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The Advocate and Democrat.

Miller murder case intensifies as MCSO captain is cleared

Published: 8:52 AM, 07/26/2010 Last updated: 9:03 AM, 07/26/2010

Author: Tommy Millsaps
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

SWEETWATER-As of Friday afternoon, no arrests had been made in the Jim Miller murder case now a week old.

The rumor mill countywide was in full swing spinning various theories on the murder of the Monroe County Election Commission chairman and well-known businessman, but according to the TBI and District Attorney General Steve Bebb, one thing is known for sure: Monroe County Sheriff's Capt. Kenny Hope did not commit the crime.

"He really could not have been in that area," Bebb said Friday.

Bebb said it was the District Attorney's Office's own investigator, Walter Hunt, who cleared Hope.

"He really worked hard finding out where Hope was every minute of the day," Bebb said.

Miller's burned Ford Crown Victoria was found by a Monroe County Sheriff's deputy around 8 p.m. last Saturday on a dirt and gravel farm road just off Sands Road about 5 miles from the intersection Vonore Road.

A body was soon discovered in the trunk of the torched car.

Miller had not returned home from leaving the Election Commission Office in Madisonville around lunchtime that day and family members early on said they believed it was Miller's body in the trunk.

TBI confirmed Wednesday early medical investigation indicates Miller is the victim in the trunk and homicide was the cause of death.

Early in the week rumors were widespread Hope was a suspect in the case and the Sheriff's Office captain went on a television station Tuesday confirming he had been questioned in the case and suspended from his job.

TBI announced Thursday Hope had been cleared and was reinstated on his job.

So where does the case stand now?

"Murders are always hard to solve," Bebb said. "Having a burned body limits forensic evidence."
Bebb said he has limited knowledge of the case at this point. He has been quoted in the media as saying Miller was shot in the head several times, but the former judge and current district attorney general said he has not seen an autopsy report.

Bebb said he was repeating something he had been told, but now regrets saying it.
For his part, Bebb said he will not heavily involve himself in the case at this point. His job will be to prosecute the case when charges are filed.

Bebb said a team of investigators from the TBI, state Bob and Arson Division, the Sheriff's Office and other local police agencies are involved.

Bebb said he has already received a lot of calls about the case and he is not surprised it has attracted a lot of attention.

"You have an Election Commission official killed," he said. "I'd say he had a lot of friends and a lot of enemies. Any murder is important. Obviously the murder of an Election Commission official is important."

But Bebb said his office and the TBI will not let the pressure of the case's notoriety affect them and they will go about their business thoroughly as they always do.

Anyone with any information in the case is urged to call a hotline number, (423) 519-8477. | 337-7101

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