NEW DETAILS: Three charged in Hamblen man's murder; Possible motive is money

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

MORRISTOWN, Tenn (WVLT) After living for nearly a century, a Hamblen County great-grandfather's life is violently taken away.

94 year old Willie Morgan was kidnapped and murdered over the weekend.

The sheriff's office says it was drug related.

His tortured body was found this morning.

Now three suspects are charged in connection to his death.

Darrell Edwin Nance, 22, is charged with one count of felony murder.

Jessica LeAnn Lane, 22, is charged with one count of criminal responsibility for felony murder.

Brice Clark Whaley, Jr., 38, is charged with accessory after the fact, and abuse of a corpse.

Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnigan calls this a brutal murder.

Jarnigan says Morgan's left hand was cut off and found in a Jeep belonging to one of the suspects along with two butcher knives.

The exact cause of his death hasn't been released.

Sheriff Esco Jarnigan says, "in my opinion Mr. Morgan died a very brutal, unjustifiable death."

94 year old Willie Morgan's body was found around six am this morning in Hamblen County.

Exactly what happened before it got here in East Tennessee Progress Park just off Highway 25 E is still a mystery.

Sheriff Jarnigan continues, "we're still trying to piece that together. The call initially came in about 10:30 Saturday night. We've been working non-stop."

A missing person call turned into a kidnapping call.

"That sent up a lot of red flags."

A kidnapping that now a day and a half later became what Sheriff Jarnigan calls a brutal murder.

"Speculation is, its about money. They found out he had money and robbery appears to be the motive."

The sheriff's office says they are Darrell Edwin Nance, Jessica LeAnn Lane and Brice Clark Whaley.

Jarnigan says a family member ripped them off during a drug deal.

He says they went to Morgan's Nelson School Road home to hold him as a $3,000 dollar ransom.

Jarnigan says, "one of the suspects did talk to me and escorted us out here."

Jarnigan says without that suspect's help, Morgan's body could have been lost among the trees and brush.

"He actually to direct us almost to the spot because it was pretty well hid."

Now family and friends and this community is struggling with what they discovered.

Jarnigan says, "it just doesn't happen in Hamblen County."

Family members say, Morgan kept a substantial amount of money at his home.

All three of the suspects are at the Hamblen County jail.

Their bond hasn't been set.

Jarnigan says they're still looking for possibly two juvenile boys.

They're also suspects in this kidnapping and murder.

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  • by Concerned Location: Knoxville on Jan 23, 2008 at 11:52 AM
    To someone intelligent...NOT!!!!! so your saying it's ok for these four animlas to kill this lil old man and leave his body outside in the cold and these animals shouldn't be judged???? You think buddy if it was your family member you'd feel different. I HOPE LIKE HELL THEY GET THE DEATH PENTALY I really think they should be put up in front of a firing squad and killed that way.....God bless you Someone Intelligent (NOT)....
  • by Pam Location: Morristown on Jan 23, 2008 at 01:34 AM
    As A granddaughter in-law,I was privilaged to be a part of this wonderful mans life for 25 1/2 yrs. We had a very special relationship.Papaw Willie and I shared a great love of animals,he and I would talk about our pets for hours.Wilie's first born son was my father in law. He was the greatest man I ever knew. We shared a very special bond.I could see his sparkling blue eyes every time I looked into Willie's sparkling blue eyes.It's just like losing my father in law all over again.I know Jesus said forgive for they know not what they do, but these animals, in my opinion,knew what they were doing. The Bible also says to live by the laws of the land. Therefore,I believe these animals should pay for their crimes to the fullest extent of the law. They were not forced to do the things they did to Willie. They made a choice to do them.Willie's life was taken by no choice of his own.My husband,Willie's grandson, is devestated by this tragedy.We will miss him forever.Rest in peace Papaw Willie!
  • by Verna Location: Severville on Jan 22, 2008 at 11:52 PM
    this is a horrible thing i take care of my 91 year old grand mother and i could not imagine any one could be so cruel my heart goes out to all who knew willie he looked so very sweet and for something so horrible they all should pay i cant imagine anyone could be so mean i pray for the family because god is the 1 who will see you though this terrible time and i pray for the people who did this that they might fall to their knees and find JESUS. you all will be in my prayers
  • by Christie Location: Florida on Jan 22, 2008 at 07:33 PM
    I am so deeply saddened by this story. I pray for Mr. Morgan's family and loved ones. May God be with you during this horrific time.
  • by someone intelligent Location: knoxville, tn on Jan 22, 2008 at 07:02 PM
    Its really sad to me that you people commenting are taking everything the media is feeding you and swallowing it down like good little lap dogs. THINK FOR YOURSELF. You don't know even HALF the evidence, and youre ready to hang EVERYONE involved. It is a sad thing that something like this can happen, but its also a sad thing that the American public is so brain dead they will believe whatever their flashing box tells you.
  • by David on Jan 22, 2008 at 05:42 PM
    First of all the family have my sympathy and all our prayers. Now as for the ones that did this horrible thing. I have spent my time in the US Military and have seen a lot of things but nothing that turned my stomach as much as this. I have always been a supporter of the death penalty and think these three are good candidates.
  • by Melissa Location: Tazewell on Jan 22, 2008 at 10:51 AM
    Hanging these people would be too good for them. How can they do an elderly person like that? I hope justice is served in this case.
  • by marie Location: loudon county on Jan 22, 2008 at 10:40 AM
    Looking at the past convictions of these people, why were they out of prison! One guy had a carjacking conviction in 2006! Please,... until this trash is made to pay these crimes will only get worse.
  • by Help needed Location: hamblen county on Jan 22, 2008 at 09:49 AM
    As I watch the news on what hapened to Mr. Morgan-my heart reaches out to you and my deepest sypathy.As I read a few of the comments, it saddens me also.Yes they need to pay for what they did. But people are some people are calling it a voodoo thing a black thing.that is so sick!A white female was in this to.So it is "no color thing."We as christians,and to the non-christians,Look what is happening to our society!Drugs-Money, the root of all evil!How are the drugs getting here. Let's not make his death be in vain.Let this be the start of stopping drugs from coming to our city-our state.We are acting like we are blind to were they come from. Lets put a stop to it! Like one of the commenters said.Let "Willie Morgan" name be remembered forever.This is not a racial thing,or a voodoo thing it's a "DRUG" Thing. We need to educate people on that-not make this a "hate" thing or a racial thing!And like one of the commenters said,"DO THIS IN REMEMBERANCE OF WILLIE MORGAN" My prayersgooutto famiy!
  • by flowerst Location: tn on Jan 22, 2008 at 08:57 AM
    so sad!!!!!!!!! what kind of mind do these people have.hey, lets go with...eye for eye , and tooth for tooth. give em a dose of what they dished out.
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