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Penley Assault Yields Second Arrest

November 12, 1985

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) _ A second man has been arrested in a Sept. 23 shotgun attack that riddled a pickup truck driven by a nuclear plant worker.

The worker, Judith Penley, was slain three nights later in an ambush at a Cleveland, Tenn., truck stop, but no charges have been filed in her death.

Wayne T. Walker, 37, of Cleveland, was arraigned Monday on charges of felonious assault with intent to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

His cousin, James E. Walker, 43, of Ringgold, Ga., was arrested last Thursday and charged with being an accessory before the fact to felonious assault with intent to commit first-degree murder.

Each is scheduled to appear for a preliminary court hearing on Nov. 18.

Mrs. Penley, a 41-year-old Watts Bar Nuclear Plant warehouse worker, was shot to death with a high-powered rifle Sept. 26 as she sat in a car outside the North South Truck Stop.

Three nights earlier, a man with a shotgun fired three blasts at her as she drove down a country road near her home, leaving 27 pellet holes in her pickup. She was not hurt.

Bradley County investigators have said the attacks do not appear to have been related to Mrs. Penley’s job at Watts Bar.

Sheriff Robert Lawson declined to say whether the Walkers knew Mrs. Penley or whether they were paid for the Sept. 23 attack. Last month, he said investigators had evidence indicating two men had been hired to kill her.

The sheriff also refused Monday to discuss a motive for the assaults, say whether investigators had recovered any weapons or say if more arrests were expected.

Despite the charges against Wayne Walker, Assistant District Attorney General Mike Caputo declined to say whether authorities believe he was the man who fired the shotgun at Mrs. Penley.

″We’re not ... technically calling him the triggerman,″ Caputo said.

The sheriff’s caution extended to a temporary news blackout on the second arrest. Although Wayne Walker surrendered Saturday night, the arrest docket was ordered sealed until Monday’s arraignment.

General Sessions Judge Andrew Bennett ordered Wayne Walker, whom Lawson described as a painter, held under $200,000 bond. James Walker remained in custody under $100,000 bond.

After Mrs. Penley was killed, there was some speculation that her death stemmed from her job. She was among about 4,800 Watts Bar workers interviewed by a Quality Technology Co., a private consulting firm hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority to investigate employee safety concerns.

But the sheriff’s department, Quality Technology and TVA have insisted from the beginning that none of Mrs. Penley’s job complaints was serious enough to get her killed.

FBI Director William Webster issued a statement in October saying his agency had found no link between Mrs. Penley’s slaying and her job at Watts Bar.

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