KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Police Department has formed a new "Homicide Unit," meant to investigate deadly crimes. They said it went into effect on Feb. 26, and investigators in it were previously part of the Violent Crimes unit.
The Homicide Unit is responsible for investigating several kinds of crimes — not just murders. They are listed below.
- Deaths that are suspicious in nature
- Non-fatal shootings with a victim
- Any assault in which a victim suffers potentially life-threatening injuries
The Violent Crime Unit will now focus on investigating robberies, bank robberies, assaults, aggravated assaults with non-life threatening injuries, workplace violence and adult missing persons.
“Homicide investigations, in particular, often require a substantial amount of time and resources to bring those cases to a successful resolution,” said Chief of Police Paul Noel. “When those same investigators are also assigned non-life-threatening assaults or robberies, that takes precious time and attention away from homicide investigations.”
Since the Homicide Unit has been operation, KPD said they already closed an investigation into a woman who was found beaten and stabbed to death in April 1984.
The body of Terry Lynn Kirkland was found by a child in a park. She was 23 years old, and investigators said that a knife was next to the body with a handle broken off.
KPD said the new Homicide Unit identified a suspect who died in 2021. They said the case was presented to the District Attorney General's Office which decided that there was enough evidence in the case to prosecute, and the case was then closed since the suspect was dead.
Since 2023, KPD said there have been six confirmed homicides and an arrest was made in three of those cases, while a fourth is being reviewed by the DA's office.