After the police chase, and after the foot chase, and after the knife slice and the push into a creek bed and, finally, the arrest, officers found what they believe ignited all this Sunday morning madness.
In the passenger seat of a 2001 Ford Taurus, a dead body: Bridgette Haley, 46, of Morrison, Tenn.
Franklin County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested the driver of the car, 47-year-old Robert Troy Whipple, of Winchester, Tenn., on Sunday at the end of the 15-minute chase. The deputies charged Whipple with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, evading law enforcement, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drugs.
But not murder. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case, and additional charges are pending. The sheriff's office sent Haley's body to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Johnson City for an autopsy.
Franklin County Sgt. Chris Guess said law enforcement began to pursue Whipple after they saw his Taurus lingering at a stop sign. They suspected he was driving drunk.
From the intersection of Penile Hill Road and Gun Creek Road in Decherd, members of the sheriff's office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol chased him for about 15 minutes, until Whipple reached a dead end on Rahn Drive around 1:10 a.m. CDT. Guess said Whipple then pulled into an open field, stopped his car, hopped out and tried to sprint away.
But Franklin County Sgt. Milton Binkley stayed on his tail. A few yards after Whipple got out of the car, Binkley was right there, right behind him. That's when Whipple turned around, looked right at Binkley.
Guess said Whipple held a knife, a long knife, a hunting knife. He allegedly lifted that hunting knife, and Binkley lifted his own hands to cover his own face. Whipple whipped the knife downward, slicing the sergeant's right hand and right wrist.
Binkley then "bumped" Whipple into a dried-up creek bed. He was trapped. Soon after, law enforcement officers had his wrist locked into handcuffs.
And that's when they found Haley's body. On Monday, Guess and a TBI spokesman both said they didn't know how Whipple knew the dead woman sitting in the car next to him.
Any charges related to Haley's death are pending. Guess is scheduled to appear in front of Sessions Court Judge Thomas Faris at 8 a.m. on Aug. 14.
For now, though, Whipple remains in the Franklin County Jail, in lieu of a $1 million bond. Guess suspects he won't get out soon: "He's going to have a hard time finding a bondsman to touch that."
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.