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Public Notices

April 23, 2014

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Kidnapper Here Sentenced To Life

Originally published:
Last modified: 2009-04-01 12:10:13

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer this morning sentenced a previously convicted sex offender who had been charged with kidnapping a Greene County woman last June to life in prison.

After imposing the life sentence on Michael Ellsworth Sheppard, 55, Judge Greer said from the bench that while he never takes pleasure in imposing sentences, he believed that Sheppard "fully deserved" the sentence imposed on him.

The life sentence was imposed after Sheppard entered a guilty plea to a federal kidnapping charge in connection with the June 29, 2004, kidnapping of Kathy Jennings-Mathiesen from her eastern Greene County residence and to transporting her across the state line to Buncombe County, N.C.

After Sheppard entered his guilty plea, Judge Greer noted that Jennings-Mathiesen, who had been seated with members of her family in a courtroom at the James H. Quillen United States Courthouse, wished to address the court before sentence was imposed.

Victim Addresses Kidnapper

Jennings-Mathiesen came forward, faced Sheppard, and recounted her kidnapping ordeal.

Addressing several of her remarks directly to Sheppard, whom she turned from a lectern to face, Jennings-Mathiesen said, at one point, she hoped he would "die a horrible death."

At one point, Jennings-Mathiesen was standing no more than five feet from Sheppard, who sat with his defense attorney as she told him he was "no longer in charge."

She also recounted how Sheppard had beaten her with his fists and a gun after pulling a car into her driveway on the pretext of asking for directions to Bristol before forcing her into her own SUV and driving to Buncombe County, N.C., late on the afternoon of last June 29.

Jennings-Mathiesen also told the court that she was convinced that Sheppard had planned to rape and kill her along a rural North Carolina road before she managed to escape and reach safety.

Sheppard was arrested on July 7 in Wilson County, Tenn., where he is charged with committing another kidnapping.

Court records show that Sheppard had previous convictions for rape in Madison County, Ala., (Sept. 22, 1989); sexual battery in Florida (Dec. 12, 1978); and common law robbery (May 15, 1975).

Tuesday's newspaper will include more information on this morning's sentencing of Sheppard.
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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