Jury trial scheduled in Russell County murder case
LEBANON, Va. — A Dec. 9 jury trial has been scheduled for a Russell County woman and man who authorities say shot and killed the woman’s husband.
Helen Diane Tignor, 61, and Donald Ray Clark, 56, were indicted May 9 by a Russell County grand jury in connection with the death of 66-year-old William Trigg Tignor. Russell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Zack Stoots said Clark and Helen Tignor had been in an ongoing relationship and the Tignors had been married for a long time. William Tignor died from a gunshot wound at his home last year.
Tignor and Clark, who remain without bail at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon, face multiple charges in connection with the death.
Authorities round up 20 wanted persons in Northeast Tennessee
ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Deputies from Carter and Sullivan counties took 20 people with outstanding warrants into custody Tuesday during a joint operation.
Carter County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Thomas Gray said all 20 people, who were wanted on a variety of charges, including drug offenses and failure to appear in court, were located and arrested in Sullivan County, which was the focus of the operation.
Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said serving misdemeanor warrants helps reduce property crime.
“These joint operations are important to driving down crime in the region,” Lunceford said. “We’ve seen a significant decrease in crime as our agency has prioritized arrest warrants, and we’re glad to be working with our neighboring agencies to recreate that success.”
The arrests included 13 warrants from Carter County, six from Sullivan County and one from Hawkins County. Individuals were taken to the county jail where the warrant originated, and several have since made bail, Gray said.
Authorities search for evidence in Mendota murder case
MENDOTA, Va. — More than 70 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies scoured through woodlands and fields Wednesday and found additional evidence in an ongoing triple murder case.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the case involving James Michael Wright, a 23-year-old Mendota man who authorities said confessed to killing three women near his home over an 18-day period in February and March.
WCSO Capt. Jamie Blevins said officers returned to Mendota on Wednesday morning to search for any possible evidence in the case.
“We have found additional evidence,” said Blevins, who spoke with the Bristol Herald Courier outside the Mendota Community Center, where officers coordinated their efforts.
Blevins, who leads Washington County’s Criminal Investigations Division, said the evidence will be useful as Wright’s court case continues. He wouldn’t discuss specifics of the evidence except to say it didn’t indicate that there are additional bodies.
Washington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Cumbow, who was not present for Wednesday’s search, confirmed that officers were looking for new evidence.
With the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, officers from a number of agencies, including sheriff’s offices in Scott, Russell, Tazewell and Wise counties, as well as the Abingdon Police Department and Bristol Virginia Police Department, joined the search. The Virginia State Police, National Park Service and other state and federal agencies also assisted.
Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office Major Harold Heatley said seven officers from his department joined the efforts. Heatley noted that Tazewell County has a good working relationship with the U.S. Marshals and tries to assist whenever requested.
Blevins said a variety of officers, including those with tactical and forensic evidence experience, assisted.
Officers conducted grid searches over a 40-acre area near Wright’s home. The search covered some difficult terrain, Blevins said. The officers searched wooded areas and fields, as well as steep hills, all the way toward Pinnacle Road and the Mendota Fire Tower.
Blevins said a limited search was also conducted Wednesday at the North Fork of the Holston River, where Wright previously told investigators that he dumped the body of Athina Huff, 25, of Johnson City, Tennessee.
Authorities have searched the river from the Nordyke Road bridge to the Scott County line, Blevins said, but heavy rain in recent weeks has made the search difficult.
Officials previously found the bodies of Joslyn Alsup, 17, of Cobb County, Georgia, and Elizabeth Marie Vanmeter, 22, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, on land near Wright’s home, according to court records.
Investigators approached Wright in early May regarding Huff’s disappearance, the Sheriff’s Office said. During an interview, authorities said Wright confessed to shooting each of the women but claimed they were the result of accidents.
Wright knew the three women through his work with a traveling carnival company, Sheriff Fred Newman said. He worked temporarily for a pony show and traveled around the country.
Cumbow said a court date is set for December in the case. Wright remains held without bail at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon.
Bristol man arrested after jumping from third-floor window
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.—A Bristol, Tennessee, man who police said jumped from a third floor window has been charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and evading arrest.
Victor Beaver, 56, was arrested Monday night when officers were called to downtown Johnson City to the John Sevier Center on the report of a man wandering the hallways and entering apartments.
Responding officers said in a news release they located the man inside an apartment, and as officers entered, he jumped out a third floor window, landing on the first floor’s balcony roof. Officers took him into custody and transported to the Johnson City Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
Beaver is being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $25,000 bail.
Bland County pursuit, crash with VSP results in pending charges
A man is facing charges for leading Virginia State Police on a pursuit on Interstate 77 in Bland County on Sunday, according to a VSP news release.
At 11:25 a.m., a VSP trooper attempted to stop the drive of a Jeep Grand Cherokee that was traveling south on I-77 near the 52 mile-marker because it had reached 89 mph in a posted 70 mph zone, according to the release.
When the driver, who wasn’t identified by VSP on Sunday, refused to stop the trooper initiated a pursuit, which continued to the 29 mile-marker. During the pursuit, the driver rammed a VSP vehicle and came to a stop after rear-ending a second VSP vehicle.
The driver of the Jeep was taken into custody without further incident and was transported to a nearby hospital as a “precautionary measure.” One trooper was also transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Dickenson County Sheriff's Office seeking public's help with death investigation
HAYSI, Va. – The Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information from the public in its investigation of a death near Lower Twin Campground in Haysi, Virginia on Saturday, according to a news release.
Deputies were dispatched to a disturbance at the campground at 1:40 a.m. Saturday after a woman who called 911 could be heard screaming. While deputies were responding to the scene, more people called 911 to report the woman’s behavior, according to the release.
Callers stated the woman had left the area with a man from the campground. Moments after those calls were received a man called 911 and said his girlfriend had jumped out of his vehicle and was bleeding so he was taking her to the hospital, the release states.
Shortly after, it was determined the man and woman were the two people involved in the previous reports of a woman screaming at the campground. Deputies found a vehicle matching the description of the one that was reported leaving the campground.
An unresponsive woman, who was later identified as April Dunford, 30, of Tazewell County, Virginia, was found inside the vehicle. CPR was performed in attempts to revive her but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sheriff’s Office criminal investigators arrived and processed the scene. The incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information about the incident should call the Sheriff’s Office at 276-926-1650.