Questions Arise Over Oak Ridge Halfway House

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Oak Ridge, Anderson County (WVLT) - A man now facing homicide charges in connection with the death of his girlfriend, may also have been involved in another killing.

Thirty-seven-year-old Anthony Hickey was arrested in Anderson County after 39-year-old Kathy Seeber, was found murdered in her teller village apartment last Thursday.

Hickey allegedly told a friend he also killed a second person. Police are searching, but so far have not been able to prove that.

Hickey spent some time in a half-way house for recovering alcohol and drug addicts, that the city of Oak Ridge says is in violation of city zoning codes.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with the tenant and the Oak Ridge City Manager Tuesday.

Ray Sisson is the tenant of Freedom Houses of Tennessee. Two of the three houses sit in the highland view neighborhood and the city says the buildings are not allowed to be there without a zoning permit.

"They are running an operation or a business in a residential zone that is not allowed," Oak Ridge City Manager Jim O'Connor says the owners of the for-profit half way houses in the Highland View community are operating in violation of city zoning codes. "No one has come to register with us. They have not asked for a business license or have they told us what they are operating. They have just placed these homes in the neighborhood."

The Freedom Houses do have a business license from the city, but O'Connor says a mental health facility must also have a separate zoning permit to be in a residential area.

"We have sent them letters and sent notices. The next will be subpoenas for court," O'Connor says.

"As far as I knew, once I had the city license, I was good to go, and I really didn't have any reason to think otherwise," Freedom Houses tenant, Ray Sisson, says someone from the city contacted him several times about going before the Board of Zoning Appeals. "Me and this Ms. Austin went back and forth. I couldn't make the appointment, she couldn't make the appointment. Then finally she basically stopped answering my call, so I quit calling her."

Two separate houses hold eight women and men each, about 30% are on state parole, either drug or alcohol addicts.

Sisson says murder suspect Anthony Hickey stayed here for about a week and a half, "A recovering alcoholic, is what he claimed at the time, but he had some other issues and he didn't have any money, and he claimed he just wanted to work a solid program."

Sisson says Hickey was unable to pay his rent and he had to ask him to leave.

"There's some issues there that need to be addressed for the safety of that community," O'Connor says.

Sisson says his business is not state-funded and he has about a 45% success rate with the people who go through his program.

O'Connor says the owners have just a few weeks left to come forward before they go to court.


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