Shooting death of Rogersville car dealer remains unsolved

Jeff Bobo • Apr 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — It’s been two years since well-known Rogersville businessman Larry Vickers was found shot to death at a car wash he owned in Rogersville, and investigators admit that the case has definitely gone cold.

That’s not to say the Rogersville Police Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are ready to throw in the towel.

But RPD Detective Jim Shanks said Tuesday unless some new information comes forward, the Vickers shooting will remain unsolved.

“The information isn’t flowing anymore, and we haven’t gotten anything new on this in about six months,” Shanks said. “I think it’s safe to say it’s cold. We’ve never had a suspect. I can’t tell you how many man-hours have been spent on this case, but myself alone have filled up four big ring binders full of information.

“It’s frustrating to know that the solution must be out there somewhere and we just haven’t come across it yet.”

Vickers, 49, was discovered deceased around 8:40 a.m. on March 31, 2006, locked in his Dodge Ram pickup with one gunshot wound to the torso area.

He’d apparently been at the car wash the night before repairing a broken light and possibly checking a malfunction in the cash box at the entrance to the car wash.

An upward trajectory of the bullet path, as well as droplets of blood found inside the car wash bay, led investigators to theorize that Vickers may have been standing on a ladder and was shot by someone standing on the ground.

A semiautomatic pistol was found in the Hawkins County Schools bus garage property adjacent to the car wash, where it had apparently been tossed over a security fence. One spent shell was jammed in the pistol, and a live round was stuck in the gun.

The pistol had no serial number and wasn’t known to belong to Vickers.

The pistol’s magazine was found inside the car wash bay dropped in a drainage grate.

Vickers’ clothing was wet when police discovered him deceased inside the pickup.

Several witnesses told police they’d spoken to Vickers on his cell phone around 11 p.m. the night before he was discovered dead. The cell phone was never recovered.

A receipt from the cash box found in Vickers’ possession had 10:54 p.m. printed on it.

The autopsy didn’t tell investigators much that they didn’t already know, and didn’t even tell investigators conclusively whether Vickers’ death is a murder or a suicide.

Rogersville is a small town, and as one might imagine there have been many theories regarding Vickers’ death discussed anywhere people meet to gossip.

Vickers is best known for owning a successful auto dealership and as a drag racing enthusiast who owned or sponsored race teams.

Gossip mongers have generated various ideas for murder motives.

Although he won’t discuss specifics publicly, Shanks said he and fellow investigators have heard and investigated all the rumors.

“The things you hear as gossip are probably parallel to some of the potential motives and solutions that we’ve investigated, and thus far they’ve all led to a dead end,” Shanks said. “We’ve done numerous interviews and contacted a lot of people — a lot of agencies have been involved within our state and other states. We’ve got a lot of information, but we haven’t gotten that one key piece that we’ve been looking for.”

Anyone with information useful to the investigation is asked to contact Shanks at 272-7555.

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