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A newspaper reporter is accused of trying to kill one of the subjects of his award-winning story about a couple struggling to raise a mentally retarded daughter.

Michael Frazier, 32, was charged in a plot with Lisa Whedbee, 31, to slay her sleeping husband, John Whedbee, with a butcher knife early Wednesday."The officer's report says they are apparently lovers," said Knox County Sheriff's Department spokesman Dwight Van de Vate. "This is just so sordid."

Frazier was charged with attempted first-degree murder. Lisa Whedbee was charged with conspiracy. Both were held on $50,000 bond.

Frazier is a lifestyles editor at The Oak Ridger, where he has worked since the late 1980s. He and Lisa Whedbee both attend Trinity United Methodist Church, where Lisa Whedbee sings in the choir and Frazier is organist.

News editor Donna Smith said colleagues were shocked. She did not comment further.

Police say Lisa Whedbee let Frazier into the home and the two waited until her husband came home and went to sleep.

John Whedbee, 33, said he awoke to a man standing over him with a butcher knife, then struggled with him while Lisa Whedbee stood by with a baseball bat and did nothing when her husband called for help, police said.

John Whedbee broke free from the assailant, grabbed the bat and ran away. Police say he later identified his attacker as Frazier.

Frazier won a feature writing award from the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors Association for his story was about the Whedbees and their 4-year-old daughter with Down syndrome.

Frazier was to receive the award June 24.