(Editor’s note: The following article contains graphic details and may not be suitable for all readers.)
A Summitville man has pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder in the gruesome death of a Pikeville woman.
He was sentenced Thursday in a Coffee County Courtroom to life in prison without parole in a state facility.
Gregory Scott Hale, 37, of Pete Sain Road, Summitville, had been charged with premediated murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in the June 8, 2014 death of Lisa Marie Hyder, 36, of Pikeville.
Hale had also admitted to cannibalism, according to police reports.
Prosecutors alleged that Hale picked Hyder up at a liquor store in Manchester on June 6 and took her to his residence in Summitville, and after a sexual encounter he murdered her.
“He told investigators that he fulfilled an obsession in wanting to kill a person and dismembering them,” Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott told Circuit Court Judge Craig Johnson Thursday.
Police were alerted on June 8 to the murder after Hale went to a neighbor and asked to borrow a backhoe to bury a body. The neighbor then notified Manchester police, who notified the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, according to police reports.
Investigator Jason Dendy went to the residence and, discovering signs of a possible murder, notified Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, who dispatched other investigators to assist Dendy.
In outlining the case against Hale, Northcott told the judge that after obtaining permission to search the residence and property, officers discovered a burned torso with the hands, feet and head cut off. The body parts were found in buckets near a burn pit.
“He also admitted to eating part of her body,” Northcott said.
The woman’s heart was found in a neighbor’s yard, where Hale threw it, according to the district attorney.
In a plea agreement between prosecutors, Hale and his attorney Kevin Askren, the charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse were dismissed.
Hyder’s former husband Charles Hyder spoke to the court, saying that he and his children “forgave Hale” for what he had done.
After the hearing, Hyder told The Tullahoma News that he was happy with the plea agreement.
“Lisa and I were married for six years and had two children, a 4-year old and a 6-year old,” Hyder said. “The children are too young to understand what has happened so I just told them that mama got sick and she has gone to live with God.”
Billy Poore, Lisa Hyder’s father, said that he could not forgive Hale “at this time.” He said that parents need to wake up and be more involved in their children’s lives and know what they are involved in.
“I will never have her back,” Poore said. “May God have mercy on him.”
Poore said that one of his daughters has nightmares because of what happened to Hyder, his eldest daughter.
“She has two sisters and a brother who live in Ohio and they are having to try and cope with not having her with them anymore.
“He is an animal and needs to be put away and never get out,” Poore said. “I cannot forgive him.”
Hyder’s father said she would have celebrated her 37th birthday Jan. 11.
According to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, Hale, who was returned to the Coffee County Jail after his court appearance, will be transferred to the Tennessee Department of Corrections as soon as space becomes available. In the meantime he is being held in the county jail.
Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at email@example.com