ROSSVILLE — When Robyn Murray heard the noise outside her home Tuesday night, she thought a neighbor was knocking on her door.
But when she peeked outside, she saw the source of the commotion. A stream of squad cars, ambulances and forensic vans, parked on her street. To her left, outside her neighbor's house on Orchard Avenue, Murray found a collection of officers.
Though the officers blocked off the scene as they investigated, Murray could watch from the street. When she looked down the hill, where the ground sloped to the entrance of the home, she saw the front door was open. And through the front door, she saw her neighbor, 54-year-old Torry Lynn Creek, in the living room, on the floor, surrounded by paramedics.
Next to those paramedics, standing, holding onto another woman, Murray saw Creek's wife. She was crying.
"You could hear the heartbreak," Murray said.
The Walker County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call at the 200 block of Orchard Avenue around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. There, investigators found two men, battered from a fight. They say one of the men got into an argument with a woman, and the second man stepped in, though investigators have not clarified which man was Creek. Paramedics responded to the scene and took both men to Hutcheson Medical Center.
Upon arrival, members of the hospital's medical staff declared Creek dead. They treated the other man for injuries. The sheriff's office did not release the other fighter's identity Wednesday. Investigators also had not decided whether to charge the man with a crime.
On Wednesday morning, Murray and her partner, Daisha Lackhouse, sat on their porch, drinking coffee and reflecting on the man who died less than 100 feet away from them. They called Creek "The Chicken Man," a title he earned because of his flock of about 20 fowl he kept in the backyard.
He didn't eat them, they said. He just liked to raise them. On warmer days, the chickens would roam from his backyard to theirs. Creek also trained his pigs to respond to a whistle call.
"They were his life," said another neighbor, Melissa Miller.
Murray and Lackhouse are 28; Miller is 26. All three said they viewed Creek as the pseudo-father of the block. He helped them fix a washing machine and cut down a tree. He grew okra and squash in his yard.
And on most weekends, while they smoked and drank and watched the day drift, Creek would stop by, offer life advice. He and his wife shared food with them on July 4th and Thanksgiving. For Christmas, they strung lights between trees, connecting branches in the neighboring yards.
And sure, Creek was boisterous. He could drink too much at times, as evidenced by the time in August 2014 when a neighbor called the sheriff's office to complain Creek was cursing and throwing a can at another man on Orchard Avenue. Creek later spilled beer as he walked toward the officer and cursed at him, too, according to an incident report.
Creek pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge and paid a $200 fine, court records show.
But his neighbors said that wasn't an accurate reflection of him. Usually he was happy, generous, helpful. He looked after them. And he was in his element not with raging music that promoted violence, but with old country blues songs.
"The saddest music you could think of," Lackhouse said.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@ timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6476.