When Connie Chavis and her 5-year-old daughter picked out clothes for kindergarten on a cold January morning back in 1998, they took great care to choose bright colors: lots of green, splashes of pink.
The outfit was as peppy and upbeat as little Brittany Locklear herself.
Neither of them could have guessed, as the kindergartener pulled on each leg of her green overalls, that within a few short hours those same overalls would turn up on the side of the road, discarded like trash. That their 5-year-old occupant would be nowhere to be found.
They couldn’t have known that those same pink-and-white Pocahontas shoes Brittany slipped her feet in that morning would soon be stuffed and sealed in a police evidence bag.
When Chavis last saw her daughter the morning of Jan. 7 just after 7 a.m., she was patiently waiting for her school bus outside the family’s home in Raeford, North Carolina, just like on any other morning. Her mother had waited with her, but, with the bus running late that day, she had to run back into the house to quickly use the bathroom.
And it was at that moment that someone plucked Brittany from the side of the road and forced the entire community to face what one family friend would later call “the evil in humanity.”
Nearly 25 years later, the hours and days that followed that one gut-wrenching moment prove too excruciating to talk about, the words too horrendous to utter out loud. Both Chavis’ mother and members of law enforcement interviewed for this story paused at times as they recalled Brittany’s final moments, as if briefly shell-shocked. They shook it off and then chose their words carefully, referring to the “thing” that was done to Brittany, as if not spelling it out might somehow keep the memories at bay.
The initial hours after the 5-year-old disappeared were still tinged with hope. After Chavis’ neighbor, Rose Johnson, rushed over to tell her that she and her husband had seen a man in a brown truck come speeding by on Gainey Road, off U.S. 401, and kidnap Brittany, Chavis thought it must be some kind of bizarre misunderstanding.
She dashed to West Hoke Elementary School to check if Brittany had been on the school bus. The answer was a gut-punch: No, the school said, the kindergartener had not been on board.
“I broke down,” Chavis later told The Fayetteville Observer of the harrowing revelation.
The alarm bells were immediately sounded: Chavis alerted police, and deputies with the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office quickly set up roadblocks in search of the brown pickup truck described by a handful of witnesses.
Hundreds threw themselves into the search efforts for the little girl who, her mother would later recount, “loved everybody.”
But within just a couple of hours, the search took an excruciating turn: Brittany’s purple backpack turned up on a road about two miles from her house, followed an hour later by her overalls, and then her sneakers.
“Right off the road as if someone was driving and threw them out the window,” Sheriff’s detective David Newton was quoted saying that day in the Observer.
Gregory Cecil Ard, a former Hoke County sheriff’s deputy, was among the members of law enforcement involved in the case from the get-go.
“I went out there early, it was 7:30-8:00 o’clock-ish, that morning when she disappeared,” he told The Daily Beast. “I went down to Ryan McBryde [Road] that morning and as we made a left we started seeing, I think it was a book bag and then a shoe in the ditch, and then more articles [of clothing] as we went down the road.”
Those same green overalls Brittany had climbed into just over an hour earlier were found a short time after the book bag, along with her Pocahontas shoes.
After that grim discovery, it was all-hands-on-deck for law enforcement. Then-Sheriff Wayne Byrd borrowed a small plane from a nearby airport to scour the back roads, and state police used a helicopter to join in the search, while deputies handed out flyers with Brittany’s photo on them and others concentrated efforts on where the girl’s belongings had been found.
With hundreds of volunteers and deputies searching for Brittany, the day ended on a hopeful note, against all odds: “We are assuming and hoping that she is alive,” Byrd said.
As the desperate search for Brittany continued into a second day, investigators gathered any clues they could to help lead them to the little girl. They knew only that her abductor was apparently a white or light-skinned man, that he drove a pickup truck described by witnesses as brown, and that Brittany did not appear to resist him.
But no one could fathom how such a brazen abduction of a child could happen so quickly—and how or why the culprit would target such a remote area, so far off the beaten path.
By the end of that day, the abduction itself would be eclipsed by something far worse.
“I stayed out there all night and blocked off the 401 that went into Ryan McBryde,” said Ard, who, with a baby daughter at home at that time, was distressed to think of 5-year-old Brittany out there somewhere alone in the cold.
Something he would soon come to realize—and a fact which he says still haunts him nearly 25 years later—is that Brittany had been right under the deputies’ noses the whole time.
They realized it only after it had finally stopped raining, allowing water along the roads to recede.
“There were a group of guys going up the ditch, and I was trailing behind them a bit, and the water had gone down and there was a culvert there and [the one guy] looked back and went, ‘Huh,’ and hopped off in the water and leaned over and looked down, and I watched every bit of color and life drain out of his face,” Ard recalled.
Brittany had been shoved inside the drainage pipe and left there in the rising water.
“I still, from time to time, can kind of see her feet coming out of the pipe,” Ard said, adding that he had turned away as soon as he “started seeing feet.”
“But from what I remember it looked like she was face down with no clothes on. Like she had been held in the water and then slid into the pipe when it was over, face down in the water.”
She was in the exact same spot where Ard said he’d stopped his car the morning the 5-year-old was reported missing. It was only about three miles from her home.
“That has always bothered me that she stayed out in the cold for 30-something hours and I was within a foot of her and didn’t know it,” he said, adding that even though he knows she already would have been beyond saving on that first morning, he’s haunted by her being “out there by herself in the cold, in the water.”
Investigators later concluded that the drainage pipe where Brittany was found was the primary crime scene, that the perpetrator had taken her straight there.
And, as Byrd would reveal at a press conference two days later, an autopsy revealed she’d been sexually assaulted.
“I think within a half an hour it was done. I think he went straight to that spot, he knew where he was going, he went straight there, he did what he was going to do, and was gone in no time,” Ard said.
Deputies were still reeling over what they’d seen that day when Sheriff Byrd called a press conference just after 4 p.m. to inform the rest of the town.
“It’s sad news that I bring,” Byrd said, per the Observer. “I was hoping it would be a live body, but it’s a lifeless body.”
In an attempt to console the hundreds of volunteer searchers who’d counted on bringing Brittany home alive, the sheriff said at least there could be closure, and “we will not be wondering the rest of our life what happened to such a lovely little girl.”
Brittany’s mother and her stepfather, Charles, had been notified separately. Surrounded by family and friends at home, all anxiously awaiting word on Brittany, police arrived and delivered the news. They both crumpled to the floor, wailing.
‘Everyone’s a Suspect’
With the discovery of Brittany’s body, the search operation immediately shifted to a manhunt for her killer. In archival news reports from that time, the white-hot rage of the community is palpable even through the page.
“We’d like to kill him real quick,” one man was quoted telling the Observer at a local diner, while another promised that “justice will be swift.”
The anger wasn’t limited to empty talk either. A week after Brittany was found, the sheriff pleaded for calm after a report of “armed citizens” prowling the street in search of a “burly man” with a beard who’d aroused their suspicions.
New details on Brittany’s murder only further stoked outrage. More than two months after she was found, the sheriff broke his silence on her final moments.
“I just believe that she was just held underwater until she was drowned,” Byrd said in March 1998, per the Observer. “I think she was drowned right there where we found her. … I wouldn’t think it would be a quick way to die.”
With help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Investigation, authorities in Hoke County set up a command post they dubbed “the War Room.” No effort was spared in finding Brittany’s killer, and police said thousands of tips poured in.
But there has never been an arrest in the case, and despite a barrage of early leads, no clear suspect ever emerged.
“A lot of us are very frustrated that we just couldn’t find any more leads. We had lots and lots of leads, and we just couldn’t seem to get over the hump on that,” says Fred McKinney, a retired SBI agent who was involved in the case.
In the weeks and months that followed, Byrd routinely touted new, promising leads in the case, but they never panned out.
The investigation wound up in the hands of two more sheriffs in the years that followed, with the most high-profile new plot twist in the case happening in 2002, when news broke of a former Fort Bragg firefighter being questioned after his co-workers told investigators he had photos of Brittany in his locker. The man, Keith Londeree, was facing charges in connection with a bank robbery when the pictures came to light.
Police never explained why he had the photographs, and despite hope from the public that it was a break in the case, investigators said DNA testing cleared Londeree of any involvement in Brittany’s murder. It was never clear if he had been among the hundreds of Fort Bragg firefighters who joined search efforts for Brittany.
Londeree passed away in 2018 at the age of 59.
Chavis, Brittany’s mom, said she’s still hopeful for justice, but has come to terms that it may not happen in this lifetime.
“Her family will never give up hope. There will be justice, if not here, hereafter,” she told The Daily Beast. “If not here, he’ll pay for it in the hereafter.”
As for suspects, she said, “it’s been too much to even think about it.”
She still thinks about what kind of person Brittany would have grown to be, and there was a note of sorrow as she said, “Her birthday is the 14th of next month.”
She would’ve turned 29 on Thursday.
By all accounts, Brittany was the kind of child who could melt hearts just by walking into a room. At a mere 35 pounds, she was the tiniest kid in her class, which earned her the loving nickname of “Little Brittany.”
If her mother had not alerted school officials to her disappearance on that fateful day in 1998, they likely would’ve assumed she was late to class because she was doing what she was known for: giving out hugs in the hallway. Several teachers of West Hoke Elementary told the Observer it was a well-known fact among staff that the kindergartener would make a point to hug every single teacher she passed.
“She was the type of child who had no understanding of fear. She didn’t know there was any danger out there,” said her teacher at the time, Sandra Horne.
A member of the Lumbee Tribe, a non-federally recognized Native American tribe that resides primarily in North Carolina, Brittany had a fondness for Pocahontas.
“She loved the church, and she loved her family. She was really into Pocahontas and Barney, things like that,” her mother said, recalling that the 5-year-old had also set her sights on becoming a pilot some day.
“She told me one day she wanted to ‘drive’ airplanes.”
Ashleigh Craven, a Raeford native who said her family was close to Brittany’s, said the whole community struggled to come to terms with how a human being could hurt “such a sweet beautiful little girl.”
Craven said she was 14 at the time of Brittany’s murder and “had already seen the evil in humanity firsthand.”
“But that did not make it any easier. It was horrible how she was found, where she was found, and other details made it hard … like who would do this to a very small child?”
More than two decades later, there’s no more clarity to that question than there was in those nauseating early days after the killing.
The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the case, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation said it was no longer “actively investigating” Brittany’s murder, but it was prepared to assist if local investigators requested any help.
Brittany’s mother said two Hoke County investigators had been in touch with her earlier this year to offer assurances that the case was ongoing, but they offered no new information, she said.
Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin, the third sheriff to oversee the investigation, said the case was still ongoing in a 2019 interview with the Observer. He declined to say if there were any new leads.
“I don’t want to say anything. If anyone knew the things we knew or things we’ve done or going to be doing, you’d be surprised,” he said.
Byrd, the original sheriff on the case, passed away in 2016. For Ard, lingering questions about the case never stopped haunting him.
“That’s one that, it just kinda sticks,” he said, before adding: “It broke me.”
One of the biggest questions—which investigators have apparently never been able to answer definitively—is whether Brittany’s murder was a crime of opportunity or one thoroughly planned by someone who’d stalked her.
As Ard told it, “there were some things [about the case] that made you scratch your head,” like how Brittany’s killer seemed to have such perfect timing.
“But there was nothing that really said, ‘Okay this is it.’”
“Whoever did it knew where they were and they knew exactly where they were going. So he had some kind of association or he planned it out and went and searched the area to find a spot. ‘Cause you could not have found a better spot,” he said, noting that the killer managed to commit the entire heinous crime within three miles of Brittany’s home and then dispose of the evidence in the culvert.
“He was able to hold her in the water and dispose of her right there and leave her right there and leave every trace of everything right there. People who do things hastily make a lot of mistakes, but there were none,” he said.
“It was planned, well planned, because it happened bam bam bam.”
McKinney, the former SBI agent, said he’s still not sure about the circumstances of the killing.
“It could’ve gone either way. It may have just been a crime of opportunity, quickly, or he may have been planning it,” he said.
The one thing that’s clear is that any chance of solving the case is fading faster every year.
“As far as it being solved, I’m afraid. I’m thinking I probably won’t see it in my lifetime,” said Ard. “They may get lucky and get a DNA hit, that’s what would have to do it. It’s possible somebody could walk up and go, ‘I’ve been living with this for years, I did it.’ But that’s not likely.”
And with the case never narrowing down to a single suspect, it’s even harder to know if Brittany was the killer’s only victim.
“Unfortunately I’m wondering if they haven’t gone elsewhere and done it elsewhere,” said Ard. “[I think they] definitely would have done it again.”
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Russian Troops Dead After Getting ‘Treated’ to Poisoned Meals, Ukraine Officials Say
In a show of hospitality, Ukrainian citizens in the besieged region of Kharkiv have reportedly been “treating” Russian troops local delicacies—laced with poison.
At least two troops from the 3rd Motor Rifle Division of the Russian Federation died immediately after eating stuffed buns served by the residents of Izium, a town about 80 miles southeast of Kharkiv, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine wrote Saturday in an announcement posted to Facebook.
Another 28 Russians are being treated in intensive care from eating the contaminated treats. The condition of these poisoned invaders has yet to be confirmed.
According to the Intelligence Directorate, several hundred Russian soldiers have also suffered severe illnesses from drinking poisoned alcohol while occupying the region. Ukrainian officials said that the Russian military is “writing off these cases as so-called ‘non-combat losses.’”
Though Russian troops have reportedly retreated from the capital of Kyiv. The New York Times reports that insurgent forces are still fighting to gain control of Izium, despite the locals’ culinary efforts. Control of the eastern town would allow Russians to strategically secure access to the occupied Donbas region.
Massive ship called Ever Forward is stuck in Chesapeake Bay
Despite two failed attempts to free it this week, a sister container ship to the Ever Given that got stuck in the Suez Canal last year has been lodged in the Chesapeake Bay for 21 days — and now cargo holders have to pay to help free it.
Why it matters: The Ever Forward (yes, bask in the irony) is the largest ship to get stuck in the Chesapeake Bay and it’s carrying 5,000 containers of … stuff.
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What’s happening: The ship’s owner — Evergreen Marine Corp. — has invoked a maritime law dubbed “General Average,” under which people whose belongings are on a ship must share in the cost of freeing it.
Zoom in: It’s unclear what’s in the thousands of containers aboard the Ever Forward, but at least one cargo holder — a Bloomberg journalist who recently moved from Hong Kong to New York — has been sharing her experience waiting on her furniture.
“The entire contents of our apartment, all of our furniture, lots of books, things of sentimental value are all in a container stuck in the Chesapeake Bay,” Tracy Alloway told NBC Washington.
The U.S. Coast Guard, which is handling Ever Forward’s PR, per the Port of Baltimore, told Axios that “general cargo” is on the ship and referred further questions to Evergreen.
Zoom out: The Ever Forward has been idling near Baltimore, en route to Norfolk, since a wrong turn leaving Baltimore on March 13 ran the boat aground in shallow water (24 feet of water — when it needs 42 to float, per NBC Washington.)
The Ever Forward has been stuck thrice as long as its sister ship sat marooned between the Mediterranean and Red seas last year.
Tuesday and Wednesday were the first attempts to refloat the boat using tug boats.
A third attempt will be coming soon, “using two anchored pulling barges from the stern and five tugs,” Doyle wrote on Twitter.
The big picture: You can stay informed on the progress via istheshipstillstuck.com, a website that went viral last year during the Suez fiasco.
The boat has become a tourist attraction and Downs Park (there’s a $6 entry fee) in Pasadena, Maryland is apparently the best place to see it.
By the numbers: Comparing giant, stuck container ships.
The Ever Forward — currently lodged in Baltimore en route to Norfolk for 21 days and counting — 1,095 feet long, 117,340 gross tons. Ran aground due to a wrong turn in the Bay.
The Ever Given — stuck in the Suez Canal for 6 days – 1,312 feet long, weighing in at 224,000 gross tons. Ran aground due to a large wind gust.
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California has $600M in unclaimed can, bottle deposits
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is sitting on a $600 million pile of unclaimed nickel and dime deposits on recyclable cans and bottles and now wants to give some of that back to consumers.
To get the state’s nearly 40 million residents to recycle more and send more deposits back to them, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration unveiled a plan Friday to temporarily double to a dime the refund for a 12-ounce (355 milliliters) bottle or can. California already pays 10 cents on containers over 24 ounces (709 milliliters), and that would temporarily double to 20 cents.
The move would make California among the highest-paying recycling programs in the country. Rachel Machi Wagoner, director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, said the effort would help California again become the recycling leader it was 35 years ago when it started its cash refund program.
When someone in California purchases a regular-sized soda, a 5-cent charge is applied that can be recouped if the container is brought back for recycling. Under Newsom’s plan, the deposit charge would remain the same but the return amount would double. The goal is to raise the recycling rate for beverage containers from 70% to at least 80%.
Oregon and Michigan already offer 10-cent refunds and advocacy groups say that amount for each glass or plastic bottle or aluminum can has been enough for consumers to recycle at least nine of every 10 containers.
The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog’s President Jamie Court, a frequent critic of the recycling program, called the plan “a very positive step” and “a bold proposal to give people their money back.”
“That money isn’t doing anybody any good sitting in the bank,” Court said. “We need a complete structural fix, but this is a good interim step.”
California’s proposal feeds the latest national effort to boost recycling as beverage distributors face increased pressure to include higher percentages of recycled material in their containers, National Stewardship Action Council executive director Heidi Sanborn said.
Just 10 of the 50 states have deposit programs now, but many are considering them — potentially creating a confusing patchwork and beverage labels crowded with different states’ deposit amounts, something she said distributors want to avoid.
California’s doubling of refunds would be temporary — a duration for the change has yet to be decided — and is expected to cost $100 million. If approved by the Legislature the refund increase would take effect sometime during the next fiscal year that starts July 1.
It’s uncertain if any boost in recycling would last once the higher price ends, Sanborn acknowledged, but she hopes instead California will decide to make the increase permanent. She’s also hopeful pressure from states will spur attempts by U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon to craft a national bottle bill.
Newsom’s plan also attempts to ease a bottleneck that began years ago as more neighborhood recycling centers closed and Consumer Watchdog said many grocery stores also were refusing to take back empties in-store as required.
To increase access, Newsom’s administration proposes spending $100 million on grants to add about 2,000 automated recycling machines, also known as reverse vending machines, at high schools, colleges and retailers. Consumers dump their empty containers into the machines, which issue a refund.
Another $55 million would go for state-funded mobile recycling programs in rural areas and other places with few recycling options.
Consumers are very upset that “they are unable to return their bottles and cans and get their money back as promised,” said Sanborn, who also heads California’s Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets & Curbside Recycling.
Sanborn blamed the closure of many California recycling centers on the state’s failure to quickly adjust its complicated payment formula to meet changing market conditions.
Many of California’s recyclables go to China, which toughened standards in 2017 on accepting contaminated material, including plastics. The move “totally slammed the recycling industry” nationwide, said Kate O’Neill, a University of California, Berkeley, environmental science professor and author of the 2019 book “Waste.”
The U.S. market is recovering now with the addition of domestic recycling facilities, but there still is a problem matching supply to demand, O’Neill said.
Recycling officials had expected beverage consumption to drop during the pandemic, as it does during most economic downturns, Wagoner said. Instead, container sales in California increased by 2.5 billion over three years, to 27 billion last fiscal year, meaning a record number of deposits flowing into the state’s recycling fund.
The number of refundable containers recycled in California meanwhile hit a record high of more than 18.8 billion in 2021 — but that still left plenty of money on the table.
Repeated attempts to improve the state’s recycling system have struggled in the Legislature, even as California tries to boost its recycling rates, minimize food waste, and work toward a circular-use economy.
Wagoner said Friday’s proposal is an interim step while the administration continues talks with lawmakers over permanent fixes.
Democratic state Sen. Bob Wieckowski said he tried a bill last year with proposals similar to what the administration is now suggesting, “and they didn’t want to hear about it.” He anticipates people now hoarding their recyclables until the double redemption period, then facing long lines once it begins.
His proposal this year would put more responsibility on producers to recycle their containers.
“It has a little gimmicky nature to it,” Wieckowski said of the state’s plan. “We have 45 Band-Aids on this program, and sometime you have to get out of the Band-Aid business.”
Fort Lauderdale police arrest Black hotel clerk who called for help
New body camera video released by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department shows officers pushing a Black hotel employee before arresting him. The employee, Raymond Rachal, was the person to call the police after an incident in the lobby where Rachal claims a man was yelling racial slurs at him.
Police investigating ‘appalling’ incident recorded inside a Wilmington High School bathroom
Police and school officials in Wilmington are investigating a “serious and disturbing physical altercation” inside a boys’ bathroom this week that left the superintendent of schools “appalled,” not only because of the incident, but because some students recorded video and posted it online.
The video is difficult to watch.
In a letter to the school community dated March 30th, Superintendent Glenn Brand said the incident happened on Tuesday and investigators are working to identify the students involved.
The recording sent to Boston 25 indicates a student was picked up inside the bathroom and had his head forced into a toilet inside a stall in the bathroom. The video below has been blurred due to the ages of those involved.
“I am truly appalled by the actions of these students which are unacceptable and do not represent the core values of this educational community,” said Supt. Brand. ”It is my expectation that each and every one of our students has the right to attend a school that is safe and supportive. While I recognize that the vast number of our students consistently make appropriate choices to support such an environment, we will have zero tolerance for those that do not.”
“The Wilmington Public School prioritizes, above all else, the safety, well-being and respect of all of our students and staff,” said Supt. Brand.
“It is therefore with tremendous disappointment that I write to inform you of a serious and disturbing physical altercation that occurred in one of the boys’ bathrooms (Tuesday),” said Brand. “Not only is the incident itself concerning, but also that some of our students recorded the altercation and posted this online.”
“All students who are found culpable will be held fully accountable and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken as well as the removal of appropriate privileges that are afforded to those students,” said Supt. Brand. “I assure you that we will pursue relevant legal actions should such be deemed warranted following the investigation.”
The superintendent also alluded to other recent trouble at the school.
“This incident comes in the wake of a number of other concerns recently involving troubling student behavior. Everyone has an obligation to help foster the type of school environments that our students deserve, including our staff, families and most importantly, our students themselves,” said Brand.
A statement posted to the school’s website on Friday by the Wilmington High School Student Class Officers, called the incident “horrific.”
“If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million, yet many of us were left speechless by the thoughtless actions of others that transpired earlier this week in one of our school bathrooms,” according to the statement. “These horrific actions perpetrated by an embarrassing group of individuals do not represent who we are as a student body. We are honor roll students, college bound-career focused seniors, varsity athletes, robotic champions and so much more. Our image should not be clouded by these individuals.”
Boston 25 spoke with Wilmington Police Chief Joe Desmond about the incident.
“Obviously there were a lot of kids in the bathroom and this young man was taken and physically dragged into the bathroom,” said Desmond.
The chief says the students pick the student up and lower him head down into the toilet. “It clearly looks like an assault as far as where I come from,” said Desmond.
Police are also looking to see if this incident rises to the level of a hate crime or civil rights violation. Chief Desmond says they have at least three recordings and they are working with the school to identify everyone involved.
“Kids should be able to go to school and feel safe and feel supported and not worried about being picked on or God forbid this incident is horrible. That poor kid” it’s terrible,” said concerned parent Roberta Biscan.
The school superintendent is scheduling bystander training that will be mandatory for all students. According to police, the case is moving quickly and charges are likely to be filed.
Watch for updates on Boston 25.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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Why this huge catfish was released by a fisherman who didn’t even bother to weigh it
Ivan Garren from Cleveland, Tennessee caught a huge catfish Thursday while fishing in Wolftever Creek.
Garren, who used skipjack as bait, was fishing in a depth of about six feet when he hooked the monster.
He did not weigh or measure the fish but estimated it was about 38 pounds. He wanted to get the fish back in the water as soon as possible after taking a couple of pictures.
“I release all big fish for other people to enjoy,” Garren said.
As big as the fish was, Garren said he has caught bigger.
Wolftever Creek is located in Hamilton County near Middle Valley, Tennessee. It is known for having a large population of catfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass and crappie.
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee fisherman releases huge catfish without weighing
The Judds reunite for CMT Music Awards performance
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Judds, one of the most successful duos in country music in the 1980s, are reuniting to perform on the CMT Music Awards, their first major awards show performance together in more than two decades.
The mother-and-daughter duo of Naomi and Wynonna will perform their hit “Love Will Build a Bridge” on the awards show on April 11, airing on CBS and Paramount+, during an outdoor shoot in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
“It feels both surreal and what a thrill it is. What a thrill to finally get her back on the stage because she’s been waiting for 20-plus years,” Wynonna told the AP of her mother, Naomi. “As a daughter and as an artist, it’s a win-win.”
Originally from Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse in the Nashville area when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, together with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.
The Judds won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music and had more than a dozen No. 1 hits, including “Mama, He’s Crazy” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ’bout the Good Old Days).”
In 1990, Naomi Judd announced her retirement from performing due to chronic hepatitis. Wynonna has continued her solo career and they have occasionally reunited for special performances.
“To have all the incredible opportunities that I have had, being reminded of all that, just makes me very humbled and I just want to bask in the moment,” Naomi Judd told the AP.
This is also their first ever performance together at the CMT Music Awards. Country star Kacey Musgraves will introduce the pair prior to the performance.
“Music is the bridge between mom and me, and it it bonds us together. Even in the not easy times,” said Wynonna Judd. “We show up and we sing because that’s what love is about, right? So what a beautiful celebration.”
Hosted by country singer Kelsea Ballerini and actor Anthony Mackie, the fan-voted awards show will also feature performances by Ballerini, Kane Brown, Miranda Lambert, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Cody Johnson, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Carly Pearce and more.
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