By Wayne Thomas, Staff Writer
Four Coffee County men have been indicted by a Franklin County Grand Jury in connection with the murder of a Cowan man.
The body of Corey Matthews was found in a field next to Jackson Cemetery in Cowan on March 24.
Charged with first-degree murder and felony murder are Todd E. Dalton, 39, of 6884 Murfreesboro Highway, Manchester; John Corey Lanier, 26, of 4241 Murfreesboro Highway, Manchester; David Gordon Jenkins, 46, Manchester, and Coty Keith Holmes, 25, 197 Rhoads Lane, Hillsboro.
Authorities said Jenkins and Holmes, described as armed and dangerous, were still at large Tuesday afternoon.
Investigators say Matthews’ death was a specific and targeted crime related to his alleged affiliation with a white supremacist organization. All four indicted men are also alleged to be members of the groups.
The four were indicted Monday morning by a special session of the Franklin County Grand Jury after which Dalton and Lanier were taken into custody and booked into the Franklin County Jail without bond. They are to appear in Franklin County Circuit Court April 25. (Watch video of law enforcement press conference here.)
“Jenkins and Holmes are armed and are extremely dangerous,” Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said at a press conference Tuesday morning at the Franklin County Justice Center.
“They have both been in our facility on multiple charges,” Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves said.
“Shortly after Mr. Matthew’s body was found, we had suspects in his murder,” Fuller said. “We knew who he had been with and where and we knew he had been targeted due to his affiliation with the Aryan Nation.”
Fuller also stated that the information gathered by investigators reveals that the four allegedly were supposed to beat Matthews but “not kill him.” Several of the accused killers were described by Fuller as members of the Aryan Nation and another as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.
Both sheriffs noted that the white supremacist groups begin in prison and when their members are released after serving their sentences they recruit new members.
Graves and Fuller noted that the groups are actively recruiting new members in the area.
Asked why murders seem to be on the increase in the Coffee, Franklin and Lincoln County areas, Fuller replied that it is “just a sign of the times.” He noted that he, Graves and Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder talk on a regular basis as they are seeing more and more crimes “overlapping.”
“Holmes and Jenkins have been entered into NCIC (the national crime system),” Graves said.
“We feel that at least one of them is still in the area.”
Graves noted his department has “dealt with all four men in the past” for involvement in various crimes.
Both sheriffs also noted that since the murder occurred, investigators have interviewed between 50 to 100 people and have spent continuous hours following up on evidence collected.
Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Jenkins or Holmes is asked to call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department at 9862-0123 or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Wayne Thomas may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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