Case against suspects in Knoxville mummified body investigation bound over to grand jury

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The case against two suspects charged in the discovery of a mummified body discovered in Knoxville has been bound over to a grand jury after conflicting statements about the night of the crime were given. A third defendant’s court date was reset due to medical issues.

Tommy Rose, 62, Deborah Gister, 41, and Christina McCormack, 48, have been charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence after the body of 66-year-old Donald Moore was found wrapped in a tarp inside a storage shed at 2306 Greenfield Lane.

RELATED: ‘Mummified body’ victim killed for Social Security benefits, warrant says

Gister and McCormack appeared in a Knox County Criminal Court Thursday while Rose’s court date was reset to Oct. 29 due to medical issues.

Investigators testified that the three codefendants were at the house when authorities arrived. Rose would not give investigators permission to search property, and specifically the storage unit, without a search warrant.

Gister told investigators Moore was killed for use of his social security benefits and said McCormack stabbed the victim in the eye.

Gister had initially said on the night of Oct. 6 that all three moved Moore’s body to the shed but then changed her story. Conflicting statements have been given as to who was present when the victim was killed.

The Knoxville Police Department medical examiner was unable to determine Moore’s cause of death between poison or stabbing because of the decomposing state of the body when it was found.

One of the officers who responded to the initial testified that Gister picked up a screwdriver and pressed it to her son’s throat. Officers tried to deescalate the situation, forced screwdriver away and Gister was taken to ground. She was handcuffed.

The officer said Gister kept repeating, “I’ll never be separated from my son”, going on to call Gister ‘irrational’.

McCormack’s lawyer says there was a fifth individual at the scene but cannot be identified.

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