NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a new addition to the state’s Top Ten Most Wanted list, Edward William Tarras, Jr. of La Vergne, TN.
Tarras is wanted by the Smyrna Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after failing to appear in court last Friday, where he faced almost two dozen sex-related charges. Tarras, 39, has been indicted by a Rutherford County Grand jury on 19 counts of Especially Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, one count of Rape and two counts of Sexual Battery. When he failed to show up for court, a capias was issued for his arrest.
Tarras is described as a Caucasian male with brown hair and hazel eyes. He is approximately 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Tarras is urged to call TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463). There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
NASHVILLE – Today, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officially launched a new outreach to raise awareness of human trafficking in Tennessee.
The campaign, titled “IT Has To Stop,” hopes to increase awareness of human trafficking in Tennessee and beyond. The centerpiece of the campaign, ITHasToStop.com, features information, current research and statistics, video, important contacts, and links for visitors to join nonprofits and other groups in the efforts to curb trafficking in Tennessee. Visitors can also connect with the campaign on designated Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, it’s unacceptable, and it’s a crime in Tennessee,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We hope TBI’s new public awareness campaign sheds some much-needed light on the issue, so we can increase the number of people who insist it has to stop in our state and beyond.”
Research by The Polaris Project, a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, indicates it to be one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate the number of children bought and sold in the country for the purpose of sexual exploitation to number at least 100,000. The average age of a trafficking victim is 13.
“Tennessee has recently been recognized for great strides in enacting laws to protect survivors of trafficking,” said Gwyn. “We also have trusted nonprofits on the frontlines of this troubling fight. Now, we hope this new effort is our state’s next step to rally public support and increase awareness of this kind of crime and the way out for those trapped.”
The site is available for review at www.ITHasToStop.com.
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has arrested and charged a Carthage man accused of shooting a man and then misleading investigators about his involvement in the incident.
At the request of 15th District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, and with the assistance of the Carthage Police Department and Smith County Sheriff’s Department, TBI Special Agents began investigating the shooting of 19-year-old Kyle Neil Arndt on Saturday, August 16th. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that John LaRue recklessly discharged a firearm and shot Arndt, while the two were talking outside of Arndt’s home on Project Circle. LaRue initially reported he was not involved, but heard the shooting from his home several doors down, and saw an unknown gunman flee the scene. Agents later determined LaRue gave false information and, in fact, shot the victim. Agents also developed information that after LaRue shot Arndt, he had another individual hide the gun before police arrived. When investigators found the firearm, it was found to have the serial number filed off of the gun. Arndt’s injuries were not life-threatening.
On Sunday, TBI Agents arrested LaRue and charged the 47-year-old Carthage man with Aggravated Assault, Filing a False Report, and Alteration of an Item’s Permanent Distinguishing Numbers. Today, he was booked into the Smith County Jail, where, at the time of this release, he was being held on $21,500 bond.
CHATTANOOGA – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained an indictment for a former technician at a Hamilton County mental health facility for sexually assaulting a female patient there.
At the request of the Chattanooga Police Department, investigators with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began investigating Marcus Dewayne Benford, after a female patient at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute told Chattanooga police that she had sex with him. Benford was a technician at Moccasin Bend at that time. The victim stated she had sexual intercourse with Benford on April 21, 2013, and reported it to police the following day.
On July 31, the Grand Jury for the 11th Judicial District in Hamilton County returned an indictment for Benford, charging the 38-year-old Chattanooga man with Sexual Battery by an Authority figure. Benford turned himself in to officers with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department on Saturday night. He is being held there on a $25,000 bond.
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained an indictment for a Rutherford County jail inmate, charging him with aggravated perjury.
At the request of the 16th District Attorney General William Whitesell, TBI Special Agents investigated statements made by 23-year-old Kareem Wiggins during a hearing for his probation revocation. On May 14, 2014, Wiggins, who is a registered sex offender, testified that he was living with a woman and her children in another county, but that one of this children was his biological child. Agents investigating the claims determined that the statement was a fabrication and the child was not Wiggins’.
On August 6, the Grand Jury in Rutherford County returned an indictment charging Wiggins with Aggravated Perjury. On Friday, Wiggins was served while in the Rutherford County jail, where he remain on a $15,000 bond.
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained indictments for a Clarksville man accused of entering a Millersville woman’s trailer and robbing and attacking her in June.
At the request of the 19th District Attorney General John Carney, TBI Special Agents, along with officers from the Millersville Police Department, the Goodlettsville Police Department and the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office, investigated an incident that took place the morning of June 27, 2014, at the Owl’s Roost RV Park in Millersville.
Charles Howard Smith is reported to have entered the victim’s trailer with a pistol. Agents determined that once he was inside, he robbed and bound her. A neighbor who witnessed the assault contacted law enforcement. Two Millersville police officers responded to the scene. When Smith allegedly pointed a pistol at one of the officers, the other officer fired at Smith, striking him several times. Law enforcement officials from the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office and Goodlettsville Police Department responded to the scene. Smith was taken into custody and transported to a Nashville hospital for treatment.
On July 17, the Grand Jury for the 19th Judicial District in Robertson County returned an indictment against Smith, charging the 48-year-old with one count of Especially Aggravated Kidnapping, one count of Aggravated Robbery and two counts of Aggravated Assault. Smith was served with the capias today and booked in the hospital before being released into the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction on a $50,000 bond. The Grand Jury took no action against the officers.
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained indictments for a former Humphreys County teacher accused of using a school-issued credit card for her personal benefit.
At the request of 23rd District Attorney General Dan Alsobrooks, TBI Special Agents began investigating Heather Wardlaw on November 26, 2013. During the course of the investigation, and with the assistance of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, investigators developed information that between August 2009 and November 2013, Wardlaw, an art and social studies teacher at Lakeview Elementary School, misappropriated $11,527.41, nearly $9,000 of which was spent on personal items — including clothing, an iPad, and alcoholic beverages – using a school-issued Walmart credit card. Additionally, investigators learned Wardlaw took more than $2,500 from an account belonging to an after-school basketball program she managed for her personal use.
On Monday, the Humphreys County Grand Jury returned an indictment for Wardlaw, charging the 40-year-old Eva woman with one count of Theft over $10,000. This afternoon, she turned herself in to TBI Agents at the Humphreys County Jail, where she was later released after posting $10,000 bond.