Public credited for quick arrests
Law enforcement officers are crediting the public for helping them quickly identify and arrest two men now charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Roan Mountain man.
“I need to say ‘thank you’ to the media. You guys were great in helping us to get the information out there,” Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said during a Sunday press conference. “I cannot thank the citizens of Roan Mountain enough. People in the community got involved and helped us in this case tremendously.
“I want to really commend the citizens and the media and especially the detectives and officers, deputy sheriffs, of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office for all their hard work on this case, because less than 12 hours is a tremendous accomplishment being able to solve this case.”
Mathes said Anthony Lacy, 18, and Demetrice Cordell, 19, went on a “crime spree” during the late night hours on July 3 and continued through the early morning hours on July 4, ultimately leading to a house at 670 Heaton Creek Road where 56-year-old Danny Vance was killed. He said reports of those other crimes assisted his officers in solving Vance’s slaying.
“We know one family was shooting fireworks when one of their cars was entered and they saw, visibly saw, what appeared to be two individuals running from their yard that matches the description of these two men – little things like that,” Mathes said. “We had citizens that stepped up and saw and described these individuals as being on 4-wheelers – little clues like that that helped lead us to locating suspects.
“We appreciate the trust they had in us and likewise, we were able to trust their information and quickly solve a homicide that could have been very difficult to solve.”
Mathes said his department is still asking individuals who observed suspicious activity or who were victims of a crime to contact his office.
“We would ask that if anyone has been a victim during this time frame, often someone’s had their car gone through, I know one case their GPS device had been moved, people may not report those. We are asking that people report those crimes,” Mathes said.
Mathes also released additional details about the investigation.
“We know that somewhere approximately, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., they went to 690 Heaton Creek Road,” Mathes said. “We know that they orchestrated a plan, the plan was to go up to the residence of 56-year-old Danny Vance and rob him.
“The two of them lured Mr. Vance out of his house,” he added. “Upon luring him out of the house, we know that Mr. Vance was struck multiple times with a rock – primarily and specifically in the back of the head – a very violent act by these two men. We know they went into the house, after murdering Mr. Vance and robbed him of some personal belongings and at that point fled the scene.”
With the assistance of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Scene Investigative Unit, Mathes said officers were able to recover “a tremendous amount of evidence” in the case.
Mathes said evidence recovered and information received from citizens in the community ultimately led to the identification of Lacy and Cordell as suspects.
“We went to a residence of Mr. Wade Cordell, which is the grandfather of Demetrice, and upon being confronted there, the two men fled into the woods,” Mathes said. “We received a consent to search and recovered Mr. Vance’s pistol that he often carried on him – a key piece of evidence that had been in their possession.”
Mathes said that, after the two suspects’ flight from the residence, his officers initiated a search.
“The manhunt was under way,” he added. “They fled on 4-wheelers up into the mountains, which they had stolen and ended up wrecking and leaving behind,” Mathes said. “The Tennessee Department of Corrections, specifically Officer William Lambert and his group, had the bloodhounds and actually started on the trail of the two men.”
Following the search by the officers, Lacy and Cordell were taken into custody without incident, Mathes said. “We know they were actually attempting to get money to flee the area. They were attempting to make those type phone calls and contact family,” he said. “Had we had not gotten them when we did, they were going to at least make an attempt to flee the area.”
Mathes said both suspects, once in custody, gave confessions to officers about their roles in Vance’s death. The sheriff added the motive behind the crime is still unclear.
“I just can’t imagine anyone committing such a crime,” he said. “For two young men to prey on someone like this that lived alone. It was one thing to rob him but the second was to take that step and violently murder him. It’s unfathomable for me. I don’t know what motive or what changes somebody’s mind to do that.”
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