Lewis County Herald - Serving Hohenwald, Lewis County Tennessee Since 1898

By Becky Jane Newbold
Managing Editor 

3 Charged When Missing Man's Body Located In Pond

TBI, Lewis County Sheriff lead investigations

 

April 30, 2020

Courtesy Burt Staggs, TN River Valley News

The home of Kenneth Harter on Allen's Creek Road, cordoned by police tape, after his body was discovered in a pond. A cave behind the home was searched last week where deputies located a small aluminum boat and a line which could be used to pull an occupant across to a wooden structure. Inside the structure were found containers with marijuana plants. The Lewis County Sheriff's Department confiscated eight pounds of marijuana.

Law enforcement from numerous agencies combed more than one hundred acres last Wednesday searching for a man reported missing by his brother.

Late that evening, a tip led them to a shallow pond where they spotted his remains floating near the surface.

Cinder blocks tied to his belt failed to keep the body submerged and the gruesome story had just begun to unfold.

The arrest of Betty Crutchfield on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 was "what set this case off," Sheriff Dwayne Kilpatrick said Monday.

Crutchfield was taken into custody during a traffic stop by Special Agent Adam Barnes at the intersection of Darbytown Road and Smith Street. Use of a credit card belonging to Kenneth Harter at local stores incriminated her. As she stepped out of her vehicle, "she stated there was methamphetamine in the middle console...and a pipe in a glass cloth case in the driver side door," a law enforcement document read.

She faces charges of drug paraphernalia, simple possession of methamphetamine, driving while license revoked, theft of property and fraudulent use of a debit/credit card and remains in the custody of the Lewis County Sheriff's Department on a $5,000 bond.

The following day, April 22, 2020, Lewis County Deputy Brandon Grady and Deputy Trevor Osborne initiated a traffic stop on Swan Avenue at Last Chance Market on a black Nissan Maxima driven by Jonathan French.

An expired vehicle tag came back to a red Chevy Cavalier. French was driving on a revoked license and nine grams of methamphetamine were found under the passenger seat along with drug paraphernalia.

During an interview with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), French "admitted that he had assisted...Curtis Lobermier in disposing the remains of Kenneth Harter, on or about April 7, 2020," the arrest warrant read.

French was charged with one count of Abuse of a Corpse, one count of Accessory After the Fact, driving on revoked and various drug charges. TBI agents subsequently booked French into the Lewis County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

A man hunt ensued for Lobermier, a neighbor of Harter's on Allen's Creek Road, and he was placed on the TBI's Most Wanted list. Aided by social media post shares offering a $2,500 reward.

Called in to assist Lewis County Sheriff Dwayne Kilpatrick were, in addition to officials with the TBI, members of the Hohenwald Police Department, the Hohenwald/Lewis County Fire Department, the district attorney's office, members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Lewis County Coroner Dr. Lori Stewart.

Late Thursday afternoon, a couple driving on Sinking Creek Road in neighboring Perry County had heard about the manhunt. In an interview Tuesday, they said they were enjoying an afternoon searching for turkeys to hunt. They drove past a man walking with a backpack and realized he fit the description they had seen on their phones just before dropping into the area where cell phones do not work.

"That's him," Jodi Inman Denton said to Derrick Denton. "We found cell service and called [Perry County] Sheriff Nick Weems."

"Do you want us to try to capture him?" Derrick asked the sheriff, as he explained to the Herald Tuesday.

Courtesy Burt Staggs, TN River Valley News

Law enforcement converged on Sinking Creek Road in Perry County last Thursday when Lobermeir was arrested with the help of alert citizens, reporting seeing the man. Photo courtesty TN River Valley News

Lt. Gottfried Koblitz of Perry County Sheriff's Department was nearby when the call went out over the radio.

Denton headed back, armed with a shotgun and found Lt. Koblitz who had begun a chase on foot.

Lobermeir ignored commands from the Perry County deputy to stop, "as he ran down an embankment, across Sinking Creek, and began to go up the opposite embankment," the report stated.

"Okay, you got me," Lobermeier repeatedly stated as he was forced to lie prone on the creek bank and taken into custody.

Lewis County Sheriff officials joined Perry County Sheriff Weems in the apprehension of the TBI's Most Wanted suspect.

"That's probably one of the fastest wanted recoveries the TBI has ever been involved in," Sheriff Kilpatrick commented Monday.

TBI agents arrested Lobermier, charged him with one count of Criminal Homicide and one count of Abuse of a Corpse, and booked him into the Lewis County Jail on a $275,000 bond.

 

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