East Tenn. high school class raises awareness of decades-old cold case

Local News

An East Tennessee High School class is raising awareness to a Campbell County cold case. 

The case was frozen in time for more than 30 years, until last week when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation identified the victim as Tina Farmer.

The TBI is now asking for any information about her homicide. 

Tina Farmer was also listed as one of six victims in a profile put together by Elizabethton High School students in May. Students dubbed the man they believe responsible for their deaths as the “Bible Belt Strangler.”

Previous story: TBI: 1985 Campbell County murder victim identified thanks to blog

“I was really excited. I had a lot of people calling me, texting me. Several students came by the room. They had heard about it. They were excited too,” said Elizabethton High School teacher Alex Campbell.

Campbell and his students spent months researching her murder, linking her death to five other victims in a string of what’s called the Redhead Murders. 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the project raised a lot of awareness about the case, but it played no role in the most recent development.

TBI agents got word of a blog last month that focused on missing persons cases. Farmer was one of the people listed on the website.

“I don’t know. I think the biggest thing we did was that we just tried to keep the attention out there, and a lot of these cases had been totally forgotten, and I think any murder case can benefit from having more publicity, more people thinking about it,” Campbell said.

Indiana-based podcaster Shane Waters also dedicated months to following the case, working at times with the Elizabethton High students.

He planted a red cross where Farmer’s body was found, and for the last 12 weeks, he says he’s been in touch with her sister. 

“In one aspect I know that this will give her a little closure knowing exactly where her sister is now, having a little bit more answers, but also in this specific case it brings up a lot more questions than answers. Now she knows where her sister is, but she doesn’t really know the reasons of how it got to that point or who is the person responsible,” Waters said. 

Waters believes the suspect is alive and the case will be solved. With the increased attention, those close to the research are hoping for that outcome.

“I hope that tips will continue to come in,” Campbell said. “Let’s try to find some justice for these ladies and some closure for these families.”

At the time students put out their report, one victim was already identified. Campbell said there is DNA being tested in another case, the Knox County, Kentucky, Jane Doe case. He’s hoping for some confirmation on that very soon. He says that would put up to half of their victims identified, in just a short amount of time.

Meanwhile, TBI says Tina Farmer’s case remains active and ongoing. If you have any information that can help solve her murder, specifically any knowledge about people Farmer may have been with before her death, give investigators a call at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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