A Gray, Tenn. couple and a Jonesborough, Tenn. man involved in a brutal murder that occurred in late May 2010 were indicted June 23 by the Scott County Grand Jury for their roles in the death of Natasha Gross Collins, 21, of Johnson City, Tenn.
John Person Purcell, 46, AKA Tony Purcell and his wife, Jennifer G. Purcell, 33, of Gray, Tenn., were indicted on charges of first degree murder and assorted other counts. In addition to the murder charge, John Person Purcell faces four counts of conspiracy, defile a dead body, conceal a dead body, grand larceny and robbery.
His wife faces similar charges include four counts of conspiracy, conceal a dead body, robbery and grand larceny.
Gary J. Gilbert, 43, Jonesborough, Tenn., was also indicted in the case on charges of murder in the first degree, five counts of conspiracy, defile a dead body, conceal a dead body, robbery and grand larceny.
Collins was allegedly killed by the three indicted along with Valerie Gail Arnold, 57, Hiltons, who is serving a life sentence for her role in the crime. Arnold was found guilty by a Scott County Jury in February 2011 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory.
Collins’ body was discovered June 9, 2010 in a creek at a remote location off of Timbertree Branch following a massive manhunt. Her cell phone and a few other personal items were also found nearby.
According to police, Collins had allowed Steven Rodriguez, 40, of Brooklyn, N.Y. to stay in her Johnson City, Tenn. apartment while he visited the area. She formerly worked at the now-closed Mouse’s Ear Gentlemen’s Club in Gray, Tenn.
Rodriguez had his neck slit after a robbery attempt went horribly awry. According to police, his head was nearly decapitated from the attack.
Collins and Jennifer Purcell were not present when the alleged murder took place. They remained outside in the car while John Purcell and Gilbert went inside the apartment to rob the victim.
Rodriquez was reportedly pistol whipped and then John Purcell allegedly ordered Gilbert to kill him. The incident occurred May 25, 2010 at an apartment rented by Collins.
Law enforcement officials say the criminal plot began after the Purcells, Collins and Gilbert were partying and reportedly taking drugs together.
After the death of Rodriquez, the Purcells and Gilbert apparently decided Collins, 21, had to be killed to keep her quiet about the first murder.
According to court records, Gilbert told police that he and John Purcell dismembered Collins’ body and spread her remains over Clinch Mountain in an attempt to keep her from being found.
Her death was committed in order “to tie up the loose ends of there being a witness to the murder,” investigators said in court records.
At Arnold’s trial, Gilbert testified that John and Jennifer Purcell killed Gross by hitting her in the head several times with a rock. Gilbert also testified that the pair cut off Gross’ fingertips before leaving her body under a brush pile in the area Arnold reportedly showed them.
Jennifer Purcell is scheduled to enter a plea in Scott County Circuit Court on Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. Her jury trial is slated to begin Nov. 17.
Her husband and Gilbert were supposed to be arraigned Monday at 9 a.m. in circuit court but both cases have been continued.
A total of 27 persons were indicted by the Scott County Grand Jury on 73 charges during its June 23 meeting. Others indicted include:
- Michelle Lynn Barker, 39, Church Hill, Tenn., false statement on consent form (firearm transaction).
- Timothy Todd Bishop, 38, Duffield, grand larceny, conspiracy, possession of stolen property.
- Frances Elizabeth Anglero-Bundick, 42, Blackwater, forge public record – 6 counts.
- Shannon Mark Carter, 37, Kingsport, Tenn., felony (hit and run accident).
- Austin Kellor Counts, 21, Nickelsville, possession of Schedule II drug.
- Curtis Duncan, 47, Church Hill, Tenn., grand larceny.
- James Scott Edwards, 61, Gray, Tenn., possession of Schedule I or II drug.
- Angela M. Fletcher, 38, Gate City, felony assault law enforcement officer.
- Danny Ray Harvey, 47, Gate City, felony drive after habitual offender.
- Brandon Luke Herron, 19, Gate City, possession of Schedule I or II drug – 2 counts.
- Eric Shane Johnson, 40, Mt. Carmel, Tenn., attempted grand larceny, felony destroy property.
- Bill Edgar Morrison, 32, Fort Blackmore, distribution of Schedule III drug.
- George E. Narramore, 54, McRoberts, Ky., felony DWI.
- Patricia L. Peters, 48, Gate City, false statement, welfare fraud.
- Brian J. Rector, 31, Kingsport, Tenn., felony DWI.
- Patsy Carol Ryans, 62, Gate City, false statement to receive Medicaid, obtain money by false pretense.
- Joshua Lee Sexton, 25, Gate City, possession of Schedule I or II drug – 2 counts.
- Richard Keith Seymore, 46, Fall Branch, Tenn., forge public record – 5 counts.
- Charlotte Lynn Shorter, 34, Abingdon, distribution of Schedule I or II drug, conspiracy.
- Frank Edward Small, 53, Kingsport, Tenn., felony contract without a valid license.
- Bobby Joe Stacy, 25, Duffield, felony assault on law enforcement officer.
- Michael Austin Taylor, 20, Gate City, felony evading.
- Robert Vernon Thomas, 39, Abingdon, possession of Schedule I or II drug, conspiracy, distribution of Schedule I or II drug.
- William Lee Ziehler, 37, Gate City, breaking and entering, grand larceny.