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.

 

 

 

 

 


Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilman Anderson). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. V. Ordinances – Final Reading: (None) VI. Ordinances – First Reading: ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT a. An ordinance amending Chattanooga City Code, Part II, ... (click for more)

Multi-State Joint Operation Combats Human Trafficking, Exploitation In Tennessee And Georgia

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn joined Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan to announce on Friday the results of a three-day, multi-state effort to combat human trafficking and the online exploitation of children in Tennessee and Georgia.   The agencies conducted “Operation Watchful Guardians” in Chattanooga and Dalton, with the partnership ... (click for more)

A Missing Link In Chattanooga's Crime Prevention Program

I would like to begin by introducing myself. I grew up in Chattanooga and I love this city. As a child, the space program and lunar landings were in full swing. I dreamed of a progressive city. I grew up reading books about space, travel, and superheroes at the Bicentennial Library.  I am the only son of a local pastor and businessman. When I graduated from East Ridge High ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The School’s Search Begins

Jonathan Welch, the chairman of the Hamilton County School Board, had no idea he would be giving himself a well-deserved treat some months ago when he promised his son they would go on a mission trip together. This week has to be the first time his phone hasn’t blinked overload since a December tragedy triggered a tsunami and repeated shock waves that crashed the Hamilton County ... (click for more)

Hamilton Heights Blitzes Central In Second Half For 67-42 Win

(Story will be updated) For 19 minutes Friday night Central played nationally ranked Hamilton Heights toe-to-toe. Then the talented Hawks turned the lights out on the Pounders. Hamilton Heights (22-2) outscored the Pounders 16-3 to close the third quarter and 17-2 to start the fourth and turned a tight game into a 67-42 rout in the inaugural McCallie Classic. ... (click for more)

Ernie Johnson Jr. Captivates McCallie Classic Luncheon Crowd

Ernie Johnson Jr., the popular host of “Inside the NBA” on TNT, tipped off the inaugural McCallie Classic on Friday with a riveting speech before a large crowd at the school’s Sports and Activities Center. The rest of the two day event, which includes two nationally ranked basketball teams, had a hard act to follow. Johnson, a cancer survivor whose family adopted a young ... (click for more)