Two arrested in connection with Sullivan County murder
February 8, 2011
A Bristol woman who called police on Sunday to report the discovery of her dead neighbor inside his home — sobbing to dispatchers that his dogs were eating the body — has been arrested and charged with murder.
Police say they broke the case when the woman and a man, who was also arrested, attempted to use the elderly victim's credit cards. The murder is believed to have occurred Saturday morning, leaving the man's five, allegedly "vicious" dogs a full day to mutilate his remains before authorities were called.
Rachel Lynn Calhoun, 41, of 1148 Reedy Creek Road, Bristol, Tenn., is charged with premeditated and felony first degree murder. She also faces charges of especially aggravated robbery, identity theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. She is held in the Sullivan County Jail without bond.
Willie Mack Coleman, 61, of the same address, is held on $50,000 bond. He is charged with accessory after the fact, making a false report, facilitation of theft under $500 and tampering with evidence.
On Sunday morning Calhoun called 911, reporting her neighbor was dead in his home. Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson said deputies responded to the residence, 1092 Reedy Creek Road, to find a "horrific" scene.
Johnny Shankel, 73, was on the laundry room floor surrounded by blood. His five dogs, which Anderson described as "vicious," had allegedly, "ate his entire face off." Animal control were called to remove the animals, with one dog subsequently put down and autopsied. Human remains were found within its stomach.
Complicating an investigation, according to Anderson, were Shankel's living conditions within the home. He said there are no records of running water at the residence for more than three years, while a feces and urine soaked floor squished beneath detectives feet.
Anderson said Shankel was a disabled and "eccentric" man, with substantial funds in his bank account. He was also known to carry large amounts of cash.
On Monday police began receiving alerts from Shankel's credit card company, indicating someone was attempting to obtain cash from ATMs. According to a court affidavit the locations of the ATMs were Food City on Euclid Avenue and Bristol Regional Medical Center. Anderson said a review of surveillance tapes revealed Calhoun and Coleman as the perpetrators.
When detectives questioned the couple Calhoun allegedly confessed to the murder, with Coleman admitting he attempted to cover it up.
According to the affidavit, Calhoun went to Shankel's home Saturday morning. She allegedly said she intended to take his money and credit card — and knew she would kill her neighbor if needed. She was allegedly motivated by a desire to pay off her debts and get her own residence, moving out of Coleman's home.
The affidavit says Calhoun admitted entering Shankel's residence, pushing him to the floor and striking him several times with a stick on the face and chest. She then allegedly took a dog cable that was on Shankel's clothes dryer, wrapped it around his neck and choked him to death.
According to the affidavit, a forensic pathologist has concluded Shankel suffered from blunt force trauma, while marks on his neck were consistent with strangulation.
Once Shankel was dead Calhoun allegedly removed $25 and two credit cards from his wallet. According to an attachment to the court affidavit, Coleman said Calhoun returned to their home with blood on her face.
"When she got done," said Sheriff Anderson, "she went home to take a shower, told (Coleman) what happened and they decided to go out and spend some money."
The affidavit claims the couple spent Shankel's cash at a CVS Pharmacy and Walmart, then visited the ATMs at Food City and the hospital. Following their attempts to withdraw cash, according to Coleman, Calhoun cut up Shankel's cards and disposed of them along Highway 11-W.
Both Calhoun and Coleman are scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.
Anderson said that due to the combative nature of Shankel's five adult dogs, detectives had theorized murder would likely have been committed by someone familiar with the animals and home. The four surviving dogs will likely be euthanized.
A litter of puppies were also discovered in the residence, with their temperament and fate yet to be determined.http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9029702
Link to 911 call here (this is incredible and very gross)http://www.timesnews.net/newsroom/xml2003/audio/01%20Track%201.mp3