The murder of a local nursing student may be as close to being solved as it ever has been.
Megan Sharpton, 24, of Tullahoma, was found dead by a passing driver near the Awalt Bridge on July 3. She was murdered and her body was set on fire to cover up the crime.
Now, police have the man in custody on a lesser charge for whom they think they've been searching.
Donnie Frank Jones Jr., 37, was arrested and charged Thursday afternoon with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Sharpton's mother, Kelly Sharpton, said she hopes he stays in jail. She also still wears the shirt that honors the memory of her daughter.
"Megan had a star (tattoo) for each of her siblings, and when I read on Facebook they found a girl with stars, I knew my daughter was dead," Kelly Sharpton said.
Jones was arrested by Tullahoma police after a warranted search of his home revealed a gun, which he was not allowed by law to possess.
He has not been charged in Megan Sharpton's death, but Kelly Sharpton is seeing a ray of hope.
"I'm relieved for the girls in the community. They're a little safer," Kelly Sharpton said.
Jones allegedly became the prime suspect in Megan Sharpton's murder after detectives became aware of his lengthy criminal history and that the nursing student would sometimes commute to and from school with Jones' wife.
Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said more key evidence was discovered inside the home, but he said he said he couldn't elaborate. Now, officials are waiting for District Attorney Mike Taylor to possibly move forward with a murder charge.
"We certainly hope it will be very soon. Not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Fuller said.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Blount said his boss is making sure all the details are in order before making the next move.
"He's anxious and wants to make that decision, but there are still things the investigators are doing," Blount said.
Meanwhile, Jones is jailed on $500,000 bond.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Monday, May 20 2013 8:21 AM EDT2013-05-20 12:21:38 GMT
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued an AMBER Alert for a Murfreesboro boy who was taken during a violent domestic dispute Sunday. Authorities believe 8 year-old Gabriel Swaney is with hisMore >>
A Murfreesboro boy is safe after an Amber Alert was issued overnight.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 9:35 AM EDT2013-05-20 13:35:57 GMT
Police are searching for two young men who robbed and carjacked two people at the scene of a crash in Antioch early Monday morning. A minor crash happened at 294 Chimney Drive at about 12:30 am. PoliceMore >>
Police are searching for two young men who robbed and carjacked two people at the scene of a crash in Antioch early Monday morning.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 7:26 AM EDT2013-05-20 11:26:34 GMT
A Smyrna man is in the hospital after being shot at a basketball court Sunday night. Police said a fight broke out on Mason Tucker Drive around 8:30 p.m. As the victim was driving away from the court,More >>
A Smyrna man is in the hospital after being shot at a basketball court Sunday night.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 9:40 AM EDT2013-05-20 13:40:13 GMT
Courtesy: Jeff from Portland
An overturned tractor-trailer has closed southbound lanes of Interstate 65 in Robertson County on Monday morning. The wreck occurred around 6 a.m. near mile marker 111 near Cross Plains, TN, said theMore >>
An overturned tractor-trailer has closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 65 in Cross Plains, TN. More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 11:48 PM EDT2013-05-20 03:48:50 GMT
Two Columbia police cruisers collided Sunday morning while trying to stop a suspected drunk driver. Investigators say an alert citizen spotted a vehicle driving erratically and called police. The car wasMore >>
Two Columbia police cruisers collided Sunday morning while trying to stop a suspected drunk driver.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 8:40 AM EDT2013-05-20 12:40:31 GMT
There is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for northwest Middle Tennessee Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The biggest threat will be west of a line from Waynesboro to Springfield, TN. An upperMore >>
There is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for northwest Middle Tennessee Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 9:03 AM EDT2013-05-20 13:03:58 GMT
(RNN) - Tornadoes have touched down in Oklahoma and Kansas, leaving a trail of damage.There are no reports of fatalities or injuries, but homes and businesses are damaged in Witchita, KS and outside ofMore >>
A tornado outbreak in the Midwest caused heavy damage to homes and businesses and one death has been reported in Oklahoma. More >>