3 arrested and charged with July 4th murder in Athens, Tenn.

3 arrested and charged with July 4th murder in Athens, Tenn.

Posted:
Thomas Odum (source: McMinn County Sheriff's Office) Thomas Odum (source: McMinn County Sheriff's Office)
Martha Thompson (source: McMinn County Sheriff's Office) Martha Thompson (source: McMinn County Sheriff's Office)
Amanda Britnell (source: McMinn County Sheriff's Office) Amanda Britnell (source: McMinn County Sheriff's Office)

By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

ATHENS (WATE) - Three people have been arrested and charged with a burglary and homicide in Athens on July 4.

Thomas P. Odum, 48, Martha A. Thompson, 42, and Amanda L. Britnell, 34, all admitted to their participation in the crime.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agents began investigating the death of Michael W.T. Womack, 20, on July 15 at the request of 10th District Attorney General Steve Crump.

McMinn County Deputies found Womack's body on July 4 at the home of an acquaintance, which had also been burglarized.

Previous story: Athens man found dead with gunshot wound, McMinn County officers investigate as homicide

During the investigation, TBI agents and sheriff's department detectives developed information implicating Odum, Thompson and Britnell.

The circumstances of the crime and the motivation are under investigation.

Sheriff Joe Guy says Womack had gone to help fix a car across the street but never came back. Guy says Womack likely walked in on Thompson, Britnell and Odum stealing guns and electronics from an outbuilding on the property and they shot him.

"Tyler was in no way involved in the burglary. He was just a young man in the wrong palace at the wrong time," said Sheriff Guy.

Guy says with no witnesses to the crime, it was difficult to find the suspects, but trace evidence led them in the right direction.

"What solved this case was simply some advanced training, and evidence collection techniques and some really superb police work," he said.

Womack's body was found by his grandmother. His family and friends say July 4 will never be the same for them.

"I'm still devastated over it. I just can't even think straight," said his father Mike Womack.

They say the arrests are a relief, but they'll never understand why.

"There ain't no worse feeling than finding out your best friend just got killed for no reason. I couldn't understand why anybody would do it to start with and still don't understand," said friend Lincoln Wilson.

All three were arrested without incident Thursday morning at a home shared by Thompson and Britnell. They are being held at the McMinn County Jail without bond. An arraignment is scheduled for Friday.

"I'm going to be at the courthouse [Friday] morning because I don't even know what they look like, and I want to see what kind of person would have taken my son away from me like that," said Mike Womack.
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