Slaying suspect in Chattanooga cold case receives public defender, pleads not guilty

Slaying suspect in Chattanooga cold case receives public defender, pleads not guilty

June 22nd, 2018 by Zack Peterson in Breaking News

A 36-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to charges related to a 2009 slaying.

Mallory Vaugh also received a public defender, attorney Kevin Loper, who accepted the case and said he will start gathering evidence from prosecutors.

Mallory Vaugh

Mallory Vaugh

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Linda Bonner holds onto a photo of her late husband Franklin Augustus "Kookie" Bonner during a news conference at the Newell Towers Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Linda Bonner returned home from work Friday, Jan. 16, 2009, to find her home ransacked and her husband murdered, and the case was cold for nine years before Hamilton County Grand Jury returned indictments of felony murder robbery and especially aggravated robbery against Mallory Aunte Vaughn this week.

Linda Bonner holds onto a photo of her...

Photo by Erin O. Smith /Times Free Press.

Vaughn next appears before Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz on July 23 and is being held in Hamilton County Jail on a $750,000 bond.

He stands accused of felony murder and especially aggravated robbery in the Jan. 16, 2009, death of Franklin Bonner, 68, who was found tied to a kitchen table and chair inside his ransacked house in the 4000 block of Enterprise Lane with duct tape around his feet, arms and head, and nose and mouth.

Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said the case went unsolved until one of Bonner's relatives called prosecutors around his death anniversary. Using developments in new and old interviews, Pinkston said, his cold case unit cracked the case. The prosecutor secured indictments for Vaughn's charges earlier this month and said a second person, then a minor, was involved in the crime.

Court records show prosecutors believe that second person is Angel Bumpass, 23, who is also being housed in the Hamilton County Jail. Because she was 13 at the time, her case will start in Hamilton County Juvenile Court, administrator Sam Mairs said, though prosecutors have filed a notice to transfer Bumpass to Criminal Court. Her arraignment on felony murder and especially aggravated robbery charges is scheduled for Thursday at 1:30 p.m., and attorneys later will have a hearing to discuss the evidence and decide whether Bumpass should be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors haven't released too many details on the evidence. According to a petition filed in Juvenile Court in the Bumpass case, authorities pulled fingerprints from a furniture leg with duct tape and from duct tape on Bonner's head. The petition says the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received those fingerprints on March 25, 2009.

Pinkston's spokeswoman, Melydia Clewell, previously said prosecutors sent fingerprints to the TBI and other pieces of evidence for testing. She said physical evidence led prosecutors to the current suspects.

Vaughn's girlfriend, Carmeisha Jones, previously told the Times Free Press that Vaughn cooperated with the first investigation in 2009, gave fingerprints, and was told by someone in law enforcement that he'd been cleared of any involvement. She said Vaughn didn't speak with authorities when they reopened the case around January and maintained he is innocent.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.