Sheriff releases more details on Benfield’s arrest in murder case

Published 6:12 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

While an arrest has been made in connection with the murder of a Stoney Creek woman last month, Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said the investigation is still ongoing.
On Friday, investigators with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office arrested Chad Anthony Benfield, 43, of Elizabethton, and charged him with felony murder and especially aggravated burglary in connection with the July death of Mary Nolen, 89, of 128 Dan Bowers Road, in the Stoney Creek community.
“We’re tying up loose ends,” Lunceford said during a press conference Monday afternoon. “We want to make sure there are no other suspects and that he did act alone.”
Investigators are still in the process of interviewing people and reviewing evidence, Lunceford said. The investigation is still ongoing at this time, he added.
When officers interviewed Benfield, Lunceford said Benfield denied ever having contact with Nolen or being inside her home. During the interview, Benfield told investigators he had only met the woman one time previously.
Benfield is not cooperating with investigators and has given no statements regarding the death of Nolen, according to Lunceford. Investigators have not been able to determine a probable motive to the crime at this time.
“The reason why, we don’t know that,” Lunceford said. “The only person that really knows is Benfield.”
According to Lunceford, Benfield had a history of residential burglaries. Benfield was released from a South Carolina prison in December 2016 after serving an approximate 16-year sentence for four counts of residential burglary. Benfield was still on active probation from South Carolina, but his supervision status had been transferred to Tennessee. He had reportedly been living at 672 Highway 91, which is directly behind Nolen’s home, since his release from prison in December.
While he had spent some time in South Carolina, Benfield is originally from the Hampton area and attended Hampton High School, Lunceford said.
District Attorney General Tony Clark was on hand for Monday’s press conference, and he began his statement by commending the work of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office in quickly identifying and apprehending Benfield.
“They have been on this since day one, and they haven’t stopped,” Clark said of the department. “I commend them for that.”
The felony murder charge which Benfield faces is a “Class A Felony” under state law according to Clark.
“He’s charged with felony murder, and that can be a capital offense,” Clark said. “Felony murder is considered under Tennessee law the same as first-degree murder.”
While felony murder is an offense that is eligible for the death penalty in Tennessee, Clark said no decision regarding whether or not the state will seek the death penalty has been made.
“It’s still too early,” Clark said. “He’s not even been arraigned yet.”
Benfield is scheduled to be arraigned in General Sessions Court on Tuesday.
“Judge Keith Bowers was initially scheduled to be out of town this week for a Judicial Conference, however, due to this case he has canceled that conference and will be arraigning Benfield tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.,” Lunceford said.

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