Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Help Find Erika Megan Sharpton's Killer

Brutal Murder Stuns Peaceful Community
by Robert A. Waters

Beautiful, peaceful, family-oriented Coffee County, Tennessee is located in the southern part of the state. Hundreds of churches dot its towns and communities, and friendly people exhibit a laid-back lifestyle. Violent crime is rare.

Tullahoma, the county’s southern-most town, is advertised by the Chamber of Commerce as a “micropolitan city.” While less than 20,000 inhabitants live there, Motlow State Community College and the University of Tennessee Space Institute are nearby.

Twenty-four-year-old Erika Megan Sharpton (called Megan) planned to be a nurse. The Winchester Herald Chronicle reported that “in addition to studying nursing at Motlow College, Megan worked as a waitress at Yamato restaurant in Tullahoma and also worked at a nursing home to gain experience in her career field.”

On July 2, at about 1 A.M., a passerby spotted a brush-fire near the Awalt Bridge that spans Tims Ford Lake in Franklin County. Upon further inspection, he discovered the body of Megan Sharpton, half-consumed by flames. Investigators later determined that she’d likely died elsewhere. The autopsy ruled “blunt force trauma” as the cause of death.

Megan’s car, a 1995 Ford Mustang, was found several miles away, stopped in the middle of Three Forks Bridge in rural Bedford County. The Coffee County, Franklin County, and Bedford County sheriff’s offices are involved in the investigation, as well as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

So far, no one has been charged. Law enforcement officials have been tight-lipped about the case, revealing little information.

According to news reports, Megan’s boyfriend was working at the time of the murder and has been eliminated. Many reports have speculated that this may have been a stranger-on-stranger attack.

In fact, when she was murdered, Megan was on her way to act as a caretaker for an elderly patient.

Megan’s grieving family issued the following statement: “The world has lost its brightest star. The amazing Erika Megan Sharpton was torn from us on July 2, 2012. She was very loved by her family, her friends, and the whole community. We cherish the time we had with our Megan and are grateful for the breadth and variety of experiences we were able to share in her tragically abbreviated life.”

Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said: “We are asking that anyone who saw her that day to contact the sheriff’s department or the TBI. We ask that anyone with information regarding Megan’s red Ford Mustang that was abandoned in the middle of Three Forks Bridge Road in Bedford County to contact the sheriff’s department. We regard this as vital information in this case.”

What happened on that sad night more than a month ago?

If you have information, please call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at 931-967-2331 or TBI at 1-800-824-3463.

If you wish to help the family set up a reward fund, send contributions to the attention of "Michelle" at American City Bank, 340 W. Lincoln St., Tullahoma, TN 37388 or stop by any of the American City Bank branches in Tullahoma, Manchester or Decherd. For additional information, call American City Bank's main branch manager Michelle Martin at 931-455-0026.

[NOTE: This case struck home with me because I lived in Coffee County for five years. I met my beautiful wife there, and obtained my bachelor’s degree from nearby Middle Tennessee State University. After moving back to my native Florida in the mid-1970s, my wife and I visited her parents in Manchester several times a year for as long as they lived. I still have friends in the area and consider Coffee County to be my second home.]

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