Student researchers release profile of ‘Bible Belt Strangler’
Project hopes to heat up cold case with West Memphis ties
ECS Public Relations A high school sociology class in Elizabethton, Tennessee, has released a profile for the “Bible Belt Strangler” a serial killer believed to be responsible for the “Redhead Murders” of the 1980s. In partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies, the class is calling on the public for tips related to the murders. Their goal is to help identify the five remaining victims and the killer.
After a semester of research and work with professional profilers and law enforcement, students were confident about their eightpage, 21-characteristic profile. Additionally, they developed a timeline leading up to the murders, and gave the killer a name – the Bible Belt Strangler. Their work was aired on the Out of the Shadows Podcast by producer Shane Waters, who has been independently investigating the mur- ders with the same goal.
“These cases are difficult because five of the six victims are unknown,” said Waters. “They have no families speaking out for them, so being a part of this effort with the class and law enforcement – it’s kind of like we are able to take it on our shoulders and be their family. We’re all very passionate about this so hopefully people will hear this and become passionate and start talking about it.”
At the press conference Tuesday, the teacher Mr.
Alex Campbell gave a summary of the profile and described the killer’s signature and modus apparatus. They determined the killer was a white male, born between 1962 and 1936, between 5’9” and 6’2”, weighing between 180-270. They believe he was a commercial truck driver frequently commuting near the Knoxville, Tennessee, region on Interstate 40. Campbell concluded his summary stating, “Bible Belt Strangler, we know you are out there. We know someone saw something, and after today, everyone knows we are looking for you. We are our sisters’ keepers; we are their family.”
Though law enforcement never confirmed the murders were related, many people believe that the killer’s MO and signature indicate a definitive correlation. Victims were female, between 17 and 45, red headed, weighed under 145 pounds, and were left along major highways in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Arkansas.
Only one of six has been identified. In 1984, the body of a woman later identified as 28-year-old Lisa Nichols, was found on the side of Interstate 40 in West Memphis. Additionally, one North Carolina woman, Elizabeth, believes she is the daughter of the Knox County, Kentucky, victim.
Elizabeth provided a letter read by a student which explained her family background and why it is so important to identify these victims. “Honestly, I never gave up hope, but I didn’t think I would live to see this day, or to even be a part of this unraveling story,” she wrote. She closed the letter with words for her mother. “…All my life I hoped to find you alive and well. To greet you one day with open arms and wrap you in a tight embrace. To tell you that even in not knowing you, I have loved you.”
Students said the press conference was a powerful conclusion to a semester of hard work. Mason Peterson, a student who spoke at the event, said their ultimate goal is to identify victims and to find the killer.
He thanked the media and law enforcement partners that have been supportive of this initiative and said they are one step closer to accomplishing their goal.
Anyone with information related to these six murders should contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
TBI will coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies. Elizabethton City Schools, the 23 sociology students, and Mr.
Campbell thank all media and law enforcement that have played an integral role in publicizing this story and standing behind the victims
and their families.
From Bekah Price