In Bradley County Criminal Court Monday, Donnie Ray Brantley was charged with the murder of his wife, who has been missing since 2009.
Marsha Brantley, who disappeared in June 2009, was reported missing by friends, according to niece Jana Wills of Greenville. She was a former employee of Lee University.
Donnie Brantley is charged with first-degree murder after a Bradley County grand jury returned an indictment. He was taken into custody in the courtroom, where he was to face a status hearing in a case where he was charged with hindering a creditor.
He entered a plea of not guilty and bond was set at $500,000.
According to investigators with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Donnie Brantley has been living in Kingston, Ga.
He was arrested in November 2012 by the U.S. Marshal’s Service after investigators found the Denali RV on property owned by some of his family members.
According to the investigation, officials alleged Brantley was attempting to keep creditors from repossessing the RV.
Months after Marsha went missing, friends Kelly DeLude and Phyllis Dodd told Wills and other members of Marsha’s family that Donnie Brantley said she had left him.
Donnie Brantley never reported her missing.
An investigation was initiated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in fall 2009.
Wills and her husband Mark, Marsha’s aunt Medra and husband, Franklin Justis, and others began to push investigators to find out what had happened to her.
Her family made numerous trips to Cleveland to hand out posters describing Marsha.
“Our family is so appreciative to the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and investigators with the District Attorney General’s Office, as well as attorney James Logan, who has represented us,” said Wills.
“They have all been very supportive of our endeavors to seek justice for Marsha. This (Donnie Brantley’s arrest) is just one of our answered prayers,” she added.
Justis said the family will continue to search for Marsha’s whereabouts.
“We would like to thank the people of Bradley County for their prayers, support and hard work during this time. We realize this is just the beginning of a long process; however, we have faith that justice will be served,” Wills said Monday.
In 2010, TBI officials combed through the Benwood Drive home where Marsha and Donnie Brantley lived. He formerly owned a business named “House Doctors,” a handyman service in Cleveland.
Donnie Brantley reportedly abandoned the property and family members retained Logan, who filed for possession of the property.
Immediately, the family of Marsha Brantley granted a search of the house. Investigators with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division went through the residence once again. They also went through the RV, once it was found looking for forensic evidence or anything which might point to the whereabouts of Marsha, according to reports.
Logan asks anyone who may have information prior to or after Marsha Brantley’s disappearance, to come forward.
“We could gain beneficial information which would aid in finding out what happened,” Logan said.
“Please contact the investigators with TBI, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office or our office,” He added.
Donnie Brantley is expected to appear in court regarding attorney status Nov. 18.