Kingsport Times News Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Local News

UPDATE: Police say three unsolved murders may be connected

March 4th, 2013 2:45 pm by Rain Smith

Updated at 11:10 p.m.


Police suspect the same individual is responsible for a pair of unsolved Kingsport murders occurring in 2010 and 2011, while DNA evidence from a 1997 homicide has been resubmitted for testing and may also be connected.


For the past year detectives at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and Kingsport Police Department have been working together on the two most recent cases, which occurred within 11 months time.


On Nov. 29, 2010, Gary Lavon Jones, 53, was found in a pool of blood on the floor of his Lone Oak Drive mobile home. He was stabbed multiple times, and SCSO Detective Matt Price said the suspect was a friend.


On Oct. 16, 2011, Betty Sue Short, 65, was discovered bludgeoned to death in her Barnett Drive apartment. Police previously stated that the blows appeared to have occurred as she sat on her living room couch.


KPD Detective Randy Murray says Short was an acquaintance of the same man suspected in the Sullivan County homicide investigation the previous year. There was no forced entry at the residence of either victim. Both law enforcement agencies are still awaiting the results of multiple lab testing requests.


“People are coming forward and really helping,” said Murray. “We’re able to verify some comments they’re making and linking it to the truth in each case.”


No charges have been filed, and detectives hope someone will come forward with a vital piece of the puzzle that can solidify their cases. Police declined to publicly identify their suspect, but stated he still resides in the region.


Price said individuals with information needed by police likely aren’t coming forward due to fear of the suspect. But the longer he runs free, Price said, the greater the potential that he harms someone else.


Jones’ body was discovered by concerned family members, who had not seen him in about two days. SCSO detectives report that bloodstains on the floors and walls of both the living room and bedroom indicate a struggle occurred.


Sheriff’s office investigators were unable to confirm anything had been stolen, but they suspect prescription narcotics may have been taken from the residence.


Police have characterized the October 2011 murder of Short as “extremely brutal.” The senior citizen had numerous health issues, according to Murray, and could easily have been overpowered without the use of such force. A toolbox containing two handguns and two collector knives is believed to have been stolen from Short’s residence.


SCSO Lt. Bobby Russell says an unsolved, 15-year-old murder may also be connected, with DNA evidence from that case resubmitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for testing.


In September 1997, James Hutson, 17, was found with stab wounds “all over his body.” His mother was also raped in the incident, which occurred at their home on Rock Springs Road.


Russell says the suspect in the two recent homicides had connections with the Hutson family, while the brutality of the murder shared similarities.


Anyone with information on the cases is asked to contact the KPD at (423) 229-9429 or SCSO at (423)279-7506. Tips can also be submitted electronically by visiting http://www.scsotn.com/ and clicking the tip submit icon.


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Police are seeking information from the public in a pair of unsolved Kingsport murders, saying the same man is suspected of killing both victims inside their homes.


For the past year detectives at the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office and Kingsport Police Department have been working together on the homicides, which occurred within 11 months time.


On Nov. 29 of 2010 Gary Lavon Jones, 53, was found lying in a pool of blood on the floor of his Lone Oak Drive mobile home. He was stabbed multiple times, with SCSO Det. Matt Price saying the suspect was a friend.


On Oct. 16 of 2011 Betty Sue Short, 65, was discovered bludgeoned to death in her Barnett Drive apartment. Police previously stated that the blows appeared to have occurred as she sat on her living room couch.


KPD Det. Randy Murray says Short was an acquaintance of the same man suspected in Jones' homicide. There was no forced entry at the residence of either victim, with both agencies still awaiting the results of multiple requests for lab testing of evidence.


"People are coming forward and really helping," said Murray. "We're able to verify some comments they're making and linking it to the truth in each case."


No charges have been filed, with detectives hoping someone will come forward with a vital piece of the puzzle that can solidify their cases. Police declined to publicly identify their suspect, but stated he still resides in the region.


Price said individuals with information needed by police likely aren't coming forward due to fear of the suspect. But the longer he is free, according to Price, the greater the potential that he harms someone else.


Jones’ body was discovered by concerned family members, who had not seen him in approximately two days. SCSO detectives report that bloodstains on the floors and walls of both the living room and bedroom indicate a struggle occurred.


Sheriff's Office investigators were unable to confirm anything had been stolen from Jones' residence, but suspect prescription narcotics may have been taken.


Police have characterized the October 2011 murder of Short as "extremely brutal." The senior citizen had numerous health issues, according to Murray, and could easily have been overpowered without the use of such force. A toolbox containing two handguns and two collector knives is believed to have been stolen from her home.


Anyone with information on the cases is asked to contact the KPD at (423) 229-9429 or SCSO at (423)279-7506. Tips can also be submitted electronically by visiting http://www.scsotn.com/ and clicking the tip submit icon.

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