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Daniel Chandler

ALTAMONT, Tenn. — A Grundy County man is behind bars in Tennessee on a first-degree murder charge in the 2016 slaying of his 26-year-old wife.

Samantha Kathleen Chandler's body was found May 1, 2016, about 150 feet off Ross Creek Road south of Gruetli-Laager, Tenn., in a remote area frequented by off-roaders. People riding ATVs in the area found Chandler's body near where Ross Creek Road becomes Burkett's Chapel Road.

The area consists of heavily wooded terrain crisscrossed with trails and fire roads and is sparsely populated.

Now Samantha Chandler's 29-year-old estranged husband, Daniel Chandler, has been extradited back to Grundy County where he's being held without bond on a grand jury indictment issued on Monday. Chandler was arrested without incident in Walker County, Ala., on Tuesday by authorities there.

Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum said at a news conference Wednesday that Daniel Chandler had been a person of interest in the death of his wife for a while before becoming an official suspect.

The family of the victim "was really relieved" that an arrest was made, Shrum said. The investigation had continued 17 months.

Shrum talked in a later interview about some of the factors that potentially fueled the killing.

"There was a heated child custody case going on," said Shrum, who noted that at the time of the slaying, Daniel Chandler had a girlfriend in Walker County, Ala., where he has been working and living since his wife's body was found.

"The girlfriend has not been implicated in the homicide," Shrum said.

The arrest was part of a joint investigation including the sheriff's office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Alabama authorities, officials said.

Daniel Chandler was on law enforcement's radar early on. His home on Pickett Lake Road West was searched by TBI agents just a few weeks after his wife's body was found. Samantha Chandler lived at the home until August 2015. The residence there is a mobile home on a little less than 2 acres, state real estate records show. Samantha Chandler was living with her parents in Gruetli-Laager around the time she was killed, Shrum said during the initial investigation.

According to the obituary published on Layne Funeral Home's website, Samantha Chandler is survived by a son, two sisters, her parents, grandparents and other relatives.

Grundy County Circuit Court officials said Wednesday that a hearing for Daniel Chandler is pending but the date has not been set.

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

This story was updated Nov. 15 at 11:50 p.m. with more information.

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