3 charged in kidnapping, murder of Hamblen Co. man

3 charged in kidnapping, murder of Hamblen Co. man

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Willie Morgan Willie Morgan

MORRISTOWN (WATE) -- Two men and a woman were charged Monday in connection with the kidnapping and murder of an elderly Hamblen County man who'd been tortured. His grandson claims it was over stolen money.

The suspects charged are Darrell Nance, 22, Brice Whaley, 38, and Jessica Lane, 23.

Nance is charged with felony murder.

Lane is charged with criminal responsibility for a felony murder.

Whaley is charged with being an accessory after a murder and abuse of a corpse.

The body of Willie Morgan, 94, was found around 6:00 a.m. Monday in a field by the New Progressive Industrial Park in Morristown, just off of I-81 and the Davy Crockett Parkway.

Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnigan said one of the suspects led investigators to Morgan's body.

The trio was taken into custody Sunday at a Red Roof Inn in Chattanooga.

Investigators believe the suspects kidnapped Morgan sometime Saturday. His family members had reported him missing Saturday night and officers had been looking for him since then.

The suspects and Morgan's family knew each other.

Morgan's grandson, Donny Johnson, claimed Darrell Nance had stolen from him before. He said after partying recently, he took $1,600 from Nance and stashed it at his grandfather's house.

The suspects are believed to have gone to Morgan's house looking for the money and have kidnapped him for a $3,000 ransom because they couldn't find it.

Morgan's grandson says his grandfather may have opened the door because he couldn't see or hear well and mistook the suspects for his grandson.

Morgan's body was found under some brush. One of his hands was severed.

Investigators say two butcher knives and a hand were found in one of the suspects' vehicles.

"It's overwhelming to see the condition of such a peaceful, loving, breathing human being that lived on this Earth for 94 years knowing that he left this world in such a traumatic condition," Sheriff Jarnigan said.

The three suspects are being held in the Hamblen County Jail without bond.

Nance's past record includes arrests for aggravated kidnapping, burglary and kidnapping.

Whaley's criminal record includes arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia and manufacturing and dealing drugs.

Lane has prior arrests for assault, criminal impersonation and possession of drug paraphernalia.

6 News Reporter Kevin Ozebek and Anchor/Reporter Whitney Holmes contributed to this report.

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