Justin Cornell sentenced 40 years for murder of Brianna Armstrong

Posted at 9:50 AM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 17:47:19-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Justin Cornell was sentenced to 40 years behind bars for the murder of Brianna Armstrong.


Justin Cornell was found guilty in the murder of Brianna Armstrong.

Cornell was charged with second degree murder after evidence linked Cornell to the the disappearance, decapitation and dismemberment of Armstrong.

Armstrong was last seen on May 7, 2015 by her husband who filed a missing persons report when she did not return home.

Investigators later determined that Armstrong was having a romantic relationship with Cornell and she had gone to his apartment that night. The two had worked at Knuckles and Knots in Virginia Beach off Newtown Road.

On May 14, 2015, Armstrong's car was found parking near Cornell's apartment.

When police went to Cornell’s apartment, the doors and windows were all open. They found clothing belonging to Armstrong and knives and swords all over the home. Investigators also found a large stain on the carpet in Cornell’s hallway.

Cornell initially denied seeing Armstrong recently, but later changed his story and admitted he had seen her on May 7.

Receipts for cleaning supplies and a carpet cleaner were later recovered from his apartment.

On May 31, 2015, a man riding a bike near the Great Dismal Swamp found human remains and called the police.

Through DNA tests and dental records, the body was identified as Brianna Armstrong.

She had been decapitated and her body had been severed at the joints.

Multiple items belonging to Cornell were found with Armstrong’s remains. Some of the items included trash, a receipt with his name and address and underwear which was later determined to contain Cornell’s DNA.

Also found with Armstrong’s remains were green plastic particles that were found to be consistent with a Christmas tree found in Cornell’s home.

A search of Cornell’s phone indicated that seven hours before the discovery of Armstrong’s remains, Cornell performed a Google Map search of the exact location within the Great Dismal Swamp where her body was found.

In May, a jury found Cornell guilty of Armstrong's murder and recommended a 40 year sentence after deliberating for an hour and 45 minutes.

Previous coverage:

Justin Cornell found guilty of second degree murder in death of Brianna Armstrong

One year anniversary of Brianna Armstrong disappearance

Medical Examiner: Brianna Armstrong died from decapitation, dismemberment

Co-workers, friends celebrate Brianna Armstrong’s life at candlelight vigil