Kingsport pastor remembering murder victim says 'it all seemed so sudden and unexpected'

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL)- While Kingsport Police just released the victim's identity in the Maple Oak Apartments homicide investigation from last week, a local congregation said they've known for days that the victim was one of their own.

Shades of Grace Pastor, Will Shewey, said 68-year-old Mary A. Danner was someone who came to their congregation often in downtown Kingsport.

"Mary was one of those persons with a very quiet nature and she didn't talk a lot but she was a very gentle and sweet lady with a nice smile, she always got her mail here at our community mailbox before recently getting into permanent housing," Shewey said. 

According to Kingsport Police 68-year-old Mary A. Danner was discovered dead inside her apartment August 2nd

Court documents reveal that Danner's boyfriend, Samuel Rex Sandidge, admitted to killing her, "...using a large oxygen tank"

Those court documents also revealed that Sandidge admitted to arguing with Danner about moving out of state, and that "He did not want to move and she would not leave him alone over it. He stated he could not listen to her hassle him anymore over moving...Sandidge stated he struck her once with the tank and then realized she was not dead and struck her 3 more times... Sandidge admitted to knowing that his actions were going to cause her death."

Pastor Shewey said it's been a difficult week at the congregation as everyone is heartbroken over her loss. 

"...so sudden and unexpected...this community does stick together, and when one hurts, they all hurt, and they are feeling that right now," Shewey said.

He added that they will be organizing a memorial service for Mary Danner. A date and time have not yet been set.

Mary Danner's family have set up an online fundraiser to help bring her home to her final resting place in Pennsylvania. 

As for Sandidge, his case has been bound over to the Sullivan County Grand Jury. He's expected back in court in October and is currently being held on a $250,000 bond.


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