[Hpn] 2 suspects arrested in homeless death [i.e., re: drowning/murder of Tara Cole on August 11th in Nashville, Tennessee]; The Tennessean; 8/25/2006

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@gmail.com
Sat, 26 Aug 2006 22:55:09 -0400

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Friday, August 25, 2006
The Tennessean
[Nashville, Tennessee]
2 suspects arrested in homeless death
Men were drunk, looking for trouble, police say

Staff Writer

When two murder suspects went downtown to Second Avenue two weeks ago,
Metro police said Thursday, they were drunk and intent on harassing
the city's homeless.

Timothy Webber, 21, of Tribble Lane in Lebanon and Josh Dotts, 22, of
Smalling Road in Lafayette were arrested Thursday in the death of Tara
Cole, 32, a homeless woman who drowned Aug. 11 after she was pushed
into the Cumberland River as she slept.

Metro police detectives said Webber and Dotts were looking for trouble
that night. Statements that their friends gave to police indicated
that they came downtown with plans to rough up the people who spend
their nights sleeping on downtown streets.

The other two men whom Webber and Dotts were with are considered
witnesses and haven't been charged, police said. Dotts and Webber were
charged Thursday with criminal homicide in Cole's death and with
aggravated assault on a homeless man who was hit in the face earlier
that night.

"When they came to Nashville, two wanted to see some girls and two
wanted to get rowdy," said Detective Ricky Winfrey.

Both men were held at Metro Jail pending a court hearing.

Police said that Webber, Dotts and their two friends were captured by
surveillance videos along Second Avenue. They matched the descriptions
that witnesses had given to police of the men who pushed Cole.

The surveillance videos were given to the media, and three of the men
contacted police after seeing themselves on TV, Winfrey said.

According to the statements that police said the men gave, the four
men were separated during a foot chase after Dotts struck Jessie
Masters, 26, in the face with a bottle at Riverfront Park. They all
started to go back to the car, police said, but Dotts and Webber went
back into the park at some point and saw Cole lying there.

Police believe Webber was the person who jumped the pier's railing
about 3 a.m. and pushed the sleeping woman into the river.

Some other homeless people in the area jumped in after Cole but were
unable to save her, police

Lebanon police said Webber had been arrested there at least three
times. In April 2004, he was arrested on a car-theft charge. On
Christmas Eve that year, Webber's girlfriend told police that he
struck her in the face with his fist during a fight. Last June, Webber
and another man were spotted urinating on a Lebanon police patrol car.
He was charged with possession and transportation of liquor while
under 21, public intoxication and resisting arrest, police said.

Cole's stepmother, Carol Boyd, said by phone Thursday evening that she
was looking forward to seeing justice served.

The arrests "definitely help," Boyd said. "I don't know if any of us
will ever, ever understand the mentality" of whoever killed Cole "and
what they were thinking or why they did this to her " but that news
of Thursday's arrests "definitely does help with some closure."

Members of Cole's family have said that, although Cole was living as a
homeless person, she was not without a home. Her mother lives in
Illinois, and her father and stepmother live in Indiana. They last saw
her about three years ago, and they all thought she was living in a

Cole began showing signs of bipolar disorder in her early 20s,
according to family, and she often stopped taking her medication.

She was known in the downtown area as quiet and shy, and she often
slept on the pier.

Police said she had an active bank account in town.

Seeing the two suspects on a video screen during their booking at the
police department's headquarters Thursday afternoon left Ann Denton,
an organizer with the Nashville Homeless Power Project, with mixed
emotions. Sickened. Horrified. Prayerful.

The arrests are "a relief, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,"
Denton said. The death has called more attention to the homeless
community, she said, and the need for more housing is tragically

Denton participated in vigils held nightly until Cole's body was
recovered by divers from beneath a barge used for concerts, more than
10 days after she drowned.

Howard Allen, who has served as an organizer with the Nashville
Homeless Power Project, called Cole's killers "real weapons of mass
destruction" and said he was at a loss for words to describe his
feelings about the arrests.

"She was asleep and had no chance to ask God for help," Allen said.

"All she had time to do was scream  But she is home now, she's got a
neighbor in God, and there are plenty of Taras still sleeping on these


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