Ex-Husband Charged in Death

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Sweetwater, Monroe County (WVLT) - Monroe County Sheriff's investigators say Deborah Stephen had been sitting in the same chair without moving for almost twelve hours on Friday when her ex-husband finally checked on her and found her unresponsive, but he didn't call for help for almost four more hours.

Now, 55-year-old Jon Michael Terry is behind bars charged with criminally negligent homicide as well as drug possession and evidence tampering.

The questions are obvious, why didn't Jon Terry call for help right away.

And what role, if any, did the crack cocaine police say they found inside the home, lead to Deborah's death.

Family members say Jon Terry came to Monroe County to be with his ex-wife about a month ago to help her during a time of failing health.

"Was spending time the last days of her life together and it was cut short by obviously some irresponsible things they were doing," Jason Terry, the victim's son.

Around 10:00 p.m. September 8th, a 911 call to authorities led them to find 53-year-old Deborah Stephen dead in a chair. It appeared to be a routine death until authorities began speaking to Terry.

"The suspect that we ended up arresting gave conflicting statements to the patrol deputies," says Sgt. Pat Henry.

But authorities learned Terry had seen her in the chair sleeping as early as 6 am and never saw her move for nearly twelve hours.

"He said that around 5 or 6 o'clock he actually shook the victim who was unresponsive at that time and he did not call 911 until three minutes till ten," Sgt. Henry says.

A search of the house found crack cocaine and Terry was charged.

A close friend of Stephens talked to Terry and found his behavior a little odd.

"He was calm, cool, like nothing had happened. I mean, that kind of shocked me," says Donna Brewer, a friend of Deborah.

Police believe Terry should have known Stephen was dead.

"He did advise during his statement that he was a nurse for 22 years and had a bachelors degree in nursing," Sgt. Henry.

But police also say Terry gave conflicting statements.

"My dad was never a nurse. He was partners in a nurse finding business in Arizona a little over three years ago," Terry says.

Jason Terry says he's there for his father if he needs him but says he didn't expect to make any special trip to see him.

Meanwhile, Jon Terry is due in court on September 19th for a preliminary hearing.


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