Scott County Murder

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Scott County (WVLT) -- Scott County authorities have made two arrests related to a Scott County fire that destroyed the home of Timothy and Melissa Chandler.

The fire also claimed Melissa's life.

We talked to residents in Scott County, and we learned that their may have been a motive and about one man who came to the rescue, saving a second life that could have easily been taken in the fire.

"Yes, I'd do it for anybody," said Alferd Butler who pulled his neighbor, Timothy Chandler, from his burning home.

Butler is a life-long Scott County resident, but today he is being called a hero for coming to his neighbor's rescue.

"I had seen it flashing in my window," he said. "I just saw the lights flashing and I got up, looked out and saw the house burning and the porch burning on fire."

Butler says he was acting strictly on instincts.

"I just went down and started breaking the back door down trying to get them out," he said.

Butler was risking his life for neighbors he hardly knew.

"I mostly got the door busted, a big enough hole in it and he crawled through and got out," Butler said.

The homeowner, Timothy Chandler, then went back for his wife Melissa.

"He pulled her to the door," he said, "and we pulled her on outside."

Timothy survived, but Melissa did not.

Two arrests were made in the case this morning by Scott County Detectives and Tennessee Arson and Bomb agents.

Gary Sellers, 39, and Robert Bell, 37, both of Helenwood, live near the Tunnel Hill Area of Oneida and are charged with arson and first degree murder.

This blue house that sits atop a hill overlooking the Chandler's belongs to Sellers.

Bell had been staying with friends just up the hollow from where the Chandler's home once stood.

Authorities think that the motive for the fire surrounds the earlier arrest of Timothy Chandler.

"We had actually arrested him on some pornography pictures of children," said Scott County Sheriff Anthony Lay. "It led them to want to rid them of the neighborhood."

Lay says Sellers and Bell then took matters into their own hands.

"It was vigilante justice," Sheriff Lay said. "This is a prime example of how an innocent person has been fatally injured."

Bell has a prior record but Sellers does not.

Both are being held in the Scott County jail, each under a $1 Million bond.

A preliminary hearing is set for the both accused men on Wednesday in Scott County Court.


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