Published: September 28, 2008
Survivors of a murdered loved one never attain closure but hope the killer will be brought to justice, a sheriff’s detective said.
That’s why sheriff’s Detective Lt. Bill Sharp and Detective Sgt. Dan Goodwin of the Cold Case Unit and Detectives Randy Groce and Ralph Mayercik are investigating 11 unsolved murders.
“It’s just an open wound for the family and society,” Goodwin said.
Two of the most publicized unsolved murders were:
1. Building contractor Dave Robertson, 57, of Bradyville Pike, who was shot and killed in April 2004 in his driveway.
2. China Videon, 16, a Riverdale High School student who disappeared in Oct. 19, 1999, after visiting with her mother at a beauty shop. Her body has not been found.
Robertson’s sister Faye Jordan and her husband, Robert, found him lying on the ground between their two houses. More than four years later, she daily wonders what happened.
“It’s just kind of like you look over your shoulder wanting to know who did it,” Jordan said last week. “It’s just still like a nightmare. We want to know who it was and why they did it.”
Robertson’s widow, Lura, and family members and friends posted a $60,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the murderer. They distributed hundreds of posters and advertise in newspapers for information.
Groce said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Jason Wilkerson followed more than 100 leads — some out-of-state — that turned to nothing. They received some information last week that might be related to the case.
“We’ve eliminated a lot of folks,” Groce said.
The calls slowed during the past four years but keep trickling in. People who have information may call Groce at 904-3049.
Jordan knows Groce and Wilkerson investigate every lead. At one time, she thought she would be satisfied just knowing who killed her brother. Now she wants to know why.
“We keep praying,” Jordan said. “We believe it will be solved. It’s going to take somebody telling somebody else.”
Mother Suzanne Videon shares Jordan’s sense of waiting and not knowing who killed her daughter.
Videon knows in her heart her daughter is dead but doesn’t know where her body is located. She wonders how her daughter died and who is responsible.
“I don’t understand people — how their minds work — how they could hurt someone,” Videon said.
She hopes justice will be served with the Cold Case Unit investigating the case.
The case file compiled by detectives who previously investigated Videon’s disappearance was sent to the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven in Connecticut.
Sharp and Goodwin said the review generated new leads they’re investigating right now. The reviewers gave them new directions to use as another tool in the investigation.
People who talked to China Videon in the last few days before she disappeared are asked to call Sharp at 904-3015 or Goodwin at 904-3034.
When the Cold Case detectives reopen a case, they contact the family and try to keep them informed about the investigation.
“No promises are given,” Goodwin said.
They spent an enormous amount of time interviewing witnesses and following leads, sometimes traveling out of state.
Sharp and Goodwin hope they will make one to two arrests each year.
They hope adding a Cold Case page to the sheriff’s Web site will gain some leads.
Other unsolved murder cases from latest to earliest include:
3. James Richmond was shot and killed in 2006 at his home on U.S. 231 South. Detectives have followed several leads.
4. Rhonda Bailey of Nashville was found lying in water in 1994 beside state Route 99 (New Salem Highway) near Rockvale. Cause of death was listed as a drowning.
5. Construction worker Marvin Argue was found shot and killed with a shotgun in 1993 when Kittrell Elementary School was under construction. He was a native of Ireland.
6. James McCullough, who retired from the military, was killed in 1987. His body was found off Almaville Road. Evidence of trauma was discovered at Nice Mill Dam.
7. Marjorie Ewing’s skull was found in 1981 near the Stones River National Battlefield.
8. Christiana Postmaster Fred Wiggs suffered a fatal beating in 1980.
9. George Reffner was shot and his body found in 1980 beside Interstate 24 near La Vergne.
10. Stanley Smith was fatally shot in 1977 on Van Cleve Lane near the battlefield.
11. Eugene Ewing suffered fatal stab wounds in 1977 off Halls Hill Pike.
People who have information about any of these cases are asked to call Sharp or Goodwin at the above listed numbers.
Lisa Marchesoni may be reached at 869-0814 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.