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Suspicious death probed in East Roane

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By Cindy Simpson

A man was found dead from a gunshot wound Sunday afternoon, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Roane County Sheriff’s Office in investigating the suspicious death.

Johnny Franklin Douglas, 73, 33475 Kingston Hwy., was found near his workshop at his home.

“The cause of death was definitely a gunshot wound to the area of the head,” said Sheriff Jack Stockton.

Stockton said it cannot be determined if it was self-inflicted or if someone else did it by the trajectory of the shot.

The narrative of a Roane County Sheriff Office incident report said that deputies were dispatched for a possible accident involving a handgun.

When police arrived, according to the report, they met with Ralph Marlow, who was doing CPR on Douglas.

Douglas was lying outside near his workshop.

“There was a chainsaw and handgun laying on the ground close to Mr. Douglas, so I had Mr. Marlow step away from the body and patted him down for weapons,” reported Deputy Gary Morse. “I checked the pulse on Mr. Douglas and could find none.”

When another deputy arrived to watch Marlow, Morse looked around the premises to see if suspects may be hiding in the area.

It didn’t appear at first sight to be a robbery, authorities reported.

“The house was secure. All articles were there,” said Stockton.

The dog was in his pen and had been fed.

“Normally, the dog was out running around with him, according to his friend,” Stockton said.

Sheriff’s officials are keeping things close to the vest, but they found there some things they said didn’t seem right.

“There were some things on scene that we have found unusual,” said Detective Brian Walker.

“We still have lot of unanswered questions.”

Walker said police are still interviewing family and friends of the victim.

A high-speed chase started after a roadblock was set up to question travelers in the area if they’d seen any suspicious activity.

A Morgan County man traveling through was being sought in that situation, but officials said they knew of no ties between him and the death they were investigating.