MOUNT CARMEL — Mount Carmel police are investigating a suspicious death that was associated with an alleged strong-arm robbery early Monday morning, but as of yet the exact cause of death has not been determined.
Charlotte Wallen, 44, 132 Wallen Town Road, Church Hill, was found unconscious at 925 Hermitage Lane Monday shortly after 4 a.m. and upon being transported to Holston Valley Medical Center was pronounced dead.
Wallen’s body was subsequently taken to the Quillen College of Medicine for an autopsy, and as of Tuesday evening Mount Carmel police were still waiting to receive a report on the cause of death.
Mount Carmel Police Chief Jeff Jackson said Tuesday that Wallen was apparently accompanying Worley Jack Spears, 61, 180 Wallen Town Road, Church Hill, early Monday morning, and they both ended up at a party at 925 Hermitage Lane.
Mount Carmel Police Department Patrolman Ken Lunsford came into contact with Spears about 4 a.m. Monday after several residents around that neighborhood complained that Spears was knocking on their door asking them to call the police.
Spears, who appeared very intoxicated and slurred his speech, told Lunsford he’d been beaten and robbed of his car and billfold containing $1,800.
Spears was taken into custody on a charge of public intoxication, and Lunsford then backtracked with Spears to all the houses he’d knocked on until they reached the 925 Hermitage Lane address.
At that residence they found Spears’ vehicle in the driveway and met three people who said Spears’ companion, Wallen, was inside the house passed out on a couch.
When Lunsford attempted to wake Wallen she was unresponsive, and EMS was summoned.
Jackson said there are several suspicious facts about this case.
Aside from Spears and Wallen, there were two couples at 925 Hermitage Lane early Monday morning, all between 18 and 20 years old. Jackson said his department has not yet ascertained why the older couple of Spears and Wallen were in the company of the two youthful couples, or why Spears had so much money in his possession.
The house at 925 Hermitage Lane is the residence of a male already charged with multiple thefts and burglaries unrelated to this case.
But the other youthful male who was at the residence Monday morning was fingered by Spears as the one who beat and robbed him, although charges have not been filed as of yet.
A witness told police that Spears was flashing a large quantity of cash that night, but police have not recovered any funds.
Jackson said the cause of death is a big determining factor as to how this case will proceed.
“What we’re actually investigating is a strong-arm robbery and an unattended death that may be under suspicious circumstances,” Jackson said. “When we get back the cause of death, that might change. I hate to suggest that it was an overdose at this early stage of the investigation, but if it was, the person who gave her the drugs might be (criminally liable).”