Christa Worthington: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

When Christa Worthington moved to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, she sought a quiet life. After having a daughter, her focus shifted entirely to her child. However, in January 2002, her peaceful life was shattered. An ex-boyfriend, stopping by to check on her, discovered Christa stabbed to death in the middle of her home. Her daughter, unharmed, was found nearby, attempting to nurse her mother. The CBS’ ‘48 Hours’ episode ‘Murder on the Cape’ delves into Christa’s life and the intense scrutiny that followed her tragic murder. The episode highlights the relentless police work that ultimately led to the capture of the perpetrator, bringing some closure to the harrowing case.

Christa Worthington Moved to Cape Cod For a Quieter Life

Christa Halsey Worthington was born on December 23, 1956, to Christopher Halsey Worthington and Gloria Marie Sanders Worthington in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. From a young age, Christa was bright and spirited, with dreams in her eyes. Coming from a prominent family, she knew she had opportunities to build a successful career. She seized these opportunities, graduating from Hingham High School in 1973 and attending Vassar College till 1977. Her charisma and ability to leave a lasting impression made her famous in college.

From then on, Christa knew she wanted to be a writer. She moved to New York and started working in the fashion industry, quickly making a name for herself. At just 26, she secured an interview with Yves St. Laurent and wrote for popular fashion magazines in New York, Paris, and London. By 1997, having experienced the glamorous world of fashion, Christa wanted a quieter life to focus on writing the fiction book she had long been planning. In 1997, she moved to the Cape Cod area of Truro, Massachusetts, where her family owned some property.

Christa Worthington’s Ex-Boyfriend Found Her Dead at Her Home

In Cape Cod, Christa Worthington met Tony Jackett, a shellfish constable with a wife and six children. They soon began an affair, and in 1999, Christa had a daughter, Ava Worthington, with him. Tony was not excited about the news, as it forced him to confess the affair to his wife. For Christa, it was the best news of her life. Having always wanted a child, Christa made Ava the sole focus of her life. The toddler lit up her world, and the two continued with their lives as Tony gradually slipped out of the picture. During the holidays of 2001, Christa took her daughter Ava to New York, returning only at the beginning of January.

On January 6, 2002, Tim Arnold, a resident whom Christa had dated for a while, stopped by her house to return a flashlight. Noticing that the newspapers were still uncollected, he became concerned and went inside. There, he found Christa lying half-naked in the middle of her living room, surrounded by blood. Ava was beside her mother, trying to nurse; thankfully, she was unharmed. Arnold quickly called the police, who arrived and determined that Christa had been sexually assaulted and stabbed in her left lung. The knife had gone through her body and was stuck on the kitchen floor. They concluded that she had been dead approximately 36 hours before her body was found.

Police Rounded Up Many Suspects For Christa’s Murder

The police had many suspects in Christa Worthington’s murder, starting with Tim Arnold. He was the person who discovered the body, and his DNA was found on one of the blankets that Christa was covered with. Arnold underwent extensive interrogation but provided a solid alibi, exempting him from suspicion. The following person the police investigated was Tony Jackett, who had started fighting for Ava’s custody by this time. His wife, Susan, vouched for his whereabouts on the night of the murder, making it clear that he had long cut off contact with Christa and couldn’t have been involved.

Tony Jackett

Another suspect the police zeroed in on was Elizabeth Porter, Christa’s father’s young girlfriend, who had been struggling with drug addiction. Christa was set to inherit around $700,000 from her father, and she had made her disapproval of his relationship known. The police theorized that Elizabeth might have committed the crime due to emotional and financial motives. However, when the evidence led them nowhere and no arrests were made, the pressure on the police mounted.

Intuitive Police Work Led Them to Christa Worthington’s Killer

The police realized they needed to take drastic measures. Due to the remoteness of Christa Worthington’s house and Cape Cod being a small town, they were confident that the perpetrator had to be someone she knew. Consequently, the police requested all men in the community to voluntarily submit their DNA, which drew national attention to the case. This decision inadvertently highlighted Christa’s active dating life, leading to moral scrutiny and rampant victim-blaming in the media’s coverage of her case.

Before long, the police claimed to have found a match to the DNA discovered inside Christa’s body. A man named Christopher McCowen was arrested based on this evidence. He was responsible for collecting Christa’s garbage, and the police theorized that seeing her alone and vulnerable in the house with a toddler, he committed the crime when she rejected his sexual advances. Christopher gave differing accounts of what happened that day. At first, he claimed to have been in a casual relationship with her, then admitted to being drunk on the night of the murder and stated that he had no memory of what had transpired.

He even claimed he was part of a burglary gone wrong and admitted to physically beating Christa but never confessed to stabbing her. In a court of law, he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Many believe the verdict was tainted by racial bias and allege that Christopher was wrongfully convicted. However, his appeals for a retrial have all been denied, and he remains incarcerated to this day.

Read More: Christopher McCowen: Where is Christa Worthington’s Killer Now?