published Thursday, July 4th, 2013

East Ridge slayings stun quiet neighborhood

The house where a possible murder/suicide took place sits at 3613 Wimberly Lane on Wednesday.
The house where a possible murder/suicide took place sits at 3613 Wimberly Lane on Wednesday.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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No one would ever guess that the quiet, gray clapboard house on Wimberly Lane was the scene of Tuesday night's possible murder-suicide.

But it was at that home, tucked away in a quiet corner of East Ridge, that family members found James and Susan Ingram, dead in their bedroom, each with a single gunshot to the head.

Police said initial reports indicate that James Ingram, who was found with a small handgun in his hand, shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.

According to a news release, "family members were concerned because Susan Ingram ... had not reported to work at McKee Bakery."

Susan Ingram worked the third shift and was never late. But on Tuesday she didn't show up for her regular 10 p.m. clock-in.

"Apparently, that's out of character for her, so they called the family," said Tim Mullinax, spokesman for the East Ridge Police Department.

Family members, whose identity and relation to the couple were not released, rushed to the East Ridge home and knocked on the door. When no one answered, they forced the door open and discovered the couple were already dead.

"The family exited the residence and phoned the police," the release says. "On arrival, police established a crime scene perimeter and conducted a search of the house."

The Ingrams' next-door neighbor, Alice Beck, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1964, remembers the pair as "very nice people."

Beck said she didn't hear any commotion coming from the home next door, but that she woke up about 2 a.m. and saw bright lights down the street.

But Beck, 92, added that she had a hard time hearing these days.

"It's just so hard to believe," she said. "I do understand that Jimmy was very sick."

According to Beck, James "Jimmy" Ingram fell ill from his time working at a local plastic factory. His illness made him reliant on an oxygen tank to breathe.

Despite his poor health, Beck said the couple, in their 60s, seemed happy enough.

"I never heard any fights or anything," she said.

Beck's daughter, Shrimpy Lee, visits her mother every day and saw the Ingrams frequently.

"He was very intelligent," she said. "They were very delightful people."

Lee said that, as James Ingram's illness progressed, he appeared to be suffering from delusions.

"He would imagine things," she said, "like somebody was watching him or something."

The couple's bodies were taken to the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's office on Amnicola Highway for autopsies. Mullinax said police were waiting for a final report and that the investigation was ongoing.

"It's still preliminary," he said. "There's still some interviewing that needs to be done."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at 423-757-6731 or agreen@timesfreepress.com. Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at lburkholder@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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