UPDATE: A Bledsoe County grand jury has indicted Robert Whittenburg for two counts of first-degree murder for the 2017 deaths of a Pikeville mother and daughter.

Robert Joe Whittenburg, 44, was in court Thursday morning and appointed counsel.

The November 30 axe slayings of 46-year-old Deanna Lawrence and her 24-year-old daughter, Dedra Lawrence resulted originally in charges of criminal homicide by the Tennessee bureau of Investigation, which were upgraded to first-degree murder.

Memorial services for the slain women were held December 4 of last year.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Bledsoe County man accused of killing a mother and her daughter will go in front of a judge on Monday.

Sheriff Jimmy Morris said Joe Whittenburg was released from the hospital on Sunday and taken to the Bledsoe County jail.

The sheriff said the mother's boyfriend discovered 46-year-old Deanna Lawrence and 24-year-old Dedra Lawrence dead in their home on Sawmill Road in Pikeville.

Whittenburg was found unresponsive.

Authorities said the mother, daughter, and their boyfriends lived at the home.

It's unclear how the two women were killed, but the sheriff described it as a brutal attack.

Count on Channel 3 to let you know what happens in court.


PREVIOUS STORY: A mother and her daughter were found dead inside a Pikeville home on Thursday.

The TBI identified them as 46-year-old Deanna Lawrence and 24-year-old Dedra Lawrence.

Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris named Joe Whittenburg as the suspect in the case.

The sheriff said the mother's boyfriend who had been working out of town knocked on the door and the windows.

Something didn't feel right to him and that's when he broke open a window. He found the two women dead inside.

"I guess we can say it's a brutal murder," Sheriff Jimmy Morris said.

Chilling words from the county's top law enforcement official.

Authorities said this is the first double homicide investigation ever in the Pikeville city limits and the first homicide in decades for the city.

Neighbors like Dinna Smith are trying to understand why this happened.

"I was in shock. I was in shock thinking that's hitting way too close to home," Smith said.

Smith who called this a safe neighborhood will now be changing her routine when it gets dark.

"Sometimes I go to bed and I don't even lock my door, but I will now because it's got me scared up," Smith said.

Police said four people lived at this home on Sawmill Road including a mother, her daughter, and their boyfriends.

The TBI is helping with the case. 

Police wouldn't release details of how the two women were killed, but said it was disturbing.

"Nobody should be treated done the way they were done. I'll just say that," Chief Ronald Byrd of the Pikeville Police Department said.

Authorities believe Joe Whittenburg, the boyfriend of the young woman, is responsible for the murders. He was found unresponsive inside the home and taken to Erlanger to be treated.

others in the community like Whitney Stoker remembering driving by and seeing the flashing lights from the vehicles of first responders. Now she knows why they were there.

"It kind of is a wake up call in a sense because even though it is a small community and we do feel insulated and protected, you can't become complacent," Stoker said.

Once Whittenburg is released from the hospital, he'll be placed into custody and taken back to Bledsoe County.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for more details on this developing story. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Two Bledsoe County women were found dead in a Pikeville home late Thursday night. 

Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris said the incident is being investigated as a double homicide. He said the women were brutally attacked, but could not elaborate on the exact details of how they were killed.

The TBI has identified the two women as mother and daughter, 46-year-old Deanna Lawrence and 24-year-old Dedra Lawrence.

Investigators say the mother and daughter lived at the home with their boyfriend’s. When Deanna Lawrence’s boyfriend was locked out when he arrived home Thursday night, and no one answered the door he told investigators. He then broke into a window and when he got inside he found the mom and daughter deceased and Joe Whittenburg, Dedra Lawrence’s boyfriend unconscious.

Sheriff Jimmy Morris tells Channel 3 that Whittenburg was taken to Erlanger hospital. Whittenburg is the primary suspect and has been charged with two counts of criminal homicide.

The sheriff says there is no threat to the community.

The TBI is investigating at the request of 12th District Attorney General Michael Taylor.

Stay with Channel 3 as we follow this developing story.


PREVIOUS STORY: Two Bledsoe County women were found dead in a Pikeville home late Thursday night. 

The two deaths are being investigated as homicides. The TBI has identified the two women as mother and daughter Dedra Lawrence and Deanna Lawrence.

Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris tells Channel 3 that one man was taken to Erlanger hospital. Joe Whittenburg has been charged in the deaths.

The sheriff says there is no threat to the community.

The TBI issued a release that stated:

"At the request of 12th District Attorney General Michael Taylor, TBI Agents continues to investigate the circumstances involving the deaths of two women found deceased in a home Thursday night on Sawmill Road in Pikeville. They have been identified as Dedra Lawrence and Deanna Lawrence. A third individual, also discovered at the home, has been transported to Erlanger and is currently undergoing medical treatment. The investigation remains active and ongoing, alongside the Pikeville Police Department and the Bledsoe County Sheriff's Office."


PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Bledsoe County Sheriff's office are currently investigating two deaths in Pikeville.

Sheriff Jimmy Morris confirms the bodies of two women were found inside a Sawmill Road home. The discovery was made by a friend. 

We're told first responders were first alerted to the situation around 7 p.m. central time.  

Stay with Channel 3 as this story continues to develop.