Man accused of stealing from the dead, abusing children

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CORDOVA, Tenn. -- Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators claimed a man lived like a king by stealing from the dead.

Law enforcement said James Jackson stole identities from dozens of dead people and made off with more than $300,000.

"I seen a lot of police cars," a neighbor who was afraid to reveal her identity said.

"I just was shocked," Dalton Jones shouted.

THP investigators threw Jackson behind bars Saturday morning and charged him with child abuse and neglect, criminal simulation, false imprisonment, forgery, identity theft, tampering with evidence, and theft of property.

"It's kinda scary and kind of a little weird," the unidentified neighbor said.

Jackson's face was captured on dozens of bank and grocery store cameras cashing fraudulent checks, according to an affidavit of complaint.

Investigators said Jackson used the money to live a lavish lifestyle.

Officers said Jackson had not worked in five years but owned a new Corvette and two Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

"Never in a million years would I have thought that what had happened was going to happen here," Jones said.

When investigators went to arrest Jackson, they said he barricaded himself inside of his Cordova home on Cameron Ridge Trail and held a woman he lived with and her three children hostage.

Investigators said Jackson started lighting fires all over the house to get rid of the evidence.

The woman and her children told law enforcement they could barely breathe because of the smoke billowing from the multiple fires.

"They could have died from smoke inhalation. That's not good," a neighbor said.

The woman and children escaped, and Jackson later surrendered.

The victim answered the door when WREG knocked on Saturday saying, "I don't want to talk. I don't want to be interviewed."

While the woman would not speak to WREG, she told investigators Jackson in an expert identity thief.

Officers claimed to find thousands of stolen identities inside of the home.

Jackson is being held on a $150,000 bond and expected in court on Monday.