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80 Years Ago



LPD investigates child endangerment cases
Hancock charged with murder in Clay County
Home destroyed Sunday night
County Commission approves nursing home expansion

LPD investigates child endangerment cases
During the last week, Livingston Police Department has been involved in investigations related to abuse and neglect of children.

At approximately 9 a.m. Thursday, June 25, LPD responded to a call of an abandoned child on South Church Street. After further investigation, LPD alleges that both parents had left their 5 year-old daughter home alone.

The mother had spent the night elsewhere and the father was left to supervise the child and left the apartment to run some errands, according to LPD. While the father was away, the 5 year-old was able to leave the home and go down a flight of stairs and onto the street, where the child was located by Officers Brandon Walker and Rick Brown.

The Department of Children Services was called in due to the condition of the home, according to LPD, which described it as “deplorable”, with fire hazards, limited food, and piles of clothes scattered on the floor and rooms throughout the home.

Charges were filed related to child neglect in the case.

The following day, at approximately 12:45 p.m., LPD responded to a call of an abandoned child on the square in Livingston. In this case, an 11 ½ month-old baby girl was left alone in a vehicle that was running, with the windows down, and no air conditioning.

Officers Ray Smith and Jerry Rhoton along with Police Chief Greg Etheredge removed the child from the vehicle and sought medical treatment of the baby for heat exposure.

According to LPD, after EMS arrived, the father returned to the vehicle and was not aware that authorities were on the scene.

The temperature in the vehicle ranged from 102 to 120 degrees, according to LPD.

The Department of Children Services was called to assist in the investigation.

Charges were filed related to aggravated child abuse in the case.

LPD is reminding parents, guardians, and those charged with supervising children that serious criminal penalties exist for treating children in such a manner that can or does inflict injuries or creates situations that adversely affects a child’s health and welfare.

Chief Etheredge stated, “Our top priority is to protect our children. Parents need to understand that they have the first responsibility and need to step up and put their children’s needs above their own.

“So many parents we see on a daily basis need to spend more time cleaning up their homes, watching their kids, and stop worrying about where their next fix of drugs are going to come from.

“We want to have the public’s trust. If it was not for the anonymous citizens reporting incidents like the ones this week, two children could have died.”

To report child abuse, one can directly contact the Department of Children Services at 1-877-237-0004. This is a free call and by law the caller can remain anonymous. For immediate emergency situations, call the police department at 823-6496.

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Hancock charged with murder in Clay County
By Mary Jo Denton,
Herald-Citizen staff
with permission

Jason Hancock, already charged with kidnapping an Overton County woman last fall, has now been charged with murdering her and abusing the corpse.

Last week, the Clay County grand jury heard evidence in the case from District Attorney Randy York and TBI Agent Steve Huntley.

The grand jury issued a 4-count indictment against Hancock, who has been in jail since his arrest last November on an Overton County charge that he kidnapped Jennifer Cornell, whose body was found in a sinkhole near Hancock’s home in Clay County a few days after she went missing.

The grand jury indicted the 34 year-old Hancock for first degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse.

Reportedly, the long delay between the original kidnapping charge, placed last fall in Overton County, and the new charges was due to lengthy crime lab studies, the results of which will be evidence in the case.

Jennifer Cornell, 30, the mother of two children, was on her way to work in Livingston early on the morning of October 30, 2008, when she disappeared.

Relatives found her car, the engine still running, abandoned in the roadway near her home, as if she had just stopped and stepped out.

But she was nowhere in the area, and her purse and cell phone were still in the vehicle. Massive searches by law officers and volunteers in the next couple of days turned up no clue to her whereabouts.

According to reports, her husband, Steve Cornell, told investigators that she had been in a dispute with Jason Hancock over child support for her daughter.

She and Hancock had known each other when they were teenagers, and allegedly, she had obtained DNA tests showing that Hancock was the father of her daughter.

As detectives looked for Hancock, a witness told of having seen him driving a truck in the area of the Cornell home the morning that she went missing.

Hancock was arrested in the case the next day, charged with kidnapping Cornell, as the search for her continued.

On the Sunday following her disappearance on Thursday, her body was found in a sinkhole in Clay County not far from where Hancock lived with his wife and children.

Livingston Police Chief Greg Etheredge later testified at a preliminary hearing that the body was only partially clothed, that bloody leaves and sticks were found around and inside the sinkhole, and that Cornell had suffered broken bones and massive head injuries. An autopsy report said the cause of death was “blunt force trauma”.

The Clay County grand jury’s indictments give no details of the allegations, saying only that Hancock “removed or confined” Cornell, that he “interfered substantially with her liberty,” caused her “serious bodily injury”, killed her “with premeditation”, and did so “in the perpetration of a kidnapping”, and that he “physically mistreated a corpse in a manner offensive to the sensibilities of an ordinary person”.

Hancock’s bond on the new charges has been set at $1 million, and he was scheduled to be brought from Overton County Jail to a Clay County courtroom for arraignment on Monday, June 29, according to Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett.


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Home destroyed Sunday night

A home at 118 Sarah Dial Lane was destroyed by fire around 10:45 p.m. Sunday, June 28. Rickman Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the scene and found the structure engulfed in flames. Hardy’s Chapel Fire Department also assisted in containing the fire, and Overton County EMS and Overton County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene. No one was home at the time of the fire. The incident is under investigation.

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County Commission approves nursing home expansion
By Dewain E. Peek,
OCN staff

Overton County Legislative Body held the regular monthly meeting Thursday, June 25, with Commissioners Chris Speck and Jeff Staggs absent.

Expansion of the physical therapy department at Overton County Nursing Home was approved. The expansion will add about 950 square-feet onto Wing 4.

Commissioner Alan Atnip, chairman of the Nursing Home Board, said, “It’s a good thing for the nursing home.”

County Mayor Kenneth Copeland agreed, “It’s needed.”

Atnip went on to say, “We’ve got the funds to pay for it.”

A continuing budget and tax rate resolution was adopted for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009.

A budget amendment to the General Purpose School Budget for 2008-2009 was approved.

Overton County Schools quarterly report was approved, with Commissioners Bruce Ledford and Gregg Nivens voting no.

A refund was approved for Steven Jones in the amount of $384.73 for money that went to unclaimed property from his deceased grandfather.

Year-end budget amendments for all county departments were approved.
Budget Director Debra Maberry’s bond was approved.

Overton County Highway Department’s employee handbook was approved.

Budd Bishop of the Court Square Committee and Larry Gunnels of Sons of the Confederacy were approved to select a site for a Civil War Trails historical marker to be erected on the courthouse square.

Mike Qualls, Jennifer Hammons, Jerry Wilkerson, and Tammy Sells were approved as notaries at-large.

The rules were suspended and the County Commission voted to approve John Alcorn as a judicial commissioner.

The meeting adjourned.

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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston' Tennessee 38570
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