Tipton County murder suspect just recently released from prison

Starr Harris
Starr Harris
Rickey Bell
Rickey Bell

By Lori Brown - bio | email

DRUMMONDS, TN (WMC-TV) - The prime suspect in the murder of a Tipton County woman was released just months ago after spending 13 years in a Pennsylvania prison.

Starr Harris was a devoted wife and mother, whose life ended abruptly last week when Rickey Bell, Jr., 30, allegedly beat her to death and left her in a wooded area behind her house.

Bell knew the Harris family through his employment with their landscaping business.

But this is not Bell's first time in trouble with the law.  In fact, his troubles began when he was a teenager.  At age 15, in 1994, Bell was arrested for violating a court order in Tipton County. The exact violation Bell committed is sealed because he was a juvenile.

From there, Tipton County investigators said, the court ordered him to a treatment facility in Pennsylvania.

At age 17, in February of 1997, Bell was charged with committing a car jacking, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment of another person.  He was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison, but wound up serving even more time because of incidents that happened while he was behind bars.

In 2002, less than five years into his sentence, he assaulted a female correctional officer, and was sentenced to one to two years in prison.

In 2003, a Pennsylvania parole board told Bell, "the interests of the commonwealth will be injured if you were paroled."  The board gave reasons that include "your lack of remorse for the offense(s) committed" and "reports, evaluations, and assessments concerning your physical, mental, and behavior condition and history."

In 2004, Bell attempted to escape prison, and was sentenced to another one to two years behind bars.

The parole board continued to express concerns about Bell until in February of this year, when he release was no longer up to them.  Bell had reached his maximum sentence.

Now, four months later, Bell is behind bars again, this time on charges of first degree murder.  He is scheduled to be formally charged in a Tipton County courtroom Thursday morning.

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