Elderly Man Beaten to Death, Dismembered; Three Arrested

A 94-year-old man was found fatally beaten early Monday in a thicket of bushes, his left hand cut off, and three people were arrested in what might have been a botched robbery, authorities said.

Willie Lee Morgan, who was reported missing Saturday, "died a horrible death," Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnigan said.

Two butcher knives and a left hand were found in one of the suspects' cars.

"This poor man was supposed to die peacefully on a front porch swing, not like this," Jarnigan said.

Darrell Nance, 22, was charged with murder and Jessica Lane, 23, was charged with accessory to murder. Brice Whaley, whose age was not immediately available, was charged as an accessory after the fact and abuse of a corpse.

Jarnigan said the suspects may have been trying to steal cash from Morgan's home or hold him for ransom as payback for money owed by some of Morgan's family members.

Nance and Lane are a couple with a criminal history of drug abuse, he said.

Whaley is accused of helping to dispose of the body afterward. He led authorities to the body in an industrial park about 40 miles northeast of Knoxville near this east Tennessee town.

The three suspects were in the Hamblen County Jail pending bond hearings. A jail official said Monday afternoon she did not know if they had retained attorneys.