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Questions, concerns remain after "random" and "unrelated" deaths of two Nashville nurses

Metro Nashville Police continue to investigate the deaths of two young nurses who died just over two months apart. PHOTO: Ashley Brown and Tiffany Ferguson.
Metro Nashville Police continue to investigate the deaths of two young nurses who died just over two months apart. PHOTO: Ashley Brown and Tiffany Ferguson.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) -Two young nurses, dead in just two months. Metro Nashville Police continue to investigate the deaths of Ashley Brown and Tiffany Ferguson.

Four days before Christmas, 2016: 27-year-old Ashley Brown, a scrub tech at St. Thomas West Hospital was found at trash disposal site on Freightliner Drive.

That location, 15 miles from where she was last seen alive.

Just over two months later, February 2017: 22-year-old Tiffany Ferguson, an Intensive Care Unit nurse also working at St. Thomas West was found dead in her Wedgewood Park condo.

Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron says Ferguson was stabbed during what appeared to be a "random and rare act of violence." A suspect, captured on surveillance video, is believed to have walked into a condo through the unlocked front door and killed Ferguson while stealing items from the home. Her murder has sent shock waves through the Wedgewood community, leading to community members voicing their concerns to Metro Police about safety and the "transient nature" of the area.

In the death of Ashley Brown, police have yet to rule it a homicide despite circumstantial conditions which some people believe seems to indicate a murder. Brown had returned to a friend's apartment on the 200 block of 25th Avenue North after a night out which included a stop at Santa's Pub, coincidentally just five miles away from Ferguson's home. Friends, family, and police have stated after returning to the apartment, Brown mentioned something about "cigarettes" and stepped outside. She left her keys, purse, and phone inside. She would never be heard from again. An initial report from the Medical Examiner came back inconclusive and police are awaiting another ME report before confirming the cause and classification of death.

Fox 17 is still working to find out how Brown's body was transported to the trash disposal site. Given the investigation is ongoing, Metro Police could not clarify if she was found in the original dumpster which was transported from the apartments or if the dumpster was emptied into a truck and then dumped at the facility. Unlike the physical evidence available in Ferguson's murder, a source close to the investigation tells FOX 17 the transportation of Brown's body essentially contaminated the physical evidence (her body), leaving the medical examiner's report to give more definitive answers. But even with physical evidence in the Ferguson case, questions still remain. Police have surveillance video of a suspect and they have confirmed they believe they have the weapon used when she was "stabbed," but police say "work is ongoing to identify the weapon."

Like Brown, police have also confirmed Ferguson was out "socializing" the night of her murder. According to a person close to Ferguson but who has asked to stay anonymous, Ferguson was out with some other nurses for Whiskey Jam at the Basement before returning home.

Metro Police have stated the fact Ferguson was out socializing is not a factor in her murder and there is nothing to indicate the deaths of Brown and Ferguson are related at this time.

But for some people close to both women, they have suspicions about their "random" deaths. Brown's mother Julie says it's possible her daughter and Ferguson knew each other given they both worked at the same hospital could have worked with the same patients during various stages of treatment. Still dealing with her daughter's death and waiting answers, Brown was shocked to find out about Ferguson's murder and thought "what are the odds." She also noticed the parallels between the two cases and can't help but wonder if it's plausible somebody was "watching both of these women." "Nashville isn't that big," Brown says.

While her daughter's cause of death isn't official, Brown could only say "my daughter was raised with street smarts. I can tell you Ashley died a brutal, vicious death." Brown understands the pain the Ferguson family is going through, asking to share her condolences. "My heart hurts for their loss, as well as my own. I understand their pain."

A person close to Ferguson also wonders about the "random" aspects in her case. According to the source, Ferguson's condo is "long and skinny," and the suspect would have passed a roommate's bedroom in the front before making it to Tiffany's bedroom in the back. "I just know that a crazy high number of these crimes are committed by people they know," the source says. Tiffany was also popular with the homeless community in the area according to Tiffany's friend, saying some recognized Tiffany's photo and stated she would frequently give them money. That said, the friend adds they have been told nothing was taken of value from the condo during the murder.

Both Brown's mother and Ferguson's friend admit they do not know all the details about the investigations and have been told little by police as they focus on leads to resolve the cases.

Regardless if the cases are related or not (as police have stated), Brown's and Ferguson's deaths have left an impact on the community at-large and among those in the healthcare industry. During a recent trip visit a patient at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital last weekend, one Fox 17 viewer says before even being officially greeted by the doctor, she and her friend were asked if they are "locking their door at night." A nurse who also lives in the Wedgewood Park community and spoke with FOX 17 says she now carries mace and is more aware of her surroundings in the wake of Ferguson's murder.

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Click here to donate to the Tiffany Ferguson Scholarship Fund.

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