Steven Parnell, better known as 'Stump,' is behind bars on a capital murder charge. He's accused of murdering 36-year-old Allen Oneil Smith in the most gruesome killing the Washington County Sheriff says he's seen during his career.
"I've seen a lot of murders in my life, but I can't say I've ever seen one worse than this," Sheriff Richard Stringer said.
Stringer said Parnell was first arrested Saturday night on drug charges after deputies saw him walking on the side of the highway after responding to a call about a burning truck, which they later discovered belonged to Smith.
"That's what really lead us into the investigation when the sheriff's deputies said he had meth in his pocket and a very bloody chain. It was a chain that was apparently around someone's neck," Stringer said.
The officers arrested Parnell on drug charges but had suspicions there was a lot more to the story. However, without proof, Parnell was released morning after making bond. Shortly afterward, Stringer says Parnell admitted to his father that he had killed someone.
"I know his father personally. He's a good man. He said, 'my son's going to do the right thing,' and he did," Stringer said.
Parnell told the authorities where he dumped Smith's body, and they discovered Smith had not only been shot in the back of the head but also had his throat cut and body burned in a trash pile in what Stringer says was an attempt to cover up the crime.
"The root cause absolutely was drug related," said Sheriff Stringer. " I know the suspect. Normally he would not do this. I truly believe he was influenced by drugs."
Parnell is facing a capital murder charge because Stringer says they have evidence that leads them to believe he also robbed the victim. If convicted, Parnell could face the death penalty.