Fire that killed 3 in Cocke County is possible homicide case

Fire that killed 3 in Cocke County being investigated as possible homicide


6 News Reporter

GRASSY FORK (WATE) - Authorities are sifting through the rubble of a Cocke County mobile home that burned down Saturday, claiming three lives.

Agents with the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Bureau, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Cocke County authorities are treating the case as a possible homicide investigation.

Family members believe the three killed are Terri Henderson, her boyfriend Sherman Ellison, and their 2-year-old son, Riley. The three lived in the home, but an official identification of the bodies is not yet complete.

Firefighters arrived Saturday night around 9 p.m. to find the mobile home on Henderson Road in eastern Cocke County fully in flames and the roof collapsed.

At first, firefighters thought no one was home at the time of the fire, but the next day when the residents could not be located investigators went back to the destroyed mobile home.

In the burned out structure the bodies of a man and a woman were found that evening. A third body was found Monday afternoon.

"That was my sister, the only family I have left. They took her and my nephew. Who can do a baby that way? A baby?" said Terri's sister Christina Cowan. Cowan says the thought that someone may have knowingly killed baby Riley is perhaps the hardest to bear.

Cowan says the couple led a clean, happy life. "Oh Lord no, they weren't mixed up in anything at all," Cowan said.

Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes says from all appearances, that does seem to be the case. "Based on what we've heard in the community, these were decent people," Sheriff Fontes said.

He believes some answers may come from the person driving the couple's missing white, four-door 2000 Nissan Maxima. It is reported to have a cracked windshield, a loud exhaust system, and Cocke County tag number 810-YCW.

"It was last seen being driven by a male individual, and we're trying to determine who that was," Sheriff Fontes said.

Cowan says no matter who may be behind the possible crime, there are no excuses, especially for taking the life of a small child.

More details are expected to emerge in this case once autopsies come back from the University of Tennessee.

There is a reward being offered in the case. Anyone with information on the car or the fire should call Cocke County Central Dispatch at (423) 623-3064.

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