She also told Shank that her husband had "surprised" her with a new cellphone. She was really looking to connect [with people], more particularly in the writing part of her life.". When Marsha Brantley, 50, of Cleveland, Tenn., all of the sudden vanished in 2009, her husband Donnie ultimately grew to become a suspect in her homicide. She also left her car behind with a note that read, "Sell it. October 26, 2020. The housing market tanked in 2009, leaving him without much work in his home repair business, House Doctors. The AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing. Donnie Brantley, now 52, wasn't very talkative, and he didn't seem to be interested in the same things as Marsha Brantley, Grill said. It read: "Things are better for me now.". This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Times Free Press, Inc. Material from the Associated Press is Copyright © 2020, Associated Press and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. She didn't take her cellphone or clothes or any personal belongings. Jay, who was closest to Brantley, said she let her know she was there for her if she needed to talk, but Brantley immediately "clammed up" and didn't talk about it any further. Crump did not disclose what, if any, new evidence had come to light, and since the case is still open, investigators have declined to discuss any details. He regularly bought items such as tarps and plastic drop cloths for work. But some friends said her online posts didn't reflect her real-life relationship with Donnie Brantley. "It was a complete shock.". They only met Donnie Brantley a handful of times in the nine years the couple had been married, and each time he didn't say much, both her cousin Jana Wills and her aunt Medra Justis said. Multiple investigations have failed to determine a cause of disappearance. He said they did not believe Donnie Brantley had anything to do with it. October 26, 2020. "I have the best husband in the world," a Nov. 27, 2008, blog entry reads. Meanwhile, Marsha Brantley's family and friends still don't have closure, and Donnie Brantley's life has been put on hold twice — and could be for a third time. It's not clear what day Marsha Brantley officially disappeared, but investigators believe it to have been on June 2 or some time between then and mid-July 2009. But if it's seen through the lens of a man whose wife had just left him, it doesn't look out of the ordinary. At one point, word got out that Donnie Brantley had allegedly lied about where Marsha Brantley had gone. The state's case against Donnie Brantley rests on two main motives: financial problems and alleged affairs with women, including an ex-girlfriend. But the longer she was gone and when I talked to the TBI and they told me that Donnie had told so many lies, then I began to wonder that maybe she, maybe she wasn't gone away.". Medical records from her pharmacist show she had been experiencing mild to major mood swings. Donnie Brantley was indicted for first-degree murder in 2009, but the charge was dropped. Two other things the prosecution has pointed to are that Donnie Brantley allegedly kept changing his story about what happened to Marsha Brantley and, according to investigators, lied about where he kept the couple's camper, which prosecutors thought would crack the case. "If it were not for [Phyllis'] boldness, knocking on the door and asking [Donnie Brantley] 'Where is she?'" It was a long conversation, and she allegedly told Shank she was considering leaving her writers' group to join one in Knoxville, 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump said. So what happened to her? The family worried that if a jury did not find Donnie Brantley guilty, there would be no second chance. Her body has never been found. But was Marsha even dead? Investigators found many receipts that showed Donnie Brantley had bought several items that could have been used to dispose of a body, Crump said. Marsha Brantley, 50 at the time of her disappearance, was originally from Illinois. "He was just very standoffish, very private.". Davis has explained Donnie Brantley's differing stories as a man wanting to get "nosy people" to leave him alone after his wife left him. And though authorities believe she is dead, they're unable to prove it was the result of a homicide, despite having charged her husband twice for her death — and dismissed those charges both times. The same sentiments were reflected on her Facebook account. Is she still alive, living under a new identity? "It was a big shock because when she formed this group, her one criteria was that, 'If you want to be in the group, you can't quit without a good reason.' Despite the circumstantial evidence stacked against Donnie Brantley, Davis, a former prosecutor, has maintained that Donnie Brantley's guilt depends on the lens through which it's viewed. He also hopes to regain access to the camper and search it again. DeLude said. But that note was not preserved, and investigators believe there was never any money or that Donnie Brantley is the one who spent it. Despite seeming guarded, Donnie Brantley appeared to be more introverted than hostile or shy, Wills said. Some of the women questioned whether Marsha Brantley had actually sent the email, but the third member, Wendy Brown, later told them Marsha Brantley had been planning to leave the group, Grill said. The main argument the defense has is that Marsha Brantley allegedly told Donnie Brantley that she was leaving him and wanted a divorce. DeLude said, " I would have never thought another thing about it if she had not told me what he said.". Investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Bradley County sheriff's and district attorney's offices do not seem to be any closer to answering those questions than they were when the first charge of first-degree murder was brought against her husband, Donnie Brantley, nearly a decade ago. There is conflicting information about whether authorities looked for a body. Bebb recently told the Times Free Press that he was not aware of any bad interviews, and he "would have done something about it" if he had known. Any court documents that were previously available to the public have been expunged, leaving no evidence of any charges against Donnie Brantley. Marsha Brantley. One article in the series details what defense attorneys claimed were prosecutors' missteps or misconduct, including withholding evidence and violating defendants' rights. Marsha Brantley's friends said she would have been angry and devastated if she had found out about an alleged affair. She would have kicked Donnie Brantley out rather than let him have the house to live in with a new woman, they said. Crump said that email appeared to be a spam email that contained several forwards. Davis also points to her severe depression. Marsha Brantley's friends said that, while she never specifically mentioned financial stress, they could tell money was tight. "The question now is can we prove that she was deceased as a result of a homicide, and that's what we're working on now. He didn't say a word and went directly to a back room to change clothes. Friends said she told them the death of her parents was the most difficult point in her life. READ American ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, from Alabama, needs to return, face US justice The Yahoo Group had since been closed. The flowers in which Brantley normally took pride were dead, and she hadn't been seen walking her foster dogs, as she so often did. Asked if any other people were considered people of interest, Crump said no. Marsha Brantley's family did not remember authorities organizing any large search parties, but the family did pass out fliers in hopes of jogging people's memories. Because she wanted everyone to be committed," Jay said. Because Donnie Brantley couldn't keep the camper at his house, it was kept at a storage lot across from the campsite or at his parents' property. When asked what happened to his wife, investigators said he told neighbors several variations, including that she had "gone out west," or was "living in their camper in Townsend [Tenn.]". Davis, however, has argued that the receipts were from Donnie Brantley's home repair franchise he co-owned with his wife. "I know we all looked at her, 'cause it was just an unusual statement coming from Marsha," said Reggie Jay. She also sent a group email to her writers' group, telling them she would "be missing for some time without explanation," a copy of the emails shows. " He compared the case to the movie "My Cousin Vinny," during which Billy Gambini, played by Ralph Macchio, inadvertently "confesses" to shooting a convenience store clerk by saying, "I shot the clerk?" The purchase and landfill trip, coupled with not having found Marsha Brantley's body, is proof of premeditation, Crump said. Since there is no body and no crime scene, the case has revolved around two alleged motives and enough circumstantial evidence to uphold a conviction, according to current and former district attorneys general.
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