Authorities Follow Leads In Case Of Missing Children
BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. – Authorities continue to follow up leads more than a week after a fatal fire in Bedford County.
An Amber Alert was issued Friday night for 9-year-old Chloie Leverette and 7-year-old Gage Daniel, after investigators said there has been no physical evidence that proves the children were inside the home on Kingdom Road in Unionville at the time of the fire on Sunday, September 23.
Two bodies tentatively identified as 72-year-old Leon "Bubba" McClaran and his wife, 70-year-old Molly McClaran, were recovered last Monday and have been sent to the Nashville medical examiner's office for autopsy. Molly was the children's maternal grandmother, Leon was their step-grandfather.
A coordinated search for the TBI by TEMA of an expanded area around the home turned up no leads Sunday. It included search dogs and search teams consisting of county search personnel, TBI, TEMA, and other state agency employees.
Multiple fire experts had processed the debris of the incinerated farmhouse and no trace of the children was found, the TBI said.
On Wednesday, when officials still had not found evidence of the children's remains in the debris, TBI issued an endangered child alert.
Helm said the TBI does not have any direct evidence that the children are victims of foul play. She said there are no persons of interest in the case and that investigators are following all leads, but would not elaborate.
Forensic teams from Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville were brought in to help in the search.
Forensic anthropologist Steven A. Symes, who formerly worked in the medical examiner's office for Shelby County, said it was a smart decision for authorities to bring in these teams because they have the expertise.
"It just takes some screening and some close looking and understanding that a piece of drywall and piece of skull bone burned look about identical," he said.
Symes said the recovery of remains from fires has advanced as the forensic anthropology field grows, but he acknowledged it is still a slow process. He said the length of time to recover remains depends on the scene and how detailed the search is.
"Unfortunately sometimes a case that you least expect to be suspicious or difficult turns into that type of case," he said.
Christopher Garrett, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal's office, said he did not have any information on a cause of the fire.