Accused burglar who found dead body came back three more times to steal

Jeff Bobo • Jul 19, 2019 at 4:08 PM

CHURCH HILL – A Hawkins County man who allegedly burgled a deceased man's home three times after discovering the homeowner deceased during a burglary three weeks ago is facing multiple charges including failure to report the discovery of a dead body.

Robert Eric Stine, 44, of Church Hill was allegedly discovered hiding a neighbor's residence early Friday morning after the HCSO received a report of a suspicious vehicle in that neighborhood.

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson told the Times New that as of Friday evening his officers were still trying to locate the deceased man's next of kin to report his passing.

As a result the deceased man's name and addressed aren't being released.

Lawson noted, however that at this time the man's death is not considered suspicious or foul play.

When the HCSO arrived at the man's residence shortly before 5 a.m. Friday deputies reportedly observed that the basement appeared to have been forced open.

Upon entering the residence deputies located Stine hiding. Upon searching the residence, however deputies located the remains of a man who appeared to have been deceased for several weeks.

Stine reportedly admitted that he burgled the residence three weeks ago through the basement door and discovered the deceased man.

Stine also allegedly admitted to entering the residence twice on July 15, at which time he took a a pellet pistol, ammunition, a TV, a belt buckle and a leather holster.

He further stated that the only other time he'd been in the residence was when he was discovered by the HCSO Friday morning.

Tennessee Code Annotated states it is Class A misdemeanor for any person who discovers an unattended dead human body, or any part of a dead human body, to fail to report the discovery immediately, by the fastest available means of communication, to the chief of police if the body is discovered in an incorporated town or city, or to the sheriff if the body is discovered in the county outside the corporate limits of any incorporated town or city.

Stine was additionally charged with four counts of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony punishable by 3-6 years, and two counts of misdemeanor theft.

He was being held in the Hawkins County Jail with no bond set pending arraignment Monday in Sessions Court.

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