Old-fashioned police work helps crack 3 Knox County cold cases

Old-fashioned police work helps crack 3 Knox County cold cases

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"Many times, witnesses are intimidated, they're scared and if they feel more comfortable, they may talk more at a later date, and that's what we attempt to accomplish," explained Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs. "Many times, witnesses are intimidated, they're scared and if they feel more comfortable, they may talk more at a later date, and that's what we attempt to accomplish," explained Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Decades-old cold cases in Knox County are getting new life thanks to fresh leads.

Investigators are working on more than 200 cold cases dating back to the 1960s, and now there are indictments in three of those cases.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office as well as the Knoxville Police Department say technology helps when it comes to solving cold cases, including DNA testing and AFIS, the fingerprint database.

Even with technology, indictments in these three recent cases are the result of old-fashioned police work.

One of those cases is from 1993, when Courtney Duncan was killed.

Originally there weren't many witnesses for police to interview.

"We had some new information, some witnesses that wasn't known at the time of the murder that [KPD Investigator Jeff Day] and I developed their names and interviewed. From there, we were able to solve the case," said Capt. Edd Stair, an investigator with the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

James McKenzie was charged with first degree murder in that case.

6 News told you about one of the other cases last week, where David Hopkins was indicted for the murder of Tony Barrett.

Investigators were able to re-interview witnesses and gather new information from those interviews.

"Many times, witnesses are intimidated, they're scared and if they feel more comfortable, they may talk more at a later date, and that's what we attempt to accomplish," explained Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs of the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

The third is Bobbie Lou Hill's murder in 1986.

Her son, Billy Ray Hill, was arrested last April in the case, but investigators have since been able to charge him with two counts of solicitation of first degree murder as well.

The sheriff's office worked with the police department and KPD investigator Jeff Day on the three cases.

"We're able to concentrate, and through Jeff's resources with the city, we cross reference a whole lot of things city-county. And I think Jeff's able to give his time to cold cases without having to go to something else," said KCSO Chief Investigator David Davenport.

Investigators say DNA plays a big role in cold cases and that they had a grant for testing above what TBI could provide, but those funds have run out.

They are, however, looking to get another grant.

Investigators also say they expect to have more success with cold cases in the coming months.

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