EMT, Vol. Fire Chief Accused Of Stealing From Dead Woman
By Adam Ghassemi
PORTLAND, Tenn. – Portland Police were conducting a death investigation Monday at a home on Highway 259 near the Tennessee/Kentucky boarder. Detectives say Melissa Humphrey died of natural causes, but they also found cash in a vehicle parked inside the home's garage.
They say 28-year-old Ashley Choate, a Sumner County EMS worker, arrived by ambulance to assist. When the officers went to collect and hand the money over to the family it was gone.
"It's just a big shock," said neighbor Jason Birdwell who is also an EMT and volunteer firefighter at Oak Grove Community Fire Department where Choate served as Chief.
Birdwell hopes this doesn't destroy either organizations credibility.
"We go into people's houses all the time in their time of need, you know, when they're having an emergency and we're expected to show up in a professional capacity and to be trusted," he said.
Investigators said, during questioning, Choate admitted while she was on her way home Monday when she began to feel guilty about what she did. She told them she ripped up a little more than $100 in cash and threw it out of her car's window. Detectives later found a few pieces along the road to verify her story.
Choate was booked into the Sumner County Jail on theft charges.
Birdwell hopes people can forgive and forget without holding either organization accountable for what some are calling an awful mistake.
"Don't hold it against everybody," Birdwell went on to say.
Sumner County EMS officials told NewsChannel 5 Choate was fired immediately. An Oak Grove Community Fire Department official confirmed Choate resigned her position as Chief early Tuesday morning.
Detectives said they are also considering charging Choate with official misconduct, but that will be up to the Sumner County Grand Jury.
Choate posted a $1,500 bond and was out of jail Tuesday night.