DADE COUNTY, Ga. - A pool of blood dries on the front porch of a vacant house on Sand Mountain. More blood - in a pattern resembling a hand - smears the blinds inside a broken living room window.
In this home, where yellow crime tape now lies muddied in the front yard, a struggle started among three men and ended with one man stabbed multiple times, killing him, deputies say.
Antwane Hyatte, 35, of Chattanooga, was found lying in a pool of his blood near the front door Wednesday evening, stabbed 16 times in his head, back and chest, Dade County Coroner Johnny Gray said in his autopsy report.
The first call to 911 came from Hyatte's girlfriend, who said she heard gunshots inside the home on Gass Road. But deputies found only a knife and evidence of a bloody fight, Dade Sheriff Patrick Cannon said.
The house was being rented to 19-year-old Johnathan Ellison, and police found his two children - a 9-month-old girl and an 18-month-old boy - screaming in the bedroom they shared.
Ellison and a friend, James Oglesby, 27, had fled Ellison's house. A trail of blood led out the back door.
After hunting for Ellison and Oglesby all night, local and state police found them at an apartment near Dalton, Ga., and charged them with murder and aggravated assault, authorities said.
While the sheriff said the fight may have been drug-related, he wasn't aware of any drugs found in the home.
Meanwhile, the family of Ellison's wife, Brittany, are still in shock, grieving their own loss - the loss of her children.
After the state took the children out of the home, Brittany Ellison has been fighting to regain custody, said Ellison's mother-in-law, Jacqueline Sims, from her home in Rossville.
The family had been struggling financially for months after Johnathan Ellison lost his job, she said. Brittany Ellison had left the house Wednesday to buy diapers. But when she returned, police were surrounding the home and wouldn't let her near, Sims said.
After the incident, Sims hauled everything from the back bedroom of her home and cleaned out a space for the children to live with her. The bedroom now has a small trundle bed and the children's favorite toys neatly decorate the room.
On Monday, Sims and her daughter met with state workers, and Sims said she is hopeful the children will be returned.
"We are sorry this happened," she said. "We just want our family back together."
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659.