KNOXVILLE - Pauline George was 50 years old, a mother to two children and a friend to many.
"She was described as a nice woman, good woman, good family. Lived in an upper middle class neighborhood, certainly not a place you would expect something like this to happen," said Knox County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Chief Investigator David Davenport.
A seemingly happy, ordinary life that ended in violence. On March 7, 1991, Pauline was murdered inside her Luscombe Drive home in Knox County.
“She went to work, came home, she had a dinner date with her boyfriend who was a fireman,” said Davenport. “He arrived somewhere around 5 o’clock and she didn’t answer the door and he became concerned."
George’s boyfriend, Jack Lane entered the house to find lying dead on the basement floor.
“Multiple, multiple stab wounds, from stabbing and slicing,” said Davenport. “She put up a good fight.”
No murder weapon was found, and no one was ever charged in the crime.
Today, her case joins dozens of others in the Cold Case Unit at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Cold Case Chief Investigator David Davenport has years of experience. He has served as a TBI agent, state trooper and sheriff in Jefferson County.
“This was one that we put the solvability factor up high because we had a number of suspects,” he said. “Unfortunately, today we haven’t solved it yet, but I’ve been over it several times and am still going over it.”
It was the first case that KCSO ever ordered DNA testing for. Results were inconclusive.
“You don’t know how many of the samples came from investigators, or ambulance drivers. DNA was in its infancy. There wasn’t the caretaking to collect the samples in ’91 that there is today,” said Davenport.
George was divorced and lived alone. She worked an administrative position at Parkwest Hospital.
There were no signs of sexual assault. Her purse and its contents were strewn across her bed, but it was unclear if she had been robbed.
“It appears that it started at the front door, that she had either let someone in or someone knocked on the door then proceeded downstairs where she was stabbed numerous times,” said Davenport.
“She didn’t go downstairs, she was put downstairs. I’m talking either stabbed or knocked downstairs or she might have been retreating, trying to get away from somebody downstairs," he said.
Davenport is constantly re-examining cases like George’s. The "missing link" that keeps a case from getting solved is often people who have information they haven’t shared.
“You hope for two or three things, that maybe someone will get a twinge of conscience, or you hope who did it talks about it, and these people have a conscious and will talk to you," he said.
In previous cases, Davenport has even seen people confess murders on their death bed.
Right after George was slain, suspects ranged from friends to family.
“Because in most cases these things are someone close to you,” said Davenport.
The search for answers 25 years later is tedious; combing through pictures, documents and old interviews hoping something new will jump out.
“It’s like working a 1,000-piece puzzle with about 10 pieces missing,” said Davenport.
“You just keep going over and over it and aggravate somebody enough that they will come across and tell you something they haven’t told you before,” said Davenport.
While there has still been no arrest, time has revealed answers. Davenport has his eye on his next move.
“I’m going to tell you that I think and can almost guarantee that the person that killed Pauline George has been interviewed by the police, and they are out there, and I can tell you, I know who they are and I’m going to come after them again and we are going to talk to them again," he said.
”We are not going to quit,” said Davenport. “We want to bring closure to the family members, and Pauline deserves justice, so we are going to keep after it.”
If you have information on this case or any other Knox County homicides or missing persons, please call the KCSO’s Cold Case Investigation Unit at 865-215-2243 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(© 2017 WBIR)