published Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Officials: White supremacists charged in Franklin County slaying

John Corey Lanier, left, and Todd Dalton
John Corey Lanier, left, and Todd Dalton
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

HOW TO HELP

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of David Gordon Jenkins, 46, of 3554 Ashbury Road in Manchester, Tenn., or Coty Keith Holmes, 25, of 197 Rhoads Lane, Hillsboro, Tenn., is asked to call the Franklin County Sheriff's Office at 931-962-0123 or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Two Coffee County, Tenn., men are in custody and two others are at large after indictments were handed down by a Franklin County grand jury Monday in the March 24 slaying of a Cowan, Tenn., resident.

John Corey Lanier, 26, and Todd E. Dalton, 39, both of Manchester, Tenn., were taken into custody on charges of first-degree murder and criminal homicide in the slaying of Corey N. Matthews, Franklin County authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators are searching for suspects David Gordon Jenkins, 46, of Manchester, and Coty Keith Holmes, 25, of 197 Rhoads Lane in Hillsboro, Tenn.

Lanier and Dalton are being held without bond and face initial appearances in Franklin County Circuit Court on April 25.

"This was a specific and targeted incident related to Mr. Matthews' affiliation with a white supremacist organization," Franklin County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Chris Guess said Tuesday. He said the slaying stemmed from "a dispute over the white supremacist organization's doctrine."

12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said affiliations with white supremacist groups will play into prosecution of the case.

"At least three [suspects] were members of the Aryan Nations, as was the alleged victim, and one of the four defendants was possibly a member of the Aryan Brotherhood," Taylor said.

Franklin County authorities said Jenkins was identified as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, while the others were linked to the Aryan Nations.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Aryan Nations groups tracked by the center do not list any of the suspects or Matthews as members.

At one time, there was only one "Aryan Nation," run by Richard Butler, but that group crumbled and was replaced by other groups over the years, Beirich said.

"We listed in 2013 four different types of Aryan Nations groups, none of which are in Tennessee," she said. Other factions calling themselves Aryan Nations groups are not officially connected to the larger organizations nor are they affiliated with Aryan Brotherhood, she said.

"I do think it's interesting to find that there is an Aryan Brotherhood person with Aryan Nations folks, because that's not real common," Beirich said. "The Aryan Nations is a straight-up white supremacist group that we've been tracking for a long time, but the Aryan Brotherhood is really more about making money than recruiting whites to a new white 'homeland.'"

Besides, most white supremacist groups are "overtly anti-drug," again making the collection of members from the two groups an oddity, she said.

Franklin County authorities on Tuesday were tight-lipped on other details of the suspects' affiliations.

The arrests stem from an investigation launched after Matthews' family hadn't seen or heard from him between the previous night and the morning of March 24. A missing persons report was filed with the Cowan Police Department that morning.

Cowan police Officer Mike Holmes stopped to talk to the family that day and drove out beyond Matthews' Tennessee Avenue home to look for him, Chief Allen Edwards said early in the investigation.

Holmes spotted Matthews' body just outside the city limits in a cornfield across Slag Town Road from a tiny graveyard called Jackson Cemetery.

about Ben Benton...

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 ...

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