Authorities in Tennessee have filed separate seven criminal charges against the man who they say shot and killed three relatives — including his own mother and his 11-year-old sister. Nathanial Pipkin, 22, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault resulting in death after authorities say he shot and killed his mother Traci L. McNeely, 44, his brother Carson G. Pipkin, 20, and a juvenile whose name is redacted in court documents. He’s also accused of attempted first-degree murder in an alleged attack on Jesse Morton McNeely, 47. The Columbia, Tenn. Daily Herald noted that Jesse Morton was Traci’s husband.
Citing a local obituary naming Traci McNeely as her mother and Carson Pipkin as her brother, local news reports have indicated that the juvenile whose name was redacted in court documents was Kailee Grace Warren, 11. The girl’s obituary reads in part:
Kailee was a student at Battle Creek Middle School. She enjoyed being outdoors and especially enjoyed the mountains, being in the water and on the beach. Kailee loved animals and animals loved her. She was always at peace when she was drawing, listening to music and playing games. She loved her friends and family deeply and will be missed by all who knew her.
The local sheriff previously referred to Kailee Warren as the defendant’s sister.
An obituary for Carson Glenn Pipkin referred to him this way:
Anyone that knew Carson would know that he always had a smile on his face and loved life. He also loved his family unconditionally and was the family jokester. Carson also had a love for all animals, if he ever had a show on his own it would’ve been called “Carson’s Critters”. Throughout his life he had a love for the outdoors and most recently he had a passion for restoring old cars.
Carson Glenn Pipkin’s obituary and Traci McNeely’s obituary both name the defendant as a relative. Kailee Grace Warren’s obituary does not mention the defendant.
The obituaries conflict as to the orders of the killings. Carson’s suggests that Kailee was killed before Carson; Kailee’s suggests that Carson was killed before Kailee. Traci McNeely’s obituary suggests both of her two children were killed before she was gunned down. It is unclear if prosecutors have attempted to establish a precise timeline.
The highest crime Nathanial Pipkin is charged with committing is first-degree murder. Under Tennessee law, it is generally described as a “premeditated and intentional killing of another,” though it can also apply in a few other scenarios. It is punishable by death, life without parole, or life with a chance at parole. It is unclear which possible penalty prosecutors will choose to pursue against Pipkin; such decisions generally take some time — usually weeks or more.
As Law&Crime reported on Saturday, the defendant told a local television reporter that he fired in “self defense.”
Bucky Rowland, the sheriff of Maury County, Tenn., said at a press conference late last week that one member of the family “escaped through a window” from the home where the attack occurred, ran to a neighbor’s house, and was able to call 911. That 5:54 a.m. call helped authorities immediately identify Nathanial Pipkin as the suspect.
A manhunt ensued. Authorities caught the defendant after he allegedly drove a silver 2003 Ford Mustang more than one hundred miles away from the shooting scene. There, in Monteagle, Tenn., local police officers spotted the defendant at 8:50 a.m., called for backup from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and made an arrest “without incident” at 8:56 a.m. Rowland told reporters last week that the defendant was “actively wearing ballistic body armor” and that guns were in open and visible inside his vehicle.
It is unclear from the available court documents whether Jesse Morton McNeely was the relative who escaped to call 911. Sheriff Rowland said during last week’s news conference that five people were in the home. It is unclear if he was counting the suspect along with the four he was accused of attacking.
Read the defendant’s arrest warrant below:
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