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Tamara Church, 40, and 7-year-old Aquarious Church / Photo contributed by Chattanooga Police Department

It was Tamara Church's last known cellphone location data that led detectives to a wooded area near an Eastdale church where they found her body and that of her 7-year-old daughter, nearly two months after they were last seen.

Church, 40, and her daughter A'quarious were first reported missing by Tamara Church's older daughter on May 19, according to court records.

Facebook posts raising awareness of Tamara and A'quarious Church's disappearance spread, one being shared more than 1,500 times.

"Work with me y'all!" her eldest daughter wrote.

The daughter told the Chattanooga Police Department she'd last seen her mother on May 17 at around 8 p.m. Tamara Church reportedly told her daughter she was going to spend the night at the house of a man named Gabriel Boykins, court records state.

Boykins and Tamara Church shared a son together, according to Times Free Press news partner WRCB-TV News Channel 3.

Before she was reported missing, Tamara Church's 2004 Honda Odyssey, a vehicle she'd recently purchased, was found engulfed in flames in the 1900 block of Lynnbrook Avenue on May 18, court records state. Chattanooga Fire Department arson investigators found evidence of an accelerant used inside the vehicle.

Investigators didn't know right away that the van belonged to Tamara Church.

By July 9, missing persons investigators were made aware of the correlations between the two cases and brought it to the attention of homicide detectives, court records show. Missing persons investigators had already found that there had been no activity on Tamara Church's cellphone or EBT account since May 17. And her last known location was near the 2300 block of Greenwood Road.

So that's where investigators went.

There, in the woods, they found human remains of an adult and a child.

An anthropologist from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was brought in to identify Tamara Church's remains through her medical records, according to the criminal affidavit.

The medical examiner's reports have not been released, but according to court documents, the manner of death has been ruled a homicide in both cases.

The manner of death is different from the cause of death. In this case, the manner — homicide — simply indicates that the death was caused by another human being. A cause of death indicates what specific injuries or disease led to a death.

Also on July 9, detectives spoke with Boykins.

Boykins would later be arrested for allegedly killing Tamara Church and her daughter. But that day, investigators asked him to meet them at the police station on Amnicola Highway, according to his criminal affidavit. He agreed.

Boykins first told police he hadn't seen Tamara Church since he dropped her off at the car lot to buy the van on May 15. But he changed his story when investigators asked him if his DNA would be found inside the van, court documents show.

He told investigators he saw Tamara Church "a day or two" after she bought the van and said he'd ridden in it before but he couldn't remember when.

Boykins also added that he'd left town the day before Tamara Church went missing. He'd taken a bus to Louisville, Kentucky, and then to Oklahoma with two people he met in Louisville, court documents state.

He'd gone to see a girl, he told police, but he didn't know her name or her address but said she didn't live too far from the bus station. Though he then said the girl didn't have a house.

All of that information was "in direct conflict with his previous statements," investigators noted in the criminal affidavit, reminding the magistrate that Boykins had been present when Tamara Church's daughter reported her missing on May 17.

"He does not have any family members or contacts in either place he traveled to," investigators wrote.

Then, Boykins said something that police knew the public wouldn't have known.

He said he "heard a rumor that Tamara Church had been found dead in her van," police noted. "Until this point, none of the involved parties had been given information from police that either the van or bodies had been found."

Later that night, still on July 9, police executed a search warrant of Boykin's home.

It appeared to have been cleaned, and no one had been staying there for some time. But using special equipment, investigators found evidence of a large pool of blood in the home's front room.

By July 15, police obtained security footage from the area where Tamara Church's vehicle had burned and saw a man leaving the scene who matched Boykins' build and was walking toward Boykins' home.

Boykins was arrested in Knoxville on July 23. He has been charged with two counts of criminal homicide and two counts of abuse of a corpse.

Contact Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.

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