Three teenagers will be tried as adults in the murder of a 71-year-old man. Teddy Cook was a beloved figure at a Clarksville laundromat. He was killed in an attack in May. 

Joseph Whitwell believes in taking pride in where you work and in what you do. That's something he learned from a man he admired so much, Cook.

"He was like a grandpa to me," said Whitwell. "It's just not the same anymore. I still wait for his truck to pull up at 3 o'clock every day."

In May, surveillance video caught Cook talking to three people on a late night shift at Super Suds Laundromat and Carwash. The video goes on to show one of them repeatedly kicking Cook on the floor and hitting him in the head with the butt of a rifle. While one of the three continued to threaten Cook with a gun, the other two tipped over a coin-operated game machine and stole an unknown amount of money. Police said they also stole Cook's keys before fleeing the scene.

Cook was taken to Tennova-Healthcare Clarksville and then transferred to Tristar Skyline Medical Center. He remained in the hospital until he died June 9. 

Several days before he passed, News4 talked with Cook by phone in the hospital.

About the teens, Cook said, "The devil is in what they did, and I wish to the good Lord they'll straighten up."

"The fact that I come here every morning is, and I walk past it every day and I see it on the floor, it doesn't go away," said Whitwell. "It's burned into my head. It plays over and over. Coming here to the place where he died, where we lost him, is just really hard. Everything's changed. It feels different now. It doesn't feel like the same place anymore."

Something big's just happened in the case. Jevon Brodie, Tavares Harbison and Harrison Smith, all 14 and 15-years-old, are being tried as adults. All three are charged with two counts of first degree murder and three counts of especially aggravated robbery. The bond for all three is set at $250,000.

"You killed a man," said Whitwell. "You took someone's family member. You still have to pay the punishment for it. By the age of 13 or 14, you should know right from wrong, and what they did was wrong.

Waiting on the arraignment hearing next month, Whitwell said he has a duty to continue a good man's legacy by working hard and looking after the people who come in every week. 

"I think about him every day," said Whitwell. "It's every time I come into work, every time I come home. I miss him very dearly."

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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