Gatlinburg businesswoman may have died in homicide, rather than crash

Gatlinburg businesswoman may have died in homicide, rather than crash

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Shannon Hercutt owned and operated Auntie Belham's Realty and Nightly Rentals in Gatlinburg. Shannon Hercutt owned and operated Auntie Belham's Realty and Nightly Rentals in Gatlinburg.
Last week, the Tennessee Highway Patrol found the Cadillac Escalade belonging to Shannon at the bottom of a 125 foot cliff along Walker Trail Road in Sevier County. Last week, the Tennessee Highway Patrol found the Cadillac Escalade belonging to Shannon at the bottom of a 125 foot cliff along Walker Trail Road in Sevier County.
Wednesday, with crime scene tape surrounding Shannon's Sevierville home, investigators appeared to be gathering evidence. Wednesday, with crime scene tape surrounding Shannon's Sevierville home, investigators appeared to be gathering evidence.

By KRISTYN CADDELL
6 News Reporter 

SEVIER COUNTY (WATE) -- Authorities now say the supposed car crash death of a prominent Gatlinburg businesswoman is being investigated as a homicide.

On Monday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol found the Cadillac Escalade belonging to Shannon Hercutt, 40, at the bottom of a 125 foot cliff along Walker Trail Road in Sevier County.

Officials ruled it a car accident at the time, saying she failed to slow down on a sharp curve, but the investigation has taken a turn for the worst.

Shannon Hercutt was on top of her game, living the good life, her family says. She owned and operated Auntie Belham's Realty and Nightly Rentals in Gatlinburg.

"She wanted to be the best. It was her dream to be doing this," says her stepmother, Anita Hercutt.

While her father and stepmother were vacationing in Myrtle Beach, they received a phone call they'll never forget.

"She was killed in a car accident," explains her father, Ted Hercutt. Authorities told them about  Shannon's shiny new Escalade plummeting down the cliff.

"When they said she didn't have her seatbelt on, I knew something was wrong," Her father explains.

The ever cautious Shannon always wore her seatbelt says her family and there another odd development. They learned the airbags never went off and there weren't any cracks on the windshield.

"There is no way she would have gotten killed in that accident," Ted Hercutt says. He demanded an autopsy, which he says originally wasn't going to happen.

"They told me, good thing you got it done. She was murdered," he explains.

Shannon's father, who admits he and his wife didn't have the best relationship with her, says he immediately became the prime suspect.

"They asked me if I killed her or if I hurt her and I would never do something like that," he says.

Sevier County Sheriff's officials have confirmed Shannon's death is suspicious.

Wednesday, with crime scene tape surrounding Shannon's Sevierville home, investigators appeared to be gathering evidence.

The Hercutts have a theory. They believe Shannon was killed in her garage, then her body was  put into her SUV and pushed down the cliff. "It was a revenge killing," Anita Hercutt says.

Now they want justice for Shannon, the rising Gatlinburg entrepreneur who was mysteriously taken from them.

Shannon's father has also hired a private investigator.

Meanwhile, the Sevier County Sheriff's Office won't confirm whether Shannon's autopsy  indicated she was murdered. Officials only say it's an ongoing investigation.  

If you have any information about this case, call the Sevier County Sheriff's Office at (865)-453-4668.

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