Etowah murder suspect was put under house arrest, but court docs show no restrictions

(Left to right) Joseph Wielzen is accused of killing Kelsey Burnette in July 2017. Last week, he was arrested again - this time for vandalism. (Images: McMinn Co. Sheriff's Office, photo used with Burnette family permission, WTVC)

UPDATE (Friday):

NewsChannel 9 has confirmed through online court records that Wielzen's bond has now been revoked for his previous charge.

Depend on us to keep you posted.


A man accused of killing an Etowah teenager was able to go wherever he wanted as his case played out in court, until his new arrest.

Joseph Wielzen is accused of killing Kelsey Burnette in July 2017. Last week, he was arrested again - this time for vandalism.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says Wielzen surrendered to authorities on June 21, 2018, nearly a year after Burnette's body was found. He was charged with felony murder and aggravated rape in the case, and bonded out in September after his reduced from $200,000 to $30,000.

When Wielzen bonded out for his murder charge, the court clerk told us he was on house arrest.

According to Andy Baggenstoss with Tennessee Recovery and Monitoring, they were in charge of monitoring the GPS device of Joseph Wielzen. But the court documents we obtained Monday show that Judge Sandra Donaghy did not put any restrictions on where Wielzen could go while out on bond. So even though his location was being monitored, he was not required to stay at home.

The only description on the court paperwork says, “ankle monitor to be worn.”

NewsChannel 9 also learned that two months ago, on March 8th, the same judge agreed to remove the GPS monitoring device from Joseph Wielzen. This time he was ordered not to go near Kelsey Burnette’s family or their home, but his location would not be tracked to make sure that didn’t happen.

Baggenstoss told us their monitoring devices can help keep offenders from committing more crimes, but they have to follow the restrictions outlined by the court.

Kylee Palmer, one of Burnette's friends, still remembers her contagious laugh.

"It feels like not long ago I was just talking to her," said Palmer.

She's hopeful this arrest could move the murder case forward.

"Now that he’s back in jail, hopefully they’ll go back into the case and figure something out," said Palmer.

At the time of the incident, Wielzen was a juvenile, but he will be tried as an adult.

Right now, we're working to learn the next court date for Wielzen.

This is a developing story - depend on us to update you as we learn more.

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