By Max Hrenda
2013 found Carter and Johnson counties repeatedly playing a part in national breaking-news stories.
One of those stories – and arguably one of the biggest stories of 2013 – was the May 6 discovery of Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who had been held captive in the basement of Ariel Castro’s Cleveland, Ohio, home for years.
Though she was born and raised in Cleveland, Berry, who was missing for approximately a decade, has relatives living in Carter County, and would frequently visit the area as a girl.
After his conviction, Castro was discovered dead in his cell on Sept. 3, and is believed to have hanged himself. His Cleveland home has been torn down.
Carter County also had a local reason to follow news of the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon. Elizabethton resident Sheri Nemeth had crossed the finish line four minutes before two pressure cooker bombs exploded, killing three people and wounding another 264. Neither Nemeth nor her sister, who was also present, was injured during the attacks.
Three days after the bombing, law enforcement personnel exchanged gunfire with the two suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which resulted in the death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found the next day hiding in a boat in Watertown, Mass., and suffering from gunshot wounds. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.
Though it didn’t capture as many headlines as either of the previous stories, the trial of Johnson County’s Marvin Potter – which gained national notoriety when the media dubbed the case the “Facebook Murders” – reached its conclusion this autumn. On Oct. 11, a Washington County jury found Potter, 61, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the Jan. 31, 2012, shooting deaths of Billy Clay Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was found that morning by a family friend, with their 6-month-old son, Tyler, still cradled in his mother’s arms.
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