TBI Redhead Murders development encourages Elizabethton student sleuths

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The Elizabethton High School sociology teacher whose class project last spring put the so-called “Redhead Murders” back on law enforcement’s radar plans to continue research with students after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently announced a new development in the thirty-year-old case. 

Students raised awareness of the killings of six women, believed to all have red hair, after their teacher, Alex Campbell, assigned them the task of creating a profile of the “Bible Belt Strangler.” The profile detailed 21 specific characteristics of the killer, his crimes and his victims. Campell said that several law enforcement agencies across state lines were dealt the profile. 

“We started to understand that this is a huge case that has been forgotten for over 30, 35 years, and now we have a chance,” said Elizabethtown High School Senior William Bowers when asked Monday about his work on the project. 

When their work began, students said only one of the six victims had been identified.

That changed recently, after TBI confirmed the identity of Tina Farmer, a redheaded woman, initially reported missing from Indiana but found along Interstate 75 in Campbell County in January of 1985.

A spokesperson for TBI said in a statement that while the student’s project didn’t play a role in law enforcement discovering a connection between a missing persons blog post and the description of the woman found decades ago, she said they do deserve credit for bringing attention back to the cold case. 

Elizabethtown High School Senior Kayla Vandeventer said it’s still a huge accomplishment for her and her classmates: “We worked so hard on this and we finally got to give one of these women a name.” 

Campbell said Monday that the many similarities between his class’s profile and the new revelations have encouraged him to keep digging with future classes. Campbell said their seemingly accurate prediction on the killer’s potential occupation was most exciting, “The last tip that they had on her missing persons was that she was with a trucker. The students actually said this person works in the trucking industry.” 

Students believe that this man is still alive and predict he’s living in the Greater Knoxville area. 

TBI’s “Redhead Murders” investigation is still ongoing. They ask that anyone with information on Farmer, specifically who she may have been with before her death, call 1-800-TBI-FIND. 

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