PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL)— An Alabama man accused of murdering a Columbus woman in Phenix City made his first court appearance Tuesday morning.
Jason Bernard Cole, 40 of Florence, Ala. (pictured left), was in Russell County District Court in front of Judge Walter Gray III.
Rachael Mixson, 41, of Columbus was found dead Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022.
Jason Bernard Cole, 40, of Florence was developed as a suspect and arrested in connection to her death just days later on Oct. 24, 2022.
Cole’s defense attorney requested to waive the preliminary hearing requesting a bond be set. Russell County District Attorney Rick Chancey (pictured right) opposed citing the violent nature of Mixson’s death and substantial evidence collected.
“Rachael Mixson was brutally murdered,” he said. “It was brutal. She was strangled and beaten to death… I know where her body was dumped, and I know the condition it was found in. I know that it’s tough for the family to hear those things. But to me, this is about Rachael Mixson and about how her life ended.”
Judge Gray denied bond and bound the case over to a Grand Jury. Chancey expects this to be presented sometime towards the end of February.
Here is what was revealed in court. The following details may be graphic for some readers.
Rachael Mixson’s body was discovered
Cpl. Issan Duke (pictured left) with the Phenix City Police Department was assigned to the case the day Mixson’s body was found. He took the stand to recount what has been found thus far in their preliminary investigation.
Mixson’s body was found Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, on the side of Cutrate Road (pictured right) in Phenix City. Cpl. Duke said her body was discovered face down with red and black jumper cables and a USB cord wrapped around her neck. The autopsy report confirmed Mixson died of strangulation and a brain bleed from blunt force trauma.
Jason Cole developed as a suspect; last person seen with Mixson
Cole was developed as a suspect after Mixson’s mother revealed the two were in a relationship. One of Mixson’s co-workers also said she was last seen leaving with Cole from her job the night before her body was found.
According to her co-worker, Mixson said the two had broken up Wednesday, Oct. 19. By Friday, Oct. 21, they were back together; however, Mixson said she was, ‘not sure how long it would last.’ Cpl. Duke said her co-worker last saw her leaving her shift Friday with Cole driving her car.
Surveillance footage placed the two at Players Billiards Pool Hall later that night. They were seen leaving together around 9:40 p.m.
After leaving Players, Cole told Cpl. Duke he dropped her off at someone else’s apartment before driving around for the rest of the night visiting various gas stations in Columbus. Cole allegedly reported calling her phone Friday night but got no response.
The days leading up to Mixson’s death, and days after, Cole had been driving Mixson’s car because his had broken down a month prior on Victory Drive in Columbus.
Day of Mixson’s Death
The same day Mixson’s body was found, Cole called out of work saying he needed to go work on his car. Cpl. Duke said Cole confirmed he borrowed a set of red and black jumper cables to work on his car.
Cpl. Duke also told the court Cole denied ever being in Phenix City around the time of Mixson’s death. However, his cellphone pinged on Cutrate Road from 2:39 to 2:51 a.m. Saturday morning.
Mixson’s car was also seen heading westbound, towards Columbus on 13th Street Saturday morning around 10 a.m., and passing through Phenix City eastbound on Hwy 80 around 4:30 p.m. Cole received a speeding ticket Saturday, Oct. 22 in Tuskegee, Al. while driving Mixson’s car. The state presumes he was headed back to Lauderdale County, Ala., where he has family.
Cole was taken into custody Oct. 24, 2022, at his place of work. He was still driving Mixson’s car at that point. After obtaining search warrants, blood was discovered in the backseat and on the back passenger side door of Mixson’s car. One of Cole’s phones was found in her car as well.
Cpl. Duke said Cole did not resist arrest, and even provided investigators with the password to one of his phones. Investigators are still working on downloading all the files from both of his cell phones.
Cole’s Criminal History
The district attorney also cited Cole’s criminal history.
In Jan. 2016, Cole was charged with domestic violence/strangulation, third-degree domestic violence, third-degree theft of property and unauthorized use of a car in Lauderdale County. Chancey told media Cole was convicted in two robbery cases.
WRBL spoke with Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly (pictured left) who confirmed the strangulation charge was dropped.
Connolly says in Aug. 2016, the Lauderdale County victim requested to dismiss the domestic violence/strangulation charges from Cole.
The domestic violence strangulation charge was dropped, and Connolly pleaded it down to Domestic Violence of the 3rd Degree. Cole entered a guilty plea and served six months in the Lauderdale County Detention Facility (pictured right), requiring him to register as a domestic violence offender.
No motive was given yet in Mixson’s murder, Chancey says they are still gathering evidence and a trial date will not be set until next year.