Arrest made in murder of 89-year-old Carter Co. woman

Chad Benfield

CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Carter County Sheriff’s Office officials confirmed Friday that they’ve made an arrest in the case of a elderly woman who was attacked last month.

According to a CCSO news release, Chad Benfield was charged with felony murder and especially aggravated burglary in the death investigation of Mary Nolan.

Nolan was found seriously injured on July 14 inside her Dan Bowers Road home by her daughter and granddaughter.

According to a Carter County news release, Nolan was found with bruising on her chin and neck area, and was taken to the Johnson City Medical Center.

Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad asked Nolan if she had been assaulted, and the 89-year-old nodded her head in confirmation.

Carter County deputies responded to the hospital to speak with Nolan, but she was unable to speak. She was able to nodded her head when asked again if she had been assaulted.

While at the JCMC, evidence was collected from Nolan, which included fingernail clippings from her hands that were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Crime Laboratory in Knoxville.

CCSO investigators met with Nolan’s family at her home to do a walk through and found a bottle of Tramadol, a green lock box and sheets from Nolan’s bed were missing from the home.

Nolan’s daughter said at the time she found her mother, that her mother’s purse was missing from it’s usual area, and was later found in another area of the home.

According to the release, Nolan died from her injuries on July 26 and an autopsy was conducted on July 27.

The autopsy results later revealed Nolan suffered blunt force trauma, which was consistent with injuries she sustained during the assault. Bruising from the assault was also still present on the tops of both of Nolan’s forearms, as well as on the face, scalp, chin and neck area.

On Aug. 8, the TBI Crime Lab issued a report of a DNA profile of an unknown male, that was found on both the left and right hand fingernail clippings of Nolan.

According to the release, a search was made through the Combined DNA Index System, which identified Benfield as a suspect in the case.

A search of Benfield revealed that he lived in the 600 block of Highway 91, which was located behind Nolan’s home on Dan Bowers Road.

According to the release, Benfield was recently released from a South Carolina Prison in December 2016, where he was serving a 16-year sentence for four counts of residential burglary.

Sheriff’s Office officials said Benfield remained on probation out of South Carolina with supervision status in Tennessee until his arrest earlier this week on a violation of probation warrant.

On Thursday, Carter County investigators went to Gaffney, S.C. to interview Benfield’s former girlfriend/fiance, and she told them that they lived together at the Highway 91 home upon his release from prison until July 14.

Benfield’s former girlfriend told investigators that they had been arguing until she went to bed around 1 a.m. and said she was unaware of his whereabouts until 8 a.m. the next morning, on July 14.

She told investigators that she later decided to end her relationship with Benfield and while she was packing up to leave, she found a set of sheets she was unfamiliar with wadded up underneath a pile of laundry inside the Highway 91 home.

According to the release, the girlfriend also said that a night gown and a bath robe were also in the home.

Carter County investigators interviewed Benfield on Aug. 11, where he reportedly denied having any contact with Nolan or being inside Nolan’s home.

Benfield was later charged with felony murder and especially aggravated burglary. He was taken to the Carter County Jail, where he was being held on $500,000 bond.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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