Principal found dead at Tenn. school; student held

By Adrian Sainz/The Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A principal was found dead Wednesday in an apparent homicide at a private school in suburban Memphis and a 17-year-old student was in custody, police said.

Officers said the body of the 48-year-old woman was discovered by a teacher shortly after 11 a.m. at Memphis Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist Church-affiliated school in east Memphis.

Marvin Lowman, the executive secretary with the Kentucky-Tennessee conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, identified the victim as Suzette York. She had been the principal at the school since 2008.

Police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said a 17-year-old student was taken into custody at the school.

A motive and cause of death were not immediately disclosed nor was the name of the victim.

Classes at the one-story, red brick school began Monday. A sign out front Wednesday said “Welcome back.”

The school was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape after the body was found. Police officers milled about.

“It’s a frightening thing for children to see,” said Pastor David Steede of the New Covenant Seventh-day Adventist Church, who arrived at the school shortly after the body was found. He said he has parishioners attending the school.

The school’s website says it has students from pre-kindergarten through 11th grade. It’s part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist school network.

“Our staff is committed to providing quality education is a Christian environment,” the website says.

A United Methodist Church and a church cemetery are across the street.

Linda Taylor told The Commercial Appeal she received a call from her husband who said the school called and told them to pick up their 14-year-old son, Josiah, because there was an emergency. The school didn’t say that someone had been killed.

“I’m just wondering what’s going on,” she said at the scene.

It’s her son’s first year at the school.