Woman charged in husband’s death


A Monroe County woman has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 3, death of her husband. The death was first thought to be an accidental overdose until investigators learned the couple had been separated and received further information. The investigation then led the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to charge the wife with his death.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Lt. Det. Jennifer Bledsoe said that 56-year-old Karen S. Coffman was arrested Wednesday Jan. 9, on the first-degree murder charge.

On Dec. 3, Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Cansler responded to a call on Thompson Farm Road between Sweetwater and Vonore in reference to an overdose. When he arrived he said he found Karen Coffman on the front porch and she told him that she awoke from a nap and found her husband not breathing. 

Cansler said in the initial report, “I entered the residence and found Mr. (John) Coffman sitting upright in a recliner. The recliner is located in the living room.” Cansler said he noticed that John Coffman had a feeding tube inserted into his stomach and a red liquid around the tube and on his stomach.

Cansler also said that two empty bottles of liquid Hydrocodone were found on the recliner and on the floor beside the recliner. “I also found an empty bottle of Valium on the floor beside the recliner and an empty bottle of anti-depressant pills underneath the recliner. That is when he contacted a detective to come to the scene.

Cansler said Karen Coffman told him she and John were married, but have been separated for 18 months. She had moved to Tellico Plains but moved back with her husband in April after he was diagnosed with cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (C.O.P.D.).

She said that she had gone to take a nap about noon and left her husband watching television. She said she awoke about 2:45 p.m. to find her husband not breathing and called 911.

At first, detectives believed John Coffman died from an overdose of his prescribed medication, but Det. Bledsoe said Wednesday that “Further information was later brought to the attention of law enforcement and the subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Ms. Coffman.” Bledsoe declined to elaborate on the information, or release an exact cause of death.

Coffman was being held in the Monroe County Jail under $250,000 bond, as of Jan. 10.

By Wes Hall

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