4 year old murder solved

By: Martha Woodward

Marsha Brantley

Marsha Brantley

Erik Avanier of WDEF, Channel 12 News in Bradley County reported this week that a four year old cold case has been solved. Donnie Lee Brantley has been charged with the murder of his wife Marsha Brantley who has been missing since 2009.


Marsha Brantley of Cleveland, Tenn. went out for a walk and never returned to her home. Police and the community have been stumped as to what happened. But, that has now been changed with her husband’s arrest.


Avanier quotes police as saying that Donnie Lee Brantley had always been a person of interest. When Marsha was first reported as missing, the husband told police that his wife had left him and they were getting a divorce. Police were finally able to find ”hard evidence” on the husband who had been living in Georgia and coaxed him to the court house by telling him he was needed to answer some charges that he had hindered the investigation in his wife’s disappearance. When he arrived he was immediately arrested; bail has been set at $500,000.


Family and friends are asking Donnie Lee Brantley to tell them what he did with Marsha’s body.

Knoxville Journal friend, and acclaimed investigator, Sandra Lea, posted an article in the Journal four years ago when Brantley first came up missing. Lea has followed the case throughout the years often checking on new rumors that were going around at various websites that posted information about the case. Lea says she always suspected that the husband had something to do with the disappearance of his wife because Marsha was last seen in her home and he was the only person who had been around her.


Lea said, “ I learned a lot about Marsha while researching for the article and have never forgotten her. She was a wonderfully creative lady and so good and caring. I know she’s touched the hearts and souls of all who knew her. I  had hoped for a resolution sooner, but. I am glad to see it has finally come.”


Marsha Brantley was 51-years-old when she disappeared. Friends say she was a private woman who had a great love for animals. Her parents had died in 2000 and she never had any children. Marsha was a resident director at Lee University for several years. She was also a writer and an avid pet rescue advocate.


Since Brantley’s family is small and are spread out in East Tennessee and North Carolina, most of her relatives did not know she had been missing since June 2009 until around November of 2009. Apparently they found out from a Missing Persons Website.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Brantley’s disappearance since December 2009.





Upon hearing of the arrest, one of Marsha’s relatives posted this comment on the internet:


“Donnie Lee was arrested this morning in Cleveland, Tenn. and charged with premeditated first degree murder in the murder of Marsha Rader-Brantley who has been missing four years. May he ride the lightning as he fries in the electric chair for killing my cousin!”


caption: Marsha Radar-Brantley murder victim. photo from WDEF Cleveland

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