GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- It’s been 33 years since two Greene County detectives were called to the scene of a body found along Interstate 81 near exit 44.
Even though it’s been decades both men, now retired, remembered April 14, 1985 pretty clearly.
As reported previously, a break in the decades-old murder case came Wednesday evening when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation made a positive identification on a Jane Doe from 1985. The young woman found near exit 44 was Elizabeth Lamotte, 17, of Manchester, NH.
But William Carter and Hoot Bowers only knew that teen as “Jane Doe” since the day they were first called to investigate the discovery of her body.
Carter said he still remembers getting the call.
“The body was badly decomposed…there was no identification, we didn’t know who she was, how she got there, where she came from, not anything,” Carter said.
Carter was a detective at the time, and explained what it was like being on a scene like that more than 30 years ago.
“We are trained not to disturb anything, and we just back off and observe, take notes, and that body there what was going through our minds is how long she had been there, the condition of the body, and the surrounding area…when I got home I had to get rid of my shoes, and had to get my clothes off and air them out, it was a, it was a bad scene,” Carter said.
A photo on microfilm at the T. Elmer Cox History Library in Greeneville shows William Carter, Hoot Bowers, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Bob Denny at the scene on April 14, 1985.
Bowers, now a Greene County commissioner, said Thursday the investigation was limited back then.
“Once we looked it over, the only choice we had was to recover the body and try to determine the cause of death, because like I said our investigative techniques were not as great back then as they are now,” Bowers said.
It would be more than 30 years after Bowers and Carter worked that very scene that Lamotte was reported missing in 2017, and her family submitted DNA samples.
Those samples would prove to be a perfect match to the Jane Doe in Greene County, now known as Elizabeth Lamotte of Manchester, New Hampshire.
“I think that some family was deprived of 33 years of life with that young lady…and I would hate to personally go through that,” Bowers said in reaction to news that Lamotte was identified.
TBI Special Agent Brandon Elkins said having an identity is a critical part of finding out who killed her.
“…to look at maybe what was going on in her life at the time, who she may have been around, understanding a victim can help us understand the killer, it can help us understand the crime itself, it’s a huge step,” Elkins said.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help solving the decades-old case. Anyone with information is asked to contact TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.