A teenager is accused of bludgeoning to death a rural Tennessee woman and her 7-year-old grandson in what authorities described as a gruesome scene with “puddles of blood,” WJHL-TV reports.
The 16-year-old suspect, who has not been named publicly because his case remains in juvenile court, admitted to striking the victims in the head with a hammer, according to court documents obtained by the television station.
The teen allegedly beat the victims to death on April 24. Their bodies were found outside a residence in Chuckey, Tennessee, shortly after midnight the following day.
Police reportedly observed the suspect sitting in a car with another person, while two other people were inside a nearby vehicle.
Investigators saw “puddles of blood” by a parked vehicle along with “assorted tools, some of which were covered in blood.”
In court filings, detective Jeff Davis wrote similar statements about the killer’s actions against each of the victims, identified as 59-year-old Sherry Cole and her 7-year-old grandson Jessie Allen.
“He stated he began planning to kill the victim earlier the same afternoon,” Davis wrote, according to WREG-TV. “[He] admitted to striking the victim in the head with a hammer and had began planning killing earlier the same afternoon.”
Police detained the suspect on suspicion of murder/non-negligent manslaughter. He was later charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Although his case is in juvenile court, prosecutors are seeking to transfer the case to adult court.
Authorities have not released a potential motive for the slayings. A judge in May issued a gag order in the case after the defense requested that certain details be withheld from public disclosure.
Greene County District Attorney Dan Armstrong explained why the teen should be tried in adult court.
“The circumstances of this case are bone-chilling,” Armstrong told WBIR-TV. “One of the things we have to take into account as to the severity of the crime, the brutality of the crime, the situation of the minor that’s being charged with the crime.”
Armstrong added that he believes adult court would provide “the only punishment that really meets the crime.”
“Depending on what the grand jury returned as the charge, let’s say they were to return two first-degree murder counts, at that point I would have the option of life without parole,” Armstrong told WJHL-TV.
Meanwhile, community members are providing support for the victims’ families, holding fundraisers, and sending caring thoughts to Bill Cole, who is Sherry’s husband and Jessie’s grandfather.
Chuckey, Tennessee, is about 80 miles east of Knoxville.
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[Featured image: Sherry Cole/Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes and Crematory; Jessie Allen/Facebook]