Katie Nicole Key lives on in the hearts of her family and many friends.

The death of the 17-year-old in the early morning hours of Jan. 16, 2007, in her 107 Cutoff home shocked the community. The popular West Greene High School senior had broken off a relationship with 29-year-old Jason Lynn McCamey weeks earlier, but McCamey could not accept her decision.

The result was a hostage situation that ended in the shotgun slaying of Key. McCamey then turned the gun on himself.

The tragic series of events is recounted in the first episode of the Investigation Discovery network’s new series “Home Alone,” which will air at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Key’s mother, Tammy Fellers, was interviewed for the series, along with stepfather Sammy Fellers and and Lt. Mike Fincher of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, who was then a detective and lead investigator on the case.

Tammy Fellers and Fincher said Friday that participation in the episode was done in the hope of preventing other young people from becoming victimized.

“You’ve got to be careful with your kids because they can be taken away in the blink of an eye,” Tammy Fellers says at the end of the episode.

Fincher has investigated many homicides during his career, but Key’s death was a particularly difficult case for him. He still keeps in contact with Tammy Fellers. Fincher checked with Key’s family before consenting to be interviewed last year by producers of the program.

“The biggest thing is just we didn’t tell the story for entertainment. It had nothing to do with that. This is all about education and hopefully saving someone’s life,” Fincher said. “Two people died tragically and if we can keep that from happening again, that’s the purpose.”

Fincher was very compassionate in working with Key’s family, Tammy Fellers said.

“He still calls me and texts,” she said.



Tammy Fellers said that her daughter met McCamey through other friends and they started dating about August 2007. Key was a well-liked West Greene High School student and enjoyed her job at the JCPenney store in the Greeneville Commons.

Her parents were unaware of the relationship with McCamey, who began stalking the teenager after she ended it.

On Jan. 6, 2007, as Key was leaving a restaurant in Greeneville, McCamey jumped into her car uninvited and refused to get out. Fincher said McCamey was gone by the time deputies arrived at the scene.

That same night, McCamey showed up on the family’s property on the 107 Cutoff. Stepfather Sammy Fellers and sheriff’s deputies searched for McCamey after he tried to contact Katie Key on a cellphone he had given her, but her family didn’t find out until the next day that he spent the night in a barn near the house.

Key detailed to her mother the four-month relationship with McCamey, and his controlling behavior that helped persuade her to end it shortly before Christmas 2006.

Tammy Fellers said Key came from a loving family and was “in over her head” in coping with McCamey, who refused to accept the breakup.

The next day, Tammy Fellers received two text messages with sexually explicit photographs of her daughter. They came from McCamey.

The sheriff’s department tried to locate McCamey, who apparently went into hiding, Fincher said.

“As parents, you want to protect your child. It’s like going through a nightmare,” Tammy Fellers said. “It’s like something you hear about but think it cannot happen to you.”

After the night McCamey came onto the family property, Key’s mother and stepfather kept a close watch on her, not allowing her to drive anywhere unaccompanied. Both worked nights, and by Jan. 15, 2007, they reluctantly consented to allow Key to drive herself to work. She was told to lock all doors when she returned home.

McCamey arrived sometime that night and broke into the house. Key called 911, and sheriff’s department officers responded and found the rear door of the home shattered. Two shotgun shells and broken glass were found on the porch.

Key hid in her upstairs bedroom closet, but McCamey found her. A standoff developed as then-Sheriff Steve Burns and others tried to keep a dialogue going with McCamey and persuade him to come out.

Hours later, Tammy Fellers was able to talk with her daughter one last time via cellphone. According to Fellers, Key indicated McCamey was going to kill himself but not her. The phone call ended with Key telling her mother she loved her.

Forty-five minutes after the call, McCamey shot and killed Key, then turned the shotgun on himself.

Deputies found the bedroom doors had been tied shut with a rope from the inside.

It took Tammy and Sammy Fellers weeks to sleep in the house again, though they now still reside there.

Tammy Fellers said her daughter’s last words to her helped her stay determined to keep living. “I think God knew I needed that,” she said.

“It was just one of those cases you don’t forget,” Fincher said. “It’s just important that young adults know things like this happen.”

There is no resolution to murder-suicide cases, Fincher said.

“In a regular homicide sometimes you get that confession. You get the person to tell us why and that family will never get that,” he said.



No one can fully describe the interactions between Katie Key and McCamey in the hours she was held hostage in the bedroom of her house. The TV episode is presented in a format that dramatizes the events leading up to their deaths.

Actors are used to portray the characters in the tense real-life drama, interspersed with the recollections of Tammy and Sammy Fellers, Fincher and a friend of Key in interviews conducted last year.

Tammy Fellers said reliving the events was difficult, but felt “it was something I had to do” to prevent harm from coming to others.

Had her daughter been kidnapped or abducted, the family may have never known her fate, Fellers said.

“In a sense, it could have been a lot worse,” she said.

Fellers has spoken to others and said she had been approached by mothers whose daughters were in similar situations, and said her advice may have saved their lives.

Even good people like Katie Key can get caught up in circumstances beyond their control, her mother said.

“It kind of gives a sense of peace. By doing that, her death will not be in vain,” Fellers said.

Gary Key, Katie’s father, chose not to participate in the program but understood that it serves a purpose that may help others, Fellers said.

“It’s easy for young girls or young boys to get caught up in a situation until they can’t get out of it. Once Katie was able to tell us about it, it was a relief for her to tell us,” she said.


Shortly before she was killed, Katie told her mother about a decision she made. Katie was an outgoing person who enjoyed spending time with people.

“She told me, she said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to live my life scared,’” Fellers said. “She didn’t know what to watch for.”

Key already had her life planned out. She wanted to attend East Tennessee State University and be a dental hygienist.

As she watched Katie’s two older sisters marry, have children and move on with their lives, Fellers can’t help wondering what Katie’s life would have been like.

“Would she still be here? Would she move?” Fellers said. “I really admire her boldness and what she wanted to try and do in life.”

Winter is the hardest season for Tammy Fellers. Katie died in January and her birthday is in March.

“I just get quiet, hushed. That’s where your mind wants to go. (Sammy) can tell and says, ‘Let’s go out and do something,’” Fellers said.

“She was a good girl. She had high ambitions in general. I really admire her as a person,” she said.

A lawsuit filed against the county naming Burns and other deputies in 2008 by the family was settled out of court. Funds received in the settlement have gone toward scholarships for West Greene High School students, said Knoxville lawyer John E. Eldridge, who represented the family.

Fincher said Tammy Fellers and her husband are courageous for telling Katie Key’s story.

“You never think a case like this will come to a violent end that it came to. That’s why education is so important when it comes to domestic violence,” he said. “If someone hits you or someone puts you in fear, you need to get away from them, whatever it takes.”

Tammy Fellers is also person of strong faith, Fincher said.

“That’s why I’m proud of Tammy. She knows she will see (Katie) again,” he said.

At the end of the Home Alone episode that will air Thursday night, Tammy Fellers explains why she consented to participate in the show:

“If Katie’s story can help a child, one girl (or) one boy, her life won’t have been taken in vain and that’s the message I want to send.”


Home Alone


Investigation Discovery


Thursday, Oct. 12, 10 p.m.

The Afton-based episode of Home Alone is the first of six in the series.

The series synopsis reads:

“When night falls and you’re the only one at home, the coziest of houses can transform into a sinister, unfamiliar labyrinth. A noise in the yard or a walk to the bathroom can send shivers down the spine, especially when you discover you aren’t actually home alone. In the nerve-wracking new series, Home Alone, a quiet suburban house becomes the setting for unimaginable horror. Highlighting stories of revengeful demons of the past who refuse to disappear, the victims find that the walls around them are no longer a safe sanctuary, but instead a place for fear and anxiety.”