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Contributed photo / Guy William O'Connell, 44, of Rhea County, Tenn.

A 44-year-old Rhea County, Tennessee, man charged in the August death of a Bradley County woman is back in Tennessee custody on a $1 million bond.

Guy William O'Connell had been held in a Douglas County, Kansas, jail until this week when he was transported back to Rhea County to face charges in the death of 34-year-old Amber Renee Monday of Bradley County. Monday was last seen with O'Connell in August.

O'Connell is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in Monday's death, according to jail records. Records also show he's charged on two misdemeanor warrants with failure to appear in court.

"He makes his first court appearance on Friday," Rhea County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jeff Knight said Wednesday. "He'll be arraigned and a lawyer will be appointed for him and we'll go from there."

According to investigators, O'Connell's arrest in Kansas came several days before a body later identified as that of Monday was found in a shallow grave on Dayton Mountain in Rhea County.

The investigation began in Bradley County when Monday left a Blue Springs Road home on Aug. 14, 2020, with O'Connell, according to information provided by Bradley County sheriff's spokesperson Taylor Woodruff. They had last been seen in a black, four-door 2001 Toyota Tacoma around Cherokee Boulevard and Stringer Street in the North Shore area of Chattanooga, Woodruff said.

(READ MORE: Rhea Justice Center under budget, on track for end-of-year finish)

A Bradley County theft warrant charging O'Connell in relation to the missing pickup truck that was issued stemming from Monday's disappearance. She was reported missing on Aug. 18, authorities said. Bradley's theft investigation and the related fugitive warrant led authorities to Kansas.

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Contributed photo / Amber Renee Monday, 34, of Bradley County, Tenn.

Authorities said O'Connell was staying with relatives in Lawrence, Kansas, when he was taken into custody Aug. 25. The more serious charges in a Rhea County grand jury indictment shifted the case from the 10th Judicial District in Bradley County to Rhea County in the 12th Judicial District, according to officials in those offices.

After Monday's body was found in Rhea County, a forensic autopsy led to a ruling on the manner of death as homicide, but authorities have said they can't comment on the cause of death while the investigation remains open.

During the investigation in Rhea County, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Rhea County deputies and a team from the University of Tennessee Forensics Center collected potential evidence from Monday's grave found south of Laurel Brook Academy near the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, 12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said.

O'Connell's path back to face charges in Tennessee has been unsure at times.

He initially waived his extradition, then withdrew his waiver, then in another hearing in Kansas in December decided not to fight extradition to Tennessee to face the charges after all, according to Taylor. Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal organized the transfer back to Tennessee over the New Year's holiday weekend.

Taylor said the case will be slowed because of Tennessee Supreme Court orders limiting in-person court appearances.

"We're kind of up in the air with the COVID thing," Taylor said of the next legal steps in the case with the coronavirus in play.

Monday was a mother of three, described as an excellent artist and gardener who loved the outdoors, hiking, camping and fishing, according to her obituary on the website of Companion Funeral Home in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

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