A Cleveland, Tn., woman testified Monday in Hamilton County General Sessions Court that Chance Loftis called her at work and said, "We beat the crap out of this dude, and he's dead. It's on the news."
Jennifer Bales she said tried not "to wig out in front of a patient," but she said she "knew I was in trouble" for taking Loftis and Travis Jenkins to Possum Creek in Birchwood where they met up with victim Donald Rogers.
Judge David Norton bound Loftis, 24, and Jenkins, 28, to the Grand Jury on murder charges in the April 25 incident.
Some bass fishermen found the body of Rogers slumped over in his 14-foot, aluminum fishing boat.
County Detective Jeff Baker said the victim's head and face had been bashed and the bones in his neck broken. He said the body of his small dog was found floating in the water closer to the shore than the boat.
Detective Baker said he learned that a county patrolman had seen Jenkins walking along a roadway and picked him up. He had blood on him and told the officer he had gotten it while scratching himself walking through some woods. The officer did a criminal check on him and got his address prior to letting him out at the Bradley County line.
The detective said officers soon located both Jenkins and Loftis in Cleveland. It was learned that the victim lived across and just down the street from them.
Detective Baker said Jenkins gave a statement, but Loftis refused to talk. He said Jenkins stated that Loftis became irate that Rogers could not find his campsite. He said Loftis began attacking him when the boat ran up on a log and the motor shut off.
Jenkins maintained that he asked Loftis to quit hitting the victim, and he said he picked Rogers up and saw that he was snoring. He said they left, believing he was still alive. He said Loftis also killed the small dog.
He said they broke into a nearby house, then later he began walking and Loftis got a ride back with Ms. Bales.
The detective said a couple was at home at the house and the woman spotted the two men in her house after she got out of bed. She then called police. Blood drops were found in the house.
Detective Baker said there were numerous beer cans in the boat and officers followed a trail of beer cans to where they broke into the house on Johnson Road.
He said Jenkins stated there had been an argument and the victim pulled a knife. Officers found a knife in the boat.
Ms. Bales told of agreeing to take the pair for the "fishing trip." She said she stopped briefly at Walmart and her two passengers got a large amount of beer at the store. She said she does not believe they paid for the beer.
She said she could vaguely see Rogers in the boat when she let them out, and she saw the little dog running around.
She said it was early in the morning when Loftis called for a ride back. She said he told her they had watched a beautiful sunset, then later "something went wrong."
The witness said when Loftis first told her of the beating, she had thought it was "a backyard brawl" and not a murder. She said the pair earlier talked of starting "a fight club in the backyard."
She said that night that Jenkins "was acting erratic" and was angry because his girlfriend had to go to jail. She said she would not give him a ride back - only Loftis.
Ms. Bales said when she dropped Loftis office at the place he shared with Jenkins he was acting jumpy and real nervous. She said he kept popping his knuckles.
At one point, she said he told her, "We beat him to death." She said she later frantically began checking the news to see if someone had actually been killed.
She said she knew for sure when she got the call at work and Loftis confirmed that it was on the news that the victim had been found dead.