to a firearm.
Owen declined to talk about what happened because she was being recorded, which was "intimidating her and it is against her religion," the deputy wrote
A judge sentenced Owen to 60 days in jail, an increased sentence due to a probation violation.
In another case in early 2018, a probable cause affidavit for arrest told of a no-contact order saying Owen was not supposed to have contact with Hilands. Hilands "told me Charina is a good person, when she is not high she is good to him and her kids," the deputy noted.
In March 2018, she pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and unlawful use of a weapon and was sentenced to two years in prison, records show.