published Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Man charged in woman's death — and more Chattanooga region news

Man charged in woman's death

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — A Southeast Tennessee man has been charged with the slaying of a woman in her home over the weekend.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Monroe County authorities arrested 31-year-old James Ray Parker of Vonore on Monday. Parker is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 57-year-old Kathy Bookout.

Bookout was found dead Sunday at her home along New Highway 68 near Madisonville. Authorities said Parker drove from his home in Vonore to Bookout's residence where he allegedly killed her.

Authorities have recovered the rifle used in the slaying, but they declined to specify the type or caliber.

Authorities have not divulged a motive in the slaying. Parker and Bookout are related, but the Sheriff's Office would not elaborate on the relationship.


Man finds graves on his property

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. — A south-central Tennessee man discovered some unexpected guests on a piece of property -- a graveyard full of people.

Ricky Green of Tullahoma says he bought the land four years ago but didn't know it contained a burial ground. Greene told The Tullahoma News he discovered the graves a few weeks ago while mowing the grass.

A series of dips prompted Greene to examine the yard. Greene initially thought recent rains caused the swaying in the land.

"It had always been level before, and then when I was mowing this week I noticed it was like a roller coaster. The dips were hard on my mower."

After a short investigation, he noticed the end of a rock sticking up. A little digging turned up a wooden coffin.

Greene looked around and suddenly was able to see imprints of graves in the grass. They are placed in neat rows with each measuring seven feet in length and 36 inches in width. The grass growing over each one is of a different shade than the rest of the growth.

A Civil War historian confirmed the presence of an old cemetery, but its history remains a mystery. Michael Bradley, a Civil War historian, thinks it may be an old family plot or that a church may have been located nearby.

Green has marked off places where graves appear to be as he tries to solve the puzzle.


Mayor supports same-sex benefits

NASHVILLE — Mayor Karl Dean says offering benefits to the same-sex partners of Metro Nashville employees is the right thing to do and is a matter of tolerance.

Dean told WPLN in Nashville he supports the idea as long as it makes financial sense for the city.

A panel is being formed to study the cost of such a policy change.

Dean, a Democrat, says he's not "driven by a political agenda."

Instead, Dean says, he's following the corporate world in liberalizing benefits policies that will make the city more attractive. Dean cites the three T's coined by author Richard Florida, who says a flourishing city has technology, talent and tolerance.

If the decision is made to move forward with benefits for same-sex couples, the mayor will have state lawmakers looking over his shoulder. Williamson County Republican Glen Casada says such a policy would have to be broadly written since the Tennessee constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

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