Metro Nashville police said Wednesday night they have made an arrest in the stabbing death of a nurse at her condo in Wedgewood-Houston.
Midtown Hills Precinct detectives are charging Christopher Drew McLawhorn with criminal homicide and especially aggravated burglary in connection with the death of Tiffany Ferguson inside her Wedgewood Park apartment last week.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said the investigation has been non-stop.
Metro police previously said an apparent stranger randomly broke into Ferguson's condo in the early morning hours of Feb. 28 and fatally stabbed the 22-year-old. A roommate woke up to the sound of screaming, finding Ferguson fatally injured in bed and the front door open, police said.
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Surveillance video outside the home shows a man walking around the building checking for open vehicles and open apartment doors.
Eventually, police said, the suspect entered Ferguson’s condo through the unlocked front door and began searching for valuables. He left with items from her condo at least once, putting them down before going back inside. At that point, there was a confrontation and Ferguson was stabbed, police said. Police have not yet released information about what was taken while the investigation remains ongoing.
"First, I want to offer my condolences to the Ferguson family," Metro Councilman Colby Sledge said. "Ms. Ferguson was a beloved member of the community, was somebody who served others and her passing and her murder was something that truly shook this community and this area."
Sledge thanked police for working around the clock to try and solve the case.
"We're continuing to work with neighbors to make sure something like this doesn't happen again, but I think tonight, hopefully everyone can rest a little bit easier," he said.
Detectives Wednesday evening said tips from the community helped them narrow the search for a suspect.
McLawhorn had already been developed as a person of interest in the investigation when Central Precinct officers found him on Third Avenue North and Broadway at 4:25 a.m. Sunday with two bottles of alcohol and a small quantity of marijuana, police said. They arrested him on the spot for misdemeanor drug possession, and the 24-year old has remained in jail since.
When detectives questioned McLawhorn on Sunday, he denied any knowledge of the Ferguson's death, police said.
He will be booked on the criminal homicide and burglary warrants by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office within the next several hours.
A little over 24 hours before the announcement, Wedgewood-Houston residents came to the Midtown Hills Precinct to talk to police and Councilman Sledge about their safety concerns. Since the fatal attack on Ferguson, officers had increased patrols in the neighborhood.
Multiple people said that if police had done more to reduce homelessness and foot traffic in the area, they might have prevented Ferguson's death. They called for nearby parks to be razed, for brick walls providing shade to be removed and for those staying in the parks to be arrested.
According to police, McLawhorn was homeless, although he did stay with a friend on 14th Avenue North sometimes.
Homeless people are statistically less likely to be charged with violent crimes and more likely to be victims of violence than are housed persons, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice. They also are more likely to suffer from drug addiction and mental illness.
According to police, McLawhorn has a limited prior arrest history in Nashville. He was arrested for public intoxication and misdemeanor theft on separate incidents in 2015 failure to be booked on the misdemeanor theft charge at the end of last year.
The investigation was led by Detective Anthony Chandler, Sgt. Andrew Injaychock, Lt. Joe Towers and Sgt. Marjorie Haworth.
Reach Stacey Barchenger at 615-726-8958 or on Twitter @sbarchenger. Reach Ariana Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @a_maia_sawyer.