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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