NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The wife of a man who police said was killed and then decapitated by a close family friend has been indicted in the grisly murder.
The body of 48-year-old Erman Thompson was discovered by a mail carrier in a field near his home on Claiborne Street in July. His head was found in the garbage can behind his home the following day.
Police arrested his longtime friend, 37-year-old Henry James Baxter, and charged him with first degree murder.
Thompson's wife, Ashley Thompson, was indicted Friday with being an accessory after the fact. She first heard the news Monday from NewsChannel 5, and she said she was stunned.
It has been a full two months since police cars and crime scene tape covered the street and the areas surrounding it.
NewsChannel 5 spoke to Ashly Thompson the day after her husband's decapitated body was found. It was during that interview she admitted she saw their family friend, Henry Baxter, digging a grave meant for her husband.
"It was a good maybe 5, 6 inches down, and then he said the ground was too hard for him to dig any deeper," she said.
Ashly also said she knew about the killing days before anyone else, but kept quiet.
"Mr. Baxter told you about this Monday?" asked reporter Mark Bellinger.
"Yes, Monday afternoon," she told him.
"And you didn't go to police?" he asked.
"No. No. I was scared half to death," she said.
Officials said her silence over those few days have resulted in a grand jury indictment for accessory after the fact – of helping Baxter avoid arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment – in the murder of her own husband.
Baxter allegedly confessed to the murder this summer, and told police he killed the man who raised him because of the way Erman treated his wife.
The apparent plan to protect Ashly Thompson has now backfired because she, too, was charged with a crime and will very soon be headed to court.
Ashly Thompson had not yet been picked up by police and booked, so she did not want to comment. She did say it has been enough to deal with the loss of her husband and insisted she was not at all involved in his murder.
Baxter was also indicted by the grand jury on charges of first degree murder, and abuse of a corpse. Investigators said he shot Erman Thompson in the head, and then used a shovel to decapitate him.