Bigoms Could Remember Little About Night Dana Wilkes Disappeared; Expert Says Her Head, Arms Were Cut Off Using A Hand Saw

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

In a recorded police interview played for the jury in the trial of Tony Bigoms, Bigoms repeatedly answered questions with "I don't remember" and "I'm not sure." The interrogation, conducted by Officer Reginald Parks, took place shortly after Dana Wilkes was declared missing.

When asked what he did the Saturday after the last night Ms. Wilkes was seen alive, Bigoms replied, "I probably went somewhere but I'm not sure where I went."

Charged with the murder of Ms.

Wilkes, the defendant said in the recorded interview he did not remember if he stopped anywhere after he said Ms. Wilkes dropped him off.

 When asked about where they drove together, he said he did not know roads because he was not "too good with directions."

 In the recording, Bigoms laughed often while he talked to police.

 After saying that Ms. Wilkes sold pills, Officer Parks asked, "When Dana talks about selling pills, what does she mean?"

 Bigoms replied, "Tom does most of that. People bring her pills to sell, she sells them...It just depends on the type of pill you get and how it affects you and everything." Tom Wilkes, Ms. Wilkes' husband at the time, died shortly after his wife's body was found.

 Bigoms told police he was also a friend of Tom Wilkes at the time. He said people often came to their home to buy pills from Mr. Wilkes and that it upset Ms. Wilkes.

 According to Bigoms' statement to police at the time, he said did not see Ms. Wilkes again after she dropped him off and that he went to his aunt's house. He said he stayed there a few hours and did not get back out after that.

 However, after police investigated cell phone records, they were able to use cell towers to determine where the defendant was when he called Ms. Wilkes at 2:30 a.m. Contrary to his statement that he was at home, police said he was in the area near the Wilcox Tunnel, where Ms. Wilkes' car was later found.

 Attorney Steve Brown pointed out that while the defendant was the last person to call Ms. Wilkes, he was not the last person she called. According to phone records, Ms. Wilkes called another man twice at different times. While this man's car was searched, no DNA swabs were taken.

 Bigoms said he did not know the exact times that he went anywhere that night, saying he could have driven through the tunnel. Surveillance tapes from Walmart and a gas station where he and Ms. Wilkes stopped showed he was wrong on other time estimates by several hours.

 He also eventually told police in a second interrogation that he had been out trying to pick up women even though he had a girlfriend. Attorney Brown said the girlfriend kicked him out of her home when she discovered this, but her story did not change. She still stated Bigoms was with her at the end of the night.

 He told police he found out Ms. Wilkes was missing from a friend named Patrick, but he did not attempt to search for her. Attorney Brown noted that this man was a witness in another murder case but had also not been investigated.

 Dr. Murray Marks, a forensic specialist who examined the body, said from his examination, he determined the head and arms had been sawed off with a hand saw while the body was lying face down.

 Dr. Marks said there was no way to conclusively say if this occurred before or after death.

 Attorney Brown noted there was a possibility the body had been moved from its original location. It was discovered far off of Youngstown Road, but he said there were signs it started out closer to the road.

 Attorney Brown also said for someone to get to the location of the body, they would have to hike through tall grass and foliage. However, no dirt or vegetation from the area was found in any of the vehicles or on any item possessed by Bigoms. 

 He said, in fact, in Bigoms' car, there was "absolutely no evidence of blood." Bigoms also voluntarily submitted to a DNA swab.

 During Officer Parks' testimony on Wednesday afternoon, several pictures of Bigoms' hands were entered into evidence. The photos were taken shortly after Ms. Wilkes' disappearance and they showed several cuts and abrasions on the defendant's hands.

 However, Attorney Brown pointed out that the defendant was a landscaping student at Chattanooga State. He noted that Bigoms' palms were also calloused.

The girlfriend of Bigoms, Mary Morris, also had trouble remembering much about the time of the death of Ms. Wilkes.

Prosecutor Lance Pope tried to refresh her memory by reading excerpts of an interview she had with detective Justin Kilgore. She said Bigoms was with Ms. Wilkes on the night she disappeared, saying he was going to meet her to fix her car. She said Bigoms came back home later that night. She said she uses a sleeping device and it was possible that he slipped out later.

She was asked about telling the detective about Bigoms washing a pair of gray tennis shoes in Chlorox in a bucket in the bathtub. She said she objected because the fumes bothered her lungs.

 The witness said she saw on the news that Ms. Wilkes was missing. She said she started crying because "I liked her."

She said Bigoms told her "she would be alright." She said she asked Bigoms about being with her and he said he "just took her to Walmart." She said afterward Bigoms got angry and did not want to talk about it any more. She said, "He had a little bit of a temper."

 


Red Bank Police Say Topless Woman Ran From Man Who Threatened To Kill Her

Red Bank Police said a topless woman on Monday ran outside from a man who was threatening to kill her. Christopher Demetrius Lane, 20, of 4324 Shawnee Circle, was charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual battery. Police went to 1105 Dayton Blvd. after a caller who would not give a name said there was loud screaming and what sounded like ... (click for more)

Former Sheriff's Deputy Nabbed In TBI Theft, Misconduct Case

Special agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for a former Scott County Sheriff’s Department deputy accused of misconduct. At the request of 8 th  District Attorney General Jared Effler, TBI special agents began investigating Cody Scott Yancey on Oct. 16, 2014. During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)

'Canes Edge Mustangs On Cox's Game-Winner In 7th

  Maybe it was just East Hamilton’s turn to win a tight game. After dropping 5-4 and 2-1 decisions to District 5-AAA rivals Bradley Central and McMinn County, respectively, the Hurricanes weren’t about to lose their third straight one-run decision in league play on Tuesday. So, Kyle Cox and Matt Milita, two of the team’s five seniors, decided to do something about ... (click for more)

Central Scores Early, Hangs On To Beat Red Bank, 7-6

Central baseball coach Glen Carter could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His Purple Pounders had bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings of Monday's 6-AA skirmish with the Red Bank Lions and things were looking pretty good for those guys in purple. But it all came down to Red Bank's final at-bat.  The Lions sent eight hitters to the plate and scored ... (click for more)