published Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Authorities still investigating how woman found floating in Nickajack Lake died


Anyone who saw or heard anything related to Shanna Leigh's death on or about May 17 near the Marion County Park on Nickajack Lake should call the Marion County Sheriff's Office at 423-942-5667.

Marion County, Tenn., authorities won't be able to take a next step in investigating the May death of a Chickamauga, Ga., woman whose body was found in Nickajack Lake until a cause of death is determined.

Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said 50-year-old Shanna Leigh's body still is being examined at the state medical examiner's office in Nashville.

Burnett said officials are seeking information in the case and that foul play could be a factor.

"We've had some leads and we've run them down, but nothing's turned up," he said.

Leigh's body was found by an angler fishing in a tournament the morning of May 17, authorities said last month.

The woman's black Chevrolet pickup truck was found in a boat ramp parking lot at nearby Marion County Park on U.S. Highway 41. No boat trailer was attached to the truck.

Leigh's body was found near the shore between the park and the U.S. Highway 41 bridge construction site about a half mile away, authorities said. Her body was believed to have been in the water a "fairly short period of time."

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials worked with the sheriff's office, but TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said the state agency's case is "still open and under investigation."

Because of the fishing tournament there were a lot of people in the Nickajack Lake area, and investigators hope someone saw something that will help them.

Burnett said there were at least 100 boats on that stretch of the Tennessee River the morning Leigh's body was discovered.

Authorities say they don't know why Leigh was at Marion County Park, about 40 miles by car from Chickamauga.

Meanwhile, an unrelated case of a body found nearby on June 11 has been closed, Burnett said.

A man's body was found behind Big Daddy's Fireworks store on state Highway 156, about a mile across the water from where Leigh's body was found. Burnett said officials determined that the man died of self-inflicted trauma.

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

Previous news report:

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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