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Landowner’s two sons and daughter-in-law arrested and charged in his murder

Joshua Hitchcock (L) Jacob Hitchcock (C) and Britney Hitchcock (R)

Joshua Hitchcock, left, Jacob Hitchcock, center, and Britney Hitchcock, right, were indicted in the murder of Bill Hitchcock, inset, in May 2023. (Carter County Sheriff’s Office; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

William “Bill” Hitchcock, Jr., 63, was found dead – shot to death – near the Watauga River on a Saturday morning in early April in Tennessee. Now, the man’s sons and daughter-in-law have been arrested in connection with his untimely death.

Jacob Alexander Hitchcock, 31, and Joshua Elliott Hitchcock, 25, stand accused of murder in the first degree over the alleged patricide, according to the Carter County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee. They were arrested after being served their indictments on Monday.

Britney Diane Hitchcock, 35, wife to Jacob Hitchcock, was also indicted on one count of filing a false report in the investigation into her father-in-law’s death, the sheriff’s office said.

“During the course of the investigation, Bill Hitchcock’s sons, Jacob Hitchcock and Joshua Hitchcock, were developed as suspects,” Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley said in a press release. “On Monday morning, investigators presented their findings to the Carter County Grand Jury, which handed down the indictments charging the brothers with first-degree murder and an indictment charging Jacob’s wife Britney Hitchcock with filing a false report.”

On April 1, Bill Hitchcock’s body was found by a group of fishermen in the driveway of his home on Old Stoney Creek Road in Elizabethton – a small city some 15 minutes due east of Johnson City, Tennessee.

According to law enforcement, the fishermen – who at the time were working on the Watauga River – called out and asked if anybody needed help, but heard nothing in return, so they called 911.

The gunshot was apparent when officers arrived, the CCSO said. And an autopsy was later performed by personnel at the William L. Jenkins Forensic Center at East Tennessee State University.

The investigation is said to still be ongoing.

The victim was remembered as one of those rare landlords beloved by the people he collected his rent from.

“I didn’t know that anybody would have anything against Bill or anything like that,” renter Hubert Buchanan told Johnson City-based CBS/ABC affiliate WJHL. “He comes up here about once a month to collect the rent, and we always got along good.”

Buchanan, who owns an automobile dealership operated off of Hitchcock’s land, was reportedly set to go on a motorcycle trip with the dead man when he was gunned down earlier this year.

“It felt honestly kind of terrifying because this has always felt like such a safe, quiet little corner,” another renter, Whitney Fields, told the TV station – saying her children often play down by the river near where the body was discovered. “Nobody ever comes over here and to think that something like that happened 40 feet away from my house.”

The murder weapon had not been recovered as of early April, WJHL reported, citing Sheriff Fraley.

“Our investigators are looking into several potential leads, and we are asking that anyone who had any contact with Mr. Hitchcock in the past few days to please reach out to us,” the sheriff said at the time.

As of late April, law enforcement was still attempting to crowd-source information into the slaying – and offering a $1,500 reward for details on the homicide. It is unclear if that offer reaped dividends.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also surveyed the public for help on the case.

Each defendant had been released on bond as of Tuesday.

An attorney for one of the Hitchcock sons spoke with WJHL on Monday afternoon.

“He maintains his innocence in this matter, and we look forward to all of the facts coming out and having a trial,” Gene Scott, who represents Jacob Hitchcock, told the TV station.

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