The four young victims who were found shot to death in a car in Cumberland County on Thursday have been identified, and authorities now have a person of interest in custody on an unrelated charge.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says 22-year-old Danielle Jacobson was the driver of the car, and her passengers were 17-year-old Steven Presley, 17-year-old Dominic Davis and 16-year-old John Lajeunesse.
Their bodies were taken to the medical examiner’s office for autopsies.
The TBI says Jacob Bennett, 26, of Crab Orchard, was found in Rhea County overnight and was taken into custody on an unrelated parole violation charge.
“I think the citizens of Cumberland County and Crossville can rest assured that we believe that we have this person that committed these crimes in custody, that this community is safe through the hard work of all these agencies,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn.
Authorities believe the four people found shot to death were deliberately targeted and not the victims of random violence, but a motive in the shooting has not been released.
Their bodies were discovered by a resident of the Renegade Mountain resort community, about 50 miles west of Knoxville, who saw the parked car on his way to work at about 7 a.m. Thursday.
CROSSVILLE — Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing four people in an alleged robbery during a botched pot sale on Renegade Mountain in Cumberland County.
Jacob Allen Bennett, 26, of Crab Orchard, Tenn., appeared briefly Thursday morning before Criminal Court Judge David Patterson. His attorney, Robert Marlow, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to four counts of premeditated murder, four counts of felony murder and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery.
Bennett and his girlfriend, Brittany Lina Yvonn Moser, were indicted last month in the killings.The victims were found Sept. 12 in a car on Renegade Mountain.
Moser, 25, of Dayton, Tenn., faces four counts of felony murder and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery. Authorities allege that she was with Bennett at the time of the killings.
Officials think a pot buy was previously arranged and Bennett — accompanied by Moser — drove his 2002 Ford Explorer to rendezvous with Jacobsen and the teens.
Bennett had on occasion stayed with his grandparents Gary and Jeanne Haiser at their residence atop Renegade Mountain, which rises 1,000 feet off the Cumberland Plateau and has seen decades of failed efforts to develop it into a resort community.
Something went wrong during the attempted drug buy on the unnamed road leading into a 100-acre undeveloped area called Eagles Nest, less than one-third of the way up Renegade Mountain Parkway, officials said.
Investigators believe the shootings occurred either late Sept. 11 or early Sept. 12. The bodies were found at 7 a.m. Sept. 12.