DOVER, Tenn. (WKRN) — On September 17, 1980, 14-year-old Carla Atkins and her 16-year-old sister, Vickie Stout, left their home in Dover to walk just one mile to a convenience store.
The two teens made it to the store and began walking home the same way they came, along Highway 79. Some witnesses reported seeing them around 3:30 p.m. that day. However, they never made it back.
“We kind of thought maybe they were just with some friends and just decided not to come back home when they should’ve,” the victims’ sister, Patricia Gordon, told News 2 in 2018.
Initial reports labeled them as runaways, but after three weeks, it became clear that something more sinister had happened. Authorities said a group of hikers came across their bodies in what is now known as Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
The 170,000-acre recreation area runs along Highway 79, just a few miles outside of Dover. Autopsy reports showed the sisters had both died from a shotgun wound to the head. In the same interview, Gordon called the incident “unthinkable” for the small Tennessee town.
At first, investigators had few clues as to what may have happened to the girls in-between the time they were seen walking home. However, some of the witnesses at the convenience store said they remembered seeing Atkins and Stout talking to a man in a blue truck.
Witnesses described the man to forensic scientists with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), who in 2015, shared multiple sketches with the public, including two age-progressed depictions of the man.
Almost eight years after the sketches were first released, the TBI said there still haven’t been any new developments to report in the case and investigators’ search for the person responsible for the murders is ongoing.
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The “man in the blue truck” is wanted for questioning in connection with the active investigation. No one has ever been arrested or charged in the case. As of Sunday, Sept. 17, more than four decades have passed since the girls were last seen walking along Highway 79.
Anyone with information on the case or the man pictured in the composite sketches is urged to contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.