Arrest made in investigation of nursing student's death - WSMV Channel 4

Arrest made in investigation of nursing student's death

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Donnie Frank Jones Jr., Donnie Frank Jones Jr.,
TULLAHOMA, TN (WSMV) -

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.

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