A former Democratic Tennessee State Senate candidate and local television news reporter was arraigned last week on charges of paying a hit man $500 to kill a sheriff’s deputy, who also happens to be the accused man’s own uncle.
Thomas Kenneth Owens, better known as T.K., is accused of meeting with an undercover informant who he believed to be a prospective contract killer. To the meeting in the parking lot of a Johnson City sports bar, Owens brought a picture of the intended target, Ernest “Ernie” Widby, along with Widby’s address and $500, which was supposed be a down payment on the full $2,500 price of the professional rubout.
Widby is the pastor at a local church, which he also founded, New Zion Faith Center. He also serves part-time as a Carter County Sheriff’s Deputy. According to Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes, Owens, 38, was considering becoming a minister himself and was embroiled in some sort of spiritual dispute with Widby — one that in his mind killing his uncle would resolve.
Mathes appeared outraged by what Owens is alleged to have done.
“You’re not going to threaten one of my officers," Mathes told local TV station WJHL. “Without getting emotional, I will tell you that Mr. Widby is one of the finest men I've met in my life."
Owens (pictured) who earlier ran for congress in Tennessee’s First District, ran in 2010 against incumbent state senator Rusty Crowe. Owens, who Mathes described as a “disturbed individual,” was a reporter at WJHL from 2001-2004.
He was held on $100,000 bond in Washington County Jail.
SOURCES: Johnson City Press, WJHL Channel 11, CNN, News Of Our Friends And Neighbors