Gun sought in shooting death near train tracks

Friday, December 2, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Before the shooting death of a Verona Caney Road woman, Marshall County hadn't had such an intense murder investigation since June 2006 when a man was stabbed at a building site.

"For about three weeks, it was pretty hectic," Marshall County Sheriff's Detective Jimmy Oliver said Thursday morning while talking about the investigation into the Nov. 21 murder of Penny Blackwell Coyle.

Oliver confirmed information that morning; "We'd like to have the gun" used to kill Coyle. The detective repeated Sheriff Norman Dalton's appeal to the public asking for information that could help solve the case. The sheriff's number is 359-6122. Confidential tips could result in cash payments by CrimeStoppers if it's proved helpful in the case. The CrimeStoppers number is 359-4867.

"It all helps," Oliver added. "Anytime people know something and call, it helps. You never know until they talk with us... We encourage anybody with any information to call us" even if the information may seem minor.

Asked for the type of gun, Oliver replied; "We're not going to release that. We're just looking for the weapon."

As for his reaction to the prospect of a number of totally unrelated guns being found, Oliver said, "If it gets them off the street, we can live with that."

Much of what Oliver said Thursday negates what might have been the subject of speculation in town.

"As far as I know it (Coyle's murder) is not" connected to any other crime, Oliver said.

Coyle's body was found on the driver's side of a car parked along Old Rock Crusher Road near CSX railroad tracks. She was found at about 10:30 p.m.

Was there a train passing through town at the time that might have masked the sound of gunfire?

"As far as I know, I don't think so," Oliver said. "We've checked records and we can't pinpoint it as to whether it was that time or not...

"We did execute a search warrant on a house," Oliver said.

The search was on Nov. 22, a Tuesday. The house is on the west side of Lewisburg and in the city. The house is not unoccupied.

"We talked to people there," Oliver said.

Were they helpful?

"No, not really," the detective said, adding, "We got some information," so it was "not necessarily" a blind lead.

Oliver knew Coyle "through the years," the detective said. "I've been in law enforcement for 20 years. I've never arrested her."

She was not a police informant for Oliver and he didn't know that she was for any other law enforcement officer, he said.

"I just knew her from knowing people in the community, or at public appearances like the tractor pull, or horse shows," he said.

The FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Lewisburg Police, and the 17th Judicial District Drug and Violent Crime Task Force "have been working hand in hand with us," Oliver said, complimenting interagency cooperation to solve the murder.

Sheriff's Capt. Bob Johnson "is the lead investigator on it," Oliver said.

"What we get, we give to Capt. Johnson and he tells us what to do next," Oliver said. "We've all been so busy."

Sheriff's Detective Chad Bass went to the autopsy conducted in Nashville. Dalton declined to discuss results of the autopsy. Oliver said he was unaware of specifics from that procedure.