The family of a woman who was reported missing in 2009 has been able to obtain possession of the home she lived in prior to her disappearance.
Investigators also took the opportunity to search for additional evidence Friday.
Attorney James Logan represented heirs and members of Marsha Brantley’s family. In a twist of events, Logan filed a civil complaint for declaratory judgment in July for the family to take possession of the house where Marsha and her husband Donnie had lived in the Benwood addition.
Another twist Friday came when Logan and the family agreed to allow the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office to enter the home in search of evidence, which could lead to solving her disappearance.
Marsha was 52 when she allegedly left her husband and was seeking a divorce, according to Donnie Brantley’s statement to investigators.
She disappeared in early June and friends reportedly alerted authorities in the fall.
Investigators also obtained a search warrant after discovering an “unusual” area in the concrete floor of the garage of the home.
“They (detectives) worked late into the evening cutting the area up, which we were told appeared to have been repaired,” said Jana Wills, Marsha’s cousin.
Jana, her husband Mark and her aunt and uncle, Medra and Frank Justis, travelled to Cleveland Friday afternoon to wait out the search in the basement area of the home.
Wright Bros. Construction crews aided in cutting the concrete, according to officials with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
Forensic search canines from Lenoir City were dispatched to the scene to aid as well.
Marsha Rader Brantley, a graduate and former employee of Lee University, went missing in June 2009. Her husband Donnie Brantley didn’t report her missing, citing she had left him and was planning a divorce according to information provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Logan filed the complaint for Brantley ’s family members Wills, of Greeneville, and Justis, of Clemmons, N.C.
The family cited the home had “fallen into disrepair and taxes had not been paid on the property.”
Donnie Brantley reportedly abandoned the property after his wife’s disappearance.
“Our investigators have been searching in Tennessee and Georgia to serve Mr. Brantley with the complaint,” Logan said after filing the judgement paperwork for the civil suit.
Donnie Brantley’s last known address was on property owned by his family in Kingston, Ga. Bradley County Sheriff’s Office investigators and TBI were searching for a camper the couple owned. Officials located the camper at the property and conducted a search several months ago, according to officials at BCSO.
Logan’s complaint stated “the defendant (Donnie Brantley) who was her husband, had and continues to embark upon a course of lies, deceit and misrepresentation.”
Logan’s complaint also said Donnie Brantley has given inconsistent statements regarding his wife’s disappearance and “... has asserted falsehoods regarding the circumstances surrounding her death and disappearance.”
“The defendant has failed to maintain the real property and the power to the real property has been terminated which is Marsha Brantley’s substantial asset. The property is depreciating in value because of the lack of proper maintenance,” Logan said.”
On Thursday, Chancellor Jerri Bryant issued “immediate possession to the heirs and trust to take possession of the property,” according to Logan.
“Donnie Brantley needs to free his soul from the cage of guilt he has entrapped himself in,” Logan said Saturday.
“We appreciate all of the hard work Mr. Logan is doing and the work of Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney’s office. Our hope remains that we will find Marsha and learn the story of what happened to her and justice will be served accordingly,” Wills said.
Wills and Justis encourage anyone having information to contact the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division at 728-7336 or the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office at 472-2179, or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 615-744-4000.