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Update: Man found dead in Smoky Mountains was wanted for rape

10:50 AM, Oct 20, 2010   |    comments
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The man who was found dead in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Tuesday was wanted for rape.

According to Gatlinburg Police Chief Randy Brackins, Mark Christian's wife arrived at a local firehouse just after 7:30 am and said he had raped her.  The couple, from Lebanon, was staying at a rental cabin in Gatlinburg.  She also said he'd threatened suicide. 

Officers went to the cabin to try to find him, but he was not there.  They began a search, and discovered his body several hours later about a half mile from the cabin in the park.

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The body of man wanted by Gatlinburg Police was found inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tuesday afternoon.

According to park officials, a K-9 unit from the Pigeon Forge Police Department located the body of Mark Christian, 45, of
Lebanon, TN, just inside the National Park adjacent to city limits of Gatlinburg.  Rangers were notified of the discovery around 2:30 p.m.

Pigeon Forge officers were assisting the Gatlinburg Police Department in their on-going search for Christian who was the subject of a Be On the Lookout bulletin issued by the Gatlinburg Police Department at approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.  Park officials did not release why Christian was wanted.  Gatlinburg Police would not comment.

The Park boundary in that location is the north bank of Dudley Creek which runs along the south side of U.S. 321.  Christian's body was located about 20 feet inside the Park on the south bank of the Creek, at the base of a very steep slope, which investigators believed he may have attempted to climb.

Park officials say that there was no weapon found at the scene
to indicate suicide and no immediate indication of foul play.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Chief Ranger, Clayton Jordan, said, "The National Park Service is investigating Christian's death in conjunction with Gatlinburg Police and the Sevier County Medical Examiner's Office. We expect to have an autopsy performed to determine the cause of death."

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