Police arrest 3 for murder of local soldier on 4th of July - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police arrest 3 for murder of local soldier on 4th of July

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MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - The family of a 20-year-old soldier who was shot and killed on July 4th in McMinn County says they're relieved the accused killers are now off the streets.

McMinn County deputies, along with TBI agents, arrested three people in connection to Tyler Womack's murder on Thursday morning. Athens residents Thomas Odum, 48, Martha Thompson, 42, and Amanda Britnell, 34, are all charged with first degree murder.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy is calling the murder "tragic and cold-blooded."

"I've been in a daze," said Mike Womack, adopted father of Tyler Womack. "I can't think, I don't know what to do. Because he was my boy."

Womack said he's barely been able to leave his house since learning his son was murdered. The 20-year-old, who was in the Army, was shot and killed on July 4th at his neighbor's house on County Rd. 172 in McMinn County.

"Everybody just loved him," Womack said. "It's a shame somebody took his life that quick. He was just starting to enjoy life."

"I could be laying down and hear a vehicle that sounds like his, and it just bothers me," said Carol Knox, Womack's fiancee. She said Tyler was planning on being in their wedding next month before he was killed.

"There was no better fellar in the country," said Lincoln Wilson, Tyler's best friend. 


"You couldn't ask for no better friend and no better person."

Police said Tyler Womack went to his neighbor's house that afternoon to help repair a car. When he got there, he saw three people stealing guns and electronics from the residence.

"Tyler was in no way involved in the burglary," said Sheriff Joe Guy. "Just a young man in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Guy said there were no witnesses to the crime, but some trace evidence at the scene led investigators to Odum, Thompson and Britnell. They were arrested Thursday morning at a home in the 700 block of County Rd. 220 in Athens. According to Guy, all three suspects have criminal histories.

Investigators believe Odum, who was already on probation in Georgia for robbery and aggravated assault, is the one who pulled the trigger.

"We believe Odum shot Tyler Womack out of fear of being identified, and then all three left the scene," Guy said.

"I want them to stay in prison the rest of their lives," Womack said.

"I hope they get what they deserve," said Wilson. "Because [Tyler] didn't deserve to be killed."

All three suspects are being held in the McMinn County Jail without bond. According to Guy, more charges could be forthcoming.

Odum, Thompson, and Britnell are scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning on the following charges:

Thomas Odum: first degree murder, first degree felony murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, burglary, theft over $1,000, & possession of a weapon by a convicted felon

Amanda Britnell: first degree murder, first degree felony murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, burglary, theft over $1,000

Martha Thompson: first degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, burglary, theft over $1,000

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