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UPDATE: TBI charges woman in death of pawn shop owner

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Photo by WRCB reporter Sara Sidery. Photo by WRCB reporter Sara Sidery.
Photo by WRCB reporter Sara Sidery. Photo by WRCB reporter Sara Sidery.
WHITWELL, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Combined efforts of several law enforcement agencies have resulted in the arrest of a suspect in a deadly Whitwell pawn shop fire.

Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Whitwell Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office obtained indictments for a woman accused of robbing a pawn shop, killing its owner, and setting fire to the business in an effort to cover up the crime.

Angela Denise Kilgore has been charged in the death  of 72-year-old Jerry Ridge during a robbery at the pawn shop. 

The investigation also revealed she was additionally responsible for the fire at the business, set in an effort to destroy potential evidence in the case.

On Monday, the Marion County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging the 51-year-old woman with one count of First Degree Murder, one count of Felony Murder, one count of Especially Aggravated Robbery, one count of Employing a Firearm during the Commission of a Dangerous Felony, one count of Aggravated Arson, one count of Theft, and one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. 

She is in custody at the Marion County Jail.


PREVIOUS STORY: Two months after the owner of Valley Pawn Brokers was murdered and his business destroyed by fire, the Marion County Sheriff's Office still has not made an arrest in this case, but today we're learning Sheriff Bo Burnett says he believes he knows who did it.

"I feel real good about the suspect we have in custody," Sheriff Burnett said.

Sheriff Burnett said shortly after 72-year-old Jerry Ridge was found dead inside his business, investigators zeroed in on a person of interest.

That person, is now the sole suspect in the case.

"This person is here at the jail on other charges. I can't release this person's name or identification," Burnett said, "This person has been interviewed by my officers and the TBI so, they know."

The name of the suspect will be released by the TBI if a grand jury chooses to formally charge that person.

Without Jerry, the Valley Pawn Broker's shop is no longer in business. The windows are boarded up, and closing signs are posted out front.

Next door, employees at The Chef's Restaurant said they're still in shock.

"When you lose somebody like that, on a spur of the moment boom no warning, you're not prepared for it," said David Berninger.

Jerry's death is the second tragedy the Ridge family has had to endure this year.

The Sheriff's Office is also searching for Jerry's nephew, Wesley Ridge, who went missing in March.

"He's been missing since the first week of March, we did have some leads that came in but everything's dried up so we do have a $15,000 reward if you have information," Sheriff Burnett said, "I'd like to get both cases resolved. I wish I could get them resolved today."

Between the Sheriff's Office and TBI we're told more than 100 pieces of evidence have been sent to the TBI crime lab.

Sheriff Burnett said he hopes this case will be brought before a Grand Jury in August.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirms it is investigating the death of Jerry Don Ridge as a homicide.

"We are investigating this matter as a homicide, but beyond that, we don't have any additional information to provide at this time," said Josh Devine, spokesperson for TBI.

Ridge's body was found Tuesday night after fire destroyed his pawn shop on Highway 28 in Whitwell.

Investigators have called the fire "suspicious" from the beginning.

Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnette tells Channel 3, there is a person of interest in the case; however, that person has not be detained for questioning.

Friends said 72-year-old Ridge owned Valley Pawn Shop for 10 years and ran it on his own. 

His body was taken to a crime lab in Nashville for autopsy.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has identified the body found in the Whitwell pawn shop fire as that of owner Jerry Don Ridge, 72. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Investigators are trying to figure out how a man died in Marion County after discovering his body inside a burning pawn shop. 

It started around 5:00 Tuesday night at Valley Pawn Broker on Highway 28. Crews were forced to shut the road down for hours after determining the fire was suspicious. 

Investigators could be seen through soot-covered windows and broken glass early Wednesday morning processing the scene at Valley Pawn Broker in Whitwell. 

"This was a confined fire, a relatively quick fire, hot and fast and pretty much in a centralized location," Whitwell Police Department Lt. Paul West said.

Crews found a man's body inside and called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after deeming the fire suspicious. 

"To follow all of these leads you're finding, it's much easier in our case in a small town to call for some help early on and make sure we don't miss anything," West added. 

David Berninger owns The Chef's Restaurant next door to the pawn shop. As soon as he heard about the fire, he worried about his friend, Jerry Ridge. 

He said Ridge has owned the shop for about 10 years and was the only person who worked there. 

"My daughter said she seen his brother go through and try to open the door and smoke boiled out, so the firefighters had to put on their oxygen and walk in," he added. 

Berninger said this isn't the first tragedy that has hit the Ridge family. Police have also been searching for Ridge's nephew Wesley, who has been missing since March. 

"I pray for the family. I know his wife, he was a deacon at First Baptist Church over here and a well-respected citizen of the community," he added. 

The body has been taken to Nashville for an autopsy. No word on what caused the fire. 

This is a story we will continue to follow closely and bring you any updates.


PREVIOUS STORY: One person has died in a suspicious fire at a Whitwell pawn shop.

Firefighters discovered the body as they were extinguishing the fire at Valley Pawn Shop on Highway 28.

Sources tell Channel 3 a woman reported the fire to city officials, who were in a meeting elsewhere in the city.

When firefighters arrived around 5 p.m., they found the doors locked. They had to bust out the windows to gain entry into the building.

Law enforcement sources tell Channel 3 firefighters had been fighting the fire for several minutes and ran out of oxygen. When they re-entered the building with fresh air packs, they discovered a body.

At this point, investigators are not releasing the name of the person who died, but have deemed the death suspicious in nature.

"We have a body inside. We have not identified the person," Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnette told Eyewitness News on the scene. "I have officers here, the ATF is here, TBI is here. They're bringing in more manpower to process the scene and assist us on the investigation."

Multiple agencies are working on the investigation including: TBI, Whitwell police, Whitwell fire, Marion County Sheriff's Office, ATF, TN Bomb & Arson, and District Attorney General of the 12th Judicial District.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: State fire and arson officials are investigating a fire at a Marion County pawn shop after a body was found inside it this evening.

It happened at Valley Pawn around 5:00 p.m. on Highway 28 in Whitwell.

Sheriff Bo Burnette confirms the fire to Channel 3 and says his department requested the state's involvement with the fire investigation.

Our crew on the scene says a body was found inside the pawn shop following the fire.

Investigators are calling this fire "suspicious".

The Sheriff's Office and Whitwell Police Department are also helping with the investigation.

Channel 3 has a crew on the scene and will have a live report coming up tonight on Eyewitness News at 11.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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