Franklin Co. man charged, connected to case of missing teens - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Franklin Co. man charged, connected to case of missing teens

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David Earl Donaldson (Photo from Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office) David Earl Donaldson (Photo from Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office)
Franklin County sheriff's Sgt. Chris Guess Franklin County sheriff's Sgt. Chris Guess
WINCHESTER, TN (WSMV) -

A strange missing persons case has authorities wanting to know more about a man's relationship with six teenagers. The teens were reported missing over the weekend but have since been located and are safe.

Still, the case involves drugs and allegations of abuse.

It all started Sunday with reports of six missing teenagers and ended up with one man, David Earl Donaldson, of Winchester, facing a slew of charges, including drugs and child abuse. But deputies say their investigation remains far from over.

"It's not something you can be flippant with. You have to be thorough, so that's what we're trying to do right now," said Franklin County sheriff's Sgt. Chris Guess.

Deputies arrested Donaldson Sunday night.

Hours earlier, the department received reports of six missing teenagers.

But a deputy spotted one of them in Donaldson's vehicle Sunday during an otherwise normal traffic stop.

The deputy also found methamphetamine and, soon, the case unraveled, as deputies tracked down all of the teens, who all knew Donaldson.

"We believe, and it's alleged, that he maybe was providing alcohol and that in maybe some cases, some prescription narcotics," Guess said.

It remains unclear how the man met the teens or the extent of his relationship with them.

"That's just something that will have to come out in the investigation," Guess said.

Donaldson has a criminal record with Franklin County but nothing to this extent. He now faces 10 counts, including drug possession, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child abuse.

Other details in the investigation remain a secret, though Guess clearly credits an observant deputy for cracking a bizarre case that could only get more bizarre.

"If you pay attention and put forth the effort, you can make a difference in this business," Guess said.

Donaldson remains in the Franklin County Jail on a $50,000 bond. More charges could be coming, and he is scheduled to appear in court May 1.

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