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The Decatur Daily
By Ashley Remkus Staff Writer
Jun 30, 2016
A Decatur woman accused of killing her husband was taken by law enforcement in Tennessee to a hospital for psychiatric treatment after an arrest earlier this month, authorities said.
Michelle Owens, 44, was taken to a Nashville-area hospital for an “emergency committal” to a psychiatric unit after speeding away from a deputy in Trousdale County, Tennessee, on June 4, Sheriff Ray Russell said.
A deputy attempted to pull Owens over for speeding, but she fled the scene, the sheriff said.
“She just took off, and they ended up using a spike strip to stop her,” Russell said. “We knew something was going on with her and she needed help.”
Family members have said Owens was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the past, according to court records. Her 17-year-old son said she recently had been “acting crazy,” according to the transcript of a 911 call he made that led to the discovery of his father’s shooting death.
Lawrence “Eddie” Owens, 44, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom at the family’s 2907 Lenox Drive S.W. residence Sunday afternoon, police said. The Owens’ 7-year-old son was in the home at the time, police said.
Michelle Owens is is being held in Morgan County Jail on a murder charge with bail set at $1 million.
Jail records show the woman has been exhibiting “erratic behavior.”
In Trousdale County, Owens was charged with misdemeanor evading arrest by motor vehicle and issued a speeding citation, though the charges were dropped after she was released from the hospital.
“She stayed for a couple of days before they released her back to us,” Russell said. “We kept her a day or so, then we released her to her husband (June 10) since she hadn’t bonded out.”
Russell said the charges were dropped because there was no property damage, the offenses were misdemeanors and Owens had received medical treatment.
“The judge and the district attorney agreed to that because it was obvious something was going on with her,” Russell said. “We just wanted to know she was getting help, and her husband was there to make sure she was OK.”
Also on June 4, Morgan County 911 received a call from Decatur police about an attempt to locate Michelle Owens, records show.
A report of the call shows someone called police to find out whether a child was in the car with Owens, who was in Tennessee, 911 operations manager Kelly Armor said.
Deputies didn’t locate a child in Owens’ car, according to Trousdale County investigators.
Russell said authorities don’t know why the woman was in the county, which has a population of less than 8,000 people, at 3 a.m. on a Saturday.
“Her husband said she might have been near here several years ago doing some kind of mission work with her mother, but there wasn’t any other time he could remember her coming here,” Russell said.
When told of the murder charge against Owens, the sheriff said the case is an example of the dangers law enforcement face when dealing with potentially mentally ill suspects.
“I’m just thankful she didn’t have a weapon when we encountered her,” he said.
When he called 911, the Owens’ 17-year-old son told a dispatcher his mother recently had purchased a pistol, “so she’s been carrying that around with her.”
Police haven’t said when Owens purchased the pistol or whether she had a permit.
Morgan County District Judge Brent Craig scheduled a preliminary hearing in the murder case for July 18 at 1:30 p.m.
After Michelle Owens’ initial appearance, Craig wrote in court records the woman was “extremely disruptive” and unable to understand the proceedings, which were conducted via two-way video.
Initial appearances typically are conducted with the judge in the courtroom and the defendant in the jail.
A memorial service for Eddie Owens is Friday at 3 p.m. at Ridout’s Brown-Service Funeral Home.
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The Decatur woman accused of shooting her husband to death inside their home over the weekend had bought a gun just weeks before the slaying and had been “acting crazy” prior to the shooting, according to the couple’s teenage son.
A transcript of a 911 call made by the teen also indicates that Michelle and Lawrence “Eddie” Owens II’s 7-year-old son was present when his father was gunned down.
Michelle Lee Owens, 44, is charged with murder in the death of Eddie Owens. Eddie Owens, also 44, was found dead Sunday afternoon in the master bathroom of the family’s Lenox Drive home.
Michelle Owens is being held in lieu of $1 million bond. In her first appearance before a judge on Monday, via video, court documents state that “she was extremely disruptive and it was apparent she was unable to understand the initial appearance proceedings.”
Owens’ sister was present in the courtroom and told the judge Owens had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the documents state.
The transcript of the 911 call made by the couple’s 17-year-old son, as well as that of an emergency call made the night before by Michelle Owens, have been obtained by multiple local media outlets, including WAFF 48. In Michelle Owens’ call Saturday night, she claimed her husband was emotionally abusing her and her younger son.
In the call, made just before 8 p.m. Saturday night, Michelle Owens asks a dispatcher to send police to escort her and her son to a “Christian-based safe place.”
Owens had also used that phrase on her Facebook page Friday night when asking friends for recommendations for “safe places.” When people asked if she was all right, however, she said that she, Eddie and the kids were fine.
In Saturday’s 911 call, Owens tells the dispatcher that her husband has been abusing her and their kids and that they “want out of (there).”
The dispatcher asks if Eddie Owens has been drinking, and Michelle Owens says he has. When asked if he’s physically assaulted anyone, however, she says he has not.
“He hasn’t physically assaulted us, but he has been mentally abusing us. Me and my kids,” Owens says.
The dispatcher promises to send officers to the home and the call ends.
The transcript from Sunday afternoon begins with the couple’s teen son telling a dispatcher that he has returned home from an overnight visit with a friend and that his mother will not let him in the house.
“I’m – I just got home. And my mom, she’s been acting crazy these past couple of weeks because she’s been diagnosed with, uh – or with, um – what is it called? Some kind of disease that makes you think thoughts that really aren’t real,” the boy tells the dispatcher.He goes on to say that his mother has been acting “weird” and won’t let him come inside.
“And she’s telling me to leave and stuff. And my brother’s in there with her. And I heard him saying that he killed – she killed dad or something like that. And I’m really worried,” the boy says.
The dispatcher asks the teen if there are weapons in the home and he says that Michelle Owens had recently bought a gun.
“My mom purchased a pistol the other day, so she’s been carrying that around with her,” he says.
The teen asks if he needs to leave the property and the dispatcher tells him to leave if he doesn’t feel safe. The boy agrees to meet responding officers at the intersection of Lenox and Duncansby drives.
He goes on to tell the dispatcher that he asked his mother if she really killed his father.
“And I was like, mom, did you really kill dad? And she was like, no, everything’s okay. But I saw the look in her face, and she looked worried,” he says.
The Decatur Daily reports that police had been called to the couple’s house several times in the past for domestic incidents, welfare checks and mental and emotional complaints. Court records show that Eddie Owens did not have a criminal history in Alabama.
Michelle Owens also has no prior criminal history in the state. A crime report in the newspaper out of Hartsville, Tennessee, indicates that Owens was arrested June 15 for evading arrest by motor vehicle and speeding. She was out of jail on $15,000 bond.
Details of that arrest were not immediately available.
Besides their two sons, the couple also has a grown daughter.
Updated at 2:30 p.m. to include Michelle Owens’ recent arrest in Tennessee.