Update Jan. 17 11:50 a.m.
Authorities said the murder suspect found in Sevier County is accused of slashing and stabbing his girlfriend multiple times with a sword in Florida.
Late Sunday night, neighbors told officials they heard James Brian Quilliams, 40, arguing in his girlfriend's Florida home, but didn't call police. When neighbors saw blood in the couple's driveway in Pinellas County, they called authorities. Before neighbors noticed the blood, Quilliams ran away from the home and booked a flight from Florida to Knoxville. Neighbors said this wasn't the first time they heard Quilliams and his girlfriend Teresa Sue Compton, 48, fighting.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said this tragedy may have been prevented if someone called police.
"Neighbors heard things-but as hard as it is - and as difficult as it is - when you see things that are going on in your neighborhood and people are having those domestics and yelling and screaming - call us - so we can come out and access the situation, and perhaps take some action early on that would avoid a tragic consequence such as this," said Sheriff Gualtieri.
Officials said Compton was slashed 5-10 times and suffered chopping wounds consistent with a sword found at the scene.
"It was a very, very bloody crime scene, with a lot of defensive wounds. It was obviously a very violent argument, a very violent struggle," said Sheriff Gualtieri.
Officers said the couple may have been arguing over Quilliams texting his ex-wife.
When Quilliams arrived in Knoxville later that Sunday, a friend picked him up from McGhee Tyson and drove him to a Pigeon Forge motel. The suspect's ex-wife, Kristi Quilliams, then dropped him off in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Pigeon Forge Police discovered that Quilliams was in the park after they arrested his ex-wife for a DUI early Monday morning. His wife told police that her husband was on the run after killing a woman so he wouldn't be able to pick up her car.
Sevier County deputies and U.S. marshals found James Brian Quilliams, 40, hiding out in an abandoned cabin in the Wears Valley community just after midnight on Thursday. Officials said a concerned citizen tipped off deputies on Quilliams's whereabouts.
James Quilliams is being held in the Sevier County Jail on first degree murder charges, awaiting extradition to Florida.
Previous Story Jan. 16:
Sevier County authorities confirm that suspected murderer, James Quilliams, is in custody after a manhunt in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Around midnight, Sevier County Sheriff's deputies and members of the U.S. Marshals Office found Quilliams at an abandoned cabin in the Wears Valley community.
Authorities say they received a tip from a concerned resident on where Quilliams might be hiding out.
Quilliams is being held in the Sevier County Jail, awaiting extradition to Florida.
Rangers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are searching for a man wanted for murder in Pinellas County, Florida.
Investigators believe James Quilliams, 40, may have been dropped off near Gatlinburg early Wednesday morning by a woman who was arrested for a DUI at 6:45 a.m. by the Pigeon Forge Police Department. Officers alerted local law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for Quilliams by 9:00 a.m.
"The woman companion that he was with indicated he wanted to be dropped off in the park," said Great Smoky Mountains National Park Spokesperson Dana Soehn.
Several visitors have reported seeing a man matching Quilliams' description in the Sugarlands area. More than a dozen rangers have been searching area trails and roads in that area.
A spokesperson with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says Quilliams is connected to the death of 48-year-old Teresa Sue Compton. The sheriff's office says Compton died of upper body trauma.
Rangers do not believe Quilliams is a threat to the public at this time, because he has not threatened anyone so far, but they caution visitors to be cautious, and not to pick up any hitchhikers.
"People should be very cautious," Soehn said. "They should not approach the individual."
She added that the frigid temperatures could make the night tough on Quilliams.
"Without proper gear, as shown by our recent rescues, it's very difficult to be out without a tent and without the right kind of clothing and footwear," Soehn said.
James Quilliams is 6'2 and weighs 215 pounds. He has short, gray hair and a goatee and was last seen wearing a black trench coat, black dress pants and tennis shoes.
Anyone who sees a man matching that description is asked to immediately contact their local law enforcement agency.
Rangers point out a search of this nature is something that does not typically happen in the Smokies. The last manhunt to happen in the park occurred in the summer of 2012. Rangers searched for a man who allegedly stabbed and sexually assaulted a stranger on a park trail. That case is still an open investigation.
$400 @ Kirkland's on Us !!!
Phone: (865) 428-2172
Address: 1440 Upper Middle Creek Road, Ste 202-203, Sevierville, TN 37876