WJHL.com - Most Wanted: Randy Fortner wanted for murder 26 years after brot

Most Wanted: Randy Fortner wanted for murder 26 years after brother's killing

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This is one of the last known photographs of Randy Fortner.  He's accused of killing his brother Gary in 1987. This is one of the last known photographs of Randy Fortner. He's accused of killing his brother Gary in 1987.
Rescue squad members peer over the railing of the Butler Bridge in the moments after Randy Fortner's car was found parked in the middle of the road. Rescue squad members peer over the railing of the Butler Bridge in the moments after Randy Fortner's car was found parked in the middle of the road.
ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL) -

On the night of May 27, 1987, Randy Fortner drove his car to the middle of the Butler Bridge.

He put the car into park.

Inside, he left blood-covered shoes and the shotgun he'd used only moments earlier to murder his brother.

Then, Randy Fortner vanished.

Photographs of that night show rescue squad members standing beside the car, peering over the side of the bridge into the inky black waters of the Watauga Lake in Carter County, Tennessee.   They, like everyone else, assumed that Randy Fortner had jumped.

At that moment, a witness was telling Sheriff's deputies that he heard an explosion of gunfire from the home of his neighbor Gary Fortner.   Looking outside, the witness said he saw Randy Fortner leaving this home of his 22-year-old brother carrying something in his arms.

That neighbor found Gary's shirtless body stretched out in the floor of his home, his chest ruptured by shotgun wounds.

Deputy Rocky Croy was one of the first officers to inspect the crime scene.   

Almost 26 years later, Captain Rocky Croy is still baffled by the events of that night, the two distinct crime scenes, and the lack of answers about what happened.

"They searched and searched in that lake," Croy said.  "But they never found Randy's body."

Did Randy Fortner die that night, the same night he killed his brother?

"My personal opinion is no," said Croy.   "I don't think he did.

What happened to Randy Fortner?  Why would he kill his brother?   And was it Randy on the other end of the line when a silent person placed a phone call every Christmas Day during the Fortner family gathering for several years after the crime?

Almost 26 years later, Capt. Croy hasn't given up on getting answers.

"I believe someone knows what happened, and now is the time to come forward with that information." said Croy.

If you have information about this case, call the Carter County Sheriff's Office at 423-542-1845.

Copyright 2013 WJHL.  All rights reserved.

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