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Tava Woodard gas station clerk shot dead

BY Anas Shah Jun 08, 2023. 10:12 pm UPDATED: Jun 08, 2023. 10:12 pm

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A father and son have been accused in the murder of a 23-year-old Tennessee woman who was shot to death inside a convenience store where she worked the midnight shift only hours before.

According to People, on June 2, Tava Woodard, a clerk at the Roadrunner Market on North Broadway in Johnson City, contacted her friends and coworkers about a theft incident and expressed her desire to find a new employment.

A short while later, she was robbed of her money at gunpoint by two masked males who ultimately turned out to be Mark Sexton Jr., 41, and Mark Sexton III, 18, according to WJHL.

“The two men then walked towards the door but as they were leaving, one of the men turned around and fired a shot from the pistol, striking Ms. Woodard,” according to an affidavit cited by the outlet.

When police arrived eight minutes later, they found her body lying on the ground.

Tava WoodardIn a neighboring alley, the police discovered two blue nitrile gloves and a 9mm shell casing, according to WJHL. The gloves were identical to those that the suspects could be seen donning in the CCTV footage.

According to the station, a second glove was discovered close to the Sextons’ house around nine streets distant.

Police received information that “one of the subjects appeared to be Mark Sexton Jr.,” according to an affidavit, after the pair’s screen shots were made public.

Workers at a neighboring washing company confirmed to investigators that Sexton Jr. and his wife had both worked there and gave descriptions of gloves and clothing from the store that matched what the suspects were wearing.

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The father drove off with his wife and another person in a car that had an invalid registration. Police acquired a warrant and halted the car.

In addition to blue gloves and a 9mm round with the same stamp as the casing found at the site, they also found scrubs and other apparel inside the home that matched items seen in the convenience shop footage.

First-degree murder, particularly aggravated robbery, and operating an unregistered car were the charges brought against Sexton Jr.

First-degree murder, particularly severe robbery, possession of a firearm while committing a serious offense, and evidence tampering were the charges brought against his son.

Melissa Jones, Woodard’s mother, spoke to People about how Woodard felt about working at Roadrunner Market.

“She texted that she didn’t feel safe there anymore,” she said. “From what I’m hearing none of them were feeling very safe — this is all over the place so I’ll go ahead and say it. All of her co-workers have stated that the ‘panic button’ under the counter wasn’t working — and wasn’t even hooked up.”

The devastated mom said Woodard “had no chance of contacting anybody to help her” during the crime.

“What’s she going to do? Pick up her phone and make a phone call? And there’s no ‘panic button’ hooked up. What’s she supposed to do all by herself? I won’t get into specifics, but the police have told me that she was very calm, very composed, and that they were amazed at hearing how old she was and how well she maintained her composure and calmness,” Jones told the mag.

She said the family has received an outpouring of support after her daughter’s death.

“I didn’t realize how huge of an impact she had on everybody else, too,”Jones told People.

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“I’ve gotten so many messages and phone calls from people that cared about her, that talk about how wonderful she was and what a bright light she was for them. She always had a smile on her face and everybody just found so much comfort in being near her. … To know that the rest of the world saw that in her is just amazing,” she said.

Woodard recently sent her 15-year-old sister Addie Blazer a meme that said, “If I die, don’t you dare release a bunch of balloons. I want you to plant flowers for me, so that I can continue to grow,” the outlet reported.

People are being asked to plant flowers for the family “so that we can keep her alive and keep her with us,” her mother said.

Billy Church, the police chief in Johnson City, told WJHL that this case is among the most devastating ones he has encountered in his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement.

 

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