By Paige Carrick
On Friday morning, Aug. 8, two men were found murdered in Swain County and a third man was found wounded but not dead. A 911 call made around 11 am alerted authorities that a man with gunshot wounds was lying in a ditch at a residence on John Henderson Road, in the Galbreath Creek Community located in Bryson City. When authorities arrived they found the owner of the residence James David (Scott) Wiggins, 33, and Michael Heath Compton, 34, dead from gunshot wounds. Four suspects have been charged.
Neighbors and locals recollected hearing the sound of gunshots late Thursday evening but stated they had no reason for concern, as many people hunt in the surrounding area and noises of that nature are commonplace.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations was on the scene Saturday, Aug. 9. Initially authorities were on the look-out for a white Ford F-250 pickup, considering the driver armed and dangerous and instructing the public to notify police if the truck was seen. The truck has since been found.
The Georgia SBI has also been involved in the investigation. The first suspect charged and arrested was a man from Decatur, Georgia, Jason Christopher Johnson, 26. After the arrest of Johnson, Georgia authorities detained Jada Elon Grai McCutcheon, 19, of Decatur, GA, along with Tiffany Leigh Marion, 25, of Marion, GA with the charge of being accessories after the fact of murder.
However, murder charges may not be the only concern of the three defendants. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the charges against Johnson, McCutcheon, and Marion were upgraded just one week after the incident. They now face three counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of robbery using a dangerous weapon, one count each of first-degree burglary, and attempted murder. The three have been formally charged in Swain County and will remain in the Swain County jail without bond.
A fourth suspect, Jeffery Czechonna Miles, 25, remains in the Gwinnett County, GA jail and is expected to face the same charges as Johnson, McCutcheon, and Marion once he signs a waiver of extradition. If Miles does not sign the waiver, it could be 90 days before Swain County authorities have him in their custody. Authorities have not released what they believe to be the motive behind this tragic incident.
The funeral for Scott Wiggins was held Wednesday Aug. 13 at Crisp Funeral Home. Wiggins was a native to Swain County, graduated from Swain County High School and owned Wiggins Oil Company. He was also the son of former Sheriff Dave Wiggins.
The funeral for Michael Compton was held in Norfolk, VA. He lived in Swain County for the past 14 years.
The third victim, shot in the head and torso, was airlifted to Mission Hospital in Asheville from the local Swain County hospital. The identification of the third victim has not been released for security purposes.
The Asheville Citizen-Times also reported that Swain County has only suffered four other homicides since 1980. These account for the fifth and sixth homicides.