Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Torture Murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom

"They Did Some Really Nasty Things"

Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.
Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.
As information slowly emerged out of the investigation, it was clear this was on ordinary crime. "It apparently started with a carjacking," said U.S. Marshal Rich Knighten, "They did some really nasty things to this lady. There is some evidence she was held and sexually abused for a couple of days." In fact, as police gathered more facts it became clear that both Newsom and Christian were brutalized beyond imagination.

In the wee hours of that Sunday morning, Newsom and Christian were carjacked at gunpoint in her parents' 2005 Toyota 4-Runner and brought back to the house on Chipman. Christopher Newsom was raped over and over again (semen was found in his anus) and sodomized with an unknown object. He was blindfolded, gagged, and bound at the hands and feet. After several nightmarish hours, Newsom was either walked barefoot or dragged out to the railroad tracks where he was shot in the back of the head execution-style. The assailants shot him two more times (in the back and in the neck). Then Newsom's corpse was doused with gasoline and lit on fire.

For Channon Christian, the torture was even worse. She suffered days of sexual abuse in the Chipman home. She was beaten mercilessly and raped numerous times, suffering excruciating injuries to her mouth, vagina, and anus. Forensic pathologists found that not only was Christian raped by her captors, but she had been penetrated with an object as well (possibly a chair leg, according to the Knox County Medical Examiner). In addition, examiners found that a chemical (likely bleach) had been poured down her throat and in her wounded genital areas — while she was still alive. The coroner reported that Christian was then tied up with torn strips of bedding, her head covered in a white garbage bag — and then the whole body stuffed in five larger trash bags before being thrown into a garbage can. Perhaps the most horrifying finding was that Christian was still alive at the time; her death came after the slow process of suffocation in that trash container.

Lamaricus Davidson.
Lamaricus Davidson.
Killers Found and Trials Begin

Police immediately began searching for the renter of 2316 Chipman Street, a convicted felon named Lemaricus Davidson. Davidson had recently finished a five-year prison sentence for a previous carjacking and robbery charge. Law enforcement also sought Davidson's brother Letalvis Cobbins. By Wednesday, January 11, 2007, authorities had arrested Davidson in Knoxville; Cobbins and his friend George Thomas were picked up by US Marshals in Lebanon, Kentucky. Further investigation led to the arrest of Cobbins' girlfriend Vanessa Coleman, who witnessed the kidnapped couple in the house on Chipman Street. On January 31, 2007, a grand jury handed down a 46-count indictment against the four defendants.

The attackers would be tried separately, but the first person convicted in the case would be a man who had no contact with Newsom or Christian. Dewayne Boyd was convicted by a Federal jury on April 16, 2008 as an accessory to the carjacking for his role in hiding Davidson in the days after the killings. He would be sentenced to 18 years in prison.

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