Tellico contractor shot to death

Authorities call slaying of wheelchair-bound man 'crime of passion'

By Matt Lakin 

Matt Lakin

TELLICO VILLAGE - Ron Kronholm's neighbors never knew he had an enemy - not until his wife came home to their million-dollar house on the lake and discovered his body.

"You could not have asked for a better neighbor," said Cheryl Cowen, who lives next door. "It's a real mystery."

The search continued Friday for whoever shot Kronholm, 79, in his wheelchair the day prior at his home on Cheeskogili Way.

"It was a crime of passion, maybe hatred," Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider said. "We believe it was a crime targeted at this one individual."

A neighbor called E-911 on Thursday around 5:05 p.m. after Kronholm's wife, Susan, found him dead. Deputies arrived within 10 minutes and found no signs of a struggle or a break-in, the sheriff said.

He didn't say how many times Kronholm was shot or with what kind of gun. Authorities sent the body to the Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville for autopsy and called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to assist.

Kronholm had lived and worked as a contractor in the retirement community for more than a decade and built about 100 homes there over the years, including the house where he died.

"His business was not a factor," the sheriff said. "He was in poor health and on some medications, but we don't believe drugs were a factor. The family is cooperating. Everyone we talked to described him as a well-liked individual, a good neighbor and a good businessman."

Kronholm suffered from ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, and had used a wheelchair for years, authorities said. That didn't stop him from running his business and supervising construction jobs.

"We used to see him out on a site just about every day," said Nick Friend, a neighbor. "He had a great reputation, and he built a great house. He only built one kind of house - the kind he wanted."

Neighbors said he'd stopped working recently as his health grew worse, and the couple had put their house up for sale. The real estate sign stood in the yard Friday, framed by crime-scene tape.

Kronholm's wife had left town to visit a relative and asked someone to stay with him, the sheriff said. The caretaker left Thursday afternoon as the wife headed home, leaving Kronholm alone around 3:40 p.m., the sheriff said. He died sometime in the next 85 minutes.

Kronholm's death came just five months after a fatal shooting in April a few blocks away. Norman Bren Whitton, 69, faces a charge of second-degree murder after authorities said he shot Larry Butcher, 74, during an argument April 15 on Cheestana Way. Whitton has claimed self-defense.

"Those two crimes were close together, which was remarkable, but there's no connection," the sheriff said.

LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Loudon County authorities have confirmed the identity of the man killed Thursday evening at his home in Tellico Village.

Deputies held a news conference identifying the victim as Ron Kronholm, 79 a businessman and builder responsible for building more than 100 buildings in the Tellico Village community.

Kronholm's wife walked into their home in the 100 block of Cheeskogili Way around 5:00 p.m. Thursday and discovered he had been shot at least once. She immediately ran next door, where neighbors contacted the sheriff's office.

Authorities said he was pronounced dead on the scene. No motive has been given, but they did call it a "crime of passion and hatred" because of the manner in which he was killed. They also revealed Kronholm suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease and was confined to a wheel chair.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is helping with the case. So far, investigators have determined the doors to the home were unlocked and their was no sign of forced entry. The gun used to kill Kronholm has still not been located.

There was no history of 9-1-1 calls to the home, and family members are cooperating with authorities.

Deputies wrapped up the news conference by telling neighbors there is no need to worry about their safety.

Thursday's homicide marked the second time this year an elderly person had been killed in Tellico Village.

On April 15th, Norman Whitton, 69 allegedly shot and killed Larry Butcher, 74. The incident apparently started between the Tellico Village residents as road rage involving a golf cart. Whitton has since been charged with second degree murder.

Man's fatal shooting under investigation at Tellico Village

 Investigators says Ron Kronholm's wife found him shot to death in their home Thursday afternoon.
TELLICO VILLAGE (WATE) - Investigators are working on the case of a well-known elderly builder found shot to death Thursday at his Tellico Village home.

Investigators says Ron Kronholm's wife found him shot to death in their home Thursday afternoon.The victim's identity was released Friday as Ron Kronholm, 79. The Loudon County Sheriff's Office says they consider this a crime of "hatred," and they believe Kronholm, who mostly used a wheelchair, was chosen specifically.

The sheriff's office isn't releasing a picture of Kronholm at the request of his widow.

Sheriff Tim Guider said Kronholm's wife found him dead in their home at 139 Cheeskogili Way around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

They believe he had been dead for several hours. A neighbor called the sheriff's office.

Sheriff Guider says Kronholm was a prominent builder in the area and he built 87 homes in Tellico Village alone.

A worker at Village Home Center, Cindy Hughes, says Kronholm had multiple sclerosis and often visited the hardware store for supplies. She says sometimes he called to have materials brought outside to him because he wasn't able to come in and get them.

Hughes says Kronholm was always accompanied by his dog.

Investigators say they've interviewed several people, but they haven't named a suspect yet.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting the sheriff's office with this case.

The Kronholms have grown children who live out of state.

The sheriff says they don't believe other people in the area need to be concerned for their safety.

Although Tellico Village is an upscale retirement community, this is the second killing there in five months. In April, the sheriff's office charged Norman Bren Whitton for the fatal shooting of Larry Butcher, 74.

Authorities investigate Thursday homicide in Tellico Village

LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Local and state authorities are investigating a Thursday afternoon homicide in Tellico Village.

Officials with the Loudon County Sheriff's Office tell Volunteer TV News an older man was found dead inside his home in the 100 block of Cheeskogili Way around 5:00 p.m.

Homicide investigators were still on the scene late Thursday night, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had been called in to assist.

Records filed with the state property assessor’s office indicate the lakefront home is owned by Geraldine F. Kronholm. It has also been entered in the Multiple Listing Service. According to the entry, the 4,800 square foot home is currently on the market for $1.149 million.

Volunteer TV News had a crew on the scene late Thursday night. We’ll have the latest on East Tennessee This Morning at 5:00 a.m. and right here on

Elderly man found murdered in Tellico Village in Loudon County

WBIR Investigators in Loudon County were questioning two people Thursday night after a family member of an elderly Tellico Village resident found him dead Thursday evening.

The Loudon County Sheriff's Department is treating the death as a murder, according to Chief Deputy Tony Aikens.

Aikens did not release the man's name or discuss a possible cause of death or motive.

The victim was relatively well known in the community and had worked as a builder, Aikens said.

Authorities remained on the scene of the home on Cheeskogili Way Thursday night.

Investigators planned to question two people in the case through the night, but they had yet to file any charges.

Another shooting in Tellico Village in April left a man dead and another facing charges after a confrontation between drivers of a golf cart and a car.

Norman Whitton was charged in the case, which went to a grand jury in June.