Sources: Suspect confesses in Henning post office murders - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sources: Suspect confesses in Henning post office murders

Chastain Montgomery, Sr. Chastain Montgomery, Sr.
Chastain Montgomery, Jr. Chastain Montgomery, Jr.

By Janice Broach - bio | email

HENNING, TN (WMC-TV) - Flags were still flying at half-staff Thursday in Henning, months after two employees were shot to death inside the town's post office.  But the spirits of the town's residents were lifted by the news that the mystery of who shot two postal workers may have been solved.

"I'm relieved finally we can have closure from my standpoint," Henning Mayor Michael Bursey said. "Jubilant because it is something we had to deal with on a daily basis, because it was such a tragic incident."

Thursday, investigators were looking into the possibility that a gun used by an 18-year-old carjacking suspect, Chastain Montgomery, was also used in the post office murders.

Montgomery was fatally shot after a police chase through two counties. According to the Tipton County Sherrif's Office, Montgomery was killed after he got out of a stolen pickup armed with two handguns. Authorities said he fired at the officers several times before a deputy from Haywood County, where the chase began, shot him.

The teenager's father, also named Chastain Montgomery, is being held on charges related to the Monday shootout, and faces a hearing Friday. Montgomery, a prison guard with the state of Tennessee, is a resident of the Nashville suburb of La Vergne, but a records search found he had lived in Henning off and on over the years.

While in custody, sources say, the elder Montgomery confessed to the October post office murders.

"I just wish it could have been sooner," Henning resident William Lovelady said. "People around here were devastated by this. It was tragic."

Retail clerk Paula Robinson, 33, and rural letter carrier Judy Spray, 59, were found shot to death Oct. 18 inside the post office in Henning. Authorities called the attack senseless killings made with "disturbing violence." They offered a reward of $50,000 for information that led to a conviction.

>>Click here to watch exclusive video from Chopper 5 in Henning recorded last October<<

The two crime investigations involve federal, state and local agencies.

Warrants filed against the elder Montgomery in Tipton County General Sessions Court say the 47-year-old arrived at the scene of his son's death at 10:25 a.m., about an hour and a half after the shooting.

According to the warrants, Montgomery ran through the crime scene tape, ignoring the shouted warnings of officers, and headed straight for the stolen truck his son had been driving, which had been left running.

Officers had to pull Montgomery away and fight him to the ground. He was taken into custody and is charged with evidence tampering, being an accessory after the fact, theft between $1,000 and $10,000 and resisting arrest.

The theft charge is related to dye-stained money he was carrying when he was arrested. According to the warrants, the money had come from a bank robbery and was stained by a dye pack that exploded and marked it. His son had some of the same dye-stained money on him.

The warrants also state that Montgomery was charged with accessory after the fact for harboring his son after being told he was a wanted suspect.

Nashville police had been trying to arrest the teenager, also of La Vergne, since Jan. 5, when an attempted murder warrant was issued after another teenager was shot. Police said the suspect knew the victim from high school and the two had been involved in an earlier altercation.

The son also was a suspect in a carjacking a few hours before the shootout, Nashville police said.

A construction superintendent at a job site was held up by a gunman wearing a ski mask who demanded the keys to his pickup truck, his wallet and cell phone. The victim, Bill Petty, 59, turned over the items and told police the robber told him, "I'll let you live."

Police said they used the truck's anti-theft device to track it to West Tennessee, setting off the chase with the younger Montgomery.

James Robinson, Spray's brother, said the events unfolding are strange.

"We'd like to know what the reason was why they had to kill them," said Robinson.  "My sister would give you anything she had."

Department of Correction spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said the elder Montgomery has been a correctional officer at DeBerry Special Needs Facility since 2002 but is now on leave.

Montgomery's family lives in Henning.  His grandfather was the first African American mayor of the town.

"It's more confusing by the minute," said Robinson.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this story.

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