A Tennessee man was charged with murder after authorities said he intentionally swerved to hit pedestrians at random, killing a pregnant woman and her 2-year-old son as they were walking down the street.
William David Phillips was driving his Chevrolet Impala down Main Street around 3:30 p.m. Monday in the small town of Jefferson City when he repeatedly swung his car onto the sidewalk to mow down pedestrians, according to Jefferson City police.
The 33-year-old was "looking for people to kill with his car," according to an affidavit from the Jefferson County court.
According to the arrest warrant, the man told officers that a "voice in his head told him that he needed to go kill the meth addicts so he began driving very fast."
Phillips first hit and injured Tillman Gunter, sending him to a hospital, police said. The 61-year-old tried to get away from the car, court documents said, but the driver "kept coming."
Less than half a mile away, he then plowed into Sierra Wilson Cahoon, a pregnant woman who was pushing her son Nolan in a stroller on the sidewalk, killing them on the spot, police said. The car finally crashed into a fish hatchery, injuring an employee inside, police said in their release.
Investigators say that Phillips did not know any of the victims, calling the rampage "an intentional act of violence toward randomly chosen pedestrians."
When he saw Cahoon and her toddler, Phillips reportedly said that "the voice told him that the baby stroller had meth in it so he intentionally drove into (the mother and child) ... killing them both," the arrest warrant said. "This act was done with premeditation."
Darrell Turley, captain of the Jefferson City Police Department, said that the suspect was coherent and "knew what he did" when offices arrived on the scene.
"I can't make an assumption of his mental state, but he was present and seemed to know what he did," Turley said, adding that "nothing like this has ever happened here before."
The 30-year-old expectant mother was an interior designer, a devout Christian, and a self-described "beach bum at heart," according to her Facebook page.
"We’re at a loss of words...Our hearts are completely shattered and our life will forever be changed," her sister, Cassidy Wilson, posted on Facebook. "Thank you for all the love, support and prayers shown to our family during this tragedy. Sierra, Nolan, and baby Cahoon will be extremely missed but forever in our hearts.❤️. -The Wilson Family."
Sierra Wilson Cahoon was married to Matt Cahoon, an assistant athletic trainer at Carson-Newman University, a Christian school located less than a quarter-mile from the scene. The university set up a fund to help the families pay for the burials.
"Our Carson-Newman Athletics and University family are heartbroken of this tragic loss. During this time of need, we are here for Matt and we are here to support the Wilson/Cahoon family," school athletic officials said in their statement.
Cahoon's Facebook page was filled with photos her family: flashing smiles in matching pajamas on Christmas, her son's first birthday, and the two of them baking cookies.
Nolan loved to read, give high-fives, and throw rocks into the lake, an obituary posted on the Carson-Newman Athletics page says.
On Facebook and a GoFundMe page, friends, family members, and strangers shared memories of and prayers for the family, describing Cahoon as a vibrant, loving mother who touched the lives of many.
Phillips remains in jail without bond and faces three counts of first-degree murder, for Cahoon, Nolan, and the baby she was going to have, as well as a count of attempted first-degree murder.
He was arraigned Thursday in Jefferson County General Sessions Court.