Murder Suspect Arraigned as Investigation Continues

Published 05/12 2014 05:14PM

Updated 05/14 2014 04:52PM

The man accused of killing a Madisonville man who was missing for nearly a week is arraigned.  Norman Barassi, 50, was arrested for murder after the body of Phillip Phelps was found in a pond near Nebo on Friday afternoon. The body is now with the state medical examiners office for autopsy.

"It was like someone reached in and pulled our heart out," says Phillip Phelps Sr.

It's been days since the Phelps family learned of the death of Phillip "P.J." Phelps, but it still feels like yesterday.

"It's destroyed us."

Hopkins County Sheriffs Deputies charged Norman Barassi with murder after Phelps's body was found Friday afternoon.  Investigators says information from an anonymous tipster lead to the discovery. 

"We had 50 people looking for him the day we reported him missing," said Phelps Sr.  He adds his son was supposed to be with them for a cookout after he went to a party.  He never came back.

"P.J.'s phone is everything to him," he recalled. "Monday, we didn't hear from him and Tuesday we started to get a little worried."

Deputies arrested Barassi after they say evidence at the crime scene pointed to him as a suspect.  Phelps says he was even told by the accused he'd let them know if he saw P.J.

"We went to the guy's house that was arrested for his death and he told us he hadn't seen him, took his phone number down and call if he had seen him.," he said.

Barassi is still in Hopkins county jail on $100,000 bond.  The Phelps family continues mourning the loss of P.J. while the investigation continues.

"I just hope and pray to God that they get what's coming," says Phelps Sr.

Investigators say they're not releasing much more information in this case at this time.  Phelps says they are taking donations to help pay for P.J.'s funeral with the help of Independence Bank.

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