A Cocke County man, who murdered four in the Red Lantern Massacre in Newport 42 years ago, was burdened with new legal problems on Monday and appears to have little chance to avoid a lengthy federal prison term, according to court documents.
What’s clear is that the Cocke County Sheriff’s Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration identified Eddie Dallas “Rusty” Denton as a problem, and they worked together to assemble what seems to be an air-tight case.
When law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at Denton’s Fox Chase Road residence on Monday, they allegedly found wildly expensive oxymorphone pills, along with methadone for which Denton, 66, had no prescription and multiple firearms he cannot legally possess, according to a criminal complaint drafted by Chuck Evans, a DEA task force member.
Once in May, twice in April and one time in June, an informant identified as “Bubba” bought Opana pills from Denton at the defendant’s home. All the alleged transactions were recorded and monitored by law enforcement. During one of the transactions, Denton allegedly sold Bubba a .22-caliber revolver.
The criminal complaint charges Denton with conspiracy to distribute oxymorphone and methadone and possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense. The defendant made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Monday. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 15
Denton was 23 years old on Christmas Day 1976 when he shot and killed four people at the Red Lantern Inn, a Cocke County watering hole. Denton was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to the maximum, 25 years in state prison. In 1991, he was sentenced to 61 months in federal prison after he was convicted of carrying a firearm while trafficking cocaine.
In 2010, a federal judge sentenced Denton to 21 months in prison after he was found guilty of using a telephone to facilitate a drug transaction, according to the criminal complaint.
The defendant’s daughter, 45-year-old Monica Denton, to some extent has continued the family’s drug-plagued tradition.
She was sentenced to a downwardly-adjusted 78 months in federal prison in 2012 after she was convicted of trafficking oxycodone and armed robbery. In 2017, she was sentenced to another 18 months for violating the terms of her supervised release.
Monica Denton is currently in federal custody, awaiting sentencing in a second revocation case. She tested positive for oxycodone, cocaine and marijuana before she was taken into custody.