Suspect in Blount deputy’s slaying captured in Knoxville

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

The nearly four-day-old manhunt for the suspect in the slaying of Blount County Sheriff’s Office deputy and the wounding of another has come to an end, according to Facebook posst by BCSO Sheriff James L. Berrong and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

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Berrong posted late Tuesday afternoon, “IN CUSTODY!!!! Kenneth Wayne DeHart was taken into custody a short time ago in Knoxville! Now the judicial process will take place in the court system. Thanks to all of our law enforcement partners and our community — Sheriff James Lee Berrong”

No details were released concerning the arrest of the 42-year-old murder suspect; however, a photo accompanied the post, and a photo of his arrest was posted on the TBI’s Facebook page.

DeHart was being sought in the death of Deputy Greg McCowan, 43, who was shot following a traffic stop Thursday evening. Deputy Shelby Eggers, 22, who was with McCowan on patrol, suffered a gunshot to the leg and returned fire.

Carrie Mathews, 32, Sevierville, identified in an affidavit as DeHart’s girlfriend, was arrested around 2 a.m. Friday by Sevier County Sheriff’s Office on a charge of accessory after the fact and is free on a $350,000 bond. According to the affidavit, about an hour after McCowan and Eggers were shot Thursday evening, deputies from Sevier County Sheriff’s Office went to a residence in the Boyds Creek area of Sevier County. While there, Mathews received a call from “Janeisha,” but it was DeHart who was on the other end of the line. Mathews was overheard saying, “They’re here,” referring to the deputies, and DeHart ended the call. “This action by Ms. Mathews warned Mr. DeHart of impending apprehension or discovery,” the affidavit states.

Marcus Erving DeHart, 41, brother of the suspect, was arrested at 3:04 p.m. Friday and is being held on $1 million bond. District Attorney General for the 5th Judicial District Ryan Desmond announced during a news conference Friday afternoon that he was charged with accessory after the fact, aiding after the commission of a homicide.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued a Blue Alert on Friday for Kenneth DeHart on warrants charging him with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and felon in possession of a weapon. DeHart was added to the TBI Most Wanted List and was considered armed and dangerous and digital billboards seeking information were posted throughout the Southeast.

According to a TBI release, the deputies initiated a traffic stop on an SUV in the 4900 block of Sevierville Road in Maryville. The driver, identified as DeHart, would not cooperate with deputies and refused to get out of the vehicle. A taser was deployed with no effect, the release said, and at some point DeHart produced a gun and fired shots, striking both deputies. DeHart then drove away from the scene.

McCowan was transported to Blount Memorial Hospital, where he later died. Eggers was also transported with serious but non-life-threatening injuries and the Sheriff’s Office has said she is recovering at home.

The funeral for McCowan will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Sevier Heights Baptist Church, 3140 Maloney Road, Knoxville. Following the there will be a funeral procession from the church to Grandview Cemetery at 2304 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville.

According to BCSO’s Facebook page, the reward for DeHart’s capture had reached $100,000.