Berrys still unhappy with sheriff's office over daughter's murder case

Berrys still unhappy with sheriff's office over daughter's murder case

Mike and Joan Berry continue their crusade to find their daughter's killer. Mike and Joan Berry continue their crusade to find their daughter's killer.

December 5, 2006

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Wednesday marks the two year anniversary of Johnia Berry's tragic murder. Her family says the Knox County Sheriff's Office still isn't doing enough to find the killer. But the sheriff says investigators have worked tirelessly on the case.

Since December 6, 2004, investigators have interviewed more than 600 people and taken DNA samples for more than 240 people. But they still haven't made any arrests in the stabbing death of 21-year-old Johnia Berry.  

Mike and Joan Berry continue their crusade to find their daughter's killer, putting out new signs with information about the case.

Despite getting two new leads themselves Tuesday, the Berrys say they have trouble getting the sheriff's office to listen.

"We get a lot of leads, personally. They call us, our cell phone, or email us personally and give us the lead.  It's very hard to get in touch with anybody at the sheriff's department to give them a lead. I'll call repeatedly and leave messages," Joan says.

"The sheriff, I don't care if he likes me. I just don't care," Mike says. "All I want him to do is his damn job."

In June, the couple turned to Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, who has the power to get the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to help in the case. He turned them down.

The Berrys hope Nichols will change his mind. "So tomorrow morning at 9:30, I'm going to ask him the same question again and it's in his court. The TBI won't come unless they're invited. I think they need to be invited in," Mike says. 

In the meantime, the Berrys refuse to give up hope. "We won't give up, keep trying for that trying to keep it out there let everyone know it's not been solved. Let everyone know we need help," Joan says.

"I can still see a beautiful little blond headed girl smiling when I close my eyes and as long as I can do that, we'll keep it going," Mike says. 

A statement released Tuesday on the sheriff's office Web site gives an update on the Johnia Berry investigation. It reads in its entirety:

December 6th marks the two year anniversary that Johnia Berry was stabbed to death at a West Knox County apartment complex. Since that time, detectives with the Knox County Sheriff's Office have worked tirelessly to find the killer. New leads continue to develop that substantiate what our investigators and an FBI profiler have claimed since the beginning-the suspect is here locally. Until leads run dry or take detectives in another direction, the investigation will continue to be targeted locally.  

The latest on the case now centers on three new DNA samples that were taken recently. We also await the results of 53 other DNA samples to be tested by the TBI lab. "This continues to be an intensive investigation," said Sheriff Tim Hutchison. "We have a detective assigned full-time to this case. During the past two years, we have questioned over six hundred people here locally and across the country. DNA samples have been taken from over 250 people. We have used more resources and manpower on this case than any other in the history of the Sheriff's Office. We have been in contact with various national television programs and have explained that we will ask for their help if evidence shows that the suspect in no longer in this area." 

Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols has stated that this case is being thoroughly investigated and that there is no reason to bring in the TBI. The TBI usually does not enter into investigations in Knoxville or Knox County because its resources are limited and our officers are very experienced in investigating homicides.  

"We are very sorry for the loss to the Berry family," said Sheriff Hutchison, "and will continue to work extremely hard to find the person who killed this young girl."

If you have any information about this case, contact the Knox County Sheriff's Office at (865)-281-6700 or online.

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