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Former U.S. Sen. candidate allegedly tries to hire hit man to kill pastor

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(Source: TBI) (Source: TBI)
The intended victim, Ernest Widby, is also a Carter County bailiff. Widby is the founder and pastor of the local church, New Zion Faith Center, in Johnson City. The intended victim, Ernest Widby, is also a Carter County bailiff. Widby is the founder and pastor of the local church, New Zion Faith Center, in Johnson City.
Carter County Bailiff Ernest Widby Carter County Bailiff Ernest Widby
CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) -

A former U.S. Senate candidate has been arrested in connection with an attempted murder-for-hire plot. News Channel 11 has also learned the suspect allegedly used a photo of the victim from our website to show who he wanted to be killed.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told News Channel 11 Friday Thomas Ken Owens, 38 of Jonesborough, TN was arrested and charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

The TBI, along with the Johnson City Police Department and the Carter County Sheriff's Office arrested Owens overnight – thus, foiling his plan to have his uncle killed.

"If somebody is willing to start spending money, or provide a gun, or extensive details on how to do this. It's pretty serious," said Carter County Sheriff, Chris Mathes. "I'll say in my opinion...Mr. Owens is a disturbed individual."


Owens was arrested after he met up with the hit man at a sports bar and paid him $500 as down payment to kill his uncle, Ernest "Ernie" Widby. According to the TBI, Owens brought a picture of the intended victim and the victim's home address. That's when law enforcement got involved and arrested Owens after the payment was made.

"I'll be very public about this. You're not going to threaten one of my officers," said Mathes, "without getting emotional. I will tell you that Mr. Widby is one of the finest men I've met in my life."
Owens is currently behind bars at the Washington County Jail where he is being held on a $100,000 bond. He is scheduled to be in court Friday. 

 

Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told News Channel 11 the intended victim, Widby, is also a Carter County deputy. Widby is the founder and pastor of the local church, New Zion Faith Center, in Johnson City.

In 2012, Owens unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. He also worked at WJHL-TV as a reporter about 10 years ago -  from 2001 to 2004.

News Channel 11 is following this story. We'll have the latest information on this case as soon as it becomes available.

Copyright 2013 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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