Two suspects have been indicted on felony murder charges in the Jan. 30 death of Jeff Beene, owner of injection molder Plastic Industries Inc. in Athens, Tenn.
Daniel Lankey, age 30, and Jeff Coleman, 49, were indicted Feb. 17 by a grand jury in Athens, said McMinn County Sheriff Steve Frisbie in a phone interview that day. Coleman and Lankey were in custody on $1 million bail.
Police had arrested another man — Adrian Hall — in the case, but Coleman later confessed to being the second man involved. Coleman and Hall were arrested Feb. 13. Hall remains in custody on unrelated charges, Frisbie said.
Lankey, who told authorities he briefly worked at PI, was arrested after a traffic stop Feb. 9 when sheriff's deputies acted on a tip from a local resident. At the time, Lankey was one of Tennessee's 10 most wanted fugitives, after escaping Dec. 19 from Meigs County Jail, where he was being held on a rape charge.
Beene, 58, died Jan. 31 from a gunshot wound to the head. He was guarding a PI building that was being renovated and was not in use, when he contacted police shortly after midnight Jan. 30 saying he had caught a burglar. When police arrived, they found the wounded Beene, who was flown by helicopter to an area hospital.
Frisbie said authorities now believe Beene was holding Coleman at gunpoint when he was shot by Lankey. Authorities later searched the area where Lankey was arrested and found a .22-caliber handgun that matched a casing found at the crime scene. The gun had been reported stolen late last year, Frisbie said.
In December, police said, Beene had apprehended a burglar under similar circumstances. Although the building wasn't being used for production, metal and plastic pipe, tools and wiring were stored there.
Beene had run the family-owned company since 1980. PI injection molds parts for furniture, pools and home and garden markets. The firm also performs structural foam molding, vacuum forming and dielectric sealing.