Inmate death investigated; charge
upgraded in Hampton man's death
By Kathy Helms-Hughes
Members of Carter County Sheriff's Department
and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are investigating the
death of a female inmate found dead in her cell Sunday.
According to Sheriff John Henson, the body of
Melinda R. Heaton, 37, 1635 Siam Road, was found by jailers
around 5:45 a.m.
"An autopsy has been ordered and at this point
in time the investigation is continuing until we determine
the cause of death," Sheriff Henson said Monday.
"There were no open wounds or bruises, or any
sign of a scuffle or fight or anything of that nature occurring
inside the cell," Heaton shared with several other inmates.
Once the cause of death is determined, he said,
"If there is something that leads us back to some of the other
inmates being responsible, they will be charged. Everything
is depending on the autopsy."
According to the sheriff, Heaton's only known
medical condition was high blood pressure.
Also Monday, charges against a Pennsylvania man
were upgraded to second-degree murder following the Election
Day drive-by shooting of Billy Joe Street, 63, 117 Street
Lane, Hampton. Street died Saturday at Johnson City Medical
"It's a sad, tragic situation," the sheriff said.
"The Streets are taking it pretty good under the circumstances,
in my opinion."
According to Henson, Loy Dale Linaweaver, 42,
of Somerset, Pa., has been in jail since the shooting incident
with a hold placed on him for Pennsylvania authorities. He
also is wanted for violation of parole in Maryland stemming
from previous assault charges.
"Once he made bond here, he would have had to
went to Pennsylvania," the sheriff said.
Linaweaver, who also is charged with DUI, aggravated
assault, reckless endangerment, public intoxication, evading
arrest, possession of a handgun under the influence, and unlawful
possession of a weapon, is being held on $75,000 corporate
A passenger in Linaweaver's vehicle, Carl Irick,
no address listed, has not been charged. "From our investigation
so far, he was more or less a victim. He got shot himself,"
Sheriff Henson said. "He will be testifying for the state.
There have been no charges placed against him yet."
Sheriff's department deputies were called to
Streets Trailer Park off Rittertown Road around 8:57 p.m.,
Aug. 1, to investigate a drive-by shooting involving a light
brown van. Linaweaver allegedly drove the van into the trailer
park and threatened Street's son, Randall, with a handgun,
firing a shot at him. Randall Street reportedly jumped off
the porch and tried to take cover when his father came outside
and was shot in the lower abdomen.
Irick also was shot in the arm during the incident.
The two men were apprehended later in a wooded
area in the Tiger Creek community following a pursuit. A .38
caliber handgun believed thrown from Linaweaver's vehicle
during the pursuit was recovered along U.S. Highway 19E.