published Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Body in Sequatchie River identified as Whitwell man

A body found in the Sequatchie River last month has been identified as that of a man reported missing in November 2013.

Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said Friday that the body was identified as that of 60-year-old Whitwell, Tenn., resident James William "Billy" Jones.

Investigators are waiting to hear from the medical examiner to determine whether foul play was involved, the sheriff said.

Burnett said Jones' family was convinced all along that the body was that of the missing man, who, at 6 feet, 8 inches also had the nickname "Too Tall."

Detective Gene Hargis said last week that dental records from federal officials were needed to confirm the identity.

Hargis said Jones' body was found between 9 and 10 a.m. CST on Jan. 20 by an off-duty sheriff's deputy who was duck hunting on the Sequatchie River.

"He came down the river and saw something and came back and found the body and called it in," Hargis said early on in the probe. The detective didn't identify the off-duty officer.

Investigators said Jones' body had been in the water for a long time and was significantly decomposed. The body is thought to have entered the river upstream and ended up where it was found tangled in a tree by high, flowing water.

"We're running down some leads and waiting on a cause of death," Burnett said Friday.

According to Jones' obituary, he had two adult sons and died on Nov. 13, 2013.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

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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