Four people are in custody in Coffee County, Tennessee, stemming from the slaying of a Tullahoma man found hanging from a tree in 2017.
David Edward Steele, 33, was thought to have last been seen in the area of Dossett Apartments in Tullahoma, which is in Coffee County. Before his body was discovered, Tullahoma police had been investigating Steele's disappearance after a witness told authorities he had been shot near the apartment complex.
Bruce Edward Dorsett Jr., Shawna R. Haney, Voltaire Xavier Hickerson and Michael Andrew Taylor are charged on a 10-count indictment issued by a Coffee County grand jury in November and now all are in custody.
Dorsett, 32, and Haney, 44, face counts of murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence, coercion of a witness, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, according records from the Coffee County Circuit Court clerk.
Hickerson, 38, and Taylor, 32, are also charged, along with Dorsett and Haney, in the second count of first-degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, court documents show.
Steele was first detained at his home near the apartment complex, 14th Judicial District Attorney General Craig Northcott said Tuesday, noting he would be limited in what he could discuss about the case. Steele was shot when he tried to escape and then was taken just across the Franklin County line, where he was hanged from a tree.
Northcott said the medical examiner's findings in an autopsy showed that Steele died of asphyxiation with a contributory cause of the gunshot wound to his leg.
In October 2017, Steele's body was found after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and local investigators went to the area of Spring Creek Road and UTSI Road — named for the University of Tennessee Space Institute on the north shore of Woods Reservoir — as part of a missing person investigation launched in Franklin County. Steele had been reported missing on Oct. 3, according to 2017 reports in the Tullahoma News.
Steel's body was identified through the medical examiner's October 2017 autopsy.
According to his obituary, Steele was a father of four and a handyman who worked as a general contractor and enjoyed fishing, hunting, and playing sports with his children.
Northcott said there should be no problems with jurisdiction in the case, which he discussed with 12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor.
"I researched that pretty extensively," Northcott said. "[Taylor] and I talked about where to bring these charges and what venue would be most appropriate. The rules of procedure and applicable case law is that the venue follows the crime and charges could be brought in either jurisdiction. It can be brought where the crime is commenced or where the crime is consummated."
Meanwhile, Dorsett and Haney are each being held on a $750,000 bond, Hickerson is being held on a $700,000 bond and Taylor is being held on a $400,000 bond, Coffee County Jail officials said. Haney faces a Dec. 18 Criminal Court date while the three other suspects' court dates are set for next week but will likely be moved, Northcott said.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.