Portland man accused of murdering mom, keeping body hidden for more than a year

Middle TN

PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) — Portland police make a gruesome discovery after the body of a senior citizen is found in a heavy state of decomposition in a rear bedroom. The woman’s son is now charged with murder.

Officers were called to the house on South Broadway May 25th. It began as an adult protective services referral involving 69-year-old Doris Atchison, who had not been seen publicly since March 2020.

Police encountered the woman’s son, 44-year-old Brian Atchison, who initially told officers his mother was out of town.

However, investigators got consent to search the home. They described the house as filthy. Then, in a rear bedroom, authorities found the woman’s body heavily decomposed.

Authorities said it’s possible she has been in that exact spot for up to 15 months or longer.

Chief Jason Williams said there is no prior history of trouble with the mother and son.

“Not that we are aware of. We are still investigating, but we had no information that this is what we were going to find,” Chief Williams said.

Investigators said Atchison implicated himself in his mother’s death. They said preliminary autopsy results were consistent with homicide.

Debbie Davidson lives next door to the Atchisons for about 2 years. She told News 2’s Andy Cordan she has met them a few times but does not know them well.

When informed that police said Doris could have been decomposing in a back bedroom of the home for more than a year, Davidson said, “That’s possible. I haven’t seen her in that long.”

Davidson added, both were friendly. “He was real nice. We had no problem with him. She was really nice. I thought a lot of her.”

Davidson recalled the last time she saw the 69-year-old. “The first year we lived here, I gave her a Christmas gift. I saw her, and after that, I never saw her again. We were told one story, it turned out not to be true.”

Atchison is in the Sumner County jail charged with murder, abuse of a corpse, and aggravated animal abuse. Police said two cats were also found dead in the home.

He is being held without bond and is scheduled to be in court June 9th.

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