MOUNTAIN CITY, TN (WBTV) - What was expected to be a routine hearing in a Tennessee Courtroom was anything but routine on Wednesday.
Three suspects in the kidnapping and beating of a Burke County, North Carolina man were supposed to each have a preliminary hearing to send their cases to a higher court.
Before the hearings began, prosecutor Dennis Brooks asked the judge to approve raising charges against all three to felony murder. The judge agreed.
Brooks said it amounts to first degree murder charges now against Michael May, James Combs, and Brittany Arnold. Bond was set at $250,000 each.
The charge came even though the body of kidnap victim Carlton Lamaar Edmondson has not been found.
The three being held in Tennessee, along with three others held in North Carolina are accused of kidnapping Edmondson and taking him to a wooded area near Trade, Tennessee and beating him.
While the beatings were taking place, authorities say the suspects were demanding ransom from the victim's family.
Investigators say two beatings were video'd and they believe that Edmondson could not have survived his injuries.
Search teams have not been able to locate the victim and the suspects have not pointed the way. Authorities are hoping that will change.
The family says it wants answers. "We need closure," said Lamaar's dad Robert Pearson.
The victim's mom, Lanisha Kincaid, says someone knows where Lamaar is and they need to talk now. "Please give him back to us."
Investigators say they are following every lead they get. The three suspects now facing murder charges will be back in court in two weeks.
No word yet whether those being held in North Carolina will face murder charges too.