Smithsonian sheds new light on Knox County cold cases

Smithsonian sheds new light on Knox County cold cases

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The narrowed region where investigators believe the unidentified woman grew up. The narrowed region where investigators believe the unidentified woman grew up.
"There's a family that has a missing loved one. Whether a case is 30 years old, 20 years old or happening now, it's still someone's family member," investigator Amy Dobbs said. "There's a family that has a missing loved one. Whether a case is 30 years old, 20 years old or happening now, it's still someone's family member," investigator Amy Dobbs said.
The unidentified female victim. (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) The unidentified female victim. (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
The unidentified male victim. (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) The unidentified male victim. (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After years of no new information, the Knox County Sheriff's Office has new leads on two cold cases, thanks to the help of the Smithsonian.

In January, the institute agreed to use their new technology to run tests for two cases the Knox County Sheriff's Department has been investigating.

Those test results are now back and the new information is giving law enforcement new hope on solving the more than 20-year-old cold cases.

The Smithsonian performed the test on two unidentified victims for free and now the Knox County Sheriff's Office has several new leads to investigate

For years the trail ended at the locations where the victims' bodies were found.

In the 1980s, both of the victims were shot in the head and killed in Knox County.

"She was shot June the 1st, 1987 off of Jim Sterchi Road, said forensic officer Amy Dobbs.

In 1982, the man's body was found in a wooded lot near Mascot Road.

To help identify the individuals, Dobbs asked the Smithsonian to use their new isotopes testing to give investigators a more specific area to search.

The Smithsonian has been studying the victims' teeth for more than six weeks.

"The water that you drink, the food that you eat, the air that you breathe help create the enamel in your tooth when you are developing as a child," she said.

The test on the enamel narrowed down the area where the two grew up.

The woman grew up in the Central-Southeastern part of the U.S.

"The Jane Doe we have about 13 states to work with, which is still a broad area, but at least we've eliminated when you think about 50 states or the world," she said.

The test results and media exposure have lead to new leads in the unidentified man's case, but due to the investigation details cannot be released.

But for the unidentified woman, the age-regression photos will be shown to the public in the states she likely grew up in with the hopes someone recognizes her.

"There's a family that has a missing loved one. Whether a case is 30 years old, 20 years old or happening now, it's still someone's family member," Dobbs said.

Dobbs is sending the photos to law enforcement agencies and media in the 13 states.

She's also encouraging other law enforcement agencies to check their older missing persons cases to see if they match up with the description of her unidentified female victim.

Dobbs says the new testing could eventually change the way local law enforcement agencies investigate unidentified crime victims.

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