NEW DETAILS: 4 held without bond in murder of 94 year old Hamblen man

By: Rob Pratt
By: Rob Pratt

MORRISTOWN, Tenn (WVLT) -- For the first time, four people charged in connection with the death of a 94 year old great-grandfather, have appeared in court.

The three men and one woman all face various charges and are still behind bars after today's hearing.

94 year old Willie Morgan's body was found in an industrial park in south Hamblen County ten days ago.

Volunteer TV's Court Reporter Rob Pratt has the latest from the hearings.

We now know more about how Willie Morgan died and the role investigators say each of the four suspects played in his kidnapping, beating death, and disposing of his body.

Darrell Nance is the first to walk into court.

It took only a few minutes for prosecutors to share enough evidence to convince Judge Joyce Ward, Nance should be bound over to the grand jury on a felony murder charge.

Investigators say he abducted and killed Willie Morgan with help from others, including Jessica Leanne Lane, who they say made the initial approach to Willie's house.

Frankie Lane, Hamblen County Sheriff's Detective says, "knocked on the door, stood and talked to him at the door several minutes, trying to get him to talk to Donny Johnson on the phone, and at that time, three guys rushed in the house."

One of the three who allegedly rushed the door, is 18 year old Anthony Maurice Patton.

He and Lane are charged with criminal responsibility for felony murder.

Lane's case was bound over.

Patton was given another week to hire a lawyer.

According to investigators, the group targeted Morgan because Donnie Johnson, a young man who lived with Morgan, had taken money from Lane's purse.

Willie's daughter says Willie thought of Johnson as a grandson, but they were no relation.

Still, Willie often gave him money.

Christine Morgan Shockey, Willie's daughter says, "the last time he did it, my daddy told him, you're getting pretty rough on me, and I said, dad, did you give him more money. He said, I did. So he was draining my daddy dry."

Brice Whaley is charged with being an accessory after the fact and abuse of a corpse.

Investigators say he lead them to Willie's body, but he also admitted responsibility for a gruesome act.

David Stapleton, Hamblen County Sheriff's Department Detective says, "he advised me he removed the hand."

Whaley's attorney says his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is 70% disabled after serving three tours in Iraq.

All suspects are being held and the grand jury is scheduled to meet in March.

From now on, the only details we're likely to hear from investigators will come from court testimony.


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