published Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Body of man killed, dumped in Sequatchie River identified

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    Staff Photo by Ben Benton/Chattanooga Times Free Press Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock talks about new details Friday in the death of 55-year-old Clifford M. Carden Jr., of Graysville, Tenn., in Bledsoe County. Carden's body was found Thursday partially submerged in the Sequatchie River, south of Dunlap.

DUNLAP, Tenn. — Investigators in Sequatchie County continue to search for Clifford M. Carden Jr.'s killer — or killers — after his body was found Thursday partially submerged in the Sequatchie River.

Carden, 55, of 560 New Harmony Road, in Graysville, Tenn., had suffered trauma to his head before his body was dumped into the water under Pickett's Bridge, Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock said during a news conference Friday.

"It's a tragedy, that's for sure. We don't know why it happened. We don't know who was involved," Hitchcock said. "We don't know how many people were involved. We're following up on all leads."

Carden has no criminal record, he said.

TBI, state bomb and arson officers and authorities in Sequatchie and Bledsoe counties are continuing the investigation, he said.

Carden's body is being examined at the TBI's crime lab in Nashville to determine a cause of death, authorities said.

Hitchcock said he, Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris and TBI agents talked to Carden's mother, wife and children in Bledsoe early Friday, but so far investigators have found no motive and have eliminated Carden's home as a crime scene.

Carden spoke to at least one family member sometime after lunch Wednesday, Hitchcock said, and family members said Carden "seemed to be fine."

TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said early Friday that authorities found Carden's car burned. The car was found about 10 miles away from where Carden's body was discovered.

Hitchcock said the burned car, a 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was discovered about 7 a.m. CST Thursday on Old Union Loop by a resident who reported an unusual smell and a car that had been destroyed by fire. The scene on Old Union Loop is about a mile northwest of the Sequatchie County Justice Center, he said.

Authorities started processing the car before Carden's body was spotted at 10:13 a.m., the sheriff said. Carden's body was found by a local man who was collecting cans along East Valley Road, Hitchcock said.

Investigators are trying to determine where Carden was killed and how his car and his body wound up miles apart.

Anyone with information about the slaying or the burning of the car can call the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Office at 423-949-7750.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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