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80 Years Ago

Archives 12-07-2010


Homes charred after rash of fires
Police charge Linder with kidnapping, robbery, assault
Christmas Parade set for Saturday
City Council meeting held Monday

Homes charred after rash of fires

Lyndon Johnson photos
Above, volunteer firefighters respond to a fire at the home of David Conatser near 1338 Jamestown Highway between Livingston and Alpine on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The fire rendered the home, which had recently undergone an intensive remodeling, uninhabitable.

Above, Hilham volunteer firefighters feed high-pressure hose into the blackened bedroom where a fire was believed to have started at the home of Emogene Wright at 137 Poplar Springs Road in the Hardy’s Chapel community on Friday, Dec. 3.

By Lyndon Johnson,
OCN Staff

A rash of structure fires left homes across Overton County charred last week.

First was a fire at the residence of David Conatser near 1338 Jamestown Highway between Livingston and Alpine. Alpine Volunteer Fire Department received the call at approximately 1:38 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1 that smoke was seen billowing from the structure. Monroe Volunteer Fire Department was later called to the scene to assist Alpine VFD in dousing the flames.

Though he said there was no ready indication of how the fire may have started, Alpine volunteer firefighter Jamie Ledford extended his department’s gratitude to Monroe VFD, saying, “We’d like to give special thanks to Monroe on behalf of Alpine VFD for backing us up.”

Next was a home at 137 Poplar Springs Road in the Hardy’s Chapel community. Hardy’s Chapel Volunteer Fire Department received the call at approximately 11:20 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 that smoke was coming from the home of Emogene Wright.

Hardy’s Chapel VFD responders called for backup quickly after the initial alarm went out because a limited number of the department’s firefighters were available to respond. Hilham VFD and Rickman VFD offered their assistance in short order.

The fire, which had started from a wall-mounted coil heater in a bedroom, was doused relatively quickly, but not before the home suffered enough smoke, heat and water damage to render it uninhabitable.

Wright’s central heating unit had reportedly malfunctioned, prompting her to turn on the older in-wall electric coil heaters. Wright herself was rendered unconscious during the event and was reportedly rescued from the smoke-filled home.

Finally, Rickman volunteer firefighters reportedly responded to a structure fire at the home of Wayne Wilmoth at 288 Raspberry Lane in Rickman on Sunday, Dec. 5 at approximately 4:35 p.m. only to find the structure fully engulfed when they arrived.

Hardy’s Chapel and Fairgrounds Volunteer Fire Departments offered additional assistance to battle the flames.

The home was totally destroyed by the flames, according to Rickman Fire Chief Ray Neal, who said the fire’s cause was believed to be electrical in nature.

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Police charge Linder with kidnapping, robbery, assault

Dale Welch/Hilltop Express photo
Officials from Monterey Police Department, Clay County Sheriff’s Department, and Livingston Police Department escort Gentry Linder, 28, of Overton County, out of Livingston Police Department on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Linder is suspected by police of kidnapping, beating, and holding against her will his wife, from whom he had reportedly been separated.

By Lyndon Johnson,
OCN Staff

An Overton County man was arrested last week on charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault in a joint operation between police agencies in three counties.

According to a statement from Livingston Police Department, Gentry Linder, 28, of Overton County gave himself up to Livingston Police Chief Greg Etheredge at an undisclosed Allons location Wednesday, Dec. 1 after a three-day manhunt conducted by Livingston and Monterey police departments and Clay County and Overton County sheriff’s departments.
Police allege that Linder’s wife, whose name they are withholding from Overton County News, came into Monterey Police Department on Monday, Nov. 29 to inquire what she could do to keep Linder away from her.

According to Monterey Police Chief Kevin Phillips, “She came to my office Monday around 9:30 or 10 a.m., and from that point on, we aggressively pursued this. When she came in, she first stated that she was wanting to know what she could do to keep him away from her, maybe an order of protection, and as the story unfolded, we realized it was much more than just her needing an order of protection.”

Phillips said he then called Chief Etheredge to begin working on the case.

According to the statement issued by LPD, police allege that Linder used a false claim of a family medical emergency to lure his wife, from whom he had been separated, into the parking lot at Perdue Farms in Monterey, where she worked. Linder then allegedly forcibly took her from the factory parking lot and “brutally” beat her, according to the statement.

Both Phillips and Etheredge said the victim showed signs of being beaten when she came to police that day.

Etheredge said she had “visible injuries, multiple ones.”

Police claim that Linder then held his wife against her will and forced her to withdraw what money she had from the Bank of Overton County in Livingston, though police officials would not disclose to Overton County
News how much money was withdrawn.

According to Etheredge, “It wasn’t a large amount, or at least it might not have been to you or me, but it was all that she had.”

Police further allege that after forcing her to remove all the money she had in the bank, Linder took his wife to a secluded area in Alpine in the vicinity of Conatser Hollow. There, they allege he told her he was going to kill her, then tied her to a tree and “put a knife to her throat where she begged for her life,” the statement said.

Police say Linder stopped only when an unknown passerby stopped in the area.

“I can’t go into detail on the passerby,” said Etheredge. “We do know they existed.”

Police say Linder then removed his wife from the scene and took her to a residence on James White Road in Clay County, where according to Clay County Sheriff’s Department Detective Randal Slayton, Linder’s current girlfriend, Kereissa Sevier, 23, lived. Police allege Linder held his wife at that residence overnight. The statement said she was able to escape that residence and later report the incident to law enforcement, though it was not clear based on police statements how much time passed between her escape and her contacting police.

Etheredge said, “She reported it a short time after it happened, I do know that.”

Sevier, who is alleged by police to have been an active participant in the kidnapping and robbery, was arrested when Livingston Police Department and Clay County Sheriff’s Department obtained a search warrant for the residence and conducted a joint search. Police report that a number of items were recovered during the search of the residence that supported the victim’s claims that she had been kidnapped and held against her will.

Though police officials would not go into specifics, Phillips said the search turned up “Items listed that would be used to detain an individual.”

“I don’t want to really go any farther than that,” Phillips added, saying, “We really can’t until this goes to trial.”

According to Etheredge, the victim’s story “is legitimate. We know 95 percent of what she told us, we can definitely say it happened.”

At last report, Linder was being held in Overton County Justice Center on $100,000 bond. Sevier was reportedly being held in Overton County Justice Center on $25,000 bond.

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Christmas Parade set for Saturday

The 45th Annual 2010 Overton County Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 11.
This year’s grand marshal will be Rhea Lynn Conner, the “Little Debbie” look-alike contest winner. The honorary grand marshal will be the 278th National Guard Regiment. The Christmas Parade Theme is “The Sounds of Christmas”.

The parade will begin at 2 p.m. at the intersection of the Highway 111 bypass and Highway 294, near Livingston Limestone. The parade will continue onto East Main Street to Broad Street, across the town square, then to Bilbrey Street. It will continue up Bilbrey Street, going beside the Overton County Nursing Home, and then disperse at the intersection of Bilbrey Street and West First Street.

Line-up will begin at noon on the bypass, from the intersection of Highway 294 back toward Tennessee Technology Center at Livingston.
For more informaton call the Chamber of Commerce at (931) 823-6421.

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City Council meeting held Monday
By Dewain E. Peek,
OCN staff

Livingston Mayor Curtis Hayes and the Board of Aldermen held their regular monthly meeting Monday, Dec. 6.

Aldermen Bill Winningham, Lynn King, David Langford, Bill Linder, Cindy Robbins, and David Sadler II were all present.

Brent Carr was hired for the Gas Department to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Robert Watson.

First reading was approved on rezoning Dr. Larry Mason property on Oak Street from R-1 to C-1. A public hearing was set for 6:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 3.

Alderman King was presented a Level 3 leadership development certificate by Warren Nevad, of University of Tennessee Municipal Technical
Advisory Service.

“Level 3 consists of leadership training, dealing with the media, and strategic planning,” Nevad said.

The meeting adjourned.

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Overton County News
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