Police call Roane County woman's death 'strange'

Police call Roane County woman's death 'strange'

Posted:
Ronald Underwood (source: Roane County Sheriff's Office) Ronald Underwood (source: Roane County Sheriff's Office)
Pugh says he was drinking in his camper with Tollett and Underwood Saturday night. He says the couple went back to their trailer across the street around 11 p.m. Pugh says he was drinking in his camper with Tollett and Underwood Saturday night. He says the couple went back to their trailer across the street around 11 p.m.
"They left the camper up there and they were happy go lucky. The next thing I know I got woke up Sunday morning with him [Underwood] threatening to kill me," Eddie Pugh said. "They left the camper up there and they were happy go lucky. The next thing I know I got woke up Sunday morning with him [Underwood] threatening to kill me," Eddie Pugh said.

By KAYLA STRAYER
6 News Reporter

ROCKWOOD (WATE) - Roane County authorities are trying to find out what caused the death of a Rockwood woman. Her family says they don't think it was an accident.

The body of Janice Tollett was found Sunday morning outside her mother's home in Rockwood.

Rockwood Police Chief Danny Wright told 6 News this is a "strange case." Tollett's boyfriend Ronald Underwood allegedly found her body in the mud.

Underwood is in jail for assault charges against Tollett's brother, Eddie Pugh, but police say at this time he is not charged with Tollett's death.

Pugh says he was drinking in his camper with Tollett and Underwood Saturday night. He says the couple went back to their trailer across the street around 11 p.m.

"They left the camper up there and they were happy go lucky. The next thing I know I got woke up Sunday morning with him [Underwood] threatening to kill me," Pugh said.

Pugh says Underwood began attacking him with a knife because Underwood claimed Pugh had something to do with Tollett's death.

"He cut me on the arm, cut me on the leg, I was trying to get him off of me. That's when he told me she was dead. It just freaked me out. I didn't know anything about it. That's when the law came, they told me to stay in the camper," Pugh said.

When Pugh was let out, he saw his sister's body just steps away from his camper and his mom's house. Pugh thinks it was Underwood who played a part in Tollett's death.

"In my mind and my heart, I think he had something to do with it. I really do," Pugh said.

In the arrest report obtained by 6 News, when asked why he attacked Pugh, Underwood told officers "he was angry over finding his girlfriend deceased and he thought that her brother, Mr. Pugh, was the reason she had died, so he was going to kill him for it."

Wright says there were no visible signs of injuries found on Tollett's body. At this time, there are no more charges against Underwood.

"We don't have anything to substantiate pinpointing anyone. He would be considered a person of interest. We will continue to look at just as we will look at anyone else who was there on the premises at that time," Wright said.

According to the Roane County Sheriff's Office, Underwood has been arrested at least 15 times since 1997. The most recent was in October for aggravated assault, possession of a prohibited weapon and public intoxication. The police report in that case states a male victim claimed Underwood threatened to kill him.

Underwood is charged with aggravated assault for the knife incident. He is being held at the Roane County Jail on a $25,000 bond. His court date is March 17th.

Rockwood police say it will take about four to six weeks to get Tollett's full autopsy results. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the case. 

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