Body found in Tennessee is missing elderly man; search continues for wife

Gladis and Richard Russell
Gladis and Richard Russell
Samuel Littleton
Samuel Littleton

CHATTANOOGA, TN (FOX19) - Police say a body found in Chattanooga, Tenn. over the weekend is that of a missing elderly man.

Chattanooga Police spokeswoman Rebecca Royval says dental records were used to identify 84-year-old Richard Russell. She said the body was found over the weekend by two men looking for scrap metal near a railroad trestle.

Richard Russell and his wife, Gladis, 85, have been missing from Bellefontaine, Ohio since Feb. 16.

Richard Russell's body was found Feb. 26 on Lightfoot Mill Road in Chattanooga. Investigators in Chattanooga made contact with investigators from Ohio to discuss the findings.

The suspect in their disappearance, Samuel Littleton, is in custody in West Virginia. He is also accused of murdering Tiffany Brown, his girlfriend's daughter, in Bellefontaine. He told police that he killed Richard and Gladis Russell and dumped their bodies in Georgia.

Littleton said he dumped Gladis Russell's body in a "white, glowing cotton field" off a side road made of sand before he was scared off by an approaching vehicle, Bellefontaine police Chief Brad Kunze said Tuesday.

He said he later dumped her husband's body on an intersecting paved road, Kunze said.

Police believe Littleton and the Russells were connected because Littleton bought his house from them. He took off on Feb. 16 with the couple and their car.

Valdosta, Ga. Police tell WALB that they tried to pull over Littleton on Feb. 18 for a headlight violation, but he refused to stop and officers did not give chase. The officer said he wasn't aware that Littleton was a murder suspect.

The car was spotted a few days later at a rest stop in Butler County, prompting a search at the Rumpke landfill in Colerain Township. A few days after that, the car was found in a Walmart parking lot in West Virginia, and Littleton was arrested a short time later.

The Russells' family told the Dayton Daily News that they hope Gladis Russell's body will also be found.

Nephew Don Russell told the newspaper on Tuesday that the couple should be together now, just as they were in life.

"They never went any place where they weren't together," he said.

Littleton appeared in Mercer County Circuit court in West Virginia last week and said he would fight efforts to be extradited to Ohio to face prosecution in the woman's death.

He is being held without bond and faces a March 21 court hearing.

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