A suspect was arrested Friday in the shooting deaths of a woman and three teenagers whose bodies were found in a car in a former mountain resort in eastern Tennessee.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said at a press conference in Crossville that Jacob Allen Bennett, 26, was arrested on a parole violation the night after the four bodies were found on Renegade Mountain.
“We believe that we have this person that committed these crimes in custody, that this community is safe,” Gwyn said.
Bennett was being held at Cumberland County jail while prosecutors prepared to call a special of the grand jury to evaluate charges. The jail had no immediate information about whether Bennett had an attorney.
A car containing the bodies was discovered by a resident of the community about 50 miles west of Knoxville on Thursday morning. The victims were identified as driver Danielle Jacobson, 22, and passengers Steven Presley, 17, Dominic Davis, 17, and John Lajeunesse, 16.
“There are some indications that there was some connection between the suspect and one, possibly two of the victims,” said Deputy District Attorney General Gary McKenzie. But he declined to specify which of the victims might have known Bennett, or provide a possible motive or other details about the case.
Bennett was sentenced to two years in prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to a series of charges in Cumberland and Fentress counties, including being a convicted violent felon in possession of a firearm and theft, according to court records. Bennett had previously been incarcerated in Florida.
“This has really affected a lot of the high-school-age kids,” Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess said. “This is something that is very traumatic.”
Gwyn said Bennett was identified as a suspect “pretty quickly,” but that it took the rest of the day to locate and arrest him in neighboring Rhea County.
The former resort had had controlled access with a gate until 2010, when new owners got rid of it. That move gave rise among some residents about security in the 3,000-acre community.