Investigation into the disappearance of a Cleveland woman continues by law enforcement, but a local attorney has filed a civil suit so family members can gain access to her property.
Marsha Rader Brantley, a graduate and former employee of Lee University, went missing in June 2009. Her husband Donnie Brantley didn’t report her missing, citing she had left him and was planning a divorce according to information provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Last week, attorney James Logan filed a civil complaint in Bradley County Chancery Court seeking a declaratory judgment and “to probate the estate” of Marsha Brantley.
Logan filed the complaint for Brantley’s family members Jana Rader Wills, of Greeneville, and Medra Rader Justis, of Clemmons, N.C.
“Our family wants to take custody of the property which has essentially been abandoned since Marsha’s disappearance,” Justis said Saturday. “It has fallen into disrepair and the grounds are not being kept up well. Members of our family return to Cleveland on occasion to check on the house and property which we can see from the exterior, but we have no access to the inside of the house.”
Justis and Wills contend the house was built by Marsha’s father and mother (both now deceased) and had no mortgage or lien.
Since her disappearance, Logan’s complaint cited property taxes have not been paid on the Benwood Trail property and interest is accruing; plus, maintenence on the home has not been kept up.
“Our investigators have been searching in Tennessee and Georgia to serve Mr. Brantley with the complaint,” Logan said Friday afternoon during a telephone interview.
Donnie Brantley’s last known address was on property owned by his family in Kingston, Ga.
Bradley County Sheriff’s Office investigators and TBI were searching for a camper the couple owned. Officials located the camper at the property and conducted a search several months ago, according to officials at BCSO.
“We continue to follow leads and develop new information,” said detective David Shoemaker of BCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Logan’s complaint stated “the defendant (Donnie Brantley) who was her husband, had and continues to embark upon a course of lies, deceit and misrepresentation.”
Logan’s complaint also said Donnie Brantley has given inconsistent statements regarding his wife’s disappearance and “... has asserted falsehoods regarding the circumstances surrounding her death and disappearance.”
“The defendant has failed to maintain the real property and the power to the real property has been terminated which is Marsha Brantley’s substantial asset. The property is depreciating in value because of the lack of proper maintenance,” Logan said in the complaint.
Logan is asking the court to probate the property “with the proceeds to be distributed to the heirs.”
Marsha Brantley’s family raised $5,000 reward for information during a family reunion in 2011 regarding her disappearance.
“We are attending our annual family reunion today and will continue to miss her presence and continue to pray for our beloved Marsha and the investigators who are trying to find her,” Justis said.