Author Archives: John Muse

Multiple Agencies Raid Big Rock Tavern

Agents with the LaFollette Police Dept, the DTF and ABC raided Big Rock Tavern on the North side of LaFollette at around 3 PM Friday afternoon.

According to a release from the LaFollette Police Department the raid was an execution of an Alcoholic Beverage Commission search warrant pertaining to unlicensed liquor being sold at the establishment. There was also a warrant concerning illegal gambling machines. There were no arrests made at the time but charges are pending.

TBI Finishes Officer Involved Shooting Investigation

On April 1st LaFollette Police officers received a report that a female was attempting to break into a home located along East Prospect Street. Upon arrival, LaFollette police officers encountered the female, who was reportedly armed with a handgun. Suspect pointed the gun at officers and they were forced to fire striking the suspect in the 700 block of East Prospect Street. Officers worked to secure the scene and immediately started performing life saving measures. She was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

As is standard in such cases 8th Judicial District Attorney asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation on the incident.

On April 1, 2019. The TBI has now completed its
investigation. After reviewing the findings of this investigation,
District Attorney General Jared Effler has concluded that the officers acted appropriately and has requested the TBI to close its case.

Eberharter Sentenced

James Peter Eberharter, who very notably went on the run March 28th 2019, in what appeared to be a potential female in danger case, was sentenced in court for his original crimes that prompted his evasion of law enforcement. A large scale manhunt was launched to find Eberharter after a 911 caller reported a bloodied female in Eberharter’s vehicle. At the time Eberharter was already out on bond from warrants related to assaulting a woman on both December 25th, 2018 and January 4th, 2019, in both cases Eberharter strangled the victim, his then girlfriend.

Acting on a tip deputies picked up Eberharter in mid April, some two weeks after his initial disappearance. At the time he was found to be in possession of suboxone strips and hypodermic needles.

In June, Eberharter agreed to enter a plea of guilty to two counts of aggravated assault for the choking incidents after prosecution by Assistant D.A.Lindsey C. Cadle. Judge Shane Sexton has now sentenced Eberharter to 12 years in prison for each count, the sentences will run consecutively rather than concurrently, effectively remanding Eberharter to the Tennessee Department of Corrections for over 20 years. The victim of the crime was consulted and approved of the decision.

Willoughby Charged With Statutory Rape By An Authority Figure

A member of the Roane State Community College Police Department, at the Campbell County Campus, has been indicted on two counts of Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure.

Justin Willoughby, 27 of Jacksboro, turned himself in at the Campbell County Jail after the Grand Jury released a sealed indictment on the charges. He is currently free on a $50,000 bond. He is due in court at 8:30 AM on July 22nd.

A call was placed to Roane State Police Chief William “Chip” Cain to confirm the status of Willoughby’s current status with the department went to voice mail. Willoghby no longer appears on the Tennessee Board of Regents salary database as an employee.

Homer Rutherford Learning Academy Saved

Last month the Homer Rutherford Learning Academy looked as if it were no more. Funding was just not there to maintain and staff the building. It looked as if it was going to be moved on the campus of Campbell County Comprehensive High School.

Now, thanks to an adjustment of Basic Education Program (BEP) funds, it appears to have been saved. At the July meeting of the Campbell County Board of Education it was announced that the adjustment gave the county slightly in excess of $190,000 to apply to the school system.

One thing that was voted on and approved at the meeting was that they would have to hire a new principal. This administrative position will be on a ten month contract and the exact cost will not be known until hired due to such factors as level of education and years of experience. The previous principal, Sandy Comer Wilson was transferred to LaFollette Middle School when the Homer Rutherford Learning Academy was initially closed.

Director of Schools Jennifer Fields was pleased with the reopening of the school. She spoke of how the school board and central office strive to always do what is in the best interest of the students and that this was the most beneficial thing they could do with the additional funding.

The Basic Education Program (BEP) is the funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools. The Board annually reviews and approves school system allocations generated through the BEP formula.