The Manchester Police Department received information at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday that a 26-year-old mother and her sons, ages 1 and 3, were missing. When police arrived at the family's Liberty Court home, they found the three bodies individually wrapped in trash bags in a closet.
"Gruesome is the word,"
said Manchester investigator Ray Stewart. "It's the worst one I've seen, and I've been here 30 years.
Officials arrested Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Victor Perkins
, 30, about 10 miles from the home at the Jameson Inn in Tullahoma shortly before midnight in connection with the case. They contacted him by phone, talked him out of his room and arrested him. He has been charged with murder.
"We have interviewed him, and he has told us a lot," said Stewart.
Police identified the victims as Stephanie, Jathan and Jaylon Hershman. Officers said they believed they'd been killed on Sunday
. Someone called police Wednesday to report them missing.
Perkins is in Franklin County Jail on $6 million bond and has confessed to the killings, police said. They said he's been calm and cooperative.
"(He) didnít offer any kind of remorse,"
Police said the killings were calculated.
"He took a lot of time doing what he was doing,"
Police said Perkins had known the family for three or four months, police said. The children's father, Jeremy Hershman, is currently incarcerated in the Coffee County Jail on drug charges, Manchester Police Chief Ross Simmons said. Police said he is very distraught.
A U.S. Army representative said Perkins had been deployed twice: to Afghanistan from April 2004-Oct. 2005 and to Iraq Aug. 2006-Oct. 2007. He had been working as an Army recruiter in Tullahoma since 2008.
Investigator Billy Butler said Perkins is separated from his wife of 10 years, Jennifer Perkins. She was at the police station for questioning on Thursday morning, but declined to be interviewed.
Butler said the couple have two children and that Jennifer Perkins described her husband as a good father.