CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) – An Anderson County family is praying that justice doesn’t come to an abrupt end this week. The man convicted of murdering their sister more than 30 years ago is up for parole.
Jerry Carpenter was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Myrtle Chapman in March 1985. Over the years, Chapman’s loved ones created online petitions as a way to urge for her killer’s parole to be denied.
This Thursday will mark Carpenter’s fifth parole hearing. Chapman’s loved ones say it’s painful because every three years since 2007, they’ve had to worry he may walk free.
Myrtle Chapman was third oldest out of 10 sisters. Her younger sisters, Wanda Martin and Judy Shores, say she was a sweetheart, the life of the party and never met a stranger.
“She was just Myrt. She was just Myrt,” said Martin.
Chapman was taken from her sisters 34 years ago. “We still feel like it just happened yesterday,” said Martin.
The sisters say Chapman owned a store on Clinton Highway and for some time, Carpenter was a customer. In March 1985, she was beaten with a roofing hatchet by Carpenter after confronting him because she’d discovered he’d been stealing money.
“You have to keep fighting for Myrt because she can’t fight for herself,” added Martin.
During Carpenter’s testimony at his fourth parole hearing in 2016, he said he never planned on hurting or killing anyone that night in 1985.
On Thursday, Chapman’s sisters will be at Carpenter’s fifth hearing.
“You can’t imagine it unless you go through it every time, and every time we go through it, you’re almost to the anger part because it was a very violent murder,” said Shores.
Loved ones say it’s not easy sitting across from the man who killed Chapman.
“I’m praying the whole time, ‘Please, dear Lord, don’t let him out. Please, Lord, don’t let them see fit to let him out,'” added Shores.
Chapman’s loved ones say they’ll keep doing it as long as they have to.
“I think she knows her kids will fight for her until the day they die to fight for justice for her,” said Martin.
During Thursday’s parole hearing, the board will review Carpenter’s file, listen to testimony from both sides and then a final outcome will be decided over the coming days.
Chapman’s children and grandson will be present at the parole hearing at Northeast Correctional Facility in Mountain City. Her sisters will be joining through a video feed streamed in Knoxville.