Woman, 25, charged in Bledsoe County, Tenn., homicide case

Woman, 25, charged in Bledsoe County, Tenn., homicide case

Two more suspects are in custody

April 26th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Breaking News

This story was updated April 26, 2018, at 11:28 p.m.

A 25-year-old Van Buren County, Tenn., woman has been charged in the death of a Bledsoe County man whose body was found Tuesday in a barrel along Valley View Road north of Pikeville.

NaKayla Sullivan was transferred from the Van Buren County Jail to Bledsoe County custody on Thursday to face charges of criminal homicide in the death of 30-year-old Thomas Rogers, who had been reported missing April 19, Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris. Morris said Rogers' mother hadn't seen her son since a couple of days before the report.

NaKayla Sullivan, 25, charged in Bledsoe County with criminal homicide.

NaKayla Sullivan, 25, charged in Bledsoe County with...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

"We started looking," Morris said. "Officer Jack Durham found him on Valley View Road, north of Big Springs Gap Road."

Morris said there are few homes on the road where Rogers' body was found in a barrel in a wooded area. Valley View Road is a narrow dirt and gravel track that weaves north along the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau from Big Springs Gap Road to the Cumberland County line.

Rogers' body is undergoing an autopsy in Nashville, authorities said.

Sullivan was in custody in Van Buren County on unrelated charges of joyriding until a court hearing Thursday and her transfer to the Bledsoe County Detention Center to face the homicide charge, according to officials at the Van Buren County Jail. Van Buren officials said Sullivan was arrested Saturday on the joyriding warrant.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said the investigation is still developing.

"They have two other suspects as of [Wednesday]," Taylor said. The other suspects are in custody on unrelated charges in Bledsoe County, he said.

Taylor didn't name them or say how they are connected to Rogers' death.

He said authorities also are looking for a person who is a potential witness to the crime.

An incident that led to Rogers' death is believed to have happened late on April 17 "at a location on Wheeler Mountain, not where his body was found," Taylor said. The suspected crime scene is several miles south of Valley View Road on Cove Hill Road, off of State Highway 30, he said.

Morris said Sullivan, Rogers and the other two suspects knew each other, but he didn't know the details of their relationships. The sheriff said he was unaware of any previous trouble among the victim and the suspects in the case.

Taylor said Sullivan probably will have to appear in court for a decision on a bond on the homicide charge.

Meanwhile, authorities say the investigation is continuing. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the probe.

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