Knox County, TN (KMSS) — In a Knox County case from 1987, a woman believed to be in her 20s was picked up by some truckers at the truck stop on I-81 in Bulls Gap, TN. She was then taken to a party at a home on Stanley Road where she was shot and killed later that night. While the people behind her death did go to court, the victim herself has never been identified. The woman had a few unique traits, including the initials "BH" tattooed on her upper left arm, a scar on her abdomen that could have been from a c-section or a hysterectomy. She also had several healed fractures that could be consistent with a car accident and she had a metal plate in one of her legs from the injuries.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office recently had help from the Smithsonian, one of 3 labs in the United States that is able to perform this type of testing to narrow a possible region where the unidentified woman could have lived as a child. The Smithsonian Institution Lab is called the OUSS/MCI
Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Lab and is located in Suitland, Maryland.
The testing was done on a tooth sample and analyzed for stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen values in dentin and enamel which represent isotope values incorporated during adolescence. Teeth of the unidentified white female were taken and broken down to study the hydrogen and oxygen in the enamel. The enamel on teeth develops until approximately the age of ten. By studying the hydrogen and oxygen in the enamel, experts can pinpoint the region where a person grew up. It is based off the plants that we eat, the water that we drink, rainwater, and the dust that we breathe. The hope is that the public will see the age regression photos showing what the victims probably looked like as a child in the region provided by the testing.
The tests that the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. conducted on the unidentified woman show that she may have spent significant time in the central-southeastern United States. The data indicates a broad region where the woman may have spent a lot of time. Scientists believe the woman may have been from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, or Florida.
If anyone has any information regarding the unidentified white female, please contact Detective Amy Dobbs with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit @ 865-215-3705.