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Family increases efforts to find missing Brantley

It’s been more than 2 1/2 years since Cleveland resident Marsha Brantley disappeared.

On Friday, James F. Logan announced he will be representing the family in an attempt to help find answers to what happened to the former Lee University employee.

Marsha is married to Donnie Brantley, who said she “left him and they were planning a divorce,” according to investigators.

“The family of Marsha Ellen Rader Brantley has met and spoken with Cleveland attorney James Logan to represent us as a whole in finding answers as to the disappearance of our loved one,” said Jana Wills, a niece of Marsha Brantley.

“We have corresponded with attorney Logan on several occasions, and he has agreed to seek justice for Marsha should foul play have been involved in her disappearance.

“Since Marsha’s disappearance in June, 2009, investigators have worked diligently to locate her whereabouts. Attorney Logan is pursuing other possible avenues regarding her disappearance. We ask for continued support and prayers from friends and the community,” Wills said.

The family has traveled to Cleveland from their hometown of Greeneville, several times to distribute flyers. The family has also established a reward up to $5,000 and pleaded with Gov. Bill Haslam to add to that amount for information to solve the case.

“Cleveland has been very receptive the numerous times we have visited to distribute flyers and spread the word of her disappearance. The family would like to express our sincere gratitude and thankfulness for the continued support and help from the Cleveland community,” Wills stated.

“The past 2 1/2 years have been a very difficult time for Marsha Ellen Rader Brantley’s family and friends. The hiring of the Logan-Thompson law firm to assist in attempting to bring this matter to conclusion is not to be construed as being derogatory to the tremendous work which has been and is being done by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the local office of the district attorney,” Logan said.

Logan continued: “As a matter of public policy, there are many things which these investigators are unable to share with the public. It is important that many of the details be kept a private part of the investigation by law enforcement. We will do nothing to interfere with the criminal investigation of the disappearance of a wonderful Christian lady who dedicated herself to being a contributing member of our community.

“We will file a civil lawsuit and utilize every potential discovery tool available to prove the facts which we will allege in our complaint. It is our hope that there are people who may have information regarding the disappearance of Marsha and this information may lead us to additional evidence to show and prove the participation of a specific individual in causing her disappearance.

“If anyone knows anything about or of anyone which shows directly or circumstantially of the participation of anyone in the death of Marsha Ellen Rader Brantley, we request they provide that information to the Criminal Investigations Division of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, the TBI, the Office of the District Attorney, or our offices. Any information supplied to our offices will remain confidential unless permission is given to use the information.

“If someone knows something and they are willing to share it with us, we will be able to use what is shared in a way and manner in which we can protect the person who gives us the information. The contact person with our offices will be our investigator Arnold Botts, who may be reached at 423-476-2251 or by e-mail at

“Cases such as the death or disappearance of Marsha have reached the stage where some people call them ‘cold cases.’ Persons who participated in the death or disappearance of Marsha should know that cold cases do not die. Law enforcement and our offices will never cease their efforts to bring the family and friends of Marsha Ellen Rader Brantley answers to the questions of what happened and who was involved,” according to Logan.

Marsha was a resident director at Lee University for several years. She was also a writer and an avid pet rescue advocate.

BCSO detectives located what they believed to be a “missing recreational vehicle owned by the couple which revealed no clues to her disappearance. TBI officials combed through the Brantley home in spring 2010 looking for clues.

Stephen Hatchett of the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office said Friday his office has spoken with Logan.

“We have agreed to provide as much assistance as possible as long it does not jeopardize our investigation,” Hatchett said.

Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner – Family increases efforts to find missing Brantley


Family and friends of Marsha Brantley do poster blitz in search of missing woman

Family members of Marsha Rader Brantley returned to Cleveland to place more posters of their missing loved one. Among them was State Rep. Kevin Brooks, a co-worker of the woman who was reported by friends as missing in 2009.

“I walked in to Panera Bread and saw the poster and it hit home,” said Brooks.

Medra Justis, Jana Wills, their husbands and other family members as well as several friends joined in the poster blitz.

Some of the family also traveled to the Kingston, Ga., area and handed out posters as well as placed them on businesses and store fronts.

“We have been well received,” Justis said explaining this is the second round the family has been out and about Cleveland and Bradley County.

Information released by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Bradley County Sheriff’s Office show, “At the time of her disappearance, Brantley was married to Donnie Brantley and they had no children. He told the TBI that his wife left him and they were planning a divorce.”

Brantley is a member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild and Thunder Rock Writers.

She attended Lee University and worked as a resident assistant.

Brooks worked with Brantley at Lee and offered the family consolation, telling them he would be active in pursuing reward money for information leading to answers in the case.

BCSO Detective David Shoemaker said his office is also checking to see if TBI will offer a reward.

Franklin Justis, who is Brantley’s uncle, has come up with ideas to fund a reward for information.

“We have a family reunion at the end of this month and I’m sure we can raise some money for a reward,” said Franklin Justis.

“We are also planning on visiting several campgrounds in the Cades Cove and Ducktown areas,” Medra Justis said Saturday.

According to the investigation, “Brantley was known to enjoy camping and frequently spent time in a family-owned camper in Townsend. Investigators have not found the camper and are seeking information about it as well. Investigators indicated the camper was a large, pull-behind style.”

Brantley is described as being a white female, weighing approximately 125 pound and being 5-feet 8-inches tall. She has light brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone who may be able to provide information regarding Marsha Ellen Brantley is asked to contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND or the BCSO at 728-7336, or the Bradley County Hotline at 728-7311 and enter selection 2.

Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner – Family and friends of Marsha Brantley do poster blitz in search of missing woman

Cleveland, Tenn., police now involved in 2 year old missing woman case

It’s been almost two years since Medra Justice got the news that her niece was missing.

Marsha Brantley, 51, of Cleveland, Tenn., was a private woman. Her parents had died in 2000 and she never had any children, Justice said. So it was November of 2009 before Brantley’s family, who are spread out in East Tennessee and North Carolina, found out on a website that she hadn’t been seen or heard from since that June.

“It just about floored me,” Justice said Wednesday from her North Carolina home.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been investigating since December 2009. Now, on the second anniversary of Brantley’s disappearance, her family is desperate for answers.

They contacted the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, which had not been part of the investigation until now. Sheriff’s office spokesman Bob Gault said the office has joined TBI in the search, but there are no new leads.

Brantley’s family recently created fliers and plans to start passing them out in Cleveland next week. They’ve already put fliers on missing person websites, Justice said, but there is little hope that she is still alive.

“Our main object is to find Marsha and get her a burial place,” she said.

The investigation began after a friend told a local attorney that she hadn’t seen Brantley in months, officials said.

The attorney told 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Bebb, who called the TBI.

“We first started with the TBI because we weren’t sure if anything was wrong,” Bebb said.

The Brantley’s home was searched in December 2009 and Marsha Brantley’s husband, Donnie Brantley, was questioned, Bebb said.

Donnie Brantley told investigators that his wife had left him and they were planning to divorce, TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said in a 2010 news release.

There are no suspects, although Bebb called Donnie Brantley a “person of interest.” Bebb declined to elaborate.

Donnie Brantley couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, and his attorney, Joe Hoffer, didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Marsha Brantley worked for Lee University for several years as a residential director and was a freelance writer. She kept a blog called Magpie’s Nest. Her last entry was on May 10, 2009, two months before she disappeared, when she wished her husband a happy ninth anniversary.

“Nine years later, a lot of water has gone under that bridge, equal parts happy and sad, and I love him more than I ever thought possible,” she wrote.

Brantley enjoyed camping and frequently spent time in a family owned camper in Townsend, Tenn., Gault said. Investigators have not found her camper and are seeking information about it as well, he said.

Local woman missing for year; TBI called in

Greg Kaylor
Banner Staff Writer
Thursday, Apr 08, 2010

Marsha Ellen Brantley has not been seen nor heard from since early last year.

On Wednesday, crime scene investigators from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation combed through her home in hopes of finding evidence to her alleged disappearance.
Brantley, 51, was reported missing by a friend, according to TBI Information Officer Kristen Helm.

“A friend reported her missing in Nov. 2009 when she contacted a Cleveland attorney, who in turn contacted the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office. TBI began investigating at the request of the district attorney general in Dec. 2009,” according to Helm.

Brantley reportedly shared the home with her husband who “claims she left him and they were planning on divorcing,” Helms added in a statement released Wednesday.

Brantley is a member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild and Thunder Rock Writers.

Brantley attended Lee University and worked as a resident assistant, according to the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild Web site.
She was also an animal rescue advocate, belonging to Ark, according to her blog which dates back to February 2008.

The Thunder Rock Web site noted Brantley, a founding member, left the organization six months after it was formed. It cites that she left to pursue other writing interests. That information is provided on a “Tribute” page on the Web site.

TBI officials did not release information regarding any alleged findings or clues from Wednesday’s search.

Brantley is described as being a white female, weighing approximately 125 pounds and being 5 feet 8 inches tall. She has light brown hair and blue eyes.
According to TBI information, Brantley’s maiden name is Marsha Rader.

Anyone having information regarding Brantley is asked to contact TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

TBI Search For Missing Woman

April 09, 2010 5:04 PM John Madewell

The TBI issued a request seeking the public’s help in finding Marsha Ellen Brantley. The 51 year old woman has not been seen nor heard from since late May or early June last year, according to the T-B-I. She’s approximately 5’8″, weighs 125 llbs, a white female and has light brown hair and blue eyes.

A unique facet of this case is the fact she wasn’t reported missing until this past November, even though she hasn’t been seen or heard from in almost a year.

And on Wednesday, the TBI’s Violent Crime Response Team came to her home in the Benwood subdivision of Cleveland. They were looking for “trace evidence.”

Randy Jacobs lives around the corner and was coming home after dropping his son off at school. He immediately noticed the agents. “On the way back home, we saw the TBI truck there and it was in the front page of the paper and stuff. Agents were standing all over the place, looking all over the yard and stuff. That’s the first I heard anything about it,” Jacobs said. He has lived here ten years and recalled seeing Brantley, but not recently. “We’ve seen her, it’s been a while since we’ve seen her,” he recalled.

Agents questioned her husband who claimed she had left him and they were planning on divorcing, according to the TBI. Jacobs says trouble typically doesn’t happen in this subdivision. “They had dogs and stuff. They would walk around the neighborhood and stuff. It’s a nice neighborhood. It’s a great place to live and stuff. To hear something like this blows you away a little bit,” Jacobs said.

Roxanne Tyson was also stunned, “I was shocked. I hadn’t heard from her in a number of years because I had moved away,”  Tyson said. She is a good friend of Brantley’s. Tyson worked for Brantley at Lee University and was in her wedding almost nine years ago.

Tyson described Brantley as sweet and personable but didn’t like big crowds. And this friend found out about her disappearance before it made news. Tyson explained how she found out, “Through a mutual friend at Lee. She had called with information that an investigator had been hired to find her.”

From what NewsChannel 9 has learned, that task should prove a challenge. We discovered Brantley worked at Lee as residential director from August of 1992 to July of 1995. Then, in JUne of 1996 until August of 2002 she worked as Director of Residential Life for commuter services.

But recent contact from her hasn’t happened.”I hope that they find out what has happened to her. I mean she just is not out there. Too many people have tried to find her, to connect with her on Facebook, different things like that and she’s not answering anyone,” Tyson said.

The TBI executed a search warrant Wednesday but is not disclosing what if anything was found. No one has been arrested in this case. And the TBI wants your help in finding Marsha Ellen Brantley. Her maiden name is Marsha Rader. Friends say she loved the outdoors, hiking in particular.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Marsha Ellen Brantley is urged to call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND. That phone number is 1-800-824-3463.

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