BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Katie Arnold had broken up with accused murderer Donald Britt — partly over “his involvement in a robbery in Johnson City” — in the days before he allegedly fatally shot her through a window of her home, an affidavit for his arrest reveals.
The document, filed Thursday, says that text messages from Arnold’s phone show she “ended her relationship with Donald Britt days earlier after confronting him” regarding the robbery. News Channel 11 has requested information from the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD) regarding potential connections between area robberies and Britt.
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Stephen Riner, who responded to the shooting on Deck Lane Wednesday night, wrote in the affidavit that Arnold’s mother found her dead in the bathroom of her bedroom after hearing her squeal.
The document is filled with details of the investigation, including interviews with a man who let Britt use his phone to “call his girlfriend” and overheard what sounded like an argument. That witness then drove the man who had identified himself as “Donald” to an area near the home where Arnold was shot.
That witness took Britt to Highway 75’s entrance to Deck Lane at about 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, roughly an hour before Arnold’s mother called 911.
Officers also obtained trail-cam footage that a neighbor told them about. The video showed a person walking onto the property who appeared to have no shoes on. Officers recovered one shoe outside the bathroom window where Arnold was found and another along a tree line “going away from the incident address.”
Arnold’s daughter described to officers the type of shoes she was accustomed to seeing Britt wear, and her description matched the shoes that were found, the affidavit said.
Riner’s affidavit shows that officers believe Arnold was killed at about 7:31 p.m. Multiple officers and detectives were at the home when Riner arrived and had already developed Britt as a potential suspect.
While officers were searching the area outside the home, a witness approached them saying he had come to check on the neighboring property. The owner told him she’d been alerted to her trail-com detecting motion, which footage officers reviewed.
While investigators were still on the scene, the man who had picked up Britt called the sheriff’s department. He had seen a photo of Britt the office shared on social media and told officers it was the same person who he’d passed walking along Highway 75 and taken to his house at around 6:45 p.m.
The man told police he heard Britt on the phone “asking his girlfriend if there was another man at the house and also heard him trying to get her to come pick him up but she would not,” the affidavit reads.
Britt was arrested Thursday after a pursuit that ended with a crash in Johnson City and charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon. He was arraigned in General Sessions Court Friday morning and is being held under $250,000 bond pending a hearing Feb. 1. He’s also being held with no bond on a violation of probation charge.
Britt has also been announced as the suspect in the death of Barry Countiss, 56, who was killed on Stevenson Hill Road in Blountville.