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By Wayne Thomas, Staff Writer
The suspect in the July 2 murder of Megan Sharpton of Tullahoma was arrested Thursday evening on unrelated gun charges.
Donnie Jones, 37, of Bel-Aire Drive, Tullahoma, was arrested after authorities found a rifle during a search of his residence, according to police. The search was conducted by Franklin County deputies and Tullahoma Police Department investigators.
Since he is a convicted felon he was charged with being in possession of a firearm. He was booked into the Coffee County Jail and is being held on a $500,000 bond.
Regarding the search of Jones’ home, Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said Investigator Todd Hindman received information and officers acted on it.
According to the sheriff, officers found “several pieces of evidence” in the house. He said that the items found were “evidence of interest” in connection to the murder. He would not elaborate, however, on what was found.
“I am relieved that Jones is in custody and hope that charges in the murder will be filed against him soon,” the sheriff said.
Fuller said that Jones has previous felony convictions, including aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, forgery and escape, and that he is “considered to be dangerous.”
Jones was transported to the Coffee County Jail on the gun charges by Franklin County sheriff’s investigators Todd Hindman and George Dyer, along with Tullahoma investigator Jason Kennedy. He was booked into the jail on the gun charges and is scheduled to appear in court Monday for a bond hearing.
Investigators said in August that they were close to making an arrest in the case.
Sharpton, 24, was a nursing student and worked as a waitress when her partially burned body was found in the early morning hours of July 2 on Awalt Road near the bridge in Franklin County. Her car was discovered later that day in Bedford County.
Her death has been ruled a homicide and investigators say that preliminary reports from the state medical examiner’s office determined that she died of blunt force trauma.
“We are relieved that he (Jones) has been arrested,” Kelly Sharpton, Megan’s mother, said. “We are grateful to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department for not giving up on the investigation.”
Ms. Sharpton said she plans to be in the courtroom Monday for the bond hearing.
Meanwhile, the murder investigation is continuing. Sheriff Fuller said Friday morning that investigators are still waiting on test results from the TBI Crime Lab. District Attorney Mike Taylor has stated that some test results have been received but the other pieces of information are needed.
Taylor said Friday morning that the evidence collected Thursday will be sent to the crime lab for testing.
Taylor also stated that Jones could “possibly face federal charges” due to his being a convicted felon with a weapon.
Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org