TBI investigating Sevier jail death of former officer, Chief's son

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Sevier County (WVLT) – The Sevier County's Sheriff has called in state investigators to try to determine how a former Gatlinburg police officer and the son of Pigeon Forge's police chief could die while in jail.

Not much information has been released and nobody is talking, from the Sheriff to the jail supervisor to Bradley Baldwin’s father.

Records suggest Baldwin’s latest trouble could have brought his past back to haunt him.

“I seen his wife when she leaves every once in awhile, and then I see them when I come home and that's about it,” said Roger Pitts, a neighbor of Baldwin’s.

Bradley and his wife moved into the neighborhood, located on a Sevierville mountain about a year and a half ago.

Pitts said he had never actually met his uphill neighbor, not even when a fire damaged the Baldwin’s home around Christmastime.

“I did not know he was in jail,” Pitts said.

Baldwin has been in the Sevier County Jail just a few days after being picked up on a felony theft warrant last Friday.

He was arraigned Wednesday morning and could have bonded out for $1,500.

But instead, the Sheriff was forced to give a simple statement, saying Baldwin was found dead in his cell around 4:00 PM Wednesday afternoon, and that any and all questions should go to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

“He apparently died of a suicide while being held in the jail,” said Kristin Helm from the TBI. “There doesn't appear to be any foul play at this time. An autopsy is being done at UT and preliminary results aren't completed.”

Baldwin's criminal troubles date back at least 5 and a half years, when he received a 10 years sentence for dealing cocaine and committing aggravated assault.

He was to spend only 200 days in custody with the rest to be served in a halfway house and on probation, but only a month later he faced more drug charges and two years later he was arrested for evading arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Those arrests violated his parole and sent him to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary for nearly a year.

Roger Pitts said nothing happened at Baldwin’s home after he moved in that seemed suspicious.

For now, nobody has speculated on record as to why Baldwin killed himself.

Some do wonder if a conviction on the new theft charge could have sent him back to prison for the rest of his cocaine sentence, but if Sevier County jailers knew that, would they have him on suicide watch?

“We are still trying to figure out exactly where he was and where he was staying at the jail,” said Helm. “We will take a look at jail policy, that will be a part of the investigation.”

Sevier County's Jail has struggled with crowding including last summer when there was a corrections inspection.

But even then, the inspector praised efforts to fix the problems and recommended it be certified.

TBI won't say how long the investigation will take and beyond who Baldwin's parents are, we have little information on his family.

Arrangements have not been finalized, but Atchley Funeral Home in Sevier County will handle the services.

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  • by PJ Location: Tennessee on Jan 21, 2008 at 01:25 PM
    This investigation is long overdue not only investigates this death but also investigates this facility as well. A relative of mine is also currently serving time in the Sevier County Jail as a first time offender. He has made a big mistake in his life and wants to repay his wrong. He wants to become a productive member of society after he has served his time. Being his first time incarcerated told me that caged animals are better treated then inmates are. Sleeping on concrete floor with just a thin mat. There is definitely over-crowding as stated in the article. I'd like to know where the guard were while this happened, The people who work there are not very helpful, some of them make you feel like you are also an inmate and treat you as if you were the criminal. I feel that this place needs some big changes immediately to ensure that this tragedy never happens again.
  • by Wanting Answer's! Location: Seymour on Jan 20, 2008 at 07:20 PM
    I hope that TBI not only investigate's this death but also investigate's this facility as well. A relative of mine is currently serving time in the Sevier County Jail as a first time offender and says that the conditions there are deplorable. Inmate's are sleeping on concrete floor with just a 6 inch mat between them and the floor. There is diffintley over-crowding as stated in the article. I'd like to know what the guard to inmate ratio is at this facility, I'm guessing not very good if something like this could take place. The people who work there are not very helpful,informative, or knowledgable and treat you as if you were the criminal. I feel that this place needs to be investigated immediatley to ensure that this kind of tragedy never happens again.
  • by Proud Friend Location: Sevierville on Jan 19, 2008 at 09:47 PM
    I was blessed to go to high school with Brad. I feel privileged to say that I knew him. My heart aches knowing that he is not with us now. Brad befriended everyone with that big smile and sparkle in his eyes. That is the Brad that I will always remember. I pray that his family will find comfort in knowing that he truly made a difference in the lives of the people who really knew the good guy he was. I am a person who certainly feels truly blessed to have known him. Rest in peace my friend.
  • by Someone who knows Location: TN on Jan 18, 2008 at 09:56 PM
    To anonymous: I would love to know how you would feel if you flipped the news there was someone in your family with dead plastered across the top. Yes, I agree with people change, but just because this boy was the son to a chief of police does not mean that his family does not mourn. I am sure you do not know how many people die in jail everyday, there are hundreds. But I do not see it on the news. It saddens me that while this family is mourning, the news teams are calling. If you were mourning would you want a news team calling???? Think about that, Brittany Spears, deserves privacy too. She does what she does to sale records. This family as with anyother family dealing with tragedy needs time to mourn and adjust.
  • by Friend Location: Tn on Jan 18, 2008 at 03:40 PM
    I meet Brad about a year ago and the pictures are not the same guy.I thought he was a great guy, he was always friendly and very mannerly. He loved his wife and children deeply. He was a great dad from what I could see, trying to go far above the call of duty to provide. I know this is very painful for his entire family and friends, it is very hard to believe he is gone. My prayers are for Brad most of all, i could only imagine how he was hurting and the feeling of hopelessness to do this, he will be missed deeply by many. I send my deepest regards to his family and children remember his smile, he was always wearing one!
  • by Anonymous on Jan 18, 2008 at 03:38 PM
    people change some for the better and others for the worse. the tv station is not rubbing salt on wounds they are reporting. they do the same with brittney spears and ect. and this is no different
  • by EG Location: Chattanooga on Jan 17, 2008 at 11:58 PM
    Brad was a dear childhood friend. The public should know that he was once a leader. The pictures of Brad shown on TV are the not the Brad that I knew so many years ago. He could be a prankster, a joker of sorts. He was a part of the “in-crowd.” He was a student of good ability, possessed of good morals and had a high sense of honor. I loved Brad like a brother just like the rest of the boys who grew up with him. He would do anything for anybody. Please keep his family in your prayers. And if there is someone in your life who is going through some struggle help them now and stick with them. Rest in Peace, Brad.
  • by Some who knows Location: TN on Jan 17, 2008 at 11:55 PM
    I just do not understand, why knowing that his family is grieving as Alan Williams said, this channel would continue to rub salt in a families wounds. I think it is very hurtful of your station to keep bringing this out for his children and family to see.


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