Man allegedly quarreled with wife before his body was found in burning car

Delbert Flint and his mother, Bernice Flint-Tennyson, appear for their preliminary examination Monday. Both are charged with open murder in the death of Darvin Tennyson.

A co-worker of an Oakland County man whose body was found in a burning car on Detroit's east side three years ago said the victim told him he was having marital problems.

Dawson Smith testified Monday during a preliminary examination in 36th District Court before Judge Michael Wagner that the problems stemmed from the man's wife being "disrespectful" to him by letting the victim's stepson move in with the couple in Farmington Hills. 

The co-worker said the victim, Darvin Tennyson, 64, and the stepson didn't get along and that "he couldn't stand the son being in the house with him because of incidents in the past."

Smith testified that Tennyson complained about issues with his wife, Beatrice Flint-Tennyson, and stepson Delbert Flint living with them just two days before he died. He said the arguments erupted to a point where the wife allegedly told Tennyson that he would have to leave their home before she put her son out.

Smith said he became worried when Tennyson told Smith that he told his wife he would leave his home "over his dead body" and then allegedly threatened her.

"I said, 'Your life is in danger, man,' " Smith testified. " 'You threatened your wife over her son.' I knew he was in danger."

Flint-Tennyson, 67, and Flint, 46, were charged last month with open murder, tampering with evidence, and disinterment and mutilation of a dead body in connection with Tennyson's death.

Tennyson's body was found March 20, 2016, in the truck of the burned-out car near Victoria and St. Aubin on Detroit's east side.

Dr. Francisco Diaz, an assistant pathologist in Washington, D.C., found the cause of death was homicide.

Diaz said he could not rule out that the death was due to asphyxiation but said Tennyson, a long-time Chrysler worker, was not strangled. Diaz said there was no DNA of a third party found on the body.

The hearing will determine whether Flint-Tennyson and Flint are bound over for trial on the charges.

"When the fire started he was already dead," Diaz testified Monday. He said Tennyson was burned over 90 percent of his body.

"His death came as a result of another or others," said Diaz.

The preliminary examination continues May 21.