Emergency officials had busy 2013
by GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Jan 02, 2014 | 1695 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local law enforcement agencies had a busy year in 2013. From car crashes to homicides to death investigations, some cases continue to be looked into while some have been resolved.

The 2013 recap will be published in three parts in the Cleveland Daily Banner.

In January, Charles J. Massengale, 29, was taken into custody after a car crash. He made his way into the driver’s seat of a Cleveland Police Department car, then led officers on a chase into Hamilton County. Massengale then crashed the cruiser and took off on foot.

He was arrested by law enforcement a few days later.

Massengale was charged with felony counts of possession of Schedule II for Resale (suspected methamphetamine), possession of drug paraphernalia, theft over $10,000, evading arrest, reckless endangerment and convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Massengale’s misdemeanor charges included driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, violation of financial responsibility and violation of registration

Massengale was found to have other outstanding warrants from Hamilton County on separate instances, as well, according to the CPD’s Evie West.

According to 10th Judicial assistant District Attorney General Stephen Hatchett, the state of Tennessee dropped charges after federal prosecutors took over the case.

Massengale was convicted and received 15 years to serve in federal custody.

- Nick Alley took his children Helana, 7, and Lazarus, 6, along with other family members, on a canoe ride one afternoon in February.

The canoe tumbled in the swollen waters of Conasauga Creek in Polk County.

Three children made it to safety but Alley, Helana and Lazarus would disappear into the raging waters and be missing for days.

A full-out rescue operation got underway by West Polk Fire and Rescue. Other area rescuers also responded to the creek, which was in the Mennonite community.

The incident occurred Jan. 16. Rescuers worked tirelessly and recovered Nick Alley’s body approximately two weeks later after the waters receded.

- On a February Friday afternoon, a driver lost control of his vehicle and careened into a wall, subsequently rupturing a natural gas line.

Cleveland Fire Department, Cleveland Police and Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency personnel rushed to the scene at Signature Healthcare and began aiding the victims, as well as patients of the health care facility.

Plans were made to evacuate the facility if needed, but officials moved the patients to a safe area where they were sheltered in place.

- Bradley County recorded its first traffic-related fatality on Feb. 13, when Jackie W. Pritchett, 75, died after her vehicle overturned on Dry Valley Road.

The single-vehicle crash occurred just before 5:30 a.m. Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the incident.

Eight people reportedly died on Bradley County roadways in 2013.

- A Benton police officer lost members of his family in February, after they were involved in a two-vehicle crash in McMinn County.

Linda Bloom, 27, and Cayla Bloom, 6, reportedly died on impact after their vehicle collided with a rollback wrecker.

Dawson Bloom, 10, died days later in a Knoxville hospital.

Officer David Bloom suffered extensive injuries during the crash. Another son was also injured and survived.

- Cleveland Fire Department firefighters responded to a structure fire in late February. After the flames were out, officials made a scary discovery.

According to a report filed by CPD, Bradley County Sheriff’s Office investigators learned a clandestine methamphetamine lab had caused the fire.

Firefighters rushed to a 14th Street quadplex just before 11 on a weekday morning. Smoke was reportedly coming from one of the units.

Firefighters found damage to the kitchen with heat and smoke damage throughout the unit.

According to the report, the apartment had been vacant and quarantined due to a previous meth lab being discovered inside.

After a follow-up investigation, BCSO investigators determined the fire had been started by someone who had broken into the quarantined apartment.

CFD’s report indicated contributing factors were spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction which ignited floor covering in the kitchen.

- In March, Tennessee Highway Patrol brought out the “big rig.”

The “No-Zone” 18-wheeler was introduced to the Chattanooga district and made its way to Cleveland.

The truck is marked in THP colors and completed with emergency lighting. The trailer is finished with “No Zone” decals … a warning tool for motorists who may drive in the “blind” spots of the truckers as well as a tool to catch distracted drivers.

Within minutes of the big rig getting on Interstate 75 and heading northbound, a THP trooper who helps the agency rig’s driver observed a driver texting.

The driver was pulled over by a marked THP unit and cited for the activity, which is illegal in Tennessee, Lt. John Harmon said.

Distracted driving was cited as a factor in most of the traffic-related fatalities in 2012 in Bradley County.

Traffic-related deaths are significantly lower this year in Bradley County.

Brandon Hodnett was among those people who suffered serious injuries in 2013.

The Walker Valley High School student continues to recover from a crash earlier this year.

His father, Mike Hodnett, attributed speed to his son’s crash.

Hodnett placed the twisted wreckage of his son’s car in front of WVHS, to warn students of what could happen to them.

Several WVHS students suffered life-changing injuries in the early part of the year.

Driver education and increased enforcement have been credited with bringing traffic-related fatalities down this year.

- Also in March, Russell Brown was supposed to face trial in the murder of Harold Lee Montgomery.

The trial was delayed because a mental evaluation had not been completed.

The trial eventually got underway in May and Brown was convicted of murder and aggravated arson.

Montgomery’s body was found on New Year’s Day 2012, in a local motel room, after Cleveland Fire Department responded to a fire.

Brown was established early on as a “person of interest” in the case. He had reportedly taken Montgomery’s Volkswagen Cabriolet from the scene.

Brown and Montgomery had reportedly celebrated New Year’s Eve at Brown’s apartment then left to get alcohol and drugs. They then went to the motel to spend the night.

Autopsy results revealed Montgomery died from stab wounds to the face, neck and upper torso.

Brown took the stand and alleged Montgomery sexually assaulted him.

The two men had reportedly been lifelong friends and met on occasion for sexual relations, according to reports.

- Officials identified David T. Richardson as the man who reportedly fell to his death from an airplane in late March while he was flying over Bradley County.

Bradley County Fire-Rescue search teams found the body of David T. Richardson, 77, about 300 yards from Station 3 Maroon Branch Fire Hall, located on Lead Mine Valley Road. Searchers worked for four days to locate his body.

According to earlier reports, Richardson and another pilot had been flying a small, single-engine plane. The plane had taken off from Collegedale Municipal Airport in eastern Hamilton County.

“The flight path took the plane over the southern part of Bradley County, which largely consists of rural areas,” Gault said.

“While flying over south Bradley County, the [plane’s] canopy malfunctioned and as a result, one of the two pilots was ejected from the aircraft.”

The other pilot returned to Collegedale and reported the incident.

BCSO, BCFR and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were then involved in the search for Richardson.

Tennessee Highway Patrol utilized a helicopter and a private volunteer airplane pilot offered to help in the search as well.

- A former Cleveland banker was killed just days after moving to Raleigh, N.C.

Her alleged killers were taken into custody as the investigation continued.

Melissa Dawn Huggins-Jones, 30, was found dead inside her new Allister North Hills apartment.

She died from blunt-force trauma, according to Raleigh Police officials.

Huggins-Jones had recently moved to Raleigh to manage a branch business of First Tennessee Bank, according to reports from Mike Griffin of First Tennessee.

Her 8-year-old daughter found her body May 14 and asked nearby construction workers for help.

Authorities said an alleged burglary attempt was the common denominator among three suspects charged in the crimes, said Jim Sughrue, spokesman for RPD. Arrested were Ronald Lee Anthony Jr, 23, Sarah Rene Redden, 18, and Travion Devonte Smith, 20.

According to Sughrue, Huggins-Jones had no apparent connection with the three suspects prior to the killing. She had moved to the area earlier in May where new construction of the apartment community was underway. According to reports, the building where Huggins-Jones and her daughter lived was the only one occupied.

“As the investigation progressed a link was established between the homicide and certain property crimes in the immediate area,” Sughrue explained.

“It is believed the suspects initially made an unforced entry into the Huggins-Jones residence to commit a burglary,” he added.

- A Walker Valley High School teacher entered a guilty plea regarding a sexual battery charge and was ordered by the judge to register as a sex offender. Christie David, 32, was charged with one count of sexual battery.

She received a one-year suspended sentence, according to reports. BCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division detectives began an investigation into the allegations in September 2012. David, a social studies teacher, was suspended without pay Oct. 3, according to Bradley County Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel.

Investigators’ findings led to the grand jury indictment of David and accused her of having an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old male who was a former student.

-Jerry Ray Tyler Jr. was sentenced in June to 33 years in prison in federal court on charges in an Internet child pornography case.

The charges were levied in September 2011, after an Internet Crimes Against Children investigation conducted by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

Tyler was charged under indictment in November 2012 with seven counts of child pornography by a parent; 12 counts of distribution of child pornography; and eight counts of receipt of child pornography.

Agencies involved in the investigation included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations Division and BCSO’s ICAC Task Force.