published Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Jesse Mathews facing death penalty

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    Jesse Ray Mathews, the suspect in the shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin, was booked into the Hamilton County Jail about 12:45 p.m. Friday. He was charged with one count of felony murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery, records show.

With guns and weapon tattoos covering his chest, he told one neighbor he just got back from serving in Iraq.

Another woman said he seemed somewhat normal but his family kept to themselves during the short time they lived in her neighborhood.

Residents were shocked Friday when they learned that their former neighbor, 25-year-old Jesse Mathews, was the man accused of shooting and killing Chattanooga police patrol Sgt. Tim Chapin on April 2. According to authorities, Mathews was running from the scene of his latest robbery.

“I’m ready for them to hang him,” said Michelle Nickson, who has two small children and lives across the street where Mathews’ parents moved in last month. “That was a very nice police officer he killed.”

And it’s possible Mathews may die if he’s convicted of the crimes with which he’s charged.

“Based upon the facts filed in the affidavit, this case qualifies for the death penalty,” said Hamilton County District Attorney General Bill Cox, who requested that Mathews be held without bond pending his trial.

Mathews, who has two drains along his jaw line in a jail mugshot, was discharged from Erlanger hospital Friday and booked into Hamilton County Jail on a charge of felony murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery.

A 63-year-old man who lives next door to Mathews’ girlfriend, where Mathews was living, said he was shocked when he learned that the 25-year-old had been charged in the killing. The man related to Mathews because he claimed he had served overseas in the military, the same as the man’s daughter.

“I was surprised. He seemed like a humble person. I guess people can say whatever, though,” the neighbor said, declining to give his name.

Mathews is being kept apart from his parents, Kathleen and Ray Mathews, who were arrested Friday on felony charges of aiding him after he escaped from a prison halfway house in Colorado and headed to Tennessee.

Mathews’ sister, Rachel Mathews, also has been charged with helping him.

Colorado police accuse Jesse Mathews of robbing a pawnshop in Colorado Springs on Feb. 12 and stealing 16 firearms, $10,000 and some jewelry.

Tim Gobble, deputy chief of corrections at the Hamilton County Jail, said Mathews is in isolation and under observation 24 hours a day because of the nature of his charges.

He declined to describe Mathews’ injuries, but said the suspect will continue to receive medical care through the jail’s medical clinic, which is contracted through Erlanger.

The arrests come a day after Chapin, a 26-year veteran of the Chattanooga Police Department, was laid to rest.

Two guns that Jesse Mathews is accused of using in the robbery of U.S. Money Shops pawnshop on Brainerd Road were loot from the Colorado Springs robbery, authorities said.

Family affair

Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, said at a news conference Friday that Mathews’ parents, Kathleen Mathews, 57, and Ray Mathews, 50, are charged in connection with helping Mathews escape Colorado and set up shop in Chattanooga. Mathews’ sister, 21-year-old Rachel Mathews of Asheville, N.C., and her boyfriend, 26-year-old James Poteete, of Antioch, Tenn., also are charged.

All four face charges of accessory after the fact, possession of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and misprision of a felony, the withholding of knowledge about a committed felony to authorities.

The parents also face charges of disposing firearms to a convicted felon.

Kathleen Mathews also faces an additional charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition since she was previously convicted of manslaughter during the commission of a house burglary in Florida, Killian said.

All were arrested without incident, Killian said.

He said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office helped develop the charges.

Poteete was released on $30,000 bond Friday and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday at 2 p.m. He declined to comment as he paced the block around the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building for about an hour before leaving with his lawyer.

Kathleen Mathews, a diabetic with a morphine prescription, sat in a wheelchair with her arms pulled into her sleeves, rocking quietly back and forth as her charges were read Friday in U.S. District Court. She will stay in jail as she awaits further proceedings.

Rachel Mathews was arrested Thursday in Asheville on a charge of violating probation from a misdemeanor larceny charge, according to Buncombe County court records. She faces extradition to Tennessee, according to authorities.

Ray Mathews waived his hearing until Wednesday at 2 p.m., giving his lawyer time to prepare.

Killian said he opposed the release of anyone involved.

“They are a flight risk, among other things,” he said.

He noted that all three knew that Jesse Mathews had escaped from prison and said they helped him get away after the Colorado robberies.

If convicted, the four could face up to 15 years on the accessory after the fact charge. The rest of the counts carry up to 10 years each, Killian said.

Jesse Mathews was convicted of robbery in 2003 at age 17 and had served eight years of a 20-year sentence when he was released to a halfway house, according to the federal affidavit.

Afterward the Feb. 12 robbery in Colorado, he wired part of the money to Rachel to fly her to Colorado and aid his escape, the affidavit states.

Rachel and Mathews’ girlfriend in Colorado, Amber Vlasak, help him elude authorities, authorities said. It was unclear Friday whether Vlasak has been charged.

Arriving in Chattanooga on March 6, Mathews and his parents moved into the Microtel Hotel at 7014 McCutcheon Road, using the last name of Moore, according to the affidavit.

The hotel manager, who declined to be named, said the family had a dog and that she rarely saw Mathews as they stayed at the hotel for about a week.

Mathews met a woman at the hotel and they began dating, according to the affidavit. The manager declined to comment on the relationship.

The Colorado Department of Corrections contacted Mathews’ parents asking about his whereabouts and Kathleen Mathews stated she had not seen her son, the affidavit states.

By March 16, Mathews’ parents moved into a duplex at 3921-A Webb Oaks Court, near Bonny Oaks Drive. Among the items moved into the home was a bulletproof vest that Jesse Mathews wore during the Chattanooga robbery, according to Poteete’s statement to authorities.

Mathews attended a local gun show on March 27 where he and his new girlfriend spoke to someone about a trade, authorities said. Mathews phoned his parents and told them to bring “the family collection,” referring to the guns. He traded three guns for an M-4 assault rifle, the affidavit said.

The Mathews family planned to put him on a bus and send him to New York to get a fake ID for a run to Canada, the affidavit said, but for unknown reasons, Mathews never left.

He carried the M-4 in a guitar case and it was found in his girlfriend’s car at the U.S. Money Shops store last week.

Chapin was one of several officers responding to a robbery call at the store when he was killed.

Killian said authorities have recovered most of the firearms.

The source of the body armor is still under investigation, Killian said.

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Swift justice is necessary in this case. To let this animal live will be a drain on civilized society. Cases like this confirm the death penalty as the only option. Sergeant Chapin's family awoke this morning without him. We must continue to focus on that issue. My heart is breaking for his family.

April 9, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.
rosebud said...

Gotta love the TFP and its thirst to sell papers. The photo of Mathews dominates the top half of the front page. I guess I should be surprised they didn't put his ugly mug on the entire page.

April 9, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.
KhimeraRecovery said...

Execute him? Yes. Let the state do it it, all nice and precise? NO. Let Sgt. Chapins' FAMILY do it. Eye for an Eye. Or better yet, with baseball bats

April 9, 2011 at 9:08 a.m.
eyesWIDEopen said...

KhimeraRecovery said... Execute him? Yes. Let the state do it it, all nice and precise? NO. Let Sgt. Chapins' FAMILY do it. Eye for an Eye. Or better yet, with baseball bats

Hopefully, Sgt. Chapins' Family is better than that. It always amaze me how Americans quickly resort back to that EYE FOR AN EYE old testament talk when they feel it's convenient to do so. All other times, it's FORGIVENESS IS DIVINE.

Actually, an old rabbi once said, and he should know, Christians take that eye for an eye out of context to fit their own agenda. He stated the EYE FOR AN EYE was never meant to do physical harm against one who has committed harm.. That in fact, EYE FOR AN EYE refers to monetary compensation for the one or their family who was wronged.

April 9, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.
dude_abides said...

eyesWIDEopen... You attack KR, Americans, Christians, and even put limits on the amount of anger the Chapin's should feel. Then, you attribute an anti-Christian statement to a Jewish holy man. All in the name of understanding? Looks more to me like...wait for it... ...mouthWIDEopen !

April 9, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.
KhimeraRecovery said...

eyesWIDEopen....forgiveness is great, for those that feel that's the only way to conduct their lives because they are too weak to enact the vengence deserved. This man deserves to die. Take your bleeding heart liberal crap elsewhere

April 9, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
silenius940 said...

Speaking of sick/toxic families. Can we get the Bush family arrested for crimes against humanity, murder, leading massive crime organization etc.? Citizens arrest.

April 9, 2011 at 10:34 a.m.
silenius940 said...

ATTENTION ladies and gentlemen this is a message from Fox News and the GOP: Having compassion and forgiveness has everything to do with politics and liberalism, please forget all about humanity and seeing each other as humans. Please continue to be plastic copies of each other that we are glad you have become due to our programming of you.

April 9, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
Julian1 said...

Vengeance. Blood-lust. I must be in the Bible Belt!

April 9, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.
eyesWIDEopen said...

dude_abides said... eyesWIDEopen... You attack KR, Americans, Christians, and even put limits on the amount of anger the Chapin's should feel. Then, you attribute an anti-Christian statement to a Jewish holy man. All in the name of understanding? Looks more to me like...wait for it... ...mouthWIDEopen !

In no way am I attacking KR, TRUE AMERICANS and even TRUER Christians. I'm pointing out the hypocrisy of the fake ones. I doubt if God Almighty would recognize many of today's parading around as Christians. Jesus Christ would be ashamed of them and disown them.

Another thing, dude_abides. I imagine the Chapin family feeling more grief and sadness rather than anger and seeking revenge. When did you become a spokesperson for them? From all others have stated about Mrs. Chapin and her family, they appear to be TRUE CHRISTIANS who would never seek revenge.

April 9, 2011 at 1:31 p.m.
ITguy said...

The whole family needs to be locked up for a very long time. I am opposed to the death penalty for a variety of reasons that I will not go into now. However I can tell you that there some things that are worse than death. This guy should spend the rest of his life in prison with the other morons of his kind. Killing is too good for him.

I think that it would be very hard to forgive this senseless act of violence, but I have learned that hatred, resentment and anger do nothing to harm the one that you hate. They do poison your soul and will shorten your life.

April 9, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.
Sailorman said...

"He traded three guns for an M-4 assault rifle"

Hmmm I guess it was stolen from the NG armory and then brought to a public gun show. Rather unlikely I'd think. Oh well, why would we expect accuracy in reporting.

Your point that there are some things worse than death is valid. On the other hand, I feel no compunction to support these vermin the rest of their natural lives. It's not so much vengeance as pest control.

April 9, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
McRand said...

ITguy said: "I have learned that hatred, resentment and anger do nothing to harm the one that you hate. They do poison your soul and will shorten your life."

Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but our Father in heaven.

April 9, 2011 at 8:55 p.m.
mick said...

I don't think that the SOB should even get a trial and waste the tax payers money. We know he did it just kill the scum. Sgt Chapin was a good man with a wife and young children. This SCUM has no remorse for anything. If he likes guns and killing people so much, send his big ass to Iraq and put him on the front lines and lets see just how brave he really is. Maybe the Scum will be gun down just just like he did to a descent man

April 9, 2011 at 9:16 p.m.
sweetgurl01 said...

This person if you want to call him that and his family are a peice of work. Forgivness for his actions should be given so that he nor his kind can control us.It by no means give him a pass far from it. He should pay the price for the crime he commited for the life he took. He along with the the rest of the bunch he ran with should every day watch the services that was held for Sgt. Chapin and the impact stories that all that knew Tim everyday all day over and over again.

April 9, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.
dude_abides said...

eyesWIDEopen, I am one of those people who understand completely how anyone that could kill must be off, and we as a society should not sanction the killing of those that aren't all there, so to speak. However, the compassion I feel in the abstract goes away when I become familiar with an individual case, an individual tragedy on a specific family, an individual criminal who displays wanton disregard for another's life. I have to empathize. I have to visualize this hell happening to me and mine. I have to tell you, if this type thing happened to the people I love my reaction might make the national news. Do you think I should have the right to react naturally to a horrible crime of this type, or is it just my tough luck? (I understand that Sgt. Chapin knew the dangers, etc., but I believe the subject here is justice.)

April 9, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.
ouzzy88 said...

The battles between Good and Evil come at high cost to the good, mostly because there are so few good left.

April 10, 2011 at 6:56 a.m.
moon4kat said...

"Mathews attended a local gun show on March 27 where he . . . traded three guns for an M-4 assault rifle, the affidavit said."
The news report above is based on a legal affidavit signed under oath, so pretty credible reporting. Why was that gun show trade permitted? Could NRA fanatics be a factor?

April 11, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
Sailorman said...


Sorry but I would have to see the affidavit and hear it from the preparers mouth. One of two things happened: a) some idiot who wouldn't know an M-4 if it bit him in the butt saw a civilian look alike, or 2) it was stolen from an armory. An M-4 is a military weapon not available to the general public and certainly not at a public gun show.

If you're going to be an anti gun fanatic, at least take the time to learn something about that which you abhor. If you devoted as much energy to getting weapons out of the hands of criminals as you do whining about the 2nd amendment and the NRA, we might actually make some progress.

April 11, 2011 at 5:05 p.m.
chet123 said...

This may come as a suprise to sailor....THERE ARE ILLEGAL transaction at many LOcal Gun Shows.....they dont always follow the rules sailor....or they circumvent....WAke up from your make beleive world...policain sccare of their influence....politicain know people like you will defend them to the any cost(that include death of a good man)...

April 13, 2011 at 9:02 a.m.
chet123 said...

anti-gun ??????? how about pro-life...are you the same man crying his eyes out a couple of days ago....give me a break!!!!

April 13, 2011 at 9:06 a.m.
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