Police in Knoxville, Tenn., are working to identify a body that was discovered under a woman’s deck during an Easter egg hunt.
She said she searched her yard for the source of the foul odor for a week but never found anything. She even asked someone she hired to work in her yard recently to let her know if they found the source of the smell. They never did.
The woman was searching for eggs in her backyard Wednesday when she found the body of a man.
Police said the corpse was 15 to 20 feet from the edge of the porch. The large deck is low to the ground and it’s difficult to see into the dark, narrow area beneath.
Initial autopsy results showed the man died of a medical condition, but the final autopsy is not yet complete, police said.
It is unclear how the body got under the deck and why. Police say it may have been there for up to two weeks.
The deceased had no identification and was so badly decomposed fingerprints couldn’t be taken in the field.
The man is about 5'4" and weighs about 170 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. The body had not distinguishing marks but did have extensive dental work.
A Tennessee woman pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated child neglect in the case regarding the death of her 17-month-old daughter.
Although the woman, 22-year-old Neena Costanza, was not physically involved in the incident that led to the death of her daughter Eloise, prosecutors claimed that she could have prevented the child’s death. In response to Costanza’s guilty plea, the woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison, WSMV reports.
According to police, the child was beaten to death by Costanzas boyfriend Jacob Hughes while Costanza was working at a Sonic restaurant in Bellevue, Tennessee, an unincorporated area of Nashville. During her shift, Costanza received multiple photos via text message form Hughes, which depicted Eloise with bruises and a serious head injury. Costanza reportedly contacted 911, but Eloise ultimately died the next day from a skull fracture.
According to The Tennessean, Costanza accepted a plea deal to serve 30 percent of her sentence, so she may be free on parole within six years.
Hughes, who has been in jail for nearly two years in connection with the murder, currently awaits a trial scheduled to begin June 16.
A new proposal called “Tennessee Promise” would use excess lottery reserve funds to cover a full ride at two-year colleges for any high school graduate in the state of Tennessee.
The proposal is part of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” campaign, which aims to raise the state’s graduation rates from 32 percent, where they currently stand, to 55 percent by 2025. The campaign is an attempt to not only help improve overall job qualifications, but also attract more employers to the state.
The plan has been met with widespread support in the General Assembly.
One important question, however, remains unaddressed: Haslam has not specified exactly how this particular perk will be paid for throughout future years.
Haslan expects the program to cost some $34 million annually. Tennessee’s $300 million excess lottery reserve funds would pay for part of the program, as would a $47 million endowment.
The state has about $400 million in reserves.
Haslam’s fellow Republican leaders expect the bill to pass after adjustments have been made to it. Although Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris did not elaborate as to what kind of changes the bill will see, he did note that lawmakers want to make sure enough funding is available to support the bill.
House speaker Beth Harwell said that lawmakers and the governor’s administration are joined in their collective goal of “having more of our young people prepared for the workforce.”
Because the program applies only to two-year university degree programs, four-year institutions have expressed concern that Tennessee Promise would minimize the amount of first- and second-year students interested in their programs. Similarly, they also worry about the potential loss of resources this program could lead to.
If, after graduation, a student wishes to attend a four-year school, he/she will be able to do so as a junior. This influx of junior-year students at four-year schools could also require additional financial commitment from the state.
“Long-term, that will be an issue if it appears the state is unable to allocate the resources needed to fund the outcomes and the initiatives it requires to improve student retention and graduation rates,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, who oversees more than 30 different colleges and universities.
Thus, as Sean Tierney, strategy associate with the Lumina Foundation, stated, “sustainability of the financial model is always going to be a big question.”
Florida, Mississippi and Oregon are reportedly considering creating similar programs.
The police chief of a small Tennessee town was involved in a hunting accident that left one individual dead.
Monteagle Police Chief Virgil McNeese inadvertently shot his best friend and hunting partner, Stanley Whitman, while the two were pursuing wild turkey. The 41-year-old Whitman died from his gunshot wound in the hospital a day after the shooting.
According to WRCB, the incident happened outside the home of local resident Adam Higgins, in a spot known for hunting wild turkeys.
“I was getting ready for work and I heard a gunshot went off. Normally, up here, it wouldn’t be something you’d be concerned about,” Higgins said.
Whitman's son also accompanied the two on the turkey hunt, and he alerted the authorities after the incident had taken place, Fox News reports.
"Our hearts are with the families and everyone affected; it was a terrible thing to see," said Higgins.
It is unclear whether McNeese is going to face criminal charges or be dismissed from the force. Details as to how the police chief actually struck Whitman are still unclear.
In the second recent Pit Bull attack on a high-ranking police official, Bradford Assistant Police Chief Dave Chaffin is at home recovering from an attack by two Pit Bulls police said were running loose the city on Thursday. He was attacked while responding to a call that the dogs were roaming on East Main Street early that morning, according to officials. (Chief of Police Jeffrey Ferguson of St. Ignatius, Montana, was also recently attacked by two at-large Pit Bulls and may have to undergo surgery for his injuries. See story below.)
Chaffin reportedly followed the dogs in a patrol car to a house which turned out to be where the dogs’ owner lives. According to police, both Pit Bulls charged Chaffin in a driveway as he stepped out of his patrol car, knocked him down and bit him several times, rolling the Assistant Chief into the street.
Investigators said he was able to reach his gun and he fired a shot to stop the attack and scare them away. “He does have the one puncture wound to the leg and then the rest of his injuries are on his arms, and abrasions and scrapes from where he was on the ground rolling around with the dogs,” Patrolman Brad Hardin said.
Police said this attack could have been avoided if the dogs had been secured properly, and they said this isn’t the first time an officer or city employee has been injured or put in danger by animals running at large in Bradford.
Sandra Montgomery, the dogs’ owner, told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News her Pit Bulls are always secured. She said she doesn’t know how they got loose but they are “very sweet and have never bitten anyone before.”
Montgomery believes her dogs would only bite when provoked. “That didn't make sense either. Not when I'm seeing him chase my dogs down the road from their property and he took a shot at them and missed,” she told reporters.
Princess, she doesn’t even hurt a cat and Fathead he's the youngest one… he just wants to lick and play,” said Montgomery.
“I think he honestly done something to make my dogs, either one of them, bite him.”
Neither Pit Bull has current vaccinations. Police said they were both taken to the animal shelter to be quarantined until a judge decides their fate.
“Were going to enforce our zero tolerance policy,” Hardin said. “We are going to take it the full extent of the law.”
Montgomery was given a summons to appear in general sessions court for allowing the animals to run at large. Police said she could be civilly responsible for all medical bills in this case.
This incident is categorized as the worst animal attack on a Bradford Police officer to date.
Assistant Chief Chaffin was treated in the emergency room for his wounds. There is no indication how long he will be off duty.
MONTANA POLICE CHIEF SEVERELY WOUNDED BY PIT BULL ATTACK
The owner of a Pit Bull that attacked and severely wounded St. Ignatius Police Chief Jeffrey Ferguson pled guilty last week to charges of having two unlicensed dogs and one dog at large. However, he withdrew a guilty plea for owning a vicious dog when he learned it could mean the Pit Bull would be euthanized.
If convicted of the charge, Jeremy Samsel, the dog’s owner, could face up to $600 in fines and six months in jail.
Describing the attack, Chief Ferguson said, "I looked down and just saw blood dripping on my arm, the Taser itself, and onto my boots."
The attack caused a lot of bleeding. Ambulance crews bandaged Ferguson's wounds, and he was taken to a hospital. He is facing surgery for damage caused by the injury.
Controversy over a proposed Islamic cemetery near a Muslim mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. erupted inside a courthouse hallway today.
A Tea Party group is trying to stop the cemetery from being built even though a zoning commission approved it in January.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro asked Judge William Corlew to recuse himself over the case during a hearing today, noted WSMV.
Judge Corlew had ruled against the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro when it initially tried to build a mosque in 2010.
However, a federal court overruled Judge Corlew in that case and the mosque was built.
After Judge Corlew recused himself today, cemetery opponents lashed out at the media (video below).
Tea Partier and anti-cemetery advocate Lou Ann Zelenik warned the media not to film her, even though they were legally allowed to in a court hallway, reports MurfreesboroPost.com.
“I don’t have a dog in this fight, so you do not touch me,” yelled WSMV reporter Larry Flowers, after a Tea Partier pushed him.
"Please don't hurt her," Zelenil told Flowers.
"What are you talking about?" stated Flowers. "I'm no hurting anyone, this man put his hands on me."
Outside the court, Zelenil accused an Islamic student journalist of secretly recording even though the student was in full view with a video camera.
An inmate at Silverdale Correctional Facility in Tennessee has filed a federal lawsuit against the prison, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, and the Corrections Corporation of America because, she says, guards shackled her while she was in labor.
Charity Flerl says that being shackled to the bed while giving birth at a local hospital put her baby’s life and her own life at risk, and her attorney, Chris Clem, agrees.
"It's dangerous to the woman," said Clem. "It's dangerous to the unborn child to keep a woman going through this process shackled to a bed."
Flerl went into labor in September of last year, and prior to being transported to Erlanger Hospital to give birth, guards shackled her arms and legs. Upon arriving at the hospital, guards chained her to the bed and even left her shackled for hours after giving birth. Flerl’s baby was reportedly born with a microcephalic condition and heart issues, and the lawsuit says that the shackling increased her baby’s risk of health problems and birth defects.
The federal lawsuit was filed against the prison, the Corrections Corporation of America, and Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, but according to Hammond, the sheriff’s department had nothing to do with this incident.
"I have no clue why we would be named because she wasn't in our facility, we didn't take her to the hospital and we didn't shackle her," said Hammond after finding out he was being sued.
The CCA has yet to comment on the specifics of the case, but it did release a statement saying its officers always keep the health and safety of the inmates in mind during any given situation.
"While we are unable to speak to the specifics of this case, our dedicated, professional corrections staff is firmly committed to the health and safety of the inmates entrusted to our care,” said the CCA to News Channel 9.
Clem says that ultimately, he and Flerl are hoping that the policy regarding shackling pregnant inmates is amended.
"Just change the policy,” said Clem. “Keep your armed security guards there, if you do have reason to think they're violent, fine maybe shackle them, but most of these prisoners are not there for violent offenses.”
11Woman Sues Former Employer After She Was Fired For Complaining About Her Co-Workers Distributing Nude Photos Of Her
Jennifer Madonia claims she was fired from Uncle Bud’s Catfish Shack in Murfreesboro, Tennessee after she discovered her co-workers, including some supervisors, were passing around nude pictures of her.
Now, she has filed a lawsuit against her former employers.
According to reports, Madonia was only working at the restaurant for about a month when a co-worker, “obtained explicit nude images of plaintiff and displayed them to plaintiff's coworkers and supervisors in a malicious attempt to harass plaintiff."
Madonia claims in the lawsuit that when she went to complain about what her co-workers were doing, she discovered that her supervisors had also been passing around the pictures.
"Plaintiff was told there would be an investigation, but instead plaintiff's hours were cut back and there was no investigation," reads the lawsuit. “When plaintiff complained about plaintiff's hours being cut back, and asked about the progress of the investigation, plaintiffs supervisor Michael Ann Hassel told plaintiff there was too much tension in the workplace, and fired plaintiff.”
Hassel, Madonia’s supervisor, is not named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, but the store’s former owners, Craig Dever and Jay Smith, are named. Reports claim that the Murfreesboro location of Uncle Bud’s Catfish Shack closed its doors in September of last year.
Madonia is suing for punitive damages, attorney fees, and to get her job back with full back pay. It is not clear how Madonia’s co-workers got their hands on nude photos of her in the first place.
In an ongoing effort to fight against the so-called “War on Christmas,” Tennessee legislators recently advanced a measure allowing public school teachers and students to say “Merry Christmas" in schools. The measure also allows teachers and students to safely wish each other a “Happy Hanukkah” or say any other greeting commonly associated with the many religious holidays that occur during the winter time. Additionally, the bill includes provisions allowing holiday imagery to be displayed in schools, as long as multiple religions are represented.
The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden), who claimed that it was created to encourage the continued celebration of Christmas in schools, but it was not intended to discriminate against those that do not celebrate the holiday.
“I’m a real proponent of freedom of religion, but not a proponent of freedom from religion,” Holt said, according to the Toronto Sun, “We are just trying to make sure that nobody is to be excluded in this legislation. It doesn’t preclude any other traditional winter celebrations.”
The main priority of the bill is that all religious holidays can be celebrated in schools, but none should dominate. This has generally been the case already, but the measure would protect teachers from legal action for speaking openly about religious holidays.
According to the Huffington Post, similar legislation was recently passed by lawmakers in the state of Oklahoma.
Tennessee woman Chrissie Ann Solis was arrested Thursday after she called police and reported that she had lost money on a drug deal.
The arrest occurred after the 35-year-old reported a theft in her home. Solis said that a friend had visited her home and that she had $140 sitting on her kitchen table. When she went to the bathoom and returned, her friend and the money were gone.
A routine warrants check was run on Solis’ friend, Tiffany Waller, who was found to be wanted on several charges.
Before Waller was arrested, she gave a Murfreesboro officer consent to look at her phone, which held a text message discussion between Waller and Solis about buying 20 Lorritab pills for $7 a piece, amounting to $140.
Waller then admitted to Solis exchanging the money for pills, but that she took the money back. She argued that she intended to pay Solis back.
Waller was arrested for criminal impersonation, robbery and violation of probation. Solis is currently being held on $6,000 bond.