Felony murder charges were handed down Tuesday by the Carter County grand jury against Timothy Pate and Whitney Harris, who were accused in the April death of Lonnie Townsend.
Authorities have said it appears Townsend was killed with a hammer.
The grand jury charged Pate and Harris with first-degree murder, felony murder and tampering with evidence. Harris originally had been charged with accessory to murder.
Investigator Travis Ludlow with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department said, “It was a decision made by the district attorney’s office when they reviewed the evidence which had come to light in the weeks following the initial charges being filed.”
Townsend had been reported missing on April 17.
Investigators said they learned Townsend had been at Pate and Harris’ home on Rockhouse Road. Officers executed a search warrant on the home and said they found a section of carpet cut and removed. The officers later interviewed the couple and determined the body was located in Unicoi County.