Friend Of Dana Wilkes Said She Kept Questioning Bigoms About Her Disappearance

Friday, April 11, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

A close friend and former roommate of homicide victim Dana Wilkes testified on Friday afternoon that Ms. Wilkes' husband was "in jail all the time" and that defendant Tony Bigoms often helped her out in his absence.  

Stephanie Coleman said she had known Ms. Wilkes' husband, Tom Wilkes, longer, but she was closer to Ms. Wilkes. She said, "We were best friends." Ms. Coleman also lived with Mr. and Ms. Wilkes for several months.

She said it was during this time she met Bigoms.

She said of his and Ms. Wilkes' friendship, "She went to him a lot and vice versa." 

Prosecutor Cameron Williams asked Ms. Coleman if the defendant had ever propositioned her for sex, and she said he had once while she was still living with Ms. Wilkes. She said, "He asked me if I was interested in having sex for money," adding that she had been alone in her room when he walked inside and asked.

She also said it was Bigoms who informed her of her friend's disappearance. However, she admitted that her memory of this phone conversation and the police interview later that day was not entirely clear. Ms. Coleman had recently started taking tricyclic anti-depressants, which at the beginning of treatment can cause side effects such as confusion, dizziness, and cognitive and memory impairment.

Ms. Coleman also said she had been drinking. She does not remember if Bigoms called her or if she called him. She said she was "trying to get in touch with Dana because Vince Gill was in town."

After the defendant informed Ms. Coleman her friend was missing, she said he also told her he had been with her the night before.

She said Bigoms told her they had gone to Family Dollar and Walmart looking for parts to fix a broken toilet.

Ms. Coleman told the jury, "He said that he was dropped off at Family Dollar...He said she was going to make a pill sale."

Ms. Coleman said this concerned her because this seemed out character for Ms. Wilkes. She said, "Dana didn't sell pills, but when Tom was out, that was what he did. She would drive him."

She said, "I asked him repeatedly because I knew how good of friends they were. Something had to have been told...I just kept asking questions over and over again." She said she did not understand how her friend could be missing.

She said after this conversation, she attempted to contact one of Ms. Wilkes' sons to inform them their mother was missing. She also said, "I was trying to find out about this pill thing."

Later, she was contacted by Chattanooga Police Officer Reginald Parks. However, she said she is not entirely sure of what she said during the interview because of her medications and the alcohol.

Ms. Coleman also did not believe Ms. Wilkes was taking methadone. She said she knew about Ms. Wilkes' other medications.

However, when Hamilton County Medical Examiner James Metcalfe testified later, he said her body tested positive for methadone as well as alcohol.

He also said the investigation was hampered by how much the body had decomposed.

Another witness who had seen the crime scene, Chattanooga Police Officer Ken Burnette, testified Friday afternoon.

Pictures of the crime scene and the body were shown to the jury while Officer Burnette described how it had been found.

When asked by prosecutor Lance Pope about the state of Ms. Wilkes' clothing found at the scene, he said it was dirty. Each piece of clothing was submitted into evidence.

The trial will continue Saturday.






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