RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A murder victim was killed more than four decades ago, and no family members have claimed his remains. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is now leading an effort to find closure on his behalf.
“In August of 1978, we responded to Poole Knobs recreation area, which is part of the Percy Priest Lake area,” said Richard Brinkley, a detective for the Rutherford County Sheriffs Office. “A worker in the area discovered some human remains that had been set on fire. The sheriff’s office responded at that time and began their investigation, and discovered the man had also been shot.”
Shot and burned to death, detectives had very few leads on identifying the victim.
“No one has ever come forward and reported that they think it’s part of their family,” Det. Brinkley explained.
An autopsy was completed and his body transported to the Forensic Anthropology Center in Knoxville. Experts there were able to compile an approximate age range and identifying features like medium-length, brown hair, a receding hairline, and a reddish-brown and gray beard.
The sheriff’s department is partnering with Othram, Inc., a private DNA firm, to help identify the remains.
“So, the key is the lab work that we do,” said Michael Vogen, director of case canagement for the firm. “In a case like this, we’re going to be working to extract DNA from the evidence that law enforcement sends.”
The firm will also assess DNA data submitted to the firm from various people across the country.
“Whether they have done 23andMe or Ancestry.com, they can take that raw data and upload it to GEDmatch Family Tree DNA,” Vogen explained. “We have our own proprietary database called DNASolves where folks can send us their raw data and put it in there as well.”
The forensic testing costs about $5,000. The Sheriff’s Department is now raising money through crowdfunding to help pay for it.
If you would like to donate or believe you may be related to the unidentified victim, you can call 615-904-3045 for more information.
News 2 is digging deeper into Tennessee’s most notorious unsolved cases. Click to read more.