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Carter man charged in murder of his mother; arrested at Atlanta Airport

John Thompson • Apr 7, 2019 at 8:17 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A Carter County man who is accused of killing his mother was arrested Saturday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The arrest came less than an hour before he was scheduled to fly to Amsterdam.

John Christopher Ralph, 51, was arrested following a joint investigation into the death of Edith Betty Ralph, 75, by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Sheriff Dexter Lunceford praised the teamwork and rapid work by his investigators and the other state and federal agencies. The slaying was discovered on Saturday, when a caregiver reported finding a deceased person at the residence at 171 Reynolds Road, a home that Mrs. Ralph shared with her son.

At the request of 1st Judicial District Attorney General Ken Baldwin, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents joined the investigation.

“We quickly found evidence that led us to suspect John Ralph,” Lunceford said. He said they also made a discovery that made them work quicker.

“We learned that he had purchased an airline ticket for Amsterdam that departed Atlanta at 10:20 that evening,” Lunceford said. “I don’t even know if we have extradition with Amsterdam.”

Lunceford said his investigators quickly got in touch with the U.S. Marshal’s Office and provided information on their wanted man. Things also began to move quickly in Atlanta. He said Ralph was detained and arrested at 9:45 p.m. by officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S Marshal’s Service.

Ralph is charged with one count of first-degree murder and was held in Georgia at the Clayton County Jail on $1 million bond.

“I am not sure when he is scheduled for court, but if he waives extradition we will have officers ready to pick him up and take him back to Tennessee,” Lunceford said.

Lunceford said his officers have not yet had the opportunity to meet with Ralph, so he has not been questioned about his mother’s death.

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