WINTER WATCH CLOSINGS AND DELAYS  

Local man charged in attempted kidnapping case

     A Hawkins County man was jailed under a quarter-million bond following an incident early Sunday morning in which two people reportedly jumped from his moving car to escape a kidnapping attempt. The suspect in the case was recently charged in the June robbery of the East End Pharmacy.

     38 year old Benjamin Drew Helton, of Beacon Light Road in Whitesburg, was arrested by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department early Sunday evening at the intersection of Highway 11-E and Route 66-S in Bulls Gap. In the latest incident, he is charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated robbery.

     At around 12:40 a.m. Sunday, a 37 year old Morristown man and 27 year old female were at her home in Mooresburg when, they told deputies, Helton knocked on the door. When the couple opened the door, Helton allegedly pointed a black handgun at them and ordered them to get in his vehicle as he demanded drugs and money. When they didn’t provide anything, they say he began driving, armed with the gun, threatening to kill them.

     As they neared the Grainger County line on Slate Hill Road, the male victim and Helton began fighting over the male’s phone, resulting in Helton slowing down.  Both victims, while the car was moving were able to get away and ran into nearby woods until law enforcement arrived, as Helton drove by several times trying to find them. He was attested about 18 hours later.

     Helton was a registered nurse in Hamblen County who police said two years ago became addicted to oxycodone after taking painkillers prescribed following a shoulder injury and later retired his nursing license.  He is the former office manager for East Tennessee Spine and Orthopedics in Morristown.