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Update: Suspect in Kingsport murder identified

February 26th, 2014 12:07 am by Rain Smith

Update: Suspect in Kingsport murder identified

July 2012 mugshot of Jonathan Lynn Slemp.

UPDATE: 10:57 a.m.

Police have identified the suspect in Betty Sue Short's murder as Jonathan Lynn Slemp, 42.

He's currently held on $300,000 bond, charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and especially aggravated robbery.

Kingsport police held a press conference on the arrest Wednesday morning. Check back shortly with TimesNews.net for additional details on the case.

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KINGSPORT — An arrest has made in the 2011 bludgeoning death of a Kingsport woman inside her home, soliciting long-awaited yet brief sighs of relief from the victim’s family.

“We’re just overwhelmed with joy, but I know we’re nowhere near the end of it,” said Robin Caldwell, the daughter of Betty Sue Short. “But we feel like we may get some answers on how someone could do this to a mother and grandmother, who no one has had one bad word to say about.”

The suspect, who has not yet been identified publicly by police, was apprehended Tuesday evening following indictments by a Sullivan County grand jury.

Details on the individual and the charges placed are expected to be released at a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Kingsport Justice Center.

On Oct. 16, 2011, Short was discovered dead in her Barnett Drive apartment. Kingsport police previously stated that the blows she suffered appeared to have occurred as she sat on her living room couch.

There was no forced entry at the residence, leading investigators to believe that Short, 65, knew the suspect.

Kingsport Police Department Detective Randy Murray characterized the murder as “extremely brutal,” adding Short’s numerous health issues meant she could easily have been overpowered without the use of such force.

A toolbox containing two handguns and two collector knives is believed to have been stolen in the incident.

“It almost feels surreal,” Caldwell said of the arrest in her mother’s murder. “I guess from that day I’ve been wanting this, so bad, and then it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh — what do you do?’”

Caldwell was quick to thank KPD investigators Murray and Frank Light for their diligent work in the case. She said they maintained frequent contact with her throughout their investigation.

“I have zero doubt in my mind, if it had not been for Randy and Frank, we would not be where we are,” Caldwell told the Times-News. “They have never lost focus, never put it on the back burner.”

“Mom’s birthday was last Thursday,” she added. “What a heck of a birthday present.”

Check with timesnews.net for details following this morning’s news conference.

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