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Smithsonian Institution trying to help solve Knox Co. cold cases

12:15 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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New technology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. could help Knox County detectives identify two people who were shot to death years ago, but were never identified.

The first victim is a white woman who was shot in the head and found on June 1, 1987, outside a house on Jim Sterchi Road.  Two men had picked her up at a rest stop near Bulls Gap.  She was taken to the house for what was believed to be a robbery, and was shot by the homeowner.   The two men said they didn't know her name.  

She was 20-25 years old, 5'5", and weighed between 100-120 pounds. She had brown eyes and brown hair, and was wearing an aqua-colored Miami Dolphins football jersey, light blue pants, and a silver link type bracelet. The initials "B.H." were tattooed on her upper left arm. She had a scar on her abdomen, possibly from a cesarean birth or hysterectomy. Skeletal analysis revealed several healed fractures and other previous injuries consistent with a car accident.

The second unidentified victim is a black male who was shot to death in 1981.  His body was found on January 12, 1982 in a wooded lot near Clear Springs Road and Mascot Road. He was approximately 30-40 years old and 5'10", wearing a blue pullover shirt with a half zipper, black colored pants, size 9D black boots with zippers, and red and white socks at the time of death.

The testing, which will be done at the OUSS/MCI Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, will help narrow the region where the unidentified persons grew up. Once a region has been determined, age-regression pictures will then be released to the media and law enforcement agencies, in hopes someone will remember or recognize them.

This is the first time that the Knox County Sheriff's Office has been able to utilize this cutting edge technology.   the work will be done free of charge.

According to  a Research Physical Scientist, the lab will perform the tests pro-bono.

"The Smithsonian is regarded as the nation's museum and we are privileged to work with federal, state and, and local governments,"  said research scientist Christine France.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones is thrilled with the collaboration. "I am very grateful to the Smithsonian for trying to help us close the files on these two unidentified individuals. Our detectives have worked tirelessly over the years to find out just who these people are. I hope with this new technology we can finally give their families closure," said Sheriff Jones.

Anyone with information is asked to call the KCSO at (865)215-2243.

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