Kelly's Ferry Triple Slaying 26 Years After Signal Mountain's AT - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Kelly's Ferry Triple Slaying 26 Years After Signal Mountain's ATV Murders

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Triple homicide investigations in Hamilton County, Tennessee are a rarity.

The last such case was in July 1988, and the notorious Signal Mountain ATV murders, when Sheriff Jim Hammond was then Chief Deputy of the department.

"That's true, I don't think there's been a case with this many deaths in one point since the Frank Casteel homicide where we had three up on Signal Mountain a number of years ago," said Sheriff Hammond, as he updated media on the arrest of 19-year-old Derek Morse, some 8 hours after the discovery of three bullet ridden bodies in a Lookout Valley trailer park.

But Sheriff Hammond says the similarities between the two murder investigations end there.
"There's a little bit of difference in that case as we did not discover the bodies for several days," says Hammond of the Signal Mountain case.

Hammond says that timeframe of discovery is critical, and likely why Morse is already behind bars and facing murder charges.
"This one, I think we're on top of it quicker, because in the Signal Mountain case there was some time that went by before we were able to get something really rolling," recalls Hammond.

The complaint affidavit for Morse states at least two of the three men killed suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
One victim sustaining multiple bullet blasts to the head.

When asked if the number of gunshot wounds and their location suggest it was a planned execution, Hammond for now, won't reveal.

"I'm not prepared to speculate as to all what happened, how many entry wounds would be in those, we don't know." 

Frank Casteel was ultimately convicted twice after his first conviction was thrown out. Now 66, Casteel is incarcerated in Tennessee's Special Needs Facility.

His next possible eligibility for parole is 2025.
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