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Affidavit: Sullivan County teacher said 'I may have hurt Mom' after smothering her to death, lighting body

Rain Smith • Aug 3, 2010 at 11:40 AM

According to court records, a fifth-grade Sullivan County teacher told police, "I may have hurt Mom," after smothering his mother to death with a pillow and lighting the body on fire.

On Saturday Nina Elkins Anders, 61, was found dead at her son's Kingsport home, 160 E. Ravine Road. At about 2:30 a.m. Kingsport police were called to the residence to conduct a welfare check.An affidavit filed Monday in Sullivan County court says Spencer M. Tate, 35, answered his door when officers arrived. He allegedly permitted entry by police, who immediately saw, "heavy smoke," coming from a bedroom.

On a bed in the room they found Tate's mother, who detectives say was visiting from her home in Dorton, Ky. According to an officer's narrative that is contained in an affidavit, Anders, "had burn marks around her waist and the crotch area of her underwear had been set on fire." Police note the surrounding bed sheets, pillows and floor had also been burned.

The affidavit says an investigation led by KPD Det. David Cole determined Tate first smothered his mother to death with a pillow. On Monday police obtained warrants charging Tate — a fifth-grade teacher at Rock Springs Elementary School in Colonial Heights — with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. They said those warrants would be served following his release from Holston Valley Medical Center, where he is recovering after allegedly overdosing on medication while police were at his home.

Read the full report in the print edition of the Kingsport Times-News or the< a href="http://www.timesnews.net/olive.php" target="_blank">enhanced electronic edition</a>.

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