Tennessee sheriff deputy found dead inside her burning home with gunshot wound

·3 min read

NASHVILLE — A man is in custody facing charges including first-degree murder after a Tennessee sheriff's deputy was found slain inside her home over the weekend.

Deputy Savanna Puckett was found dead with a gunshot wound inside her burning home Sunday night, the Robertson County Sheriff's Office reported. She was 22.

James Jackson Conn, 27, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson in connection to Puckett's slaying, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported.

Conn, who lives in Smyrna, Tennessee, was arrested at his home about 11:30 a.m. Monday after an hourslong standoff that stemmed from the execution of a search warrant, TBI said.

Conn, who the TBI reported was an acquaintance of Puckett, was booked into jail late Monday afternoon where he was being held without bond.

Roberts County Sheriff's Office Deputy Savanna Puckett was found shot and dead inside her burning home Sunday, officials said. She was 22.
Roberts County Sheriff's Office Deputy Savanna Puckett was found shot and dead inside her burning home Sunday, officials said. She was 22.

"The investigation remains active and ongoing, and we'll provide more details as soon as we're able to do so," TBI wrote in a tweet on Monday afternoon.

Another deputy went to check on Puckett at her home Sunday night, after she did not report for her shift. The deputy found her home engulfed in flames, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

The deputy was not able to make it inside due to the extent of the fire. Once firefighters arrived, they found Puckett dead inside.

“Words cannot express the sadness and grief that Savanna’s family and her Sheriff’s Office family are facing right now," Sheriff Michael Van Dyke said in a statement. "This is a tragedy that we are processing minute by minute. Please keep Savanna, her family and the Sheriff’s Office in your thoughts and prayers."

It was not immediately clear if the gunshot wound or the fire caused Puckett's death. The cause and origin of the fire remained under investigation Monday.

Smyrna arrest

A Smyrna police officer out in front of a Smyrna residence on Odom Court where TBI is conducting an investigation on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Smyrna Tenn.
A Smyrna police officer out in front of a Smyrna residence on Odom Court where TBI is conducting an investigation on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Smyrna Tenn.

The Smyrna home where law enforcement arrested Conn is in a residential area.

Linda Jones, who lives in a nearby neighborhood, said she was in bed about 6:45 a.m. Monday when she heard a loud explosion.

"It just about knocked me out of bed," Jones said. "I thought it was a car accident but then about 15 to 20 minutes later I heard another one go off and then I heard a police officer on a speaker saying, 'Get out now, get out now.' He was real loud."

About 30 minutes later, the officer got on the speaker and again prompted the suspect to exit the home.

Jones said she heard flashbangs go off and then heard what sounded like gunshots.

"It was very scary," Jones said.

Around 1 p.m. Monday, TBI agents exited the home carrying evidence bags.

The glass front door was shattered and several window blinds were destroyed.

'A mother hen'

"We are all heartbroken and working to lay Deputy Puckett to rest," RCSO spokeswoman Jessica Drake said.

Puckett started working for the sheriff's office as a corrections officer in 2017, when she was 18 years old, an RCSO release said. She began working in the patrol division in May 2020 and graduated from Walter State Law Enforcement Academy that September.

"Savanna was the one who always showed up early to her shift with a smile on her face," the RCSO statement reads. "She was a mother hen to us all, and frequently cooked meals and baked goodies for her shift. She was tough, courageous, kind, compassionate and had an infectious personality that will always be remembered."

Find reporter Rachel Wegner at rawegner@tennessean.com or on Twitter @rachelannwegner.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee deputy Savanna Puckett found dead in burning home