published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Tennessee Highway patrol arrests man on murder, desertion charges in routine traffic stop

A Tennessee Highway patrolman conducting a routine traffic stop Tuesday in Bradley County arrested a man on state and federal warrants for murder and military desertion, state officials said.

Gerard Powers Vern, 25, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., told state trooper Gray Gibson he was traveling from Kentucky to Florida when he was pulled over around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

After Gibson ran a check on Vern’s driver’ license, he learned the driver he’d stopped was wanted by the FBI for multiple felony charges and by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department in Texas for a homicide, according to a THP news release.

Gibson charged Vern as a fugitive from justice and on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, in addition to traffic charges of speeding and financial responsibility, the release states. He is awaiting extradition on the Texas murder charge and is also wanted by the U.S. Army for military desertion, which is a felony charge.

State officials said Vern’s wife and three juveniles were released with the vehicle.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at

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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