Below are current unsolved homicides that have occurred in Knox County. The Cold Case Unit is still actively working to solve these cases. Click on the names to learn more about each person.
On July 20, 1985 the burned body of Betty Joyce Brown, aka Simmons, was found in the woods at 3805 Maloney Road in South Knox County. The 29 year old Austin-East graduate had been stabbed before being burned. Ms. Brown was last seen on July 14, 1985 between midnight and 1:00am in front of the Bread Box at Magnolia Ave and Spruce Street. It is believed that Ms. Brown was offered and accepted a ride from an unknown subject. Ms. Brown’s last know address was 2737 Tarleton Ave. Initial investigation indicated that when Ms. Brown’s body was found, she had been dead approximately 1 week. Family members described Ms. Brown as being a “very sweet and loving mother.”
On Dec. 29, 1987, around 8:32pm, 40-year-old Suzanne Williams and her 37-year-old sister Patricia Williams were found murdered inside their West Knoxville apartment. They lived at the Statesview Apartments #91, now named Mountain View Apartments which is located at 601 South Peters Road. There were no signs of forced entry into the apartment, and it was thought that one or both of the sisters may have known their attacker.
Both women were known to frequent a sports bar called Doodles, which is now Makino Japanese Buffet at 8217 Kingston Pike. Patricia was somewhat more outgoing when approaching men at Doodles, much to Suzanne’s disapproval. Patricia usually would approach men by having a bartender or waitress give them a note. According to an employee, this night was different. Patricia was approached by a man, and eventually left with him. He was described as being well groomed and wearing fresh pressed clothing. He was white, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches, late 20’s to early 30’s, with brown hair, beard and mustache. He was wearing cowboy boots, jeans, a tan down-filled vest and a top coat.
Suzanne was found nude on her bed. Her hands and feet were bound, and she had been raped and strangled with a window cord.
Patricia was found on the floor of her room. She was bound, gagged and strangled with a shoelace.
Sixty-eight year old Robert Kilgore was found stabbed to death by his daughter on May 24, 2004 at 8:00 a.m. at his place of business, Stone Source located at 7520 Chapman Highway. They found his body in the bedroom of the trailer that he also used as an office at the business site. His daughter went to check on him because he didn’t pick her up at the airport the night before.
Investigators believe that Kilgore knew his attacker and allowed him into the trailer after business hours. Kilgore often stayed at the business during the week and lived at his house on the weekends. They also think that the attack took place earlier that morning. Kilgore was known to be up at all hours of the night and spent most of his time in the office/living room part of the trailer. Investigator says that it is unlikely robbery was the motive because the office was not ransacked and nothing appeared to be missing.
On 07-11-1996 at approx 07:13 hrs the victim, Robert Dennis Blair Adams, was found dead at a motel under construction on Crosswood Blvd. near the Strawplains Rd Exit of 1-40 in Knox County. The victim was a white male, 32 years of age at time of his death. The victim was a Canadian citizen who left Canada without advance notice to family or friends.
He flew to Washington D.C. from Seattle Washington on 07-10-1996. He rented a vehicle and drove to Knoxville. He stopped at the BP station on Strawpiains Pike and locked himself out of the rental car and was unable to find the keys. He called a tow truck and made arrangements to have the car towed until the next day when the rental company could be contacted to get the key number to have a new key made. The tow-truck driver dropped him off at the Fairfield inn motel to stay the night. The victim rented a room but, it is believed that he never entered the room.
The next morning on 07-11-1996, he was found dead. Robbery did not appear to be a motive because his money and other items of value were not missing. The victim knew no one in the area, and his reason to leave Canada or where he was headed was not known.
The case has been profiled on the show Unsolved Mysteries.
On January 12, 1982, a landowner was walking newly purchased property in the immediate vicinity of Clear Springs and Mascot Roads in East Knox County. In a heavily wooded section of the property, the landowner discovered skeletal remains of what were later determined to be a black male, approximately 38-42 years old, who wore a blue pullover half-zippered sweater, dark colored trousers, a pair of red and black socks, and black Zippered dress boots, size 9-D. The victim was shot once in the head, execution style, with a small caliber pistol. Obvious attempts had been made to conceal the body from view. These remains were believed to have been in that location from eight months to a year prior to their discovery.
On Feb. 08, 1990, at approx. 6:45 a.m., Hyram Kitchen, who was the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee, was found shot to death in his driveway located at 6608 Northboro Road in North Knox County, Tennessee.
The victim’s wife, Yvonne Kitchen, heard gunshots that morning and called 911. Officers from the Knox County Sheriff Office responded to the scene and observed the victim lying on the driveway suffering from several gunshot wounds. His car was parked in the driveway near the front gate and the engine was running. The victim was going to work when the incident occurred.
Several neighbors recalled hearing gunshots that morning but no one was observed at or running away from the scene. Another neighbor overheard two voices that morning and it sounded like they were arguing.
Numerous persons have been interviewed pertaining to this cold case but no solid leads have been developed.
The victim, Hyram Kitchen, was the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee from 1980-1990. He was fifty seven (57) years old and lived in the Powell Community with his wife, Yvonne. Yvonne no longer lives in the State of Tennessee.
Initial Information and Scene
Neighbors had reported seeing an older model light green pickup truck backed into George’s driveway around 3:00 PM that day.
Pauline George, age 50, was found dead in her West Knox County home on March 7, 1991. She had been stabbed to death. Her body was discovered in the basement of her Kingston Hills home about 5:00 PM by her boyfriend who was picking her up for dinner. She had arrived home at 7724 Luscombe Dr. about 2:30 PM after leaving work as an admitting clerk at Park West Hospital around 2:00 PM.
Initial Information and Scene On June 14, 1992 at approximately 10:16, Charles E. McGhee was found in a remote area of North Knox County in his pick-up truck dead of gunshots to the head and neck. He was driving an older model red and white Chevrolet pick-up, which was parked on Bull Run Valley Road near Neff Road. Shortly before McGhee’s body was found, a witness observed two white males standing next to a small car similar to a Ford Pinto parked in front of McGhee’s truck.
Robbery was ruled out as a motive for murder because there is no indication that anything was taken from the victim. Detectives learned through interviews with family members that they were in the area where the victim was discovered, but reportedly had not seen McGhee for hours. He was scheduled to work the night shift at a tire store in Clinton, but never made it.
Charles E. McGhee was a 47 year old white male who lived at Route #6, Box 313 Fowler Street in Clinton, Tennessee. He lived there with his wife, Linda, and other family members. Johnny Kennedy, the victim’s step-son lived in a mobile home behind the McGhee house. He had no known enemies and frequented the Briceville, Tennessee area.
On April 30, 1994 at 7:30 a.m., officers responded to Parkwest Medical Center in reference to a shooting victim, 43-year-old Dennis Gary Miller. Emergency room staff told officers that Miller’s parents had called 911 because their son was sick. ER personnel found a gunshot would under Miller’s arm. The wound appeared to be several days old. Miller later died while in surgery. Miller was a known drug user and was known to frequent the east side of town. His car window had been shattered.
On November 29, 1981, 59-year-old Joseph Weir, prominent retired Knoxville hairdresser and owner of the downtown gay club Europa, was found stabbed to death. His body was found just after 9 a.m. behind his home at 7525 Twining Drive in West Knox County by 38-year-old yard worker Willie Sims of Maryville. There was a blood trail leading from an upstairs dining room, down some stairs, and outside the carport. Most of the blood was outside, leading investigators to believe Weir was stabbed both inside and outside the house. There were no signs of forced entry into his house, and his wounds indicated that he fought with his assailant. Weir’s Cadillac, wallet, credit cards, and some blank checks were missing, but many valuable items inside the house were undisturbed, indicating that a planned robbery was not the motive.
On July 3, 1991, the body of 67-year-old Ruth Eileen Meredith was found fully-clothed in the driveway of her house at 311 Ginn Road in South Knox County around 5:45 p.m. Meredith died from blunt trauma to her face and head, and detectives believed that her murder was connected to the burglary of an adjacent residence.
The body of 32-year-old Sharon Yvonne Robinson was found by a motorcyclist in a ditch line near Patty Road off Asheville Highway on August 9, 1984. Robinson was a known prostitute with a lengthy criminal history and was known to abuse drugs. The body was so badly decayed that some tests were unable to be run. Her time of death was approximately July 18-20, 1984. Detectives believed she may have been raped. Her jeans had been pulled down to her ankles and her tube top was around her neck.
29-year-old Calvin R. Shafer was found lying on Ball Camp Pike on October 7th, 1983. He had been shot once in the base of the neck and once in the head. He was still conscious when he was found and said he knew who shot him, but did not say who did it. A trail of blood led to Shafer’s white frame house about 40 yards away. A witness who shared the house with him said that Shafer used and sold drugs. She claimed that someone came to the back door around 9:30 a.m. on Friday and that Shafer went with the person into another room and shut the door. She heard two gunshots and saw Shafer lying in the road with several people standing around him.
33-year-old Robert “Gus” Gossert was found shot dead in his car off Watt Road on August 10, 1976. Gossert coined the phrase “Doo Wop” and was known as the “curly-headed kid.” He worked for radio station owner Johnny Pirkle as a disc jockey for WOKI-FM.
On May 13, 1994 at approximately 9:04 a.m., EMS received a call from Kathleen Kuhn, who stated that her husband was having a stroke. Debra Murray Owens, Mr. Kuhn’s home health nurse, called Mrs. Kuhn to let her know she was running late for their 8:30 appointment and was informed of Mr. Kuhn’s emergency situation. When EMTs arrived at 401 Amanda Circle, the body of Owens was found in her vehicle, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
27-year-old Jamie D. Hickman’s beaten and bloody body was found beside Frazier Road off Kodak Road in April 1989. She had been raped, beaten, and stabbed 15 times. The murder weapon was very sharp and possibly a razor blade. The homicide was described as a torture murder. Hickman had been beaten and robbed several times before her murder. Hickman’s brother said his sister was addicted to cocaine and worked as a prostitute to support her habit.
Detectives learned that Hickman was charging considerably less than other prostitutes for her services. They knew people were mad at her for this, but not mad enough to kill her. Detectives said it was possible more than one person involved in the murder. She was last seen around 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Circle N tavern at Central Street and Magnolia Avenue. According to a witness, she arrived at the tavern in a small, dark blue car with tinted windows. She acted nervous and borrowed $2 from a patron.
On January 8, 1995, the body of 42-year-old Michael Gerald King was found at an unauthorized dumping site on Dutchtown Road (approximately 75 yards from Pellissippi Parkway) under several bags of leaves. He was wearing a blue work-type jacket, blue sport shirt, blue t-shirt with a pocket, blue jeans, white socks, tennis shoes, and a blue toboggan when he was found. He was found with no identification on him and appeared to have been deceased for quite some time.
On September 4, 2006, three victims, Theresa McMahan, John Pierce, and Ricky Thompson, were sitting outside 1316 Maple Street in a Dodge Caravan talking to Matt Moore when an unknown vehicle pulled up and unknown suspects began shooting at the Caravan. The suspects shot several rounds into the vehicle and drove off. A short time later, the unknown vehicle returned and fired several more shots at the victim’s vehicle, striking McMahan, Pierce, and Thompson. The victims were transported to UT Hospital, where Thompson died as a result of his injury.
On February 1, 1991 around 3:05 a.m., someone knocked on the front door of 40-year-old Jackie Cardwell’s house. Cardwell opened the door and someone shot him with a shotgun. He was later pronounced dead at UT Medical Center. Cardwell’s wife said she was lying in bed when she heard the knock. She said when her husband opened the door, she heard him talking to a man and then heard a gunshot. Cardwell had been involved in a boating accident six months prior to his murder where Lee Monday and Ralph “Red” Dunn were killed on Douglas Lake.
On June 11, 1980, 69-year-old James Floyd Fox, Sr. was found lying in the dining room floor at his home on Dick Ford Lane. He had been apparently been shot several times. His billfold, his money, and two guns were missing.
On October 19, 1987, 44-year-old Ward Adcock was found shot in a bed in his home at 7821 Berkshire Boulevard in Powell. Officers were first dispatched to the scene to investigate a wreck with injury, but found no wreck when they got to the home. They were dispatched again to investigate the shooting.
On November 26, 1989, the skeletal remains of Mary Francis Holt were found approximately 53 feet from the roadway of Lyons Bend Road near the entrance to the KUB 4th Creek Treatment Plant. The remains were two-four months old. She had suffered a severe fracture to the right side of the skull and died as a result of foul play. Based on soil samples, she might have died between July 14 and July 19. Investigators believe that she was nude when her body was left near the entrance of the treatment plant.
26-year-old Tangela Yvette Moore had been missing for five years when her skeletal remains were found on February 11, 1995. The remains were found near the dead end of Couch Mill Road in Hardin Valley. At the time, detectives said it appeared as though the remains had been in the area for two to four years. The examination of the recovered remains revealed no trauma, and the cause of death is undetermined.
On November 26, 1977, the mutilated body of 54-year-old Paul Hurst was found alongside a driveway off Cherokee Trail. The homicide was called the “torso murder.” Hurst’s head, legs, hands, and genitals had been neatly severed from the body and were never found.