HOW TO HELP
Authorities ask anyone with information related to the investigation to call the Franklin County Sheriff's Office at 931-967-2331 or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
The admittedly "hysterical mother" of a slain Tullahoma, Tenn., nursing student said she can't understand why the man she believes killed her daughter is walking free.
And recent incidents involving that man and members of her family have put them in fear for their lives, Kelly Sharpton said.
Sharpton said she knows she and 12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor, who is the lead prosecutor in the case of the July 2 killing of Erika Megan Sharpton, are on the same team. She can't understand, though, why the man she suspects can continue to "terrorize" her family.
"I know he wants an airtight case," Sharpton said of Taylor. "If we can go with what we have, then what the hell are we waiting on?"
On Friday night, the man Sharpton fears walked up to her daughter-in-law at a Tullahoma High School football game, tapped her on the shoulder and made a hostile remark, she said.
Then, on Tuesday night, the victim's grandmother was mowing her yard and found fresh bullet holes in a Realtor's sign out front. Tullahoma police made reports of each incident, she said.
"We can't live this way," Sharpton said through tears. "He holds the key to stop this, General Taylor does."
Taylor said Wednesday he understands Sharpton's frustration but he must have evidence that satisfies certain elements to present to the Franklin County grand jury.
"We have to have evidence that we feel would be proof beyond reasonable doubt of his guilt to make a case," he said. "I know [Kelly Sharpton's] fears and concerns, but the law does not work beforehand."
Megan Sharpton's still-burning body was found on Awalt Road near the bridge over Tims Ford Lake about 1 a.m. CDT on July 2 by a passing motorist who saw what he thought was a grass fire.
Her 1995 Ford Mustang was found on Three Forks Bridge Road in Bedford County the same day about 15 to 20 miles away. She died of blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy report.
The incidents Friday and Tuesday occurred in Coffee County, outside the 12th Judicial District and in 14th Judicial District DA's jurisdiction, Taylor said, and that office has no part of the homicide investigation at this point.
Taylor said Franklin County investigators have spoken with authorities in Coffee County and "from what they're telling me, this person did nothing that they could charge him with on criminal offenses."
Tullahoma police Sgt. Detective Dale Stone said the incident at the football game broke no laws, and no connection has been made between the bullet-riddled sign and the man he described as a "person of interest" in the homicide investigation.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...