published Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Affidavit offers peek into Lookout Valley triple homicide case

With Tuesday’s arrest of Skyler Hudson Allen, three young men dubbed “a mean group” by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond for their suspected role in the April 9 Lookout Valley triple homicide are now all behind bars.

An arrest affidavit for Allen provides a glimpse into the process that led police to charge him as the third suspect, but officers investigating the county’s first triple slaying since 1988 are keeping the details close.

Hammond said Wednesday that the Lookout Valley community should rest easier knowing the three suspects are off the street but would not comment on specifics of the case.

“There’s certainly more investigation and interviews that will be conducted,” Hammond said. “There’s some aspects of this case that we’ve got to tie up together and we plan to do that before we’re ready to go to court.”

The affidavit states that video evidence reviewed by investigators showed the three accused shooters — the 22-year old Allen, 19-year-old Derek Morse and a 15-year-old boy — were together in the hours after the slayings of Caleb Boozer, John Lang and Jon Morris at Lang’s mobile home.

Further, the affidavit indicates a witness told police he had seen Allen get into a car outside his home with two other males a few hours before the shooting. The three had firearms with them, the witness said.

Allen’s listed address of 1324 Burgess Road is about four miles from where the slayings occurred at Kellys Ferry Place off Cummings Highway.

A fourth victim, 16-year-old Michael Callen, survived and picked Morse out of a photo lineup. Morse was arrested a few hours later.

On April 13, with the sheriff’s office publicly looking for one or two more shooters, Allen told officers he spent several hours with Morse and the 15-year-old on the day of the shooting, the affidavit states.

“Allen’s statement that he was with Morse and the 15-year-old during the evening of April 9 at multiple locations places him with them at the time of the shooting,” reads the affidavit signed April 29.

Allen remained in the Hamilton County Jail on Wednesday, charged with three counts of criminal homicide and one count of attempted criminal homicide. Morse faces the same charges.

The 15-year-old also faces those charges but it is not yet known whether he’ll be tried as an adult. In accordance with Times Free Press policy, the newspaper is not identifying him because he is a minor and has not been charged as an adult.

He will appear before Magistrate Chris Gott on May 20. Gott will schedule a time for Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw to hear evidence and determine whether the teen’s charges will be sent to Criminal Court or if he can remain in the Juvenile Court’s jurisdiction.

Morse and Allen are scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on May 8.

Both men have criminal histories, but Morse’s is littered with charges including assault, drugs and fraud while Allen’s consists of driving offenses, according to General Sessions Court records.

Hammond called the investigation to date a smooth operation and thanked his own officers as well as the Chattanooga Police Department for the assistance it has provided.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at 423-757-6731 or dcobb@timesfreepress.com.

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