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Ex-Boyfriend Arrested After Tennessee Deputy Shot 8 Times, Set On Fire

Springfield, TN – Autopsy results released Monday revealed the horrific injuries a Robertson County sheriff’s deputy was subjected to the day she was murdered inside her Springfield home.

Robertson County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) Deputy Savanna Puckett, 22, was found dead inside her burning home on Jan. 23.

Her ex-boyfriend, 27-year-old James Jackson Conn, was arrested the next day after a standoff with police at his residence on Odom Court in Smyrna, The Tennessean reported.

Deputy Puckett’s body had superficial burns on her feet and toes, as well as abrasions on her left breast, left leg, and her nose, Assistant Medical Examiner David Zimmerman wrote in a nine-page autopsy report released on March 7, according to The Tennessean.

She was shot a total of eight times, suffering gunshot wounds to her head, both breasts, her right arm, left hand, left forearm, and three to her back, the report read.

Deputy Puckett’s death was ruled a homicide, The Tennessean reported.

Several days before her murder, Deputy Puckett contacted her friend, Robertson County Sheriff’s Sergeant Megan Ketchum, and asked her to check the license plate of a vehicle that had been parked in her driveway, according to the Leaf Chronicle.

Sgt. Ketchum said the car was registered to Conn. Deputy Puckett had previously told Sgt. Ketchum she was breaking up with Conn.

“She was concerned,” the sergeant testified on Thursday, according to the Leaf Chronicle. “She was starting to get red flags in the relationship which is why she wanted to take a break.”

Conn returned to Deputy Puckett’s home later again that night, resulting in her placing a call to the sheriff’s office, the Leaf Chronicle reported.

“He was told to stay away from my house,” Deputy Puckett explained in the call to the RCSO dispatch.

According to Sgt. Ketchum, Conn said he was aware he was no longer allowed at the property but that he wanted to apologize to Deputy Puckett, the Leaf Chronicle reported.

The young deputy opted to stay at Sgt. Ketchum’s house that night.

Before she left the next day, the sergeant gave Deputy Puckett her .40-caliber Glock handgun as a backup weapon for additional protection, the Leaf Chronicle reported.

The investigation into the death the 22-year-old deputy began at approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 23, when she failed to show up for her assigned shift at the sheriff’s office, WKRN reported.

A fellow deputy traveled to her residence on Highway 41 North to make sure she was okay and discovered Deputy Puckett’s house was “engulfed in flames,” the RCSO said in a press release.

The deputy tried to enter the home but was unable to do so due to the blaze.

Firefighters responded to the scene and found the fatally wounded deputy inside the burning home, WKRN reported.

They removed her from the house through a window while additional firefighters battled the blaze engulfing another portion of the house, according to the Leaf Chronicle.

They were able to douse the flames prior to the fire reaching the room where Deputy Puckett’s body had been discovered.

Deputy Puckett was pronounced dead at the scene, according to The Tennessean.

Investigators also located two empty lighter fluid containers inside her residence, according to an arrest affidavit.

In addition to other evidence, investigators linked Conn to Deputy Puckett’s murder by matching his fingerprints to those found on the lighter fluid bottles inside her home, The Tennessean reported.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Fire Investigator Russel Robinson testified the fire was an intentional act of arson, according to The Tennessean.

“You could see a liquid stain on the carpet,” Investigator Robinson told the court.

Conn remained in jail without bond on Monday on charges of aggravated arson and first-degree murder, according to The Tennessean.

Deputy Puckett was just 18 years old when she joined the RCSO as a corrections officer in 2018, USA Today reported.

She began serving in the patrol division in May of 2020, and graduated from the Walter State Law Enforcement Academy four months later.

“Words cannot express the sadness and grief that Savanna’s family and her Sheriff’s Office family are facing right now,” Robertson County Sheriff Michael Van Dyke said, according to WKRN. “This is a tragedy that we are processing minute by minute. Please keep Savanna, her family, and the Sheriff’s Office in your thoughts and prayers.”

The sheriff’s office said Deputy Puckett was always early to work and showed up with a smile on her face every day, USA Today reported.

“She was a mother hen to us all, and frequently cooked meals and baked goodies for her shift,” the RCSO said. “She was tough, courageous, kind, compassionate and had an infectious personality that will always be remembered.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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