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Case of murdered Hawkins teacher featured on national TV show

Jeff Bobo • Jul 23, 2018 at 9:21 AM

MOORESBURG — Bessie Mae Livesay wasn’t very enthusiastic about being interviewed for a TV program about the 2015 murder of her niece, Margaret Jack Sliger, but she felt it’s a story that needs to be told.

Livesay was afraid she might cry in front of the cameras, and she did, but not until she described the night she and her husband, Dale, found her 79-year-old relative murdered outside Sliger’s farmhouse in the Mooresburg community in far western Hawkins County

“We didn’t want to (be interviewed on TV), but no one else in her family wanted to either,” said Livesay, who lives in Bean Station. “I felt like someone from the family needed to be in it. I was nervous. I didn’t like being interviewed. But, other than breaking down and crying, I think I did OK. I kept it together for the most part, until we got to the night that we found her, which is an experience no one could forget.”

When and where will the show be aired?

The May 18, 2015 murder of Sliger, and the subsequent investigation that led to the conviction of her 14-year-old neighbor Kyle Robert Wolfe, will be the subject of a July 31 episode of “Murder Comes to Town” on the Investigation Discovery network.

The episode titled “The Sinner and the Saint” will begin at 9 p.m.

“They told me it won’t be anything graphic, and I hope that it won’t,” Livesay said. “It will just show people talking abut Margaret Jack being a good person, that she done for people, and I think it was a good idea that they made this movie. I just dread to see myself and my husband. I really believe she would have done it for me. That’s why I did it for her.”

Producer read the story in the Times News

“Murder Comes to Town” producer Jasmine Fox said she learned about the Sliger case from reading an article in the Times News in which Livesay gave an account of discovering her niece’s body.

“After speaking with Bessie Mae and Dale Livesay, we realized how much this crime impacted Hawkins County,” Fox said. “The most striking aspect of this case was Margaret Jack herself. Everyone we spoke to had a touching story about Margaret Jack and her impact on the community. From her years as a teacher to her service at the Mooresburg United Methodist Church, she was a truly inspirational figure.”

The program is produced by Knoxville-based Lucid Media and relies on firsthand accounts from people who lived through a horrible crime that affected their community in a profound way.

“Cinematic re-enactments draw our audience in to this world, and real archives remind them that these events actually did happen to real people,” Fox said. “Any homicide is disturbing, but this one hit close to home since it happed just north of our Knoxville-based production company.”

The story of the murder

On May 18, 2015, Sliger was shot and stabbed by Wolfe outside her home on Isenberg Lane in Mooresburg.

He then attempted to hide her body in some bushes in the yard.

Her body was discovered by the Livesays shortly before 11 p.m. that night, approximately 10 hours after the murder was committed.

Wolfe became a suspect after investigators learned that Sliger had confronted him for riding his four-wheeler in her cow pasture shortly before the slaying.

The official cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the head, although witnesses told the Times News that her throat had been slit as well.

A 14-year-old boy is arrested

Wolfe was linked to the murder by DNA evidence discovered on Sliger’s clothing. The investigation was lengthy, but he was arrested by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 3, 2015 and charged with first-degree murder as a juvenile.

A judge ruled that Wolfe should be tried as an adult, and in February of 2017 when he was 15 years old, Wolfe pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a 25 year sentence.

Sliger beloved by family, friends and community 

Livesay said she is glad this story is being told because she wants people to know what kind of person her niece was.

Sliger was actually seven years older than Livesay, and they grew up more like sisters.

“She was a good and generous person, and so many people loved Margaret Jack,” Livesay said. “Even though she was a retired school teacher, she never showed it. She could be just as comfortable with a person with a fourth-grade education as she could with a person with a master’s degree. She loved people and she was a giver. She lived on that farm and had milk and butter that she just gave away. Eggs, she never charged anyone. And if she knew someone who needed held, she would help them.”

Arthritis was causing Sliger a lot of pain, and the autopsy revealed she was in the later stages of cancer.

Livesay said her niece really couldn’t defend herself.

“It was like hurting a child,” Livesay added.

“He didn’t like her because she wouldn’t let him ride his four-wheeler on her farm,” Livesay said. “I do know he’d been trying to borrow $200. He wanted to get a tracker for his coon dog. I don’t know if he asked her for the $200 that morning. We’ll never know if he did or not. But he just lost his temper with her big time. You can’t imagine a 14-year-old doing something like that.”

She added, “I’m sorry for that boy’s family. I’m sorry for what they’ve had to go through. But I’m also sorry that I lost my niece. She and I were just like sisters.”

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