Murfreesboro attorney indicted on rape charges dead in Alabama, may have plotted escape to Belize

David Whelan was on the TBI's Most Wanted List
Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 19:16:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the Murfreesboro attorney who was recently added to the agency’s Most Wanted list, died after reportedly died by suicide during an encounter with Alabama authorities.

The TBI said David Whelan killed himself after being confronted by authorities in Mobile, Alabama on Thursday. The shooting remains under investigation in Alabama.

Sources tell NewsChannel 5 reporter Nick Beres that Whelan had a boat and lived on it at a lake in Mobile. However, someone at the lake this week saw the BOLO photo of Whelan and his dog.

The person wasn’t sure if it was Whelan, but immediately recognized the dog and called police, who confronted Whelan on a boat dock. The TBI says the dog is safe, accounted for and waiting for family to travel to Alabama to pick him up.

Whelan may have been plotting an escape of the country. Adam Webb tells NewsChannel 5, Whelan approached him at a Mobile marina, going by the name of Jack Wilder, hoping to buy a boat to sail to Belize.

"He wanted to leave the day he got there and was ready to throw down some money for a boat, and we talked him out of it. Me and some guys at the dock said, this is life or death. If you get a sail boat, this isn’t all Kenny Chesney and beaches and margaritas," said Webb.

According to Webb, Whelan didn't know how to sail, so he convinced Webb and another man to let him help fix up a boat that could be used to travel, and they agreed to sail with him to Belize.

Webb says they had no idea Whelan was a wanted man.

The trio might already have been down there by now if it wasn't for Hurricane Laura. The category 4 storm forced Webb to move his boat to Destin, Florida and it significantly delayed their departure.

When Webb found out about Whelan's past, he was releived they never made their trip. "What if Laura hadn’t came through? What if the boat had been fixed early. Who knows where’d we be together? Who knows if the marshals would have found him?" Webb said in an interview with NewsChannel 5's Chris Davis.

The TBI began investigating the Murfreesboro attorney in February of 2019 on allegations that he tried to get a client to provide sexual activity in lieu of payment. TBI agents said they found evidence that Whelan forced or coerced female clients into sex as a way to repay their attorney fees.

He was indicted on multiple counts of rape.

In March of 2020, the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office began investigating Whelan when he allegedly raped the teen girl who was babysitting his daughter.

He was added to the TBI’s Most Wanted list after officials say he failed to show up for a court appearance.