Arrests and successful prosecution of several unsolved murder cases by Rutherford County Sheriff’s detectives led to the formation of a Cold Case Coalition team, said District Attorney William Whitesell.
During a press conference Monday, General Whitesell announced the team will comprise law enforcement agencies in Rutherford and Cannon counties, which make up the 16th Judicial District. He credited former Sheriff Truman Jones with forming the Sheriff’s Office’s first Cold Case Unit of Maj. Bill Sharp and Sgt. Dan Goodwin in 2000.
Prosecutors and officers decided the same team approach could be applied in the judicial district with the support of all law enforcement agencies, he said. The lead investigator will be in charge of the case while investigators from other agencies will assist.
He estimated about 20 workable, unsolved cases in the judicial district.
“We believe working as a team we can bring cases, work those cases and ultimately solve those cases,” General Whitesell said.
Sheriff Robert Arnold donated space in the Criminal Investigations Division to house the coalition.
“This is a great day for law enforcement,” Sheriff Arnold said. “We will collaborate for the victims and the families of these unsolved murders. We believe this partnership will work well.”
The Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit solved six homicides and one kidnapping, the sheriff said. Ten murder cases remain unsolved.
Murfreesboro Police Chief Glenn Chrisman said the coalition will bring focus to cold case investigations.
“No doubt we can bring needed closure to victims and surviving family members,” Chief Chrisman said.
Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold said he could not provide a detective to work fulltime with the coalition but will make every resource of Smyrna Police Department available to bring closure to families.
Like Chief Arnold, Cannon County Sheriff Darrell Young said he did not have the manpower to assign one detective to the coalition but looked forward to working with the team.
La Vergne Police Chief Mike Walker said La Vergne Police had an unsolved murder case where the victim has not been identified. He hopes someday the victim’s identity will be known for a proper burial.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman said the coalition will work on unsolved murders as well as other serious felonies such as aggravated rape.
Anyone with information about unsolved murders may call the law enforcement agency or the District Attorney’s Office at 898-8008.