A Camden man is charged with first degree murder in the gruesome death of his wife, Ryan Bennett Mills, 29, of Bruceton.
Jason Mark Mills, 33, is being held without bond in the Carroll County Jail after an investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies.
His arraignment is set for Wednesday in Carroll County General Sessions Court before Judge Larry Logan.
According to Police Chief Ronnie Stewart, the Bruceton Fire Department answered a fire call to 151 South Spruce St. at 2:10 a.m. Saturday where they found a house completely engulfed in flames.
The couple’s two children were not at home and were staying with grandparents.
Stewart said he received a call around 3:30 a.m. regarding the fire and death while at his residence in Camden.
When first responders arrived, they found the body of a deceased individual inside the home, according to a news release from the TBI. During the course of the investigation into the fire and the death, agents developed information that identified Jason Mills as the individual responsible for the death of his wife.
Officials said her body was near the front door and they have reason to believe that she may have been strangled before the fire was set as a cover up for the crime. The victim’s body has been sent to the Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy and confirmation of identification.
Stewart said Mills appeared at the scene acting concerned, but was not arrested there. Later evidence was gathered against him through witnesses, a polygraph test and interview that led to his arrest and his admission of the crime.
Besides the TBI, the fire marshals’ office, the 24th Judicial District Attorney General’s office, Bruceton Police and Fire Departments, Carroll County and Hollow Rock Fire Departments responded to the scene.
According to reports, Ryan Mills was about to start divorce proceedings. There was no paperwork filed in either Carroll County or Benton County Chancery Courts Monday, but legally divorces can be filed anywhere in Tennessee if a couple lives within the state.
However, on Jan. 27, Ryan Mills had filed a petition for an order of protection which was set to be heard on Tuesday (yesterday) in General Sessions Court.
Stewart said he had taken Jason Mills to the E.R. for evaluation about two weeks ago because he was threatening to kill himself with a knife and that he had been to Carey Counseling several times.
Ryan worked as a cosmetologist at Salon On Main in Camden. She was known to be a good mother who was involved in her children’s activities.
Stewart said he greatly appreciated the assistance of the TBI, law enforcement agencies and fire departments and citizens whose information was so helpful in helping solve the case.