During hearing, inmate testifies his cousin committed tanning bed murders

Tiffany Campbell and Melissa Chilton
(Graphic: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A current Tennessee prison inmate testified Monday that his cousin confessed to killing Tiffany Campbell inside the Exotic Tan for Men in February 1996.

Inmate Quinton Hughes made the allegations during a hearing for Patrick Streater, who is charged with two counts of criminal homicide in the case and wants it dismissed.

Streater dated Campbell around the time of the tanning bed murders that also claimed the life of Melissa Chilton. Their deaths remained a cold case for almost 20 years.

But now, Hughes says his cousin David Ewing confessed to Campbell’s murder two years after hit happened. He said the confession came as Hughes witnessed Ewing kill someone else, a crime he was convicted for.

“I asked him how could he do that with no remorse,” Hughes testified. “That is when he told me he killed Tiffany. He didn’t say anything about the other girl Melissa.”

Tanning Bed Murders
(Photo: WKRN)

Hughes testified that Ewing dated Campbell and was possessive of her during the relationship.

Kyle Mothershead, Streater’s attorney, also presented testimony from a private investigator who found an interview with one of Ewing’s ex-girlfriends and police following the 1998 murder.

During that interview, the former girlfriend implicated Ewing in Campbell and Chilton’s murders. Melissa Dickens said Ewing got mad one day and stabbed their bed with a knife. She told investigators at the time he said he had killed the two young women. Dickens was killed in a car crash in 2014.

The attorney included the information about Ewing in a motion to reduce bond for Streater, which was denied by Judge Monte Watkins on Monday.

“The defense is basically asking this court to reduce a bond based upon hearsay,” Judge Watkins said. “The court doesn’t believe that getting testimony from convicted criminals about hearsay is enough to make the court even want to consider reducing a bond in this kind of case.”

Streater’s bond remains at $750,000.

Patrick Streater in court on March 13, 2017 (Photo: WKRN)

Mothershead also planned to call another inmate to testify that Ewing confessed to the murders in a separate conversation, but that inmate refused, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when brought before the judge.

In a separate motion, Mothershead is asking the judge to dismiss the case with prejudice. He said the state of Tennessee waited too long to extradite Streater, according to an interstate compact agreement Tennessee has with California.

Streater was incarcerated in California on unrelated charges when he was indicted for the murders of Campbell and Chilton.

In the matter of the interstate compact violation, Judge Watkins is allowing Mothershead to present more information through a filed brief before making a ruling.

“We are totally convinced that we are doing the right thing by representing Patrick and trying to exonerate him,” Mothershead told News 2 after the judge’s ruling. “It would have been very nice if they judge would have recognized that and released this innocent man from jail.”

Judge Monte Watkins (Photo: WKRN)

He continued, “These people who are coming forward did not want to cooperate. You saw one of the men refused to even take the stand.”

Chilton’s mother was in court Monday. Campbell’s mother passed away in October.

After their daughters’ murders, both mothers became champions for justice and for victims’ rights.

“He should stay in jail until the trial in July,” Chilton told News 2. “No more delays. I think it is time to just get it over with.”

She continued, “I am representing Deborah. I am here for her, too.”

Streater will remain in the Davidson County jail. His trial is set for July 17.

Click here for News 2 coverage of the tanning bed murders.