Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 17, 2013

One charged in Renegade homicides

By Michael R. Moser

CROSSVILLE — Even as the suspect in the quadruple homicide of four young Cumberland Countians sits without bond on a parole violation charge, investigators from multiple agencies are scrambling to prepare a case that will be presentable to a special grand jury.

The victims were also identified Friday as being Danielle "Rikki" Jacobson, age 22; her nephew, Dominic Davis, age 17; Steven Presley, age 17; and John Lajeunesse, age 16.

Being held on a parole violation out of Cumberland and Fentress counties is Jacob Allen Bennett, 26, who listed a 5000 Woodridge Rd., Crab Orchard, address. He was brought into the jail at 12:40 a.m. on Friday. Bennett is being held without bond.

The grand jury could be called into session as early as Wednesday, but will probably be presented evidence in the case on Friday, sources have told the Chronicle. Criminal Court Judge David Patterson will be holding court in Crossville on both days.

Investigators have not ruled out any motive at this point, but do not believe that drugs or robbery were the motive for the killings, although a casual exchange of marijuana may have been the catalyst that got the four victims and the shooter together. Sources have told the Chronicle that only a small amount of marijuana was recovered.

In addition to the possibility that drugs were the cause of the shooting, investigators are also looking into reports of a grudge between at least one of the victims and the shooter.

Investigators say all four — whose bodies were found in a teal-colored Dodge Neon owned and driven by Jacobsen — were shot where their bodies were discovered. At least one had multiple gunshot wounds to the body.

The TBI's mobile crime lab was dispatched to the scene and agents specializing in forensics spent hours at the scene. About 15 hours after the bodies were discovered by a man headed to work, the bodies were removed and taken to Nashville where autopsies were conducted.

Preliminary report of the autopsies were given to lead investigators but not made public. Various lab tests and a formal, written report is weeks away from being completed.

An on-again, off-again press conference was finally held Friday shortly after noon and was attended by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Mark Gywn, District Attorney General Randy York, Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess, Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie and Chief Sheriff's Investigator Casey Cox.

At that time they announced the arrest of Bennett, who was taken into custody at a "girlfriend's residence" off Hwy. 27 outside Dayton in the Evensville community by Dayton Police, Rhea County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Secret Service.

Cox said Bennett did not resist arrest and there were indications he was attempting to leave the state.

Gwyn opened the press conference by expressing condolences to the families of the victims, and by thanking the multiple agencies who worked around the clock to bring a suspect into custody.

Gwyn added that people in the Crossville area could rest without fear. "We believe we have the person who committed this crime," he said.

York echoed those comments, remembering the family and thanking the investigators who worked tirelessly on the case.

McKenzie said as the investigation unfolds, he will be looking forward "to trying this case in the courtroom."

Burgess asked the community to remember not only the victims and their families, but "the high school kids" who were friends of the victims. "There is a lesson we can learn from this ... this is a very traumatic thing for them and for the community."

"There's still some work that's going to be done on this case," said Cox. "Actually, there are agents right now who are still very hard at work to follow up on this case and as the sheriff said, there was a lot of emotion that goes into this case, simply based on the age of these children."

Gwyn was asked if drugs were involved in the slayings, and responded, "Drugs are involved in about 90 to 95 percent of the crimes we deal with ... there is no victimless drug."