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Sullivan teacher charged with murder of mother; welfare check led to body

Rain Smith • Aug 2, 2010 at 9:57 AM

KINGSPORT - Police have obtained a warrant charging a Sullivan County school teacher with the first-degree murder of his 61-year-old mother, as well as the abuse of her corpse.

Kingsport police say Spencer M. Tate, 35, remains hospitalized after ingesting, "an unknown quantity and type of medication." The body of his mother, Nina Elkins Anders, was discovered at about 2:30 Saturday morning at their shared home, 160 E. Ravine Road.

According to Kingsport Det. Frank Light, officers responded to a request for a welfare check at the residence, finding Anders dead in a bed. Police say, "an attempt had been made to set her clothes on fire," but an official cause of death has not been released.

Light said Tate answered the door when police arrived, and made suspicious comments to officers. He allegedly needed treatment after ingesting medication and was transported from to Holston Valley Medical Center.

Police report Tate is in intensive care, with the warrant to be served upon his recovery.

Tate has worked as an elementary school teacher for the Sullivan County school system since 2001, according to Director of Schools Jubal Yennie.

Tate is a fifth-grade teacher at Rock Springs Elementary School in the Colonial Heights community and is an administrative assistant to the principal there.

Yennie said that he and his staff are closely monitoring the situation as it develops and will take appropriate action regarding Tate's employment status as warranted.

Staff writer Rick Wagner contributed to this report.

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