published Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Mother grieves second slaying in family

Two boys chased each other in tight circles in the fenced front yard of their grandmother's home Friday.

Men sat or stood quietly on the porch, while inside, women sat at the dining room table with their faces down.

The boys, ages 9 and 4, didn't fully understand what had happened the day before. Brenda Young said she tried to remain steady when her youngest grandson asked her, "Granny, why you crying?"

Young's first thought was of the boys after she got the call Thursday that her 29-year-old daughter, Meco Siler, had been killed.

"Granny's going to take care of them. Granny's always going to take care of them," she said. Siler also had a 14-year-old daughter who lives with her father, Young said.

A cluster of photos on an eye-level stand showed Siler, a thin woman with a bright half-smile standing, sideways to the camera.

Young said her son, Reginald Siler, called to tell her a housekeeper had found Siler's body on the floor of her Country Hearth Suites hotel room.

She said that brought back tragic memories. Her 20-year-old son, Vodie Darbardeleben, was fatally stabbed in a fight on June 5, 2006.

Michael Shawn Jones was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in August 2009 and sentenced to six years in prison, according to court records.

Reginald is now Young's only living child.

Chattanooga police said late Friday that they have a suspect in the slaying and information for an arrest warrant.

"Fugitive investigators are actively searching" for the unnamed suspect, Assistant Police Chief Tim Carroll said.

He said Siler's body had multiple stab wounds and marks of a beating. The official cause of death will be released after an autopsy at the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office.

Police returned Friday to the hotel where Siler had lived since October to interview some of the tenants again. Carroll said investigators had gathered surveillance video from a neighboring gas station and from the Mountain View Ford dealership across the street from the hotel.

Black fingerprint dust splotches marked the door of Room 233, where Siler had lived for two months. Room 231 next door was unoccupied Friday. Four men were in Room 232, but three spoke only Spanish.

The fourth wouldn't give his name. In broken English, he said they had all been at work the day before and did not know Siler.

There are no cameras in the second-floor outdoor hallway outside Siler's room.

Cameras on the corners of the building's front and back side aim at the parking lot, but Carroll said the hotel manager told them the cameras hadn't worked in at least three years.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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