Mercer County Sheriff’s Department detectives worked the Timothy DeWitt murder case almost 17 months before they got the break they needed. But, with what they believe is solid evidence in place, officers arrested two suspects Tuesday.
Thomas Tyler Hall, 37, of Princeton, and Tammy Lee Keen, 39, also of Princeton, have been arrested on charges that they conspired to rob and murder DeWitt, 41, of Princeton, in March 2011.
DeWitt’s body was located by bridge workers near the area known as the Bluestone River gorge in the Gardner/Camp Creek community. He died multiple gunshot wounds fired from two separate weapons, according to MCSD Det. R.M. Combs, who served as the lead investigator on the case.
“We have caught a lot of flack about this case,” Sheriff D.B. Meadows said, after the suspects made their initial appearances before Mercer County Magistrate James Dent. “This is not television. You don’t clear it up in an hour.”
Since DeWitt’s remains were located after the original crimes, and apparently without any witnesses who were not involved in the homicide, detectives were forced to rely on forensic evidence recovered at the scene, while they awaited the information they needed to piece the crime’s puzzle together.
“We had to wait until we got a break,” Meadows said, congratulating Combs and Det. L.B. Murphy on their dogged pursuit of arrests in this case.
“Their hard work paid off,” Meadows said.
Although investigators declined to release details in the case, they believe they know why DeWitt was killed.
“It was a robbery for drugs and money,” Combs said.
He reported that DeWitt was shot multiple times by two different weapons — a .357 Magnum and a .380 automatic firearm.
The .357 Magnum has been located, but Meadows said officers would not share that information publicly Tuesday.
“We don’t care for it to come out, but we’re just not going to say now where we got the gun,” Meadows said.
Combs said Hall and Keen were arrested without incident Tuesday, and he anticipates at least two more arrests.
“They will be the same charges,” Combs said.
He said the number of individuals involved in the homicide complicated the investigation.
“It takes 17 months, but you’re not just catching one person,” Combs said.
The suspects appeared for a bond hearing before Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn, who denied bond for both, pending a preliminary hearing. Hall and Keen were remanded to the Southern Regional Jail to await their next appointed court date, which must be set within the next 10 days, unless they waive the time limit or the right to the hearing altogether.
According to defense counsel Paul Cassell, who represented Keen, the woman shares custody of two 12-year-old children and has three grown children.
Cassell advised the court that Keen had no prior criminal history and that she has a medical condition that requires continuous treatment.
Keen reportedly lives with her uncle in Princeton.
Hall resides with his mother in the Princeton area and reportedly has one prior felony conviction, but defense counsel Sarah Harmon advised that took place more than 10 years ago.
The state, represented by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger during the bond hearing, opposed bond for both suspects.
There was no word on when future arrests might take place.
— Contact Tammie Toler at email@example.com.