UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Johnson City man is now on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted list after being charged in connection with a woman’s death.
Bradley Miller is charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Miller is accused of killing his girlfriend, Athena Saunders, whose body was found last week at the Beauty Spot in Unicoi County.
“We consider him armed and dangerous. He’s already killed one person and he is from Johnson City. I have reason to believe that he’s not in Unicoi County or even East Tennessee,” said Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley.
Hensley says Miller was one of the first interviews investigators conducted at the couple’s home in Johnson City.
“We interviewed the boyfriend. We got a DNA sample from him. He was very cooperative at the time and then we discovered that he was the prime suspect in this investigation,” Hensley said. “We got the forensic evidence back that we needed and obtained warrants for Bradley Miller who is her boyfriend and the person that we interviewed for a homicide and abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.”
The sheriff wouldn’t reveal how Saunders was killed but said her body appeared to have been just off the Unaka Mountain Beauty Spot for a few days when she was discovered by kids who were hiking in the area.
“The body was found with the head facing down the embankment. It appeared that she had been dragged…dumped and dragged to that location,” Hensley said. “About a quarter to a half a mile up Unaka Mountain Road up Rock Creek side, the light hit something reflective down over the embankment and the kids went over and discovered a body. She did have a reflective vest on. She had an ID attached to her belt and I was able to identify the victim.”
Saunders, who was 48 years old, worked at the HSN fulfillment center in Piney Flats. She was scheduled to work the Thursday before her body was found but did not show up. According to Hensley, her supervisors described her as a great employee who always showed up on time.
Katelynn Strickland knows both Saunders and Bradley. News Channel 11 asked her what her first reaction was when she found out Saunders had been killed.
“That Brad did it,” Strickland replied. “Because Brad was the last person…she only goes to the Beauty Spot with Brad. They go up there to go camping, partying. It was Memorial Day weekend.”
Sheriff Hensley confirmed that Miller has a history of domestic violence but it was prior to Saunders.
Strickland described Saunders as “supportive” and someone who could be counted on.
“Athena’s really headstrong and she knows what she wants…superbly independent,” Strickland said. “She’s probably the best person I’ve ever met.”
A $2,500 reward is being offered for Miller’s arrest. He is described as having black hair and hazel eyes, weighing 155 pounds, and is 5-foot 9-inches tall.
Those with information are asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office at 423-743-1850.