On Monday people in Cumberland County continued to await answers regarding why four young people were murdered last week. It will likely be later this week or next week before any new information is released, but the suspected shooter remains behind bars for violating his parole.
The Cumberland County district attorney's office said 26-year-old Jacob Allen Bennett remains in custody at the county jail. Investigators have stated their belief that Bennett shot and killed four people inside a car in the Renegade Mountain residential area near Crab Orchard in Cumberland County.
The bodies of 22-year-old Rikki Danielle Jacobsen, 17-year-old Dominic Davis, 17-year-old Steven Presley, and 16-year-old John Lajeunesse were found Thursday morning in the Renegade Mountain community. Several law enforcement agencies worked together to locate Bennett in Rhea County and take him into custody last week without incident.
No murder charges have been filed against Bennett as of yet. District Attorney Randy York told 10News he would like to present the case directly to a grand jury to charge Bennett. It will likely be later this week or sometime next week before a special grand jury can be assembled.
Presenting the evidence directly to a grand jury for indictment speeds the legal process and can trim four to six months off the time needed to get a case to trial, according to Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie.
Having a case go to a grand jury also means much of the documentation related to the investigation remains unavailable at this time. Another reason for limited access to public records is the Cumberland County Sheriff, the district attorney, and other agencies are all working the case with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). When TBI handles a case, it is standard practice for all of the records related to an investigation to remain sealed until they are presented in court. Therefore, as of now there has been no opportunity to obtain items that are often available by now such as the incident report, 911 calls, and arrest reports.
Although TBI has clearly stated a belief they have their man in Bennett, the investigation continues to build the case and gather evidence. Monday several detectives searched a wooded area near the site where the victims were found dead in the Renegade Mountain community. Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess declined to give any specifics about the case, but says investigators have already made considerable progress.
"It [the investigation] is still ongoing. We've covered a lot more ground than people actually realize right now," said Burgess. "We've had a lot of investigators who worked the last few days non-stop. Many of them have children around the same age of the victims. I've talked to a lot of the guys up there who said when they got home they thought 'that could have been my child.' Something like this, as bad as it is, it kind of opens everybody's eyes."
Burgess said he has been encouraged by the overwhelming community response.
"Cumberland County is full of great people and I hope to see something positive come out of something as destructive as this. I think this county will, because I think now you realize that these are our kids and we're going to have to take care of them," said Burgess. "Last night [Sunday] the people in Crab Orchard came together as a community and held a vigil. People in Crossville are holding a vigil tonight. This situation has really touched everyone."