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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