Dayton man charged in Loudon Co murder
LOUDON, LOUDON COUNTY (NBC) - The Loudon County Sheriffs office said a Dayton man has been charged in connection with the murder of a well-known builder who was shot to death in his Tellico Village home.
79-year-old Ronald Kronholm was found murdered in his home on Thursday, September 23.
Kronholm's wife found her husband's body, Sheriff Tim Guider has said.
Wednesday, Guider said Kronholm's long-time friend and business partner, John Lee Nevans, had been arrested Tuesday night and charged with first degree murder. Nevins was being held without bond.
The sheriff said Nevans had informed others he was unhappy with Kronholm over financial issues.
Nevans, 67 and of 330 Highland Drive in Dayton, is due in court next Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.
"It was a crime of passion and maybe hatred," Guider said after the killing.
Evidence noted in an arrest warrant includes video from the Highway 72 Deli in Loudon, blood spatter on Nevans' clothes, maroon paint transfer on Nevans' white Ford van that matched the victim's van, and inconsistent statements from Nevans.
The arrest warrant narrative said, "Prior to being arrested or accused of the crime Mr. Nevans did indicate to his wife that he wanted to leave and go to South America but she refused to go."
DAG Russell Johnson said it could be a death penalty case but that has not been determined.
Kronholm suffered from a Lou Gehrig-like condition.
"He was in a wheelchair. He was an invalid and so I never saw him out or anything," neighbor Martha Wilkerson said. "He took his dog around in his truck and that's the way we knew him and we would wave at him and he would wave back."
Several neighbors said that's how they interacted with Kronholm, waving to him as he drove his dog around the neighborhood. They said he was very upset when the dog died.
Neighbors also said Kronholm was a well-known builder.
The Property Owners Association confirms Kronholm built 87 homes in Tellico Village from 1997 to 2007.
Neighbors said that includes his own home at 139 Cheeskogili Way.
It's for sale and featured on the ERA Lakeside Realty website, where it is listed for more than a million dollars.
The area is an upscale community not used to violent crime, yet this is the second murder in Tellico Village in 5 months.
"It's strange. We don't really think about the Village having problems such as that because it's really a nice place to live," Wilkerson said.
The Sheriff and neighbors said Kronholm was well-liked and respected. He and his wife Susie had hosted neighborhood parties in their home and were friendly, neighbors said.
This story was contributed by WBIR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee.