KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In September 1985, the body of a man was found by two kids riding their bicycles along Buttermilk Road off Interstate 40 in Lenoir City. Authorities at the time were unable to identify him after exhausting all leads. Now, nearly four decades later and thanks to modern genetic testing, investigators know his name but the search for his murderer continues.
A news release shared by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday states that the body of “Loudon County John Doe” has been identified as James Keith Nuchols, age 58 at the time of his death, of Blount County. When his body was found back in 1985, investigators learned that he had been shot and his death was ruled a homicide.
The TBI’s release also stated that according to forensic anthropologists from the University of Tennessee, he had been deceased for one-to-two weeks prior to the discovery of his remains.
Now after learning his name, TBI special agents hope that the public can help provide more information that could help solve Nuchols’ murder. Through the years, investigators had worked to learn his identity so that the homicide might be solved.
Back in December, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents submitted a sample of his remains to Othram, a private lab based in Texas, for forensic genetic genealogical (FGG) DNA testing; according to the TBI, scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the man.
Then, last month agents made contact with one of those candidates and obtained a familial DNA standard, which was submitted to Othram for comparison against the DNA of the then-unidentified remains. At the same time, a TBI Intelligence Analyst was able to locate a set of the victim’s post-mortem fingerprints. The prints were submitted to the TBI Crime Lab in Nashville to be analyzed by the Latent Print Unit. Forensic Scientists confirmed that the unidentified remains belonged to James Keith Nuchols of Blount County. Additionally, as a result of FGG testing, scientists with Othram also concluded that the DNA was a match for Nuchols.
The TBI asks that if anyone has information about Nuchols’ murder, specifically any knowledge about people whom Nuchols may have been with before his death, they’re asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND or email tips to TipsToTBI@tbi.tn.gov.