Hampton man held on murder charge after missing man’s remains believed unearthed in freezer

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, May 16, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

 A 46-year-old Hampton man is being held on $5 million bond after the remains of what are believed to be those of a missing Roan Mountain man were found buried in a freezer, Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley said during a press conference on Thursday.

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 Joey Lee Guinn, 125 Mike Clawson Road, Hampton, was jailed Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence after authorities discovered the remains believed to be those of 64-year-old Edward H. Elliott.

 According to an affidavit, Elliott’s daughter reported to the Sheriff’s Office on March 31 she last had contact with her father on Jan. 28 via Facebook Messenger. The daughter said she had last physically seen him about a week prior to that contact. On April 1, a woman who said she receives Elliott’s mail filed a missing person’s report with the Elizabethton Police Department, stating she had not seen him since the middle or end of January.

 Acting on an anonymous tip, Sheriff’s Office investigators – assisted by the Elizabethton Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy Wayne Wilhoit and his K-9 partner, Ruger, a cadaver detection canine – executed search warrants on Wednesday at Guinn’s home and nearby properties. Fraley said other agencies assisting at the scene included the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Carter County Rescue Squad, and the William L. Jenkins Forensic Center at East Tennessee State University.

 During the search, which Fraley said eventually encompassed about 17 acres, Ruger alerted to the presence of human remains in an area. Investigators then probed and scanned the area with a metal detector, which indicated there was a metal object beneath the soil.

 “Several hours later, a box was exhumed, and a human body was found in the tub, a small freezer,” Fraley said. “We tentatively believe that the body was the missing person.”

 Guinn was taken into custody Wednesday evening and was transported to the Carter County Detention Center. Guinn was arraigned Thursday before Carter County General Sessions Court Judge Keith Bowers Jr., who set the bond at $5 million.

 “During the investigation into Mr. Elliott’s disappearance, we asked the public for help with any information they may have regarding his whereabouts,” Fraley said. “We received an anonymous tip that ultimately led us to develop Mr. Guinn as a suspect.”

 Fraley praised the “total teamwork” on the part of more than 40 law enforcement officers who were involved in the investigation, which is continuing, and the sheriff said more charges may be filed as additional information is uncovered. The lead investigator is CCSO Investigator Roger Brown.

 “I am extremely proud of my officers for their diligence in investigating the disappearance of Mr. Elliott and I hope his family can find comfort in finally knowing what happened to their loved one and that the person responsible is being held accountable for their actions,” Fraley said. “I would also like to thank the Elizabethton Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in this investigation.”