The Torture and Murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom

Listen Now

On the night of January 6, 2007, 21-year-old Channon Christian & her 23-year-old boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, headed out to celebrate a friend’s birthday in Knoxville, TN. They never made it. 

Channon was a sociology major at the University of Knoxville; she had moved from Louisiana to TN in 1997 & her family settled in Farragut, an upscale community in West Knoxville.  At the time, she’d been dating Christopher Newsom for two months.

Christopher was a varsity basketball player in high school and lived in a more blue-collar area of North Knoxville. He graduated in 2002 & began working as a carpenter, choosing to skip college. Despite being two very different people, Christopher & Channon had plenty of chemistry. Hugh Newsome, Christopher’s father, said that Christopher had admitted that he was in love with Channon. Channon’s friends confirmed that the feelings were mutual.

On the night of the party, January 6, 2007, Channon headed over to the Washington Ridge Apartments in her silver 2005 Toyota 4 Runner; she was meeting her friend Kara Sowards & planning to meet up with Chris later. In the meantime, Chris had spent the day playing golf with his friend, Josh Anderson & then went home to shower. Chris’ parents asked him if he wanted to eat with them, but he said that he was going to get dinner with Channon. 

About 8pm Kara left for the party & Channon stayed behind, letting her know that she & Chris would see her at their mutual friend’s house, Jamie Hampton who was throwing herself a birthday party. After Kara left, Channon surfed the internet & waited for Chris to arrive. 

Chris left his parent’s house in the early evening to meet Channon; he drove his pickup truck, picked his friend Josh up & dropped him off at the birthday party. He then made the 10 minute drive to the Washington Ridge Apartments to get Channon. When he arrived, he parked & went inside. 

Meanwhile at the party, their friends waited for them to arrive. They started to get annoyed when it was clear they weren’t coming. Multiple friends called both Chris & Channon’s phones but by 10pm, they were going straight to voicemail. About 12:30am, now onto Sunday, January 7, two friends Josh & a man named Justin Russell, left Jamie’s party to look for them. They started their search at the Washington Ridge Apartment complex. 

They noticed that Chris’ pickup truck was there but Channon’s car was nowhere to be found. This struck them as odd because whenever the two went out together, they always drove Chris’ truck. They were irritated, assuming the couple decided to skip the party & do something else. 

At 12:40 that morning (the 7th), Channon’s parent’s got a call from her; she said she & Chris got dinner & were watching a movie & that she would be home in a couple of hours. When 3:30am rolled around & Channon still hadn’t arrived home, her mom tried calling her but she didn’t answer. When they woke up in the morning, Channon still wasn’t home. Their worry grew when they learned that she & Chris hadn’t shown up to the party. After Channon’s boss called to say she hadn’t come to work, they knew something was terribly wrong since she was a very reliable person. They were also realizing that Chris was nowhere to be found. 

After calling around to local hospitals, they decided to file a missing person’s report with the Knoxville PD. Police basically told them that because they were adults, they had to wait 24 hours until they could take action. Channon & Chris’ families knew that this was uncharacteristic of them & refused to just sit & wait. Channon’s parents contacted their cell phone provider to figure out the last location her cell phone had pinged. They discovered that it was last located on Cherry Street, which happens to be in a high-crime neighborhood. A Knoxville news reporter described it by saying, “It’s not an area you go to unless you live there or unless you’re up to no good.” 

They also found that after Channon called them at 12:40am, her voicemail had been accessed 3 times : 3am, 1:30pm & 1:37pm. A password is needed in order to retrieve the messages. Gary, Channon’s dad & her brother Chase, decided to drive around the area to look for her car. They ended up finding it at 1:30am on Monday, January 8th on Gilder Ave, near Chipman Street. The family again contacted the Knoxville PD who agreed to start an investigation.

What they didn’t know at the time, was, the day before, on Sunday the 7th at noon, an engineer named John Ford who worked at the railroad, found a charred, still smoldering body near the railroad tracks near Cherry Street & 9th Ave, in the area where Channon’s phone last pinged. The body was so badly burned, it couldn’t be recognized or identified that day.

An autopsy was done & it was determined that the body belonged to 23-year-old Christopher Newsom. His face & head were wrapped in sweatshirt & a sock was in his mouth, a shoelace tied around his neck. A blue bandana was tied around his eyes & he was naked from the waist down, his shoes missing. His own belt was around his ankles, the other shoelace bound his hands behind his back. Floral strips of cloth laid nearby & a broken dog leash was strewn to the side & investigators feel this was used to lead him to his death.

Chris’ feet were muddy, indicating he had walked barefoot to the location he was found. He was found to have been viciously raped by an object that caused severe rectal damage & semen was found inside his body as well. He was then wrapped in a comforter, doused with gasoline & 80% of his body had been burned. He had been shot 3 times; on the R side of his head, on the right side of his neck & in the back. He had died before he was burned because there were no signs of smoke inhalation. The wound that killed him was the bullet to the head; he had been shot execution style with the gun placed to his head.

The police meanwhile, searched Channon’s car & found no traces of blood. They found that a couple of bags of clothing Channon had planned to donate were missing as well as her overnight bag. The front seats had been moved all the way back, mud coated the floor of the back floorboards & an empty pack of Newport cigarettes was found crumpled in the car that didn’t belong to Channon or Chris.

The car was checked for fingerprints but it had been wiped clean; Ed Kingsbury, an investigator with the Knoxville PD said that this fact was an ominous red flag. They dusted an envelope from a bank statement in Channon’s car for fingerprints & it came back as belonging to convicted felon Lamaricus Davidson, who was a 25-year-old drug dealer who had just gotten out of prison after serving 5 years for carjacking & aggravated robbery. They found that he was renting a house on Chipman street, only a few blocks from where Chris’ body was found & near the Cherry Street area where Channon’s phone had pinged. 

On Tuesday, January 9, police got a warrant to search the small house. They entered the house at 1:30pm & found that no one was home when they arrived. When they entered the kitchen, they noticed a large garbage can that contained trash bags that held the remains of Channon’s body. At 3:30pm her body was removed & an autopsy was done.

Channon had been violently raped vaginally, orally & anally; the trauma was extreme. She had been viciously kicked & punched in the genital area. Her genital areas and mouth had been scrubbed with an abrasive agent & bleach had been used; she had even been forced to drink bleach. Despite this, they were able to obtain DNA evidence from the semen found in all three cavities. She was badly bruised, scratched & had carpet burns on her body. Her gums had also been torn. She had been forced & bound in a tight fetal position; her thighs were bound to her chest with a pink curtain and her ankles were bound with strips of bedding, her head forced down onto her knees. A white plastic bag covered her head & was knotted in the back. She was then placed, while still alive, into five plastic garbage bags & placed into the large bin. She was naked from the waist down, wearing a shirt with a blood stain & a camisole underneath. She had not only been raped by multiple men, but also a large object. Her cause of death was positional asphyxiation from the bag over her head & from the way she had been positioned. She was left to slowly suffocate; it was determined that she died within 10-30 minutes of being placed with the bag on her head & in the bin. 

It was determined that she died between Sunday and Monday afternoon. The house contained her clothing, pictures from her car, her iPod that had been inscripted by her parents & Chris’ things were also found. The house contained very little furniture, some broken. Police had assumed that Channon & Chris had been raped by a chair leg from a broken piece of furniture. 

The house was situated next to a waste management company & a witness who worked there came forward with information. He saw Channon’s car at the house the night that Chris & Channon went missing. The porch light was on & the house seemed “busy.” At 12:50am, he saw Channon’s car leave the house & noted that four African American men were in the car. Another witness came forward saying that he lived a block away & heard 3 “pops” that night at 1:45am. A third witness said that on Sunday at 7:45am, he saw smoke rising from the direction of the train tracks but didn’t investigate it.

While searching the murder scene, a video was found that had been rented from a library in Kentucky that belonged to a man named George Thomas. They also questioned Daphne Sutton, Davidson’s girlfriend who was living at the house up until the time of the kidnappings & murders. She told police that on January 7, Davidson had been at the house with George Thomas, Davidson’s half-brother Letalvis Cobbins/aka Rome & a woman named Vanessa Coleman. She said she last saw Davidson when she dropped him off later that day at the home of a man named Eric Boyd.

So, five suspects ended up being identified. On January 11, authorities found two suspects, Letalvis Cobbins/Rome. They also found George Thomas; both were at their homes in Lebanon, KY, 133 miles away from Knoxville. Later that day, Lemaricus Davidson was found at a vacant home on Reynolds Street in Knoxville; he was wearing Chris’ shoes. On January 12, Eric Boyd was served with a federal warrant. Vanessa Coleman, Rome’s girlfriend, was also involved.

In the days before Channon & Chris were abducted, Davidson’s brother, Rome, came to stay with him from Kentucky & brought his girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman & George Thomas. No one in the group had a job, money or a car. Rome & George were homeless.  Vanessa had a good family, but chose to turn her back on them.

As the days passed, Davidson’s anger grew, feeling like his brother & his guests were freeloading & taking advantage of him. He decided to concoct a plan; he, with the help of his brother, and another friend, Eric Boyd, were going to find someone to carjack. During the investigation, Rome insisted he wasn’t down with this idea. 

Eric Boyd denied any role in Chris & Channon’s abduction & no forensic evidence tied him to the crimes

When police interviewed them, they all blamed each other. 

When Channon & Chris headed out that evening, they were ambushed at Channon’s car at gunpoint. What set out to be a carjacking ended up being a kidnapping; while this was going on, they saw another car’s headlights, got scared  & pushed Channon & Chris into the back seat with the threat of a .22 pistol. Both were blindfolded, their wrists bound & forced into the backseat; Davidson drove Channon’s car the four miles to his house & his brother followed in a car that Boyd had borrowed from his cousin. 

They were brought inside where Vanessa, Rome’s girlfriend, was playing video games.  An argument started between Davidson, Boyd, Rome, George & Vanessa; George & Davidson didn’t know each other & they also didn’t like each other. Vanessa told police that Davidson told George that he would have to do something to build his trust.  None of the suspects admitted their involvement in Chris’ death but trial testimony, statements & forensic evidence suggested that Davidson, Rome, Boyd & George forced Chris into the rear/cargo part of the car, leaving Channon back at the Chipman house, alone with Vanessa. 

Despite semen being found in Chris’ body, DNA couldn’t be recovered because of the fire; he had been raped within an hour of  his death. They found male pornography on Boyd’s cellphone though he was never charged with raping Chris because of the lack of DNA evidence. It’s assumed Chris was also raped by the broken chair leg in the house & beaten for at least 2 hours. He was then led outside & driven to the railroad tracks. 

Forensic proof & suspect statements show that Davidson forced George to fire the first shot at Chris, hitting him in the neck. As he fell forward, another bullet hit him in the back & then Davidson fired the execution shot to the head; the medical examiner determined that the muzzle of the gun had been pressed to his head.

Once they went back to the house where Channon & Vanessa were, Davidson & George changed their bloodied clothing, grabbed a comforter and a gas can and left to burn Chris’ body.

In the meantime, Channon had been taken to the back bedroom and placed on an air mattress; they bound her hands & feet & attached them to duffel bags filled with weights & books to keep her from escaping. Rome testified that he told Channon that if she performed oral sex on him, he would make sure he let her live. DNA evidence linked Davidson & Rome to the rapes; no DNA evidence linked George or Boyd to the rapes. Channon was then forced to call her parents, telling them she would be late. Her parents said she sounded so normal on the phone.

Authorities suspect that Vanessa delivered the brutal blows to her genital area that caused a massive pooling of blood. At some point, she was dragged into the living room & bleach was sprayed into her mouth with the hopes of destroying DNA evidence. 

Rome told authorities that Channon looked terrified. Vanessa said at this point, they made her, Vanessa, go into the back bedroom & when she came back to the kitchen, Channon was being tied into a fetal position. Fingerprint evidence showed that Davidson & Rome wrapped Channon in garbage bags & stuffed her, still alive, into the trash can.

During the night, Davidson led Channon to the bathroom at least twice, making sure she didn’t run. She was also raped throughout the night. The next morning, Vanessa cooked breakfast for the monsters; she also brought Channon water, noting that she was still bound & had a blindfold in place. 

The next morning, Daphne spoke with Davidson & he asked her to come to the house to pick up her  things. When she arrived, he met her at the door & followed her inside. Rome was sitting on the couch with his head down, George was “rolling a blunt” and Vanessa was nowhere to be seen.  When she headed to the bathroom, Davidson grabbed her & asked her what  she was doing. She asked if Vanessa  was in there & he said yes. She heard water running & something fall into the sink, but no one spoke. When she tried to get in through the other door, Davidson again blocked her entrance. When she was leaving, he gave Daphne a bag of clothes & a ring that ended up belonging to Channon, who authorities believe was being held captive in the bathroom at the time. 

When Daphne heard of Chris’ death on the news, she suspected that Davidson was responsible. Despite this, she allowed him to stay at her  friend’s apartment & even had sex with him that night. The next morning, her mom called & informed her that Channon’s body was found inside their house. Daphne said that Davidson initially blamed the murder on his brother, Rome. She then dropped him off  at the apartments where Boyd lived with his mom. She admitted to lying to the police about his whereabouts. Davidson blamed the killings on Rome & claimed he forced Channon to shoot Chris

The trials were all held seperately & led by Judge Richard Baumgartner. It was the worst crime Knoxville had experienced and some of the photos shown in the courtroom were so brutal, they caused people to pass out. Judge Baumgartner declared that if anyone cried in his courtroom, they would be kicked out.

4/16/08 Eric Boyd was found guilty in federal court of being an accessory to a deadly carjacking and failing to report the location of a fugitive. He was sentenced to a max of 18 years.

August 2009, Rome was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Channon & facilitation of murder in connection to the death of Chris; he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. 

October 28, 2009, Davidson was indicted on 16 counts of felony murder & sentenced to death. 

On December 8,2009, George Thomas was sentenced to life without  parole. 

In May of 2010, Vanessa was convicted on charges of facilitation of the murder, kidnapping, rape & theft of Channon. She was found not guilty on charges related to Chris’ death. On July 10, 2010, she was sentenced to 53 years in prison. 

In January of 2011 the TN Bureau of Investigation confirmed they were investigating Judge Baumgartner but didn’t reveal the reason. On January 29, a statement was released indicating that the judge was receiving medical treatment at a healthcare facility. 

After the trials, it was discovered that the judge had been prescribed 90 pain pills during the first 14 days of the first trial. Basically, the judge was completely high during the trials & had ultimately ended up being disbarred and resigned in March, 2011. 

Judge Baumgarner was an alcoholic & had a drug problem. He developed pancreatitis from drinking & was prescribed pain meds; he started doctor shopping in May of 2006 through early 2010 & had obtained prescriptions for over 2500 pain pills from over a dozen doctors. He also found drug dealers for thousands more drugs. One of his drug dealers who was also a sex worker had gone through his drug court in 2006; she had also become his lover. He died at age 70 in 2018.

On December 1, 2011, Judge Blackwood ordered new trials for Rome, Davidson, George and Vanessa because the judge was likely impaired during the initial trials. It ended up that Rome & Davidson were not granted new trials because of the DNA evidence against them, but George & Vanessa were. 

In November of 2012, Vanessa was found guilty of facilitating a deadly carjack and kidnap; her sentence was reduced from 53 years to 35 & she was given credit for time already served. She has already been eligible for parole which has been denied. There’s a petition going around to keep her in prison & Channon & Chris’ families are present for every appeal.

 Six months later, George’s sentence was reduced to life with the possibility of parole after 51 years. 

Chris’ family was still determined that there would be justice served to Eric Boyd for the role in their son’s death. They spoke with George Thomas & 11 years after the murders, George “threw everything on Boyd” & on August 13, 2018, Eric Boyd was indicted on first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, aggravated kidnapping and rape charges in connection to the deaths of Channon & Chris; he was found guilty on all counts.


  1. Crimes and Consequences: EP48: The Torture on Chipman Street – Channon Christian & Christopher Newsome
  2. Knox news: Medical examiner begins graphic description of couple’s injuries
  3. Knox news: Transcript: Davidson says he told Christian he would ‘make sure she got out’
  4. Daily Star: Twisted Death Row killer raped and tortured couple before suffocating women in bin bag
  5. WVLT 8: Timeline of the Channon Christian-Christopher Newsome murders
  6. Oxygen True Crime: Torture-Murder Victims Brutally Killed In ‘Worst Crime’ Saw Case Derailed By Shocking Court Secret

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: