Michael Keith Fine was taken into custody in Birmingham, Alabama without incident Tuesday morning. He is now awaiting extradition to Tennessee. Fine is 80 years old, and was 34 years old at the time of the murders.
A telephone pole repairman discovered the body of Helen Fine, 54, on May 20, 1977, in her car, which was parked outside their home. After the police came, they discovered the body of Maynard Fine, 67, inside the home. An autopsy determined they died from gunshot wounds.
Maryville Police were in the process of reopening the case in December 2020 when a family member called to check in on the investigation. The case was officially reopened in May 2021.
Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said newer technology helped to reexamine the evidence.
“As General Desmond indicated, he wanted modern science to look at that evidence again, he wanted people who were alive and could testify to what evidence was collected, we were able to obtain some additional forensic information from some technology that exists today that didn’t exist then,” Crisp said.
Fine was described as a “person of interest” in the initial investigation.
“The grand jury was presented evidence, including forensic evidence, that tied Michael Keith Fine to the entry point of the residence. Additional evidence was found that tied Michael Keith Fine to the murder weapon that was used,” Crisp explained.
The murder weapon was recovered by Maryville Police in 1978 at a local landfill. As police continue to investigate the case, they are looking for a woman who was a teenager in 1977 and lived with the Fines prior to the murder.
“They would not be a suspect at all in this, but they are an individual who observed some things in the weeks or months leading up to the homicide that potentially could be very relevant in what the defendant in this case is accused of doing,” Blount County District Attorney Ryan Desmond said.
Investigators have some information on the woman but have never been able to positively identify her.
Desmond said the break in the case is a prime example of law enforcement doing its job.
“I have been asked the question about this case, really since yesterday when he was arrested, ‘How do you charge somebody for double homicide 46 years later? How do you put an 80-year-old man in custody?’ and my response to that is if you have the proof and the evidence, ‘How do you not?’,” Desmond said.
This case was one of three cold cases in the Maryville Police Department. The two other cases happened in 1980 and 2002. Chief Crisp said the department has already begun to look into the 1980 case and has sent evidence for retesting.