Jordan Collins was struck at least several times on the head and face with a crowbar by a former roommate before he died, according to authorities.
The 27-year-old's credit cards, laptop, wallet and possibly cellphone were taken from inside the small frame house his parents owned on a quiet Red Bank street.
Collins was left unconscious after the first blow, and after the beating his attackers went to a Kangaroo gas station and Walmart on Signal Mountain Road where they purchased a video game, cartons of cigarettes and clothing, Red Bank Police Staff Sgt. Dan Knight said. The purchases are what led investigators to arrest four men in connection with Collins' slaying after police viewed surveillance footage at the stores.
Collins' homicide is the second this year and the third homicide in 10 years in Red Bank, according to authorities.
Four people have been charged in connection to Collins' death, including Collins' former roommate, 19-year-old Zachary Jordan Hughes. Sixteen-year-old Markel Mitchell and 27-year-old Jeremy Reinig also were charged. All three face charges of criminal homicide and especially aggravated burglary. Mitchell, Hughes and 19-year-old Lorenzo Bell face charges of fraudulent use of a credit card after using Collins' cards, according to authorities. Bell has a $5,000 bond while the others are being held without bond, according to Hamilton County Jail records.
"No, man. I didn't do anything," Mitchell said as he was led out in handcuffs Monday afternoon after appearing in front of Red Bank Judge Johnny Houston. Houston gave the four a week to secure legal counsel before appearing in court again Monday.
Two of the defendants, including Mitchell, told Judge Houston they were unable to make phone calls from the jail.
Investigators estimate Collins was killed between 11 p.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday.
"This senseless act of violence does not appear to be a random act," Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol said.
It's unclear why Collins was targeted.
"[Hughes] had lived there. He probably knew what he had," Knight said.
Kevin Wilkes, a friend of Collins', spoke on behalf of the Collins family. The family has asked for privacy at this time, according to a statement. Collins' father discovered his son's body Saturday.
"This has been and will continue to be a very difficult time for everyone who cared for Jordan, especially his parents and grandparents," Wilkes said. "Jordan was a loving son and grandson and will be missed by all those who knew him. It is difficult to try and understand why something so senseless like this has to happen but the family will continue to place their faith in God and to lean on him for peace and comfort."
Hughes' record includes numerous theft convictions. He was arrested while doing community service at a recycling center Saturday, Knight said.
Reinig, who is from Oklahoma, has no previous record in Tennessee. He was arrested after he was found asleep on the floor at a friend's house, Knight said.
Mitchell has a pending aggravated robbery charge from March, according to Hamilton County court records. Bell has a conviction dating back to last year when Chattanooga police charged him with evading arrest. He received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days, according to records.
Mitchell and Bell were taken into custody at Bell's residence Saturday.
Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6406.