Child murder suspect Joshua Comer captured, could face death penalty

By: WVLT staff
By: WVLT staff
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Campbell County child murder suspect Joshua Adams Comer has been taken into custody. Comer was wanted in connection with an investigation into the murder of a 3-year-old in LaFollette.

It was a search that crisscrossed Campbell County for more than 24 hours.

And on Wednesday evening, in a valley on Whitman Hollow Road, Josh Comer was found hiding inside the home of someone he knew.

It took law enforcement everything they had.

Officers from other cities, US Marshals, K-9 Units, helicopters, TBI agents, and of course the deputies that Sheriff Robbie Goins says stayed out all night to search.

"It's just good police work. We went back and we researched. We started the grid again. We searched the home. The home owner allowed us to so we found him there in the basement," Sheriff Goins explained.

The sheriff praised the work of his men but this arrest was a long time coming.

Officers stopped cars all afternoon Wednesday, asking drivers if they've seen Comer. They searched trunks and back seats, all in an effort to bring justice to Gabriella Orton. She's the 3-year-old girl that police say Comer killed.

"We had planned on staying there as long as it took. We wanted to make sure that she gets the justice that she deserves. And if it took being out there three more days, that's what we would have done."

The 33-year-old is now in the Campbell County Jail. He kept his head down as he was escorted inside and booked.

Assistant District Attorney Scarlett Ellis says that with a first degree felony murder charge, Comer could face life in prison, even the death penalty.

"The statute sets out some factors that you have to look at, and you have to meet so many of those and certainly we will be looking at that."

As for Goins, he says he's relieved this hunt is over, and hopefully justice will be served.

"It's not just about us, it's about helping this little girl that lost her life."

Comer is being held on a one million dollar bond.

Gabriella Orton's mother, Amber Leann Rezentes, was arrested Tuesday. She's charged with child neglect.

Both Rezentes and Comer are scheduled to appear before a judge Friday morning.

The owner of the home where Comer was captured has not been charged.

Local 8 News has reached out to both the Rezentes and Comer families. Both have declined to speak publicly about this case.

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