Mother of slain Winchester, Tenn., man pleads for people to attend son's funeral

Mother of slain Winchester, Tenn., man pleads for people to attend son's funeral

February 14th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

If you go

Graveside services for James Leon Wood are set for 2 p.m. CST on Friday at Watson-North Memorial Park on the premises of Watson-North Funeral Home at 405 Sharp Springs Road, Winchester, Tenn. From Interstate 24, take exit 127 for U.S. Highway 64 West and take Highway 64 about 15 miles and take a right onto Baxter Lane. Take Baxter Lane to Bypass Road and continue to U.S. Highway 41A and turn left on Highway 41, continuing to a right onto West Petty Lane. Take West Petty Lane to Short Springs Road and turn left. The funeral home and memorial park are immediately on the right.

James Wood

James Wood

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The grieving mother of a 50-year-old Tennessee man whose skeletal remains were found last month in his own backyard is pleading for someone to attend his funeral Friday in Winchester, Tenn.

James Leon Wood's mother, Bertha Allen, who lives in New Mexico, can't afford to travel to Winchester for her son's funeral, said Doris Colvin-North, director of administrations at Watson-North Funeral Home in Winchester.

Allen and Wood's father and stepmother, Jay and Mary Podgorski, of California, won't be able to attend Wood's service Friday, North said. Members of Wood's local family, including his wife and her two adult children, and three other people are charged in his death.

Wood, a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard in Bakersfield, Calif., who served two military tours, will have full military honors at his graveside service at 2 p.m. CST Friday at Watson-North Memorial Park in Winchester. The memorial park is on the funeral home premises on Sharp Springs Road.

Wood's mother worries his service could pass unnoticed.

"Mr. Wood's death has gained national news attention, but she is in New Mexico and fears that no one will be present for his burial," North said of a discussion with Allen about her son's last rites.

"His mom said, 'He's already been buried once,' and that just broke my heart," North said, emotion choking her voice.

North said the funeral home has donated the burial plot and more than $6,000 to cover expenses, and she said her son, Josh Jackson, is donating his services as minister for Friday's services.

"We're doing what we can do," North said. "We want to make sure he's laid to rest with dignity and honor. His death and everything surrounding it is just so horrible."

She said she talked with case investigators in Franklin County who plan to attend Friday's services if they're not otherwise occupied at that point in the afternoon, but she hopes others will pay their respects, too.

According to Wood's obituary, "Those who knew him will remember him for the love he had for his country, his family, his friends and for his 'BIG' fishing stories. He was an easy-going, fun-loving gentle soul who enjoyed playing the bass guitar but could out-fish anyone. He was an amazing son, brother, uncle and friend to many."

Wood's 44-year-old wife, Glenna Yvonne Newingham Wood; her 19-year-old daughter, Mikayla Danielle Harmon Poole; Poole's husband, Grant Matthew Poole, also 19; and family friend Shawn Michael Hampton, 21, each are charged with first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and abuse of a corpse.

Two other people, Kisha Evelyn Anderson, another friend of the family, and Glenna Wood's 20-year-old son, Joseph Scott Newingham, are charged in the homicide as accessories after the fact, Winchester Police Chief Richard Lewis said last week.

Wood's body, wrapped in a sheet or blanket, was found Jan. 24 buried under a 5-by-8-foot concrete slab, positioned several feet away from an above-ground pool in the home's backyard on Spring Hill Drive. The slab had been poured over the grave, investigators said during the initial recovery work. A search warrant linked to the original missing person investigation involving Wood led to the discovery of his body.

Glenna Wood, Harmon, Poole and Newingham were taken into custody at the beginning of the month in Thornton, Colo. Anderson, who was also in Colorado, returned to Tennessee on her own and has been formally charged and released on bond, Chief Lewis said on Tuesday. Hampton was taken into custody in Madison County, Ala.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said Tuesday that all those jailed have now waived extradition back to Tennessee. While Hampton is easy to retrieve from Huntsville, Ala., Taylor said arrangements are being made to return the remaining four from Colorado to face charges.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.


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