On the night of January 6, 2007, two assailants carjacked Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23. The perpetrators attacked the couple in a parking lot near an apartment complex in Knoxville, TN. Five suspects in total - Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, Eric Boyd, and Vanessa Coleman - then sexually assaulted, tortured, and killed Christian and Newsom. The victims’ families notified authorities the next day about the missing couple.
The gruesome double murder shook the Knoxville area, and investigators were unsure of the motive behind the severity of the attack. The Knoxville murders didn't get national attention, but it did make people question why - and how - this happened, and whether or not Christian and Newsom were victims of a hate crime. Tennessee courts convicted the five assailants on up to 38 counts, including capital murder, kidnap, rape, theft, accessory to carjacking, and accessory to murder.
They Were Carjacked In The Parking Lot Of An Apartment Complex
On January 6, 2007, couple Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom were out in East Knoxville. Reportedly, they had dinner at a local restaurant and then visited a friend. They were on their way to a birthday party when two unknown, armed assailants carjacked them for Christian's Toyota 4-Runner in the parking lot of her friend’s apartment complex.
Eric Boyd initially spotted the couple and later alleged he and Lemaricus Davidson only intended to rob them. They forced Christian and Newsom into the vehicle at gunpoint and bound them. Davidson then drove the stolen SUV - with the couple in the back - to Davidson’s nearby house. Letalvis Cobbins followed them.
Bleach Was Poured Down Channon Christian's Throat
The three men - with the stolen SUV - returned to Davidson’s home on Chipman Street, where George Thomas and his girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, were also staying. Reportedly, four of them - Davidson; his brother, Cobbins; Cobbins’s friend Thomas; and Thomas’s girlfriend, Coleman - sexually abused and tortured Christian before she died. The men repeatedly raped Christian, and prosecutors believe Coleman sexually assaulted her with unspecified “objects.”
The assailants then beat and kicked Christian before covering her body in bleach. They poured the caustic chemical down her throat and scrubbed her body with it - forensic investigators believe in an effort to conceal DNA evidence. The men then tied Christian up with bed sheets and wrapped her face in a small plastic bag. She was still alive when they forced her into large trash bags. They then inserted her body inside a trash can and covered her with more sheets.
Christopher Newsom Was Also Repeatedly Sexually Assaulted
The assailants dragged Christopher Newsom - a former baseball standout - from the vehicle and into the house while bound. Reportedly, the men blindfolded and gagged Newsom. Medical examiners concluded they raped and sodomized him with unspecified objects.
The men then took turns beating Newsom and dragged him outside, barefoot, through the dirt. They then forced him back into the SUV. Authorities believe Boyd may have been responsible for the sexual assault against Newsom but were unable to prosecute him for the crime. All four men denied culpability in Newsom’s death.
Newsom Was Shot And Set On Fire
After they forced Newsom into the back of Christian’s SUV, the assailants took him to a secluded area next to nearby railroad tracks. There, they reportedly shot him in the head, neck, and back. Forensic evidence indicated both Davidson and Thomas fired shots, and Davidson then executed Newsom.
The assailants wrapped his body in a blanket before covering him in gasoline. They then lit his body on fire and left. Authorities discovered Newsom’s body first - on Sunday, January 7, 2007, hours after his death. Knoxville investigators did not find Christian until Tuesday.