Investigators say they have a “person of interest” in the murder of a Tullahoma woman Monday.
According to police, two hunters discovered the body of 23-year-old Kayla Qualls of 1813 E. Lincoln St. in the back of her SUV on Spring Creek Road in Franklin County around 11 a.m. Monday.
Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said that Ms. Qualls’ body was found in the back of a 2000 Ford Explorer with Moore County tags.
According to the sheriff, the woman died of blunt force trauma to the head.
The two hunters spotted Ms. Qualls’ vehicle sitting just off the road in the woods and thought that it looked out of place.
“They got out to look at the vehicle and what they discovered was not right and actually turned out to be a body in the back of the Explorer,” Fuller said. The hunters called 911 and notified authorities.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy Craig Arnold arrived and when he looked in and saw the body he then requested that investigators be dispatched to the Spring Creek Road area, according to police.
Investigators arrived around noon and began to investigate the scene. They also called for assistance from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Larry Davis.
According to the sheriff, the body had been partially covered from the waist up. Once the TBI agent arrived, officers removed the covering and made the gruesome discovery of Qualls’ body.
“We feel certain that the homicide didn’t happen where the vehicle was found,” the sheriff stated.
The body was transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. Deputies also transported Ms. Qualls’ vehicle to the crime lab for analysis.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Guess said Tuesday that investigators did not think that the young woman had been dead very long when the hunters found her vehicle.
According to Guess, investigators from Franklin County, along with investigators from the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department and the Tullahoma Police Department, conducted a search of Ms. Qualls’ residence Monday evening. They removed several items, which were also sent to the crime lab for analysis. Guess would not disclose what items were removed from the residence.
Investigators from the three departments were all back out working and investigating the murder Tuesday in hopes of finding more evidence to link the murder to an individual.
The sheriff stated that investigators feel that as heavily traveled as Spring Creek Road is, somebody saw something out of ordinary Monday.
“Quite often we hear ‘I don’t want to be involved,’ or ‘I don’t want to get involved.’ What if it’s your family? What if it’s your daughter? Now do you want to be involved?”
According to Fuller, the smallest piece of information could have a significant impact on the investigation.
The sheriff also said that investigators have a “person of interest” in the murder, but he would not disclose who it might be.
Ms. Qualls was the mother of two children and a 2007 graduate of Moore County High School. She worked at Calsonic in Shelbyville.
Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org