Sheriff's deputy says he is suspect in Monroe Co. official's death

Sheriff's deputy says he is suspect in Monroe County official's death

Jim Miller Jim Miller
Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Kenny Hope Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Kenny Hope

6 News Reporter

SWEETWATER (WATE) - The investigation into the death of a Monroe County election official continued Tuesday, but few answers were forthcoming.

Family members and a law enforcement source say the body of Jim Miller, the chairman of the Monroe County Election Commission and 1st District chair of the Monroe County Republican Party, was found in the trunk of his burning car in Sweetwater Saturday night.

Officially, however, law enforcement officials say they are awaiting the results of an autopsy to confirm Miller's identity. 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now in charge of the investigation. So far, Sheriff Bill Bivens has been tight lipped about the county election commissioner's death.

Perhaps the reason for the sheriff's silence is because the case is too close to home.

During a phone interview with 6 News Monday night, one of Bivens' deputies revealed he is a suspect.

Kenny Hope said he was questioned by TBI agents over the weekend and says he was told he is a suspect in Miller's death.

He told 6 News that he has been put on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Hope said he had "no motive" to kill Miller.

His only connection with Miller, Hope said, was during an April 2010 traffic stop. 

Records show during that traffic stop, Miller was charged with reckless driving and having no insurance.

A Monroe County judge recused himself from the case, sending it to McMinn County in May.

District Attorney Steven Bebb confirmed to 6 News that Sheriff Bivens was the one who asked for TBI to take the lead in the case. 

Bebb said the sheriff's office was not being investigated for Miller's death.

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