Two plead in torture murders

Bruce Edward Rocheford, 27, and Jeffery Lynn Sanders, 23, last Friday entered guilty pleas to their roles in the grisly torture and 1995 murder of two Warren County men, the Southern Standard reported.

Rocheford pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Sanders pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder for his role in the John Allen Harry and Roger Dale Zammit murders.

Of the eight people originally charged in the slayings, only three remain to appear in court. One, Chris Tatrow, was found guilty last July by a Cumberland County jury on two counts of felony murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

Fire destroys deputy sheriff’s home

Fire destroyed the home and two vehicles belonging to a Putnam County sheriff’s deputy this week and friends are rallying around the lawman and his family, the Herald-Citizen reported.

Deputy Chuck Ledbetter and his wife had gone to a funeral and on one was at their Bennett Road home when the fire broke out in a hallway near the carport. We got the call about 1:48 p.m., and the house and two vehicles were burning, fully involved, when we arrived, Putnam Fire Chief Daryl Blair said.

When we got there, three-fourths of the house was fully involved and flames had come out of the roof and the wind blew sparks to the vehicles and set them on fire, Chief Blair said. The family lost all their belongings.

Co-workers have been accepting donations to help the family.

Tokyo Spa raided a second time

A Rockwood massage parlor has once again come under the scrutiny of local law agencies, resulting in the arrest of two female masseuses after a raid last week.

Tokyo Spa employees Sun Shim Chang, 47, and Young Ae Yue, 40, were both arrested and charged with solicitation for prostitution. Yue was also charged with violation of Tennessee’s Masseuse Act. The women posted bond the same day of their arrest.

The raid, which was conducted by the Roane County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division, resulted in the confiscation of $2,275.76, several videotapes and a couple of address books. It is the second time the massage parlor has been raided.

A third raid will result in felony charges being filed. We had a lot of ministers putting heat on us about the place, Chief Deputy Don Hood said.

We agree with that. We don’t want (Tokyo Spa) here, he added.

Another meningitis case reported

A 51-year-old Boiling Springs community man was hospitalized this week in serious but stable condition after being diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis, the Herald-Citizen reported.

The unidentified man entered Cookeville General Hospital through the emergency room. Hospital officials the type of meningitis suffered by the Boiling Springs man was different than the one that hit a 6-year-old Cookeville child earlier in the week.

We have two cases of meningitis within the community in one week, but they are caused by totally different organisms, reported Harriet Westmoreland of the Regional Health Department.

Grocer pleads guilty to fraud

A Signal Mountain food market owner pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal food stamp fraud. His wife pleaded guilty to failing to file taxes.

Chang Son and his wife, Kay Son, will remain in custody until their sentencing on June 9. The husband faces up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. The wife faces a misdemeanor income tax sentence. The Sons paid a security guard to purchase food stamp coupons at 70 percent of their face value, then redeemed them for full value, federal prosecutors said.

They were making 30 percent on each day’s investment, prosecutors argued shortly after Son’s arrest on a 67 count federal indictment. Officials became suspicious when an audit showed the mom and pop grocery store deposited $2 million in food stamps between August 1993 and March 1996.

The Sons also forfeited their $600,000 illegal profit. The government seized their house, another subdivision lot, their cars and investment accounts. The store’s security guard, Michael Varnell Wigfall, who worked for the Sons, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for his part in the conspiracy.

Bones are of young black woman

Bones found in rural Wilson County are those of a young black woman, a forensic scientist said Tuesday.

The first of the bones were found Sunday by a fisherman near Vivrette Creek. Searchers found more of the remains Tuesday. Forensic specialist Dr. William Bass told television station WKRN that he was able to determine the race, gender and approximate age of the victim.

The teeth have more grooves and crevices and valleys than teeth you’d find in whites, and that’s very characteristics of black individuals, Bass said. The skull was that of a woman in her 20s who has been dead between six months and a year, Bass said.

The body had been buried in a shallow grave. Wilson County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Don Hamblen believes the victim was killed elsewhere. (She is) not from our area, Hamblen said. We don’t have missing persons, but we’re close to Metro Nashville, so they’ll be assisting us on this case. About one-third of the skeleton has been found.

Police search for girls attacker

Police believe the same man has broken into eight Memphis homes late at night, raping one young girl and fondling seven over the past three months.

Parents need to make sure the windows are locked, and people need to call us if they know anything about this, said police inspector R.G. Wright.

The attacks, between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., began Dec. 6, with the latest one Sunday. The girls were ages 8 to 13. Other than the rape victim, the girls were not seriously hurt physically, Wright said.

Wright said the attacker apparently climbed through windows and attacked the girls while they were asleep in their beds. He was scared off several times when the youngsters screamed.

Triple shooter headed for hospital

It appears accused gunman Donald Eugene Stembridge will be spending time in a mental institution rather than behind bars for the November 1995 shooting spree that left three people wounded, the Southern Standard reported.

Stembridge’s court appointed attorney, Public Defender Dale Potter, recently filed an official plea on behalf of his client, claiming the 36-year-old suspect is not guilty by reason of insanity. Stembridge currently is charged with three counts of attempted murder.

He has been incarcerated since he allegedly opened fire with a .22-caliber revolver, wounding his ex-wife, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend.

Three rape charges hold suspect

A Macon County man has been bound over to the next session of that county’s grand jury on three counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated kidnapping.

Allen R. Woodard, 26, Westmoreland, is being held in connection with an incident that occurred in Westmoreland Feb. 2 and 3 during which a woman was repeatedly raped and sodomized, suffered electrical shock from an extension cord, was burned all over her body with a cigarette, her hair all cut and struck repeatedly, the Macon County Times reported.

The victim also had demeaning phrases and words written all over her body and was threatened with death during her ordeal.

He remains jailed under $200,000 bond.

Woman pleads in child abuse case

A Warren County woman was sentenced to three years probation for her role in the near fatal beating of her

2-year-old daughter last June at the hands of her boyfriend, the Southern Standard reported. Michelle Vaughn, 19, entered a guilty plea before Circuit Court Judge Charles Haston to the charge of aggravated assault for failing to protect her children against abuse.

In return for her plea, Vaughn was given three years probation and must report any contact she has with her children’s alleged attacker, Tony Brown Neal.

The child reportedly suffered serious injury when she was punched in the stomach.

Officials meet budget protesters

Correction Commissioner Donal Campbell met protesters waving signs and black balloons outside the Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility during a visit Tuesday.

They were protesting, which they were entitled to do, said agency spokeswoman Pam Gehman, who accompanied the commissioner. We have no way of knowing if they were facility or prison workers.

Campbell was not deterred from entering the facility to talk to employees about Gov. Don Sundquist’s budget proposal to eliminate 265 positions within the agency, Gehman said.

As Campbell and his aides left the prison, some of the protesters followed in cars.

They honked their horns and followed the commissioner to an airport in Rockwood, where Campbell boarded his state plane and returned to Nashville.

Gehman said the demonstrators parked their cars in the parking lot and made no attempt to prevent Campbell’s plane from leaving.

Cigarettes may have caused fire

SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP)
Police believe cigarettes caused two fires that occurred the same week in the same room at Cambridge Medical Center nursing home.

One resident and six employees were treated for smoke inhalation after Thursday morning’s fire. Firefighters extinguished a mattress fire in the same room last Thursday.

Detective Todd Spearman said he believes both fires were caused by a resident who was possibly smoking near the bed. He said he plans to interview residents.

Officials said damage was confined to the mattress and bedding.

Man bound over in murder case

A man has been bound over to a grand jury for allegedly aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a 15-year-old boy.

Police said Tuesday that Jason Lee Bender, 22, and two other boys involved in the Dec. 23 shooting of Michael Rogers all admitted that the incident was gang-related.

Rogers, who remains hospitalized from a bullet to the spine, also said that there had been ongoing rivalry between gangs identified as the Bloods and Crips.

Arthur Walton, 17, is also charged with aiding and abetting the attempted murder of Bender. Another 17-year-old, Trevor David Leas of Columbia, Pa., is charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Walton and Leas were transferred from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court in January to face prosecution as adults. All three defendants remain in jail in lieu of $100,000 bonds.

Double billing for DUI suspects?

A federal lawsuit poses a sobering legal question about whether the state’s drunken drivers are being served double fines.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges Circuit Court clerks are billing DUI defendants both for their mandatory fines and for the cost of their mandatory time behind bars.

The plaintiffs, with the support of an attorney general’s opinion, argue that fees for jail reimbursement should be subtracted from the fines, not added to them.

Thousands of defendants and dollars could be involved. There were 28,180 DUI convictions in Tennessee last year alone, and the statute cited by the lawsuit goes back to 1982.

Everybody that has been convicted of DUI has had a fine imposed and some jail time. Everyone, attorney James Andrews said. Andrews represents four DUI defendants in what he hopes will be a class action for all DUI offenders against most, if not all, clerks in the 95 counties.

The lawsuit names as defendants the clerks in the state’s four largest counties Jimmy Moore of Shelby County, Richard Rooker of Davidson County, Lillian Bean of Knox County and Judy Medearis of Hamilton County. Four double-billed DUI defendants, one for each county, are named as plaintiffs.

Man charged in child’s rape

A Murfreesboro man is being held on charges of child rape and aggravated sexual battery.

Charges were filed Monday against Nathan R. Hunter, 32, for his alleged sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl, according to a Rutherford County Sheriff’s detective.

Hunter is being held at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center in lieu of a $40,000 bond Authorities learned about the allegations Monday when the girl talked to a school counselor who contacted the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, according to Detective Sgt. Preble Morton.

DCS interviewed the child at school where she discussed digital and oral penetration by the alleged child predator, Morton said.

A hearing for Hunter is set for Monday in General Sessions Court.

Student’s heart goes to classmate

A fatal bullet has kept 18-year-old Clay Bufford from joining his high school buddies at graduation this spring but his heart will be there, donated to a classmate who needed a transplant.

Police said Bufford was shot in the head Feb. 23 while trying to protect a child from a teen who was flashing a handgun. The teen was arrested and charged with murder.

Bufford, of Bolivar Central High School, was placed on life support. Doctors later told his mother that he was brain-dead and that there was nothing they could do for him. Ms. Bufford then remembered 17-year-old Ameanna Turner, who had been hospitalized since December after doctors discovered a leaking valve in her heart. The mother decided to donate her son's heart to the girl the next day.

Doctors expect Turner to go home in a few weeks. By April, they believe she should be marching in her graduation line to get her diploma.

Ms. Bufford said the only thing that mattered to her son was graduation, which is why she wanted Ms. Turner to have his heart.

DEA seizes 100 pounds of dope

The Drug Enforcement Agency will use a hazardous materials team to study a lab in a house where authorities seized about 100 pounds of marijuana.

No one was arrested in last week’s raid.

Bob Terry, director of the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, estimated the street value of the marijuana at $250,000.

Terry said the lab included paraphernalia and chemicals.

As a result of the Warren County case, a search warrant was obtained for a residence in DeKalb County. Officers found a small amount of marijuana there but no one was arrested, Terry said.

More drug arrests to come

Police arrested a man on charges of cooking up a batch of drugs with a portable lab. And Sgt. Bob Terry, director of the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, said he thinks more arrests will be following.

It is our belief that this won’t be the last case because we are continuing to investigate other situations, he said. We take this especially seriously because this stuff is very dangerous.

Police arrested James Randall Henley, 40, of Cookeville on Tuesday night on charges of producing methamphetamine, a synthetic drug also called crank, described as souped-up speed. He was arrested as he left to make a sale, authorities said.

Henley was charged with manufacturing a controlled drug, possession of the drug for resale and carrying a weapon for the purpose of going armed. He was being held Wednesday on $130,000 bond.

Agents from the task force, the TBI, the Cookeville Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department had a tip that a meth lab was in operation and were staked out when they saw Henley leaving.

Medical facility construction started

Preliminary foundation work has begun for Arcon and Baptist Hospital’s new urgent care and outpatient surgery facility.

Arcon President Tom Pemberton said he hopes to open the facility in August, according to the Roane County News.

Current plans call for the construction of two buildings. One will be the 20,000-square-foot urgent care and outpatient facility, and the other will be an 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot office building for administrators and doctors.

Arcon and Baptist initially received approval last May for locating the medical facility near Rockwood’s Wal-Mart. Because of some concerns expressed by area residents, however, Arcon and Baptist then elected to construct the facility on property about three-fifths of a mile away near Roane Memorial Gardens.

However, Harriman’s Roane Medical Center is opposing the certificate of need for that site, contending the new facility is providing duplicate services.

Merchants squabble over beer ads

Should Cookeville merchants ne permitted to advertise the availability of beer or prices of specific brands of beer in area newspapers and on area television and radio stations?

It depends on how you read ordinances regulating alcoholic beverages within the City of Cookeville.

According to the Herald-Citizen, some business owners have complained to city officials that a few chain stores, many whose advertising is done by national agencies and distributed to media outlets, are advertising beer by brand name. The local business owners say they are prohibited from doing that by city ordinance, yet national advertising agencies seem to be free to advertise how they wish.

We’ve had some complaints and some different interpretations of what these stores can advertise, said City Clerk Stephanie Miller. Some of the local business owners have complained about national chains advertising in the paper.

Today, the Cookeville Alcohol Beverage Control Board will meet in the Cookeville City Hall to address the issue.

Ex-minister guilty of child porn

A former Morristown minister, who vowed to fight child pornography charges, pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography through the mail.

Bob Cook, 43, entered the plea Monday in U.S. District Court. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing on June 9.

The guilty plea is a conditional one that allows Cook to appeal a critical legal issue, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Shultz said.

The question is whether he knowingly received child pornography because the videotape he ordered was not the one he received in a sting perpetuated by authorities. Prosecutors say it makes no difference.

Cook resigned as pastor of The First Church of the Nazarene shortly after his arrest last April at Panther Creek State Park. He also faces face child molestation charges in Hamblen County.

Crime spree suspects are indicted

One of two half-brothers from West Virginia accused in an Arkansas crime spree was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Tennessee.

The grand jury indicted Alan B. Chauncey, 28, of Ranson, W.Va., on charges of kidnapping and using a firearm in a crime of violence.

Memphis authorities accuse Chauncey of abducting a woman from a Memphis highway welcome center Jan. 23, raping her at her apartment, and then forcing her to withdraw money from an automated teller machine.

Chauncey and Richard Francis Barr III, 20, of Berkeley Springs, W. Va., also have been charged with capital murder in the Jan. 30 shooting death of Arthur Joe Cotton of Sheridan at a rest area near Morrilton. The pair also faces numerous charges arising from an attack on three women in Conway earlier this month. Two sisters were raped and abducted in the attack, and the throat of their mother was slit.

Jailhouse kisser won’t face charges

A jailer with the Maury County Sheriff’s Department won’t face criminal charges for kissing a female inmate, authorities said Wednesday.

However, Brian McCandless, 28, decided to resign after the Tuesday night incident in which he kissed Melody Brandon, 31.

That sort of intimate behavior among my employees and the jail’s inmates is against my policy, said Sheriff Enoch George. We just can’t tolerate that behavior.

George said both McCandless and Brandon told him that they were high school sweethearts.