ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
At her home in Ooltewah, Amanda Crowder talks about life after her sister, Monica McMillon, was gunned down in her home last year at this time.

Jereme Little couldn't see the shooter because the bullets came through a wall.

But he called 911 while Monica McMillon's blood pooled on the kitchen floor. Then Little, 41, handed the phone to McMillon's 16-year-old son, gathered his things and bolted before police arrived.

Investigators believe the shooter meant to kill Little that night in 2015, but the bullets caught McMillon instead.

A month after she died, Little sent a Facebook message to McMillon's sister claiming he knew critical information about McMillon's death.

But when Amanda Crowder pressed him for more, he backed out. And in August 2016, facing 11 years in prison in an unrelated case, Little ran. He became one of the state's top 10 most wanted fugitives.

Months passed, and Crowder's hope for justice faded.

Then on Jan. 16, Little was captured in Knoxville.

And Crowder's hope came roaring back.

"It is a big relief," she said. "It's the only satisfaction that we've gotten since my sister was murdered. We have no answers. I've heard rumors but no concrete information, and I know Jereme holds the keys to all that information."

Crowder believes Little is responsible for her sister's death, even though he didn't pull the trigger.

And she thinks he might talk now that he's back in jail.

Little was convicted of especially aggravated robbery in 2008. He served seven years of his 18-year sentence before a Hamilton County judge overturned his conviction on appeal and set him free in May 2015.

Within three months he began dating Monica McMillon, a single mother of three who grew up in East Chattanooga and never left. Little arrived at McMillon's home about 10 minutes before the shooting on the night she died, Crowder said.

The shooter or shooters pulled up in a vehicle, then apparently got out and shot into the house, police Sgt. Victor Miller said. Little couldn't have seen them, Miller said. But he might still know who they were.

"It would be from sources other than direct knowledge," he said.

Police might go talk with Little again now that he's back in custody, Miller said.

"Any bit of information in a homicide is critical information," he said. "It could be that one piece of the puzzle that [the investigators] don't have that they need."

Little had been on the run since August 2016, when an appellate judge reinstated his 2008 conviction and ordered Little back to prison to serve the remainder of his 18-year sentence. After Little ran, it took a four-agency task force to get him back in cuffs.

Crowder hopes Little will talk now. She wonders if prosecutors could cut him a deal — a lighter sentence in exchange for information — but that's not likely to happen, said Melydia Clewell, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County District Attorney's office.

Little doesn't face any new charges, and is jailed only on the 2008 conviction, for which he has already been sentenced.

"It's not impossible, but it is highly improbable that a Criminal Court judge would agree to reduce a sentence once imposed unless ordered to do so by an appellate court," Clewell wrote in an email.

Crowder said she lost all respect for Little when he left McMillon's three kids alone with their mother's body after the shooting. She's frustrated by his empty offer to help. Maybe now, she thinks, with nothing to lose, he'll finally follow through.

"He claims he loved my sister," but not once did he give the information he claimed to know, she said. "I know he's trying to protect himself. He knows exactly who did it. He knows."

Police never stop investigating a homicide case, Miller said.

"I've never had one of my family members lost to violence so I don't know how it is to be in their shoes," he said. "But I will say that for myself and every other homicide detective, it's something we think about every day — homicides and how we solve that case."

Police haven't made an arrest in McMillon's death.

After McMillon died, Crowder and her husband chose to raise McMillon's kids with their own. The family is slowly starting to find a new normal. Sometimes Crowder looks over at McMillon's 8-year-old daughter to find the girl with tears in her eyes. Sometimes in the car she'll stare up into the sky, just talking to her mama.

Crowder still longs for justice, complete, solid justice. But even if the shooter is never caught, seeing Little back behind bars brings some peace.

"I know he is the one who brought all hell to her house," she said. "He's the one who made her lose her life. So to me it's enough. And for most of our family it's enough. We'll never know who pulled the trigger, but for us, getting him is enough."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas. Follow @ShellyBradbury.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT