Duo accused in murder of disabled Iraq war veteran
Roger Hawkins, a 52-year-old former Marine who survived tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was beaten and stabbed to death Saturday morning at the Boyd Street Apartments in Rogersville where he worked as a maintenance man, authorities say.
Austin Scott Price, 18, and Samuel Wade Hirsh, 22, Riley Lane, have allegedly admitting killing Hawkins for his money, prescription drugs and firearms, according to Teddy Collingsworth, a criminal investigator with the district attorney’s office.
Price, who had been living with his uncle at the apartment complex, and Hirsh are charged with felony, first-degree murder, a charge that’s appropriate when a homicide occurs during the commission of a felony, in this case aggravated robbery.
Price and Hirsch knew Hawkins was disabled, and that he had prescription medication, according to the criminal investigator. Law enforcement officials appear to have an air-tight case.
In addition to the defendants’ alleged self-incriminating statements, they have the suspected murder weapons, a knife and a hammer and the defendants’ bloody shoes, which were recovered in trash cans at Wal-Mart and the Sunoco station on Highway 11-W.
Officials also recovered stolen cash and firearms.
Law enforcement officials required only part of Saturday afternoon to solve the alleged robbery-motivated stabbing and beating murder.
Price didn’t help his cause by returning to the scene of the crime approximately two hours after Hawkins’ blood-drenched body was discovered inside his apartment. Hirsh was taken into custody a short time later.
Collingsworth credited James Hammons, assistant chief of the Rogersville Police Department, for securing the crime scene and doing the field work that resulted in the arrests.
“When you work together, these are the kind of quick, positive results you get,” Collingsworth said this morning.
The criminal investigator says the pair implicated themselves during interviews he and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Scottie Ferguson conducted.
The defendants allegedly murdered the 52-year-old former soldier around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Hawkins’ lifeless body was discovered around 1:30 p.m. Price returned to the Boyd Street Apartments around 3:30 p.m. where TBI Agent Chris Wilhoit processed the bloody crime scene.
Price or Hirsch telephoned a woman to transport them away from the murder scene. The woman will not be charged because she did not know the defendants allegedly had murdered Hawkins, according to Collingsworth.
They drove to Greeneville, and were returning to Rogersville when the vehicle broke down on Route 66 near Rogersville. That’s where Hirsch was taken into custody.
The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned in Hawkins County General Sessions Court today.
They currently are being held without bond, and because they allegedly admitted murdering Hawkins, it’s unlikely they’ll be released.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer