COLUMBIA (MCT) – Authorities in Florida and Tennessee are seeking a fugitive in the slaying of a former Maury County resident.
Teresa Sue Compton, 48, of Oldsmar, Fla., was found dead in her home Monday by Pinellas County deputies checking on her welfare, according to a press release issued by the sheriff's department late Wednesday afternoon.
An arrest warrant has been issued for James Quilliams, 40, who lived with Compton at the East Lake Woodlands subdivision residence, according to the press release. The warrant charges Quilliams with first-degree murder.
"The victim died of upper body trauma and her death was ruled suspicious," the press release states.
Detectives believe Quilliams is now in the area of Sevier County, and law enforcement officials there are searching for him.
A report on the website nationalparkstraveler.com Wednesday said investigators believe Quilliams may have been dropped off near Gatlinburg by a female companion who was arrested for DUI by the Pigeon Forge Police Department. The website described Quilliams as 6 feet, 2 inches tall, weighing 215 pounds, with short gray hair and a goatee, last seen wearing a black trench coat, black dress pants and tennis shoes.
Compton had lived in Maury County for about two decades and was a longtime employee of the General Motors automotive plant in Spring Hill before moving to Knoxville three years ago and then to Florida, said Tina Green, Compton's friend and former co-worker at the auto plant.
"She had a heart of gold. Very down to earth – I could talk to her about anything," Green said. "She didn't judge. She was just bubbly and would do anything in the world for her friends."'
Compton, whose name at the time was Teresa Chism, moved to Middle Tennessee from Indiana in 1992 to work at the former Saturn automotive plant, now known as GM Spring Hill Manufacturing. She worked there as a buyer in the Indirect Material Purchasing department until she was laid off in 2009, Green said.
Compton moved to Knoxville to take a job with Gerdau Ameristeel, then was transferred by the same company to Florida about a year and a half ago, Green said. Compton's adult daughter, Lindsey Carson, and granddaughter still reside in Columbia.
Green went to visit Compton at her Florida residence at Thanksgiving.
"She was happy," Green said.
Green met Quilliams, who used the name "Brian," and was introduced as Compton's boyfriend.
Green declined to discuss Quilliams.
Green said she received condolences Wednesday from numerous friends and former co-workers of Compton.
"She was my best friend," Green said.