UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — 18-year-old Jessica Carlton has been identified as the victim of a shooting early Thursday morning in Unicoi County.
Following the fatal shooting, Connor Cleveland is being held in the Unicoi County Jail on murder charges.
Jessica’s father, Gregory Carlton, is speaking out after his daughter was killed in a residence on Marbleton Road.
“If he is captured, convicted, he needs to either have the death penalty or be behind bars indefinitely with no chance of parole,” Carlton said. “That’s how I feel.”
Carlton said that his daughter enjoyed listening to music and hanging out with friends, which are things she doesn’t get to do anymore.
“She was the most beautiful child,” Carlton said.
“Once we got on the scene, we found a deceased female,” Unicoi County Chief Investigator Rob Arnold said. “Suspect was still on scene. We detained him.”
At this time, investigators do not believe the homicide was premeditated, but the investigation is ongoing.
“If it was premeditated we would have charged him with first degree,” Arnold said. “We were actually looking at second degree, but we actually went with criminal homicide, which covers all of those bases.”
Arnold confirmed that there were illegal drugs found on the scene but would not go into detail.
“Hurtful, mad, frustrated,” is how Carlton describes feeling after learning of his daughter’s murder. Now, he’s praying for justice.
“Dear God, I miss you; I wish you were here,” Carlton said.
Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office, Unicoi Police and TBI all have assisted with the investigation.