A man sought by police turned himself in Monday, hours after his childhood friend was found dead of multiple stab wounds at a Cleveland, Tenn., Days Inn.
Russell Brown, 36, is charged with aggravated arson and first-degree murder in connection with the New Year's Day killing of Harold Lee Montgomery, 39, according to Cleveland police.
Robert Johnson, Brown's uncle and a retired Bradley County deputy, said his nephew asked him for help.
"He called me and said he wanted to turn himself in and wanted me to be with him," said Johnson.
Johnson said Brown came to his house at about 11 p.m. Sunday and was arrested there shortly after midnight.
"He was afraid," said Johnson. "He was crying; he was very upset."
Montgomery was found in Room 117 by Cleveland firefighters responding to a fire call at the Days Inn, 2550 Georgetown Road, about 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
Officers believe Brown stabbed Montgomery in the neck and upper torso multiple times with a sharp object like a knife, said Cleveland Police Department spokeswoman Evie West.
Brown told police he threw the weapon in a large body of water, West said. She wasn't allowed to give the specific location, but said it had not been retrieved by police.
Brown is being held at the Bradley County Justice Center without bond.
West said Brown and the victim had known each other since childhood and had conducted a sexual relationship since the mid-1990s.
On Dec. 31 the two Cleveland men checked in for a room and got into an argument, said West.
Bob Gault, spokesman for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, said Brown has a criminal record that includes arrests on a range of charges, from probation violation, forgery and vandalism, to theft and drug possession.
Gault said Monday night he didn't know which had resulted in convictions nor the dates of the charges.
Contact staff writer Perla Trevizo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6578. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Perla_Trevizo.