They wanted the 4-Runner but wound up taking the lives of a young Knox County couple in brutal fashion, court records made public Friday reveal.
“Originally the plan was to do a carjacking,” a pal of fatal carjacking suspect Lemaricus Devall Davidson tol d a federal agent.
It’s still not clear why the alleged carjacking confrontation between Channon Christian, 21, her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23, and brothers Davidson and Letalvis Darnell Cobbins turned fatal.
It’s not even known yet where the deadly encounter began.
But it ended early Sunday morning in a seedy rental house on Chipman Street, where Christian and Newsom were forced inside at gunpoint, according to state and federal court records.
Newsom was shot, bound and his body wrapped up in bedding and set afire, according to a search warrant application drafted by Knoxville Police Department Investigator Todd Childress.
Police would find his body later that day discarded like trash along nearby railroad tracks. Two days passed before Christian’s battered body was found stuffed in a trash can in the Chipman Street house where, records show, Davidson and Cobbins had been living.
Although Western Kentucky Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Rich Knighten told the News Sentinel that Christian had been held captive for “a couple of days,” records unsealed by U.S. District Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley at a hearing in Knoxville Friday suggest otherwise.
Complaints prepared by a team of federal agents and prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Tracy Stone, David Jennings, Steve Cook, Mike Winck and Tracee Plowell, indicate that Christian likely was dead by Sunday evening.
And Davidson was ready to run, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Rebecca A. Bobich w rote in an affidavit in which serial robber and Knoxville resident Eric Dewayne “E” Boyd is accused of being an accessory to carjacking.
“On Sunday, Boyd visited Davidson’s home on Chipman (Street) in Knoxville,” Bobich wrote. “Davidson indicated to Boyd that Davidson was in some sort of trouble and needed to get out of the area because things were too hot. Boyd assisted Davidson in leaving the residence by making sure no law enforcement officers were in the area.”
None of the records released Friday indicate how Christian died. Her body wasn’t discovered until Tuesday. Authorities have not disputed Knighten’s account that she had been raped.
A massive probe and manhunt by a slew of agencies including KPD, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service has led to the arrests of four men in the case. Only Davidson is charged in the carjacking itself. However, a federal grand jury is expected to consider the case next week.
Knox County prosecutors Leslie Nassios and Bill Crabtree ma de an unusual appearance in federal court Friday for the arraignment of Davidson. John Gill, special counsel to the attorney general, declined comment on when or if state charges will be filed in the case.
Stone said at Friday’s hearing that Davidson cou ld face the death penalty if convicted of federal carjacking charges.
So far, Cobbins is only charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition found inside the Chipman Avenue house in a firearm magazine with his fingerprint on it, court records sta te.
Also found in the house were two Bibles, eight cell phones, an iPod, a rifle, a 9mm magazine, digital scales, a gun-cleaning kit and .22- and .38-caliber ammunition.
Agents interviewed Cobbins on Thursday after he was nabbed in Lebanon, Ky., where h e was hiding out with George Geovonni “G” Thomas, according to federal court records. Thomas faces federal accessory to carjacking charges, too.
“Cobbins admitted to participating in the armed carjacking,” Bobich wrote.
Boyd, also arrested Thursday, all egedly confessed he helped Davidson hide out in a vacant house on Reynolds Street. Boyd was apparently headed to buy food for Davidson when police caught him, court records stated.
Boyd told federal agents that Davidson confessed his role in the double m urder, according to federal court records.
“Davidson said that originally the plan was to do a carjacking,” Bobich stated of Boyd’s account. “Davidson advised that one of the carjackers walked up to Ms. Christian’s vehicle with a gun, forcibly abducted C hristian and Newsom and took them and their car. Davidson advised that Christian and Newsom were then driven to Davidson’s residence on Chipman Avenue.
“Boyd described the specific details of the treatment and eventual murders of the victims as told to h im by Davidson,” the agent wrote.
Investigators believe Channon Christian was held hostage and raped repeatedly for several days before being killed, a federal marshal said today.
The news came on the same day that authorities captured three men sought for questioning in her death and th at of her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.
Authorities believe she and Newsom were abducted after a weekend carjacking in North Knoxville that ultimately led to both their deaths, said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Rich Knighten of the Western District of Kent ucky.
“They did some really nasty things to this lady,” Knighten said.
Newsom was shot and his body burned, Knighten said. He said he didn’t know how Christian died.
Federal and local authorities nabbed Letalvis Cobbins and a friend, George Thomas, abo ut 10 a.m. Thursday in Lebanon, Ky. Knoxville investigators had received information that Cobbins had a relative there.
Lemaricus Davidson was arrested about 3:35 p.m. in Knoxville by KPD’s Special Operations Squad, U.S. marshals and Bureau of Alcohol, T obacco and Firearms agents.
Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas are suspects in both killings, Knighten said.
Davidson, 25, was arrested at an empty house at 1800 Reynolds St. He was crying and offered no resistance.
Davidson and his brother Cobbins, 24, ha d been wanted for questioning in the slayings of Newsom, 23, and Christian, 21.
Police previously had not mentioned Thomas. He was called a “person of interest” by Knoxville police as of Thursday night.
None of the three men have been charged in connect ion with the slayings.
However, Cobbins has been charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon, based on evidence discovered at the Chipman Street house where Christian’s body was found Tuesday.
Newsom, of Halls, and Christian, of West Knox County, had been dating since November. They told their parents they planned to join friends in an apartment off Washington Pike on Saturday night to watch movies.
At 12:24 p.m. Sunday, a railroad employee on a passing train alerted police about a body along Norfolk Southern tracks between Ninth Avenue and Cherry Street. It was Newsom’s body.
At 2 p.m. Tuesday, police armed with a search warrant entered a nearby rental home at 2316 Chipman St. and found Christian’s body. Her 2005 Toyota 4-Runner had been found Monday abandoned two blocks away at the intersection of Chipman Street and Glider Avenue.
More details as they develop online and in Friday’s News Sentinel.