Arrest made in Qualls murder

Posted on Friday, November 30, 2012 at 8:58 am

Michael Curtis

Michael Curtis

By Wayne Thomas, Special to The Times

A Tullahoma man was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the death of young Tullahoma mother Kayla Qualls, authorities have announced.

During a press conference held Wednesday night at Tullahoma City Hall, police said Michael L. Curtis, 49, of 603 General St., Tullahoma, had been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ms. Qualls, 23, of 1813 E. Lincoln St., Tullahoma.

Curtis is said to be the father of Qualls’ former boyfriend and the grandfather of her two children. He is being held under $1 million bond in the Coffee County Jail.

Qualls’ body was found around 11 a.m. Monday by two hunters in a wooded area off Spring Creek Road in Franklin County. According to authorities, the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Investigators also said Qualls was killed at 603 General St. and then placed in her SUV and driven to the wooded area in Franklin County.

“She was definitely killed in Tullahoma,” said Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller.

The location of the crime scene prompted investigators from Franklin and Coffee counties, along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tullahoma Police Department, to work together on the case. Tullahoma Police Chief Paul Blackwell stated during the press conference that the agencies worked together and were able to “do Kayla justice.”

Personnel from the three  agencies “conducted a search warrant at 603 General St. in Tullahoma and collected evidence in this case,” Fuller told a group of reporters Wednesday night.

Fuller said during the search Curtis “made statements that implicated himself” in the case, but declined to say what statements were made. He did say that investigators are not excluding the fact that others may be involved in the murder.

The sheriff would not disclose what the motive for the murder was but stated that the information would come out during a trial.

Fuller told reporters that investigators who appeared with the sheriff and Blackwell at the news conference worked long hours chasing down leads and following up on evidence.

Asked if there had been a history of violence between Qualls and the Curtis family, Fuller stated that there were no “documented” cases, but there had been a history of court issues between the victim and the father of her two children. Fuller said the father and the grandfather both have criminal records.

Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves also would not elaborate on a motive for the killing.

“We will wait for that to come out in court,” Graves said.

Asked by reporters why Qualls was at the Curtis residence, law enforcement officers would not comment on that either.

Curtis is being held in the Coffee County Jail under $1 million bond and is to appear in Coffee County General Session Court Monday.

A fund has been set up for Qualls’ two small children at the Moore County Bank and the First Community Bank in Shelbyville.

Also, friends and family members of Qualls are expressing their thoughts and feelings about her death on a Facebook page, where donations for her children are also being collected. To visit the page, go to “Remembering Kayla Qualls.”

Ms. Qualls, daughter of Sandi Qualls of Lynchburg, was a 2007 graduate of Moore County High School and was employed at Calsonic in Shelbyville.

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