Cold case rips apart family, kills sheriff’s deputy and remains mystery

Special Reports

No one has seen or heard from John Thrasher in 15 years. However, his older brother does not believe he is alive.

“At first I tried to hold out hope but I knew in my heart immediately,” Charles Thrasher told News 2. “He would always call. He’d never disappear and not call.”

John Thrasher was athletic and smart. However, he dropped out in the middle of his second year at Tennessee Tech.

“He wasn’t a bad kid, but like a lot of kids, he was partying and drinking and he ended up with the wrong people at the wrong time,” said Charles.

The 21-year-old was picked up from his dad’s home in Overton County on August 14, 2004. At least one witness puts John Thrasher at the Putnam County Fair after that. 

However, his brother believes John never made it to the fair and instead, the story was a decoy to mislead investigators. 

“I believe he was murdered that night,” Charles said.

John’s case then went cold. Evidence and witness statements refuse to reveal a resolution. 

“It is frustrating on so many different levels, especially as a parent,” said Overton County Sheriff John Garrett. “I would want to know where my children are at.”

Sheriff Garrett believes someone who still lives in the area knows what happened to John. 

“It is more than frustrating to know or to believe that someone out there holds a key piece of evidence and they refuse to come forward for whatever reason,” he said. 

However, the case seems to hold a curse.

On April 6, 2010, Deputy Chad Pritchard went to Standing Stone State Park to search for John after receiving a tip.

The park is about 10,000 acres, densely wooded and the ground is saturated with sinkholes. 

“We believe he got too close to a hole, lost his footing and fell to his death,” said the sheriff. “He was a good man. A very good man.”

Pritchard remains Overton County’s only line-of-duty death.

“Not only did the people kill my brother, but at the same time they, in an indirect way, resulted in the death of someone else,” Charles Thrasher told News 2.

Charles said shortly after John disappeared, his father died. Then, a rift formed between him and his surviving family members. 

New billboards have been put up in the area asking for new leads in this old case. 

Charles also had a message for those who know what happened to his brother. He hopes information will help heal him and his family.

“Think about if it was your family member. You wouldn’t want somebody in your family killed, somebody in your family put somewhere in a hole and there be no resolution for your family. No funeral to go to, no body, no anything,” he said. “To at least know where he was would be better than absolute nothing.”

If you know what happened to John Thrasher or who is involved in his disappearance, you’re urged to call the Overton County Sheriff’s Department at 931-823-5635.

You can also send an anonymous letter to 1010 John T Poindexter Drive Livingston, Tenn. 38570.

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