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There were two things Clifford M. Carden Jr. admired added than anything else: his ancestors and NASCAR. Carden abnormally admired racer Dale Earnhardt and his son Dale Earnhardt Jr., and collected their memorabilia. In fact, a admired emblem from his accumulating would eventually advice break his murder.
Born in 1956, Cliff Carden grew up alfresco of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and gravitated adjoin automobiles at an aboriginal age, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “My ancestor was a artisan for 30-plus years of his life and he admired cars,” his daughter, Sandora Carden, told “Snapped” on Oxygen.
Although his aboriginal alliance concluded in divorce, Cliff moved beyond the artery to be abreast his two accouchement and remarried in 1991. “I fell in adulation with him because he was so affectionate and so gentle,” additional wife Cindy Carden told “Snapped” producers. “He was aloof an alarming person.” Cindy had two accouchement of her own, who Cliff helped raise.
Unfortunately, Cliff started to have serious bloom problems at age 50. “My Dad, he ran at 350, 375 pounds. He bare to lose weight,” son Chris Burgess said. Cliff had diabetes and affection disease, which took a toll on his marriage. Eventually, he and Cindy were separated.
But Cliff and Cindy began to allocution about reconciling about Christmas 2010. “We were discussing me advancing aback home. He said, ‘I appetite us to work,’” Cindy told “Snapped.” That February, however, she couldn’t get Cliff to acknowledgment any of her buzz calls. Afterwards seeing their dog angry up alfresco his home, she began to worry. She alleged Sandora, who said she hadn’t heard from her ancestor in days.
Cliff would be begin anon after: On Feb. 3, 2011, a man out accession cans saw a asleep anatomy amphibian in the Sequatchie River, according to court documents. There was claret and annoyance marks on the adjacent riverbank. The asleep man was missing his wallet and had no cellphone or annihilation abroad that could analyze him.
Earlier that day, the debris of a 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was begin in the dupe 10 afar away, according to bounded account website The Chattanoogan. An accelerant had been acclimated to bake the car bottomward to its frame, but a sheriff’s agent begin a adjacent bedridden disciplinarian assurance that articular the owner: Cliff Carden.
Cindy accustomed a buzz alarm from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, asking if Cliff had any anecdotic marks. “I said, ‘Yeah, he’s got tattoos on his arms,’ and I declared the tattoos and he goes, ‘We’ve begin your husband,’” she told “Snapped” producers. “I said, ‘Is he OK?’ and he said he was dead. It was like my affection got bankrupt and again all of the abrupt I got numb.”
After speaking to the medical examiner, detectives learned Cliff’s cause of death. “They let us apperceive appropriate off the bat he did accept a distinct gunshot anguish to the head,” Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Jody Lockhart told producers.
But afterwards acquirements of Cliff’s death, his son Chris Burgess went to his home and noticed article missing. “Dale Earnhardt 1:18 calibration ceramics car. It was one of Dad’s award-winning backing as far as his accumulating goes and I noticed anon that it was missing,” Burgess told “Snapped.” It wasn’t the abandoned admired missing from the home.
“You could acquaint the abode was in disarray,” Lockhart told producers. “There was being on the floor; someone had went through it like they were attractive for something.”
Although the home showed no signs of affected entry, Lockhart noticed a catchbasin of propane gas set up adjoin a heater. “In my assessment that was set to try to bake the abode bottomward afterwards addition had went through and approved to abduct what they bare out of the house,” he said.
Detectives began to retrace Cliff’s accomplish above-mentioned his murder. At the time of his death, he was cutting a shirt for Fuzzy’s Bar in Sale Creek, Tennessee. Detectives batten to the owner, who told them Cliff was a approved and that on the day of his annihilation he was bubbler there with an alien woman.
A tip additionally came in from a man who said that on the night of the annihilation he had accustomed a ride to addition already accepted to bounded law enforcement: Thomas “Bryan” Bettis, 35. He had best Bettis up not far from area Cliff’s car had been found. Bettis was with an alien woman at the time and they were both covered in mud. They asked to be apprenticed to Walmart, area they spent an excess of $300 dollars, and again to a Mountain Inn and Suites motel.
Detectives converged on the cabin and accepted Bettis had been there. “They paid in cash…They were no trouble,” the buyer told Chattanooga NBC affiliate WRCB.
Footage from the hotel’s aegis camera all but accepted their guilt. “They’re in Mr. Carden’s car and they’re accustomed in Dale Earnhardt memorabilia,” Assistant District Attorney Steven Strain told producers.
After analytic the motel’s trash, detectives begin Walmart arcade accoutrements and a bolus canteen of Cliff’s with claret on it, according to cloister documents. “At that point we had abundant affirmation to accompany charges,” Steven Strain said.
But afore he could be arrested, Bettis angry himself in to authorities. Bettis claimed he had never met Cliff before but that he was an old associate of his girlfriend, Susan Baker, 35.
Susan Lynette Baker had developed up in Texas area she excelled in academy and was a acceptable mother, according to her two children. Unfortunately, she began application opioids to action abiding affliction from above-mentioned bloom altitude and afterwards became absorbed to them.
Baker’s biologic use added afterwards she began dating Bettis, according to her children. “She consistently had a bolus addiction. She was never abusing it too abundant until she met Bryan and again it got worse,” her babe Autumn Baker told “Snapped” producers. “She chock-full for awhile, again she met him and they started accomplishing pills together.”
Bettis told detectives Baker and Cliff met at a bounded bar and she began seeing him on the side. “We begin out she was application Cliff for money and for pills and she was absolutely in adulation with Bryan,” Lockhart told producers.
Bettis said the robbery and annihilation was Baker’s idea. “She aloof alleged me and asked me did I appetite to go accomplish some money,” he is heard cogent detectives on tapes from his claiming acquired by “Snapped.”
Later that day, Baker and Cliff picked Bettis up and as they collection around, Baker approved to rob Cliff. Cliff fought back, at which point Baker pulled out a pistol and attempt him in the head, according to cloister documents.
After dumping Cliff’s body, Baker and Bettis ransacked his home. They fabricated off with $1,006, antagonism collectibles and decree drugs, according to The Chattanoogan. Upon abiding to their auberge room, Bettis said the brace had sex. “She said that it fabricated her horny, for her to do that,” Bettis said during his interrogation.
Baker was after begin at the home of a acquaintance in Chattanooga. During her account with detectives, video of which was obtained by “Snapped,” she declared Cliff as her “boyfriend” and said, “He paid absorption to me.” She additionally accepted he sometimes supplied her with Oxycodone and Xanax. Although she initially claimed Bettis was the shooter, she eventually accepted to affairs the trigger. “I snapped. I did. I snapped,” she said, according to cloister documents.
Baker and Bettis were arrested for the annihilation of Cliff Carden on Feb. 8, 2011, according to The Chattanoogan. Because Cliff was killed during a robbery, they were answerable with abomination annihilation as able-bodied as abolition of claimed property, according to Strain.
After several years of delays, Baker’s balloon began in backward winter 2014. Afterwards apperception for two hours, jurors begin her accusable of abomination murder, abnormally aggravated robbery, and ambience blaze to claimed property, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The annihilation confidence abandoned meant she allegation serve 51 years in bastille afore acceptable acceptable for parole.
Not absent to booty his affairs with a board trial, Bettis pleaded accusable in January 2015 to abetment to accomplish abomination annihilation and abetment to accomplish abnormally aggravated robbery, according to WRCB. He was bedevilled to serve 25 years on the annihilation allegation and 10 years for the robbery charge. Having been in aegis back 2011, Bettis became acceptable for acquittal in May 2015 and has a acquittal audition in February 2020, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction. Baker will not be acceptable for acquittal until 2070, back she is 94 years old.
“Snapped” airs Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
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