published Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Terry Lee Releford raped teen on day he killed wife

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A man who killed his pregnant wife Sunday raped a 15-year-old girl the same day before fleeing and later taking his own life, court records show.

Terry Lee Releford, 34, faced three counts of aggravated rape after he duct-taped the girl and held a gun on her while he assaulted her multiple times, according to a Hamilton County Sheriff's Office affidavit of complaint dated Sunday. That's the same day he beat 35-year-old Tammy Hale Releford so savagely that authorities have been unable to determine whether she also was shot.

Per Times Free Press policy, the rape victim is not being identified and some details of the rape are being withheld.

Releford had been released from state prison almost exactly a year ago after serving nearly 15 years for aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

The sentences stemmed from separate attacks in 1997 involving two women in Bradley County that happened when Releford was 18.

Tammy Hale married Releford three months after he was released from prison. They lived in a house on Lovell Road in unincorporated Hamilton County, near Soddy-Daisy. She had two daughters from previous relationships. One of the daughters ran to a neighbor's house to call for help after Releford attacked his wife.

When Hamilton County deputies arrived, Tammy Releford was dead. A Hamilton County Medical Examiner's report is pending.

Releford had already fled, holing up at a motel in Calhoun, Ga. He was in negotiations with law enforcement when he shot himself in the head Monday.

"The family has requested privacy and respect for the other members involved while they deal with their loss," sheriff's office spokeswoman Janice Atkinson said in a statement earlier this week.

"Although the suspect is deceased and there will be no legal aspect to this case in Tennessee, Georgia authorities will continue their investigation into his death," Atkinson said.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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