published Thursday, April 26th, 2012

2 face homicide counts in river death

Investigators with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and TWRA remove a boat from Chickamauga Lake behind a house on Johnson Road near Birchwood on Wednesday. The body of a man was removed from the scene earlier Wednesday morning.
Investigators with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and TWRA remove a boat from Chickamauga Lake behind a house on Johnson Road near Birchwood on Wednesday. The body of a man was removed from the scene earlier Wednesday morning.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Two men face criminal homicide charges in connection with a man found dead in a boat on the Tennessee River in Birchwood on Wednesday, authorities said.

Chance A. Loftis, 24, and Travis Hayes Jenkins, 28, both of Cleveland, Tenn., were arrested in connection with the death of 46-year-old Donald Rogers, of Cleveland, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Janice Atkinson said.

Both will be charged with one count of criminal homicide, Atkinson said. They are being held in Hamilton County Jail.

Rogers' body was found Wednesday at about 9 a.m. just north of the Grasshopper Creek Recreation Area in Birchwood.

After boaters found the body, the sheriff's office and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency were notified. However, a few hours later TWRA, which investigates boating accidents, backed out of the case.

On Tuesday night, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies responded to three calls on Johnson Road near where the boat and body were found.

The first call came around midnight to report a prowler, dispatchers said, while a home invasion call came in about 2 a.m. and a suspicious person was reported around 7 a.m. The outcomes of those calls were not available Wednesday.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified, saying she's afraid of retaliation, also recalled hearing yelling in the area around midnight on Tuesday, but it is unclear if any of these events are connected with the death.

The same neighbor said she saw the boat before law enforcement recovered it. It was near a small island in the middle of the river, she said, and the body was draped over the side, partially in the water.

The sheriff's office sent the body to the medical examiner, Atkinson said.

Staff writer Adam Poulisse contributed to this story.

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