published Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Now both have met their end: Teen died first, then the man with the gun

  • photo
    Kim Lowery, mother of 17-year-old Dalton McConathy, becomes emotional as she talks about her son's death in this December photo.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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Behind the tall grass and the overgrown shrubbery, the natural green shields that blocked 2520 Post Oak Road from the outside world and the outside world from the Ringgold home, a man walked onto the front porch Thursday afternoon.

This was not the man who used to live there, 69-year-old Fred Steven Youngblood. No, this man did not exit the home holding a gun, as Youngblood did on Nov. 11, when a pair of teenagers stood in his backyard.

Youngblood snapped the trigger that day, shooting 17-year-old Dalton McConathy in the neck, killing him.

Two days after that, Youngblood again walked outside with a gun, this time to greet a Times Free Press reporter who knocked on his door.

"You need to leave right now," he said.

The reporter apologized for bothering Youngblood. He said he wanted to give Youngblood a chance to talk to the public, to explain himself.

"You're still standing there," Youngblood responded, "and I told you to leave."

On Thursday, though, the man on the front porch stood unarmed. He wore jeans, a tucked-in T-shirt and red suspenders. This was Youngblood's brother, Frank.

Fred Steven Youngblood died in a local hospital Tuesday night, according to an obituary notice. And so a reporter was at 2520 Post Oak Road again, asking Frank Youngblood if he wanted to talk about his brother, about what kind of personality he had and what he liked to do for fun.

"The less said, the better," Frank Youngblood responded. "He's gone now."

A recluse, Youngblood spent the last six months of his life reluctantly in the public eye as Ringgold residents waited to see whether he would face criminal charges for killing McConathy. Some neighbors said they didn't know Youngblood's name until then.

Youngblood remained quiet as others began to share stories from their limited experience with him.

One neighbor said he shot at her dog. A man said Youngblood came outside with a rifle when the man parked in his driveway. Another said Youngblood threatened to shoot him when he hopped out of his truck on the side of Post Oak Road, apparently on Youngblood's property.

Yet, for all these allegations, Youngblood died with a clean criminal record. After killing McConathy, Youngblood called the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office.

He told investigators that McConathy and a 16-year-old boy were looking for scrap metal in his basement. Youngblood yelled at them, told them to leave. In the backyard, he said, the boys charged at him.

He claimed self defense, said the boys made him fear for his life. Investigators didn't arrest him, instead turning the case over to Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin.

But the sheriff's office did arrest McConathy's 16-year-old friend and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Ansley Erin Chrnalogar, who waited in a truck in front of Youngblood's house at the time of the shooting. Investigators charged the two survivors with burglary, based on Youngblood's account.

On Thursday, Franklin said Chrnalogar's case is still active, though prosecutors will have to re-evaluate whether to proceed without their only witness. Franklin said he cannot comment on the juvenile's case, but the boy's attorney said that case is also active, for now.

"This may have an effect," William Lamphier said of Youngblood's death. "I don't know."

As for McConathy's death, Franklin said the case is closed. For the last six months, he has said he could not decide whether to present the case to a grand jury until he received the full autopsy and toxicology reports from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

On Wednesday, before he learned of Youngblood's passing, he said he had received all the evidence from the GBI, but he still didn't know whether he would seek to indict Youngblood. He added that he didn't know when he would make that decision.

Franklin learned of Youngblood's death Wednesday night.

McConathy's mother, Kim Lowery, heard the news around the same time when a friend called her. On Thursday, she said Youngblood's death brought more pain to her family.

She said she never heard from Youngblood or any of his relatives after her son was killed. She wanted to see him on the witness stand. She wanted to hear him explain why he killed Dalton, what Dalton did to make him feel threatened.

Her son would have turned 18 on April 11.

"We wanted to see justice done," she said. "We wanted [Youngblood] to have his day in court. We wanted him to face the realities of what he had done ... face what he has put us through, making him see the hardship he caused my family.

"I wanted him to be responsible for his actions."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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