Community relieved following arrest in Nashville stabbing death

Christopher McLawhorn (Source: Metro Nashville PD)

While police have a suspect in custody, a lot of questions remain surrounding the death of Nashville nurse Tiffany Ferguson.

Wednesday night, police announced the arrest of 24-year-old Christopher McLawhorn. He was picked up by police last Sunday and has been in their custody ever since.

Channel 4 talked with police on Thursday about why they had to wait several days before telling the public they'd made an arrest. Police say they weren't positive right away they had the right guy. But thanks to surveillance video, tips from witnesses and evidence, they are now confident the killer is behind bars.

"If they go out and arrest the wrong person or issue a search warrant for the wrong person, it can contaminate the case if they get a different person as the suspect,” said Nashville criminal defense attorney David Raybin.

While he's not representing anyone in this case, Raybin has represented clients before in similar cases, both victims and those accused of a crime. While there's still a lot we don't know, Raybin said releasing too much information too soon can be detrimental to a case.

“The worst thing you can do is a rush to justice in a situation like this, particularly where there's a high visibility crime and a lot of public clamor to do something about the case,” Raybin said.

We know there are still many unanswered questions, including how did the suspect become a person of interest in the first place? Did DNA evidence help catch the suspect? And what about the events leading up to the killing in those early morning hours of Feb. 28?

Police have said they picked McLawhorn up for alcohol and a small amount of marijuana but haven't said anything further about the connection to Ferguson's death.

Here’s what we do know: Police believe the motive was burglary. The door to Ferguson’s apartment was unlocked and McLawhorn is believed to be homeless.

"The last thing you want to do is prematurely put information out into the public that doesn't aid the investigation,” Raybin said.

Police also said McLawhorn denied any knowledge of the murder during an interview with police last Sunday.

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