TN RAMONA MAE PRIEST: Missing from McMinnville, TN - 6 Feb 2001 - Age 19

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Missing Since: 02/06/2001
Missing From: McMinnville, Tennessee
Classification: Endangered Missing
Sex: Female
Race: White
Date of Birth: 08/14/1981 (38)
Age: 19 years old
Height and Weight: 5'3, 125 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Priest's hair was dyed burgundy and black at the time of her disappearance. She wears eyeglasses with small wire frames. She has scars on her right eyebrow and right knee, a red birthmark on the back of her neck at her hairline, and a tattoo of a "Bad Boy" face in light blue and green ink with the initials "J.G." written in black above it on her right wrist. Priest's nickname is Mona. Her upper right premolar tooth is missing.

Details of Disappearance
Priest was last seen as she was being released from the city jail in the vicinity of the 100 block of Security Circle in McMinnville, Tennessee on February 6, 2001. She has never been heard from again. She left behind all her personal belongings, as well as her infant child. There are reports that she was pregnant at the time of her disappearance, but this is untrue.

Priest had gotten some threats from unidentified individuals prior to her disappearance. It's unusual for her to go this long without getting in touch with her family. Foul play is suspected in her case, but few details are available.


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Plot to kill husband not woman's only problem: Prosecutors imply she has info on Priest's disappearance

6/16/2002 By DUANE SHERRILL / Staff Reporter for the Southern Standard

Facing charges she tried to hire a hitman to kill her husband last month, Tresia Christopher was the target of stinging innuendo Tuesday when prosecutors questioned her about the murder of a former husband a decade ago and the mysterious disappearance of her grandchild's mother last year.

Christopher, 44, was bound over to the grand jury Tuesday by Judge Larry Ross on the charge of attempted murder. She remains held under $200,000 bond. She was indicted on the charge Friday by the Warren County grand jury and will face arraignment later this month.

The indictment comes after she allegedly tried to hire an undercover TBI agent to kill her husband. The plot was foiled after the man she allegedly tried to hire to kill her husband, Juan de la Cruz, went to police and reported her plans. A TBI agent was then introduced to Christopher and presented by Cruz as the man who would kill her husband.

"She told the agent she wanted to get rid of her husband," said Sheriff's Investigator Jackie Matheny Jr., during the preliminary hearing. "She said she wanted him dead."

Matheny said he overheard the conversation while watching the deal in Wal-Mart parking lot. The car in which the TBI agent talked to Christopher was wired and lawmen were listening and recording nearby. Matheny noted Christopher gave the agent $400 and a diamond ring and promised him $3,000 the following day.

It was later learned Christopher's husband, the intended target, was going to borrow the money to give to his wife on the premise she would in turn give the money to Cruz to bring one of his relatives to America. The defense maintained the money was being paid to Cruz to keep him away from Christopher so the couple could reconcile their marriage.

After payment of the $3,000, Christopher reportedly told the agent she would make a final payment to him of $25,000 once she collected her husband's life insurance.

On cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Bobby Boyd questioned Cruz's motivation in turning in Christopher to authorities. Boyd suggested Cruz and Christopher were seeing each other at one time, noting Cruz and Christopher were "on the outs" when he turned her in after she returned to her husband.

Boyd also pointed out Cruz had two guns in his possession as he sat in the car with the agent and Christopher. The guns were reportedly given to Cruz by Christopher to kill her husband. The guns belonged to the intended victim.

While the preliminary hearing was uneventful, prosecutors hit Christopher from left field when she asked for a reduction of bond. The surprise assault happened as Christopher's son, from a prior marriage, was testifying.

Michael Macey, who will return to combat with the U.S. military in Afghanistan this week, told the court he had an on-and-off relationship with his mother and could not vouch for his mother staying in the area if released on bond.

"This is pretty serious, so I don't know," Macey admitted

It was at that point prosecutors asked about the death of his mother's former husband, Floyd King.

King was stabbed to death during an altercation with David Henley in Murfreesboro in February 1991. Henley was subsequently sentenced to five years for manslaughter after he claimed King attacked him first.

During the trial, Henley claimed King attacked him, saying someone had stolen $3,500 from him and that his wife (Tresia Christopher) was staying out late. Henley was a friend of the family.

When asked if she had been seeing Henley prior to her late husband's death, Christopher, who took the stand in her own behalf during the bond hearing, denied any involvement with Henley or her late husband's murder.

"He was just a young boy," Christopher said of Henley. "He was a young man who worked for us and lived on our property."

The attention next turned to the mysterious disappearance of Ramona Priest, 19, who vanished without a trace in February 2001. Police now suspect Priest may have fallen prey to foul play.

"You were one of the last people to see her," said Assistant District Attorney Tom Miner, noting Christopher had legal custody of Priest's infant, who is also Christopher's grandchild. The child was placed in state custody upon Christopher's arrest. Miner also pointed out Priest's purse was found at Christopher's residence.

In response, Christopher pointed out she was the one who mounted a campaign to find Priest by circulating fliers with the missing teen's picture. She denied knowledge of Priest's whereabouts.

Despite the surprise barrage by prosecutors, Christopher still asked for her bond to be reduced, noting some of her 12 siblings would likely help raise bond if it was set at a manageable amount. Christopher pointed out she could not go home to her husband now.

After hearing the argument, Judge Ross refused to lower bond, noting the chance of conviction on the attempted murder charge was high and that Christopher faces a lengthy sentence if convicted. The charge of attempted murder carries 15 to 25 years in prison.
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Governor Bill Lee announces $10,000 reward in McMinnville cold case

by: WKRN Web Staff Posted: Jul 8, 2020

WARREN COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Warren County Sheriff’s Department said Governor Bill Lee’s office announced a $10,000 dollar reward regarding a McMinnville cold case.

The reward is for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the disappearance and murder of Ramona Priest.

Priest was last seen on February 9, 2001 outside ‘The Underground’, located on the back side of the McMinnville Plaza Shopping Center.

Investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said anyone with information that could help them solve the case, should come forward.

You can call Detective Captain Nichole Mosley at 931-473-3386.

The reward will be paid upon the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.
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REWARD: McMinnville Murder Cold Case

Do you know what happened to Ramona Priest?

Today, Governor Bill Lee has announced a $10,000 reward from the State of Tennessee for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for her disappearance and murder.

Ramona was last seen on February 9, 2001, at a music establishment known as 'The Underground' on the back side of the McMinnville Plaza Shopping Center.

The TBI, McMinnville Police Department, and District Attorney General's office continue to investigate this cold case and would urge anyone with information to contact (931) 473-3386 or (931) 474-0622.


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Pond drained in search for body
Law enforcement officials aren’t saying who they were looking for Wednesday when they drained a small pond off Viola Road.

The all-day operation was conducted near the mostly vacant trailer park about one mile from McMinnville city limits. A trench was dug to divert water so law enforcement could determine if a body was at the bottom.

“We did not find what we were looking for,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “It’s an ongoing investigation so I can’t say who we were looking for. All I can tell you is we didn’t find it.”

When asked, Zavogiannis declined to say if investigators were looking for Ramona Priest, who has been missing for more than 20 years. A $10,000 reward has been offered from the state of Tennessee for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Priest’s disappearance. It is believed she was murdered.

Priest was 19 when she was last seen Feb. 9, 2001 outside an establishment where local bands would meet to play music and was referred to as “The Underground” located on the back side of McMinnville Plaza Shopping Center.

Investigators were reportedly acting on a tip Wednesday when they drained the pond off Viola Road.

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