“Everything happened so fast. It was over before I knew what was happening. I couldn’t change what happened. I couldn’t bring those girls back. All I could do was put my best friend in prison for the rest of his life and I wouldn’t do that.”
According to a Stewart County citizen and lifelong friend of Tim Webb, these are the words that Tim Webb reportedly shared about his friend, Greg Charlton, just weeks before he took his own life. Tim further stated, in this alledged admission, that when Jack Charlton, Greg Charlton’s father and, at that time, an active TBI Agent, found out about the cold blooded double murder from his son, he was furious.
Tim is said to have stated that Jack Charlton told his son, Greg, “You have ruined my career and you have ruined our family.”
Jack Charlton was the one who ordered Greg, according to Tim’s alledged confession to, “Leave this County and leave this State and do not ever come back.”
In the 33 years since 14 year old Carla Sue Atkins and 16 year old Vickie Lee Stout were viciously and savagely murdered, Greg Charlton has returned home publicly only twice. He returned once for his father’s funeral and once for Tim Webb’s funeral.
Does this new evidence warrant further investigation? Or, should it be ignored as hearsay? Generally, a death bed confession lends to some inherent “credibility”. Any law enforcement official will tell you this. Would Tim Webb share this information about his, “best friend” and then take his own life without refuting it? That seems highly unlikely to PNN. Others, possibly those in law enforcement, might think differently. You will have to ask them.
Several years ago when I spoke to “acting” Sheriff John Vinson, at Carla’s family’s request, about the unsolved murders of these two Stewart County girls and, specifically, as to why Greg Charlton was never questioned, he got up and closed his office door so no one would hear what he and I were saying. Why?
John Vinson, one of the first two responding Deputies to the crime scene, became Sheriff of Stewart County after David Hicks moved up into his new position with the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force. David Hicks was the “new” Sheriff in Office at the time of the slayings. Hicks’ move to the 23rd JDTF was extremely ironic, I always thought, because David Hicks was initially elected Sheriff of Stewart County due to his self-proposed “tolerance” to the drug use in this County. How do I, personally, know this? It’s because I was there and ANYONE who tells you differently is a liar. It was 1978, after all. It was a different time and a different mindset. How else could a river boat deck hand become Sheriff of a County?
Albert Vires, along with John Vinson, was the other of the two Sheriff’s Deputies first on the scene after the girl’s bodies were discovered. Mr. Vires filed two police reports against Greg Charlton just weeks before the girls were reported missing. One of these reports stated that Greg was in the girl’s front yard at 2:30 AM screaming at the top of his lungs and threatening to, “kill them all”.
After literally dozens and dozens of times repeating this story to anyone who would listen, Albert Vires still never grew tired of sharing this information about Greg Charlton’s threats against the girls and their family. Albert Vires has stated on many occasions that he has not layed his head on his pillow one night since 1980 without thinking about those girls and what more he could have done to help bring their killer(s) to justice. Why? Because Albert Vires was, and is, a true Stewart Countian and police “hero” sworn to protect and to serve the citizens under his jurisdiction. Also, according to Mr. Vires, the police report(s) he filed against Greg Charlton for that night’s threats and an earlier one, two threats in all from two separate locations BOTH against Greg Charlton, turned up missing from their secure location in the Stewart County Sheriff’s Department. Albert Vires’ job as a Stewart County Deputy was also soon terminated by Sheriff David Hicks.
Hicks, interestingly, was Jack Charlton’s “right-hand man” in the investigation into the girl’s double murders. It was he that “rolled up” on the murder scene that fateful October day with Jack Charlton and it was he who helped Jack Charlton load up the “evidence” found at the crime scene in the trunk of Charlton’s TBI issued cruiser before the TBI crime lab arrived. PNN is not making this up. Court House “officials” at the time who were PRESENT at the crime scene and ALLOWED to walk around and compromise the crime scene RELAYED this information to me, personally, and it was WIDELY accepted at that time to be true. This evidence included cigarette butts and cigarette packages, among other items. These items of evidence could be used today to retrieve possible DNA from those present at the scene. They could be, that is, if they were still available. PNN understands that those items also turned up “missing” from Jack Charlton’s TBI issued cruiser.
Did David Hicks know the truth? PNN submits that, at the time, he did not. Hicks was a riverboat employee in 1978 when he embarked on his new career as Stewart County Sheriff. This naive Sheriff was no match for former Tennessee State Highway Patrolman and current TBI Agent Jack Charlton. Charlton was a man with a well known reputation for ruthlessness, harassment, and reckless intimidation. Family members of the girls, even today, will tell you of the callousness with which he treated their suspicions and the threats that he made towards them. PNN finds these alledged threats highly suspicious.
An eyewitness at the time provided investigators with a description of the young man who was driving the blue pickup truck that picked up Carla and Vickie less than a mile up the road from their house the day they went missing. A police sketch artist drew a composite of the murderer. PNN believes this sketch to be a fabrication. The eyewitness claimed that a “dark complected man” (possibly, a man with a tan and black hair) drove the blue truck. Perhaps, we could go back and look at Stewart County Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records to see just who and how many people owned blue trucks (or brown cars) in Stewart County back in 1980. Surely this task of checking out ALL of these people could have been completed by now, some 33 years later. We could do that, if the records were still available. It seems that those DMV records for that particular period, but no other years, have also turned up missing from their secure locations in the Stewart County Court House. The original sketch drawn did not show a young, dark complected man as described by the eyewitness and the sketch you see today is darkened with age from many generations of copying and faxing. The sketch we see today shows the picture of a man the TBI (Jack Charlton) tried to, in PNN’s view, “frame” for the murders.
Why were they killed? Allegedly, according to Tim, it was because they, “wouldn’t [have sex] with Greg.”
It was nothing more and nothing less. These two young girls, minors, who were initially categorized by the authorities as “runaways” and reported by these same authorities to their parents as being seen as far away as Nashville, refused to have sex, allegedly, with this 22 year old man and he allegedly killed them for it in cold blood. The police reports say one of the girls was shotgunned to where her brain matter was located in a tree above her and the other shotgunned in the back as she ran away. This evidence was also widely reported at the time. Ask yourself, would a young girl sit in the woods next to a man she did not know? Would she sit close enough to him that he could shotgun her at such a close range in an upward direction? Would they even get into a blue truck with someone they did not know? Witnesses say the two girls appeared to get into the blue truck willingly. One of these girls had a previous relationship with Greg Charlton. They knew each other well enough to be together. Could she forgive him his threats from just days and weeks before and join him for a party at Lost Creek in LBL? Joe Stout, a man who was allegedly threatened by men in dark suits and sunglasses to “shut up” about what he knew of the crime gave “testimony” that he heard what sounded like a party coming from where his relative, Vickie Lee Stout was found murdered along with Carla Sue Atkins. How would someone not from here know where this deeply secluded, local party hangout was located? PNN doesn’t know the answers to these questions. PNN has always thought they needed to be asked and not ignored.
And now, after 33 years, current “acting” Sheriff Deryk Wyatt says the case is reopened and anyone with any new information should contact the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force and, specifically, David Hicks. Isn’t this another sad irony in this case? And “reopened”? Isn’t Deryk Wyatt smart enough to know that an unsolved murder case in Tennessee is NEVER closed?
This case may never be solved. Why? Fear. People were afraid of Jack Charlton in 1980 and they fear no justice from David Hicks in 2014. Would you, the ordinary citizen reading this now, feel safe talking to David Hicks, a major power broker of the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force and well-connected friend to the TBI? PNN submits, you would not.
Did Greg Charlton kill Carla and Vickie in cold blood because they refused to have sex with him?
That’s what Tim Webb reportedly said before he died.
PNN is only asking a question. Does all of what is mentioned here warrant further investigation? PNN thinks it does.
It is law enforcement, PNN submits, who need to be leading the charge to clear all of this up, once, and for all. It is them, Sheriff Deryk Wyatt, the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that should want, more than anyone else, these questions to finally be answered by an independent investigation. That independent investigation SHOULD BE headed by the FBI as these crimes were committed on FEDERAL property and the TBI, as yet, has done NOTHING but waste our time in their followup investigations. Neither you, nor PNN should have to keep these whispers hushed for another 33 years.
Who is worthy of justice in Stewart County, Tennessee? Carla Sue Atkins, 14, and Vickie Lee Stout, 16, were not worthy of justice in this County. Their lives didn’t matter enough to count. Do yours?
If these accusations by Tim Webb are true, Jack Charlton was wrong about one thing; It wasn’t the cold blooded double murder of Carla and Vickie that ruined his career and his family. It was, and is, the cover up. Those whispers of Greg Charlton’s alleged guilt for the last 33 years and the cover up that allegedly took place, that is what has destroyed a family and a law enforcement’s credibility. That is what needs to be aired to finally find justice for Carla and Vickie.
PNN submits that fear, after 33 years, has turned to anger. PNN believes that anger will turn to retribution and Stewart County will not rest until answers are finally given to these hard questions.
Are we still too scared to ask for justice? Are we all still too scared to ask for a man to be questioned? And, if we are still too scared to ask, I propose you take a trip to the McGee Cemetery in Standing Rock located in the south west corner of Stewart County and tell Carla and Vickie that you are sorry that you are too scared to seek justice for them. They are buried there, sentenced to spend eternity the way they died, side by side.
Photo by David R. Ross