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Suspect identified in Gray triple homicide

Derrick Benjamin Sells


Staff Writer

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The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has a suspect in custody in connection to the triple homicide that occurred in Gray earlier this month.

At a press conference on Monday Dec. 18, Sheriff Ed Graybeal announced that a Washington County Grand Jury indicted Derrick Benjamin Sells, 33, of 400 Branch Road, Fall Branch as a suspect in connection to the murder of Robert and Kyanna Vaughn. The two were found dead along with their unborn child at their home at 616 Friendship Court, Gray on Dec. 3.

“Our guys, when this happened, they didn’t go home. They worked nights, days, some both, and did a fantastic job with coming up with the suspect,” Graybeal said on Monday. “It was a concerted effort from everybody.”

“They worked hard and we’re still working. We have some things we want to follow up on, some things that we want to see happen.”

Sells was charged with three counts of first degree murder, three counts of felony murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, aggravated robbery and aggravated child neglect, after two children were left alone for 24 hours in the home where the murders occurred.

Graybeal said that at this time, a motive has not been determined.

“We haven’t had a special grand jury here since I’ve been the DA,” District Attorney General for Washington County Tony Clark said at the press conference. “We thought with the seriousness and with it being a triple homicide, and with the probable cause and evidence we had, we wanted to get a grand jury here.”

Sells was first found and charged with violation of probation by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department. He was found to have a handgun under the driver’s seat of the vehicle in which he was stopped and was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and simple possession of marijuana.

Graybeal said phone records also showed that Sells was found to have been in contact with Robert Vaughn the day of the murders. According to the press release from WCSO, investigators also seized several items in relation to the homicide from Sells’ residence.

Graybeal said his team worked with Sullivan County, the Tenessee Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Kingsport Police Department and the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Sullivan County on the case. He also said his team is waiting for items from the search to come back from TBI labs in order to gather any further information.

“We wanted to try to give the family some peace and do what we can do before the Christmas holidays because, we don’t really know who all is involved, but everybody thought she was a good lady, good mom,” Graybeal said.

“(The teams) stayed together. We had one mind and that was giving this baby that was not born and the two in the house some justice.”