Middle Tennessee Mysteries

Coffee County: David Edward Steele

Dec 10, 2018 at 10:00 am by Michelle Willard

David Edward Steele

People don't just disappear in this day and age but that's exactly what happened to David Edward Steele in August 2017.

Local police were called and they began to search. That ended in October 2017 when Tullahoma Police officers discovered his body hanging from a tree in a neighboring county and a missing person turned into an unsolved murder.

Investigators believe they have found the people responsible for his unsolved murder. However, they haven't released the reasons behind the attack.

The Victim

David Edward Steele was only 33 years old when he died. He was a handyman and general contractor by trade, according to his obituary. He loved his four children as well as sports like hunting, fishing, football and soccer.

"David will be remembered as a generous man that would give the shirt off his back to anyone that needed," his family wrote in his obituary.

After he disappeared, his family tried to use social media to turn up any clues. His mother Julie Steele posted on Facebook "My heart is aching so bad to see your face to hear your voice." 

The Crime

When David disappeared, his family immediately suspected foul play.

His disappearance came to the attention of police during a traffic stop made by a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy. According to the deputy, the driver said she knew David had been shot at an apartment complex in Tullahoma.

Further investigation did not find a report of any shooting at or near the complex but it did reveal that David had not spoken to his father since August 2017 and that there had been no activity on his social media accounts in several weeks, according to the Tullahoma News

At this point, his father filed a missing persons report. It was Oct. 3, 2017. Tullahoma Police officers informed surrounding counties and began interviewing David's friends.

On Thursday morning, Oct. 26, 2017, Tullahoma Police officers followed a tip to a wooded area near Estill Springs and found what they believed were David's remains hanging from a tree. They then called in Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents and authorities from Franklin County who joined the investigation.

The remains were found about 75 yards off the roadway near the intersection of UTSI-Spring Creek Road.

The remains were sent to the Tennessee Medical Examiner’s Office in Nashville for an autopsy where it was confirmed that they were the remains of David Steele. The autopsy found he died of asphyxiation and was shot in his leg, according to the Manchester Times.

The Indictment

In November 2018, seven people were indicted in the death of David Edward Steele.

On Dec. 4, 2018, Bruce Edward Dorsett Jr., Shawna R. Haney, Voltaire Xavier Hickerson and Michael Andrew Taylor were arrested on charges in a 10-count indictment issued by a Coffee County grand jury.

Prosecutors believe David was kidnapped at his home and then shot when he attempted to escape. The four are accused of taking David's body and hanging it from a tree in Franklin County.

The reasons behind the kidnapping are unknown to the public.

Two suspects – Dorsett, 32, and Haney, 44 – were charged with first-degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence, coercion of a witness, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, according to records from the Coffee County Circuit Court clerk.

The other two – Hickerson, 38, and Taylor, 32 – were charged with first-degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

All are being held in the Coffee County jail, Dorsett and Haney on a $750,000 bond, Hickerson on a $700,000 bond and Taylor on a $400,000 bond.

All four are expected to be arraigned before the end of 2018.

In early February 2019, two additional suspects were charged. Bryan Dudley, 38, and Jamie Wilson Holland, 38, were charged with aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence and coercion of a witness.

On Feb. 14, 2019, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press reported that a total of seven suspects had been arrested in connection with David's murder.

Miguel Sanders, 45, was the last suspect arrested. He was charged with first-degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence, coercion of a witness and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

"Miguel Sanders is the last one. We've got them all at this point," said Craig Northcott, 14th Judicial District Attorney General.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.