Update: Autopsy shows Highland Park woman stabbed 23 times

Ashley Cates was killed on June 4th, 2017. (Image: Matthew Cates, MGN)

UPDATE: An autopsy report obtained by NewsChannel 9 reveals Ashley Cates was stabbed 23 times.


Loved ones of a woman Chattanooga Police believe was stabbed to death by a neighbor say she was worried about living alone in her apartment building.

30-year-old Ashley Cates was murdered earlier this month on Bailey Avenue in Highland Park.

According to an arrest report, officers found her body on the floor of her apartment and saw blood on the door of her neighbor, Tyrone Murphy.

Police say they busted into his apartment and found him sitting in his bed with freshly stitched hand wounds.

During their investigation, authorities found a large trash bag in the laundry room of the building with bloody towels and Cates' personal belongings.

A forensic tool also showed a path of blood that led directly from Cates' apartment to Murphy's residence.

NewsChannel 9 spoke to Cates' brother Matthew, who says he and his sister Ashley were polar opposites.

"She just took longer to grow up and that frustrated me a lot of times," said Matthew Cates.

In an effort to help Ashley become more of an independent adult, he pushed her to get the apartment in Highland Park.

"She was getting ready to move in and she just said, 'I'm scared and I don't want to go,'" he said.

He promised her nothing bad would happen, but she was killed three weeks later.

Murphy appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday.

Matthew told NewsChannel 9 he wasn't ready to face him but Ashley's best friend Courtney Hutcheson said she felt she needed to be there.

"I want him to realize what he took from a lot of people," said Hutcheson. "I want him to know that he took a really really precious person."

Like Matthew, she says Ashley was timid and hated being alone.

"I mean if she wanted to go to the gas station, she would ask me to come with her so her being there by herself makes me sick really," said Hutcheson. "I wish I had been there."

Now both Cates and Hutcheson feel partially responsible for her death.

"I'm mad. I feel guilty. I'm devastated that she won't be able to live her life the way that she deserved to live her life," said Hutcheson.

Ashley's brother says authorities told his family that Murphy broke in to sexually assault his sister.

Police say she had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, indicating that she put up a fight.

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