published Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Franklin County slaying victim's mom disappointed in reduced bond

  • photo
    Erika Megan Sharpton, 24, of Tullahoma, Tenn., was killed around July 2 and her body was found burning off of Awalt Road by a paassing motorist in Franklin County, Tenn.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The mother of a slain 24-year-old Tullahoma, Tenn., nursing student says she still feels safe after the bond holding the man identified as a "person of interest" in her daughter's death was dropped from $500,000 to $100,000.

Kelly Sharpton, the mother of victim Megan Sharpton, expressed relief in late September when Donnie Frank Jones Jr., 37, was arrested on an unrelated charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm after his home was searched Sept. 27 as part of the investigation of Megan's death.

He was jailed on a $500,000 bond, but the bond was lowered during a hearing earlier this month in Coffee County General Sessions Court, where the gun charges arise.

On Monday, Sharpton said the $100,000 bond should keep Jones behind bars for the time being. She was "really disappointed" with the reduction of the bond, she said, but "we feel pretty good that he'll stay put" at the current bond.

Megan Sharpton's still-burning body was found July 2 on Awalt Road near the bridge over Tims Ford Lake after a passing motorist saw what he thought was a grass fire.

Her 1995 Ford Mustang was found on Three Forks Bridge Road in Bedford County, 15 to 20 miles away, the same day.

Authorities confirmed in September that sexual assault is suspected in the crime.

The homicide investigation is being conducted by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor is heading the prosecution with assistance from the TBI.

Franklin sheriff spokesman Sgt. Chris Guess said detectives are following leads in the case while they wait for the gun case in Coffee County to go to the grand jury.

Taylor said Monday that investigators still are awaiting results of TBI crime lab analysis of items seized so far.

Meanwhile, Sharpton said she's anxious for homicide charges to be filed against her daughter's killer, whoever it is.

"I know it doesn't happen like it does on TV, but sometimes I just wish it would," she said.

Megan Sharpton's 25th birthday "is coming up next week," Kelly Sharpton said. "We're hoping that will be her gift; she'll get an indictment [in her case]."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Subscribe to his Facebook posts at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/BenBenton.

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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