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80 Years Ago

Archives 4-06-2005



Couple found dead, two men charged
Copeland uses medical skills to treat Iraqi children
Unemployment rate lowers in Overton



Couple found dead, two men charged

photos by Robert Forsman/OCN staff
The bodies of L.J. Looper, 71, and his wife, Sandra Ann (Johnson) Looper, 42, were reportedly found partially covered near the Copeland Cove Lane home of Harold Johnson Jr., 62, the father of Mrs. Looper.

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the deaths of two Putnam County residents.

Harold Johnson Jr., 62, was charged with two counts of Premeditated First Degree Murder in connection with the deaths of his daughter, Sandra Ann (Johnson) Looper, 42, and her husband, L.J. Looper, 71.

Shane Michael Grogger, 28, was arrested and charged with two counts of Criminal Responsibility for Premeditated First Degree Murder in connection with the couple's death.

A press conference explaining the events of the case was held in the Overton County Justice Center on Monday, April 4 with John McLeod, investigator for Overton County Sheriff's Department, giving a statement and answering questions. Also on hand were Assistant District Attorneys John Moore and Owen Burnett.

Investigator McLeod said Overton County Sheriff's Department received a call at the end of last week, asking for a check on the well being of the victims. McLeod said such calls are not uncommon.

The bodies were found Saturday, April 2 near Johnson's 1036 Copeland Cove Lane home, a remote area off Monterey Highway.

A BOLO (be-on-the-lookout) bulletin was issued for Johnson and a possible accomplice.

Johnson and Grogger were pulled over the following day by Putnam County law enforcement, taken into custody, and transported to Overton County, where they were charged and arrested.

According to the arrest warrants, the victims were murdered on or about Friday, April 1. Investigator McLeod said gunshots were the most likely cause of death.

When asked if the victims had been shot more than once each, McLeod said autopsies were being performed and more would be known later.

McLeod said finances were the probable motive.

Explaining the Criminal Responsibility charges against Grogger, ADA Moore said such charges are filed when aiding and abetting is involved. Aiding and abetting can apply to before, during, or after a crime is committed. Helping to conceal a crime committed by another also falls into the category of Criminal Responsibility.

ADA Burnett said that, if convicted, both suspects face the same range of punishment, from 25 years in prison to life, to the death penalty. Burnett said it is too early in the investigation for the District Attorney's office to announce what sentence will be sought.

Both suspects appeared in Overton County General Sessions Court, Judge John Officer presiding, on Tuesday, April 5. Judge Officer advised both defendants to say nothing, and scheduled a bond hearing for Thursday, April 7. Johnson and Grogger have applied for court-appointed attorneys.

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Copeland uses medical skills to treat Iraqi children

photo courtesy of Lynn King
Tennessee National Guardsman Bernie Copeland, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, has his photo taken with a young Iraqi girl whom he treated at the First Aid Station there. When he is not on Guard duty, Copeland works for Overton County Ambulance Service.

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Unemployment rate lowers in Overton

Overton County's unemployment rate went down from 7.4% to 6.9 in February.

Overton County had 680 unemployed of a workforce of 9,140.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted February unemployment rate was 5.9%, the same as in January.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has revised the unemployment rate estimating methodology, including the introduction of the Office Management and Budget's new 2000 geographic standards to 2000 census data.

Overton County is included in the Cookeville Micropolitan Statistical Area along with Jackson County and Putnam County. The Cookeville MSA had a decrease from 6.6 to 6.4% in the unemployment rate in February. The MSA had 3,130 unemployed of a workforce of 48,980.

Jackson County's unemployment rate remained as it was in January at 11.0%. Jackson had 600 unemployed of a workforce of 5,460.

Putnam County's unemployment rate lowered from 5.7% to 5.5. Putnam had 1,850 unemployed of a workforce of 33,690.

Clay County reported the state's highest unemployment rate at 12.1%, which was down from to 12.3 in January. Clay had 420 unemployed of a workforce of 3,490.

Pickett County's unemployment rate fell from 12.4% to 11.1. Pickett had 210 unemployed of a workforce of 1,920.

Fentress County's fell slightly from 8.6 % to 8.5. Fentress had 620 unemployed of a workforce of 7,260.

For complete labor force estimates go to www.tennessee.gov/labor-wfd/labor_figures/february2005county.pdf.

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Overton County News
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