KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A man who has been convicted by a Knox County grand jury on a first-degree murder charge from a September 2017 shooting is also named as a person of interest in three “separate but potentially related” missing persons cases, according to the District Attorney General’s Office.
Jeremy Jerome Hardison, 42, also known as “Big Country” was convicted of first-degree murder and Judge Scott Green sentenced him to serve life in prison for the 2017 fatal shooting. The DA’s Office said Wednesday they are hoping with Hardison now in prison, more witnesses will be emboldened to come forward to share information on the three missing people.
September 2017 fatal shooting
Hardison was accused of fatally shooting a victim in the back with an AR-15 on Sept. 24, 2017, at the intersection of Selma Avenue and Ben Hur Avenue. Witnesses named him as the shooter and the Knoxville Police Department obtained a search warrant for Hardison’s residence where they found the weapon that was consistent with ballistic evidence taken at the shooting scene.
Court documents show Hardison was charged with first-degree murder related to a April 2001 death and later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Sept. 2005.
Three ‘separate but potentially related’ missing persons cases
Hardison is also named as a person of interest in an overarching, separate yet potentially related investigation involving the disappearance of three people out of Knox County. The DA’s Office is seeking the public’s help for more information about the cases.
The three missing people named by the DA’s Office as potential connections to Hardison have been listed in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS), a national information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States.
Bonnie Lou Drane, 45, was last seen on Dec. 27, 2017, while visiting a family member at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Bonnie Drane is described as a white female standing 5’7″ and weighing 140 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.
William Dale Inklebarger, 40, was last seen on Dec. 29, 2017, by his father at a motel room at 1500 N. Cherry Street. William Inklebarger is described as a white male standing 6’0″ and weighing 150 pounds with black hair and hazel eyes.
Brenda Kay Carroll, 46, last seen on Dec. 27, 2017, was last heard from on Jan. 1, 2018, when she contacted her sister on Facebook Messenger; she was believed to be in the company of the two other missing people, Bonnie Drane and William Inklebarger, with whom she had been living. Bonnie Carroll is described as a white female standing 5’1″ and weighing 140 pounds, with hazel eyes and strawberry blond hair.
“We need help from the community to solve this case,” Charme Allen, the district attorney general, stated in a release about Hardison on Wednesday. “Now that Hardison is serving life in prison, we hope that witnesses who may have been reluctant to come forward will now feel safe cooperating with law enforcement. In this and every case, we need witnesses. As the number of homicides this year approaches an all-time high, we need assistance from the community so offenders can be held accountable and victims can find peace.”
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