33 Year Old Bible Belt Murder Investigations Tied to Missing Indiana Woman
Investigators in Tennessee have tied a missing Indiana woman to their murder investigation 33 years after her disappearance.
New Year’s Day in 1985, a young woman was found dead near Jellico, along Interstate 75, in Campbell County. Police believed the woman had been murdered several days prior to being located along the highway. Campbell County is on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky.In 1985, investigators were unable to identify the young woman until decades later Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) agents saw a post about 21-year old Tina Marie McKenney Farmer’s 1984 disappearance posted on a missing person’s blog. TBI investigators then cross-referenced Farmer’s fingerprints with the unidentified homicide victim and got a match. Her identification was announced on September 6, 2018.
Farmer’s family last saw her on Thanksgiving Day in 1984.
Farmer is believed to be the victim of the still-unsolved “Redhead Murders” committed by an unidentified serial killer also known as the Bible Belt Strangler who operated in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Independent private investigators believe the serial killer is a truck driver based out of Knoxville and that he could still be out there, having moved locations, possibly changing modus operandi, going undetected.
It is presumed the murders began in approximately 1978, continuing through the 1980s until 1992. The victims, many who have never been identified, predominately have reddish hair and thought to be engaged in prostitution or hitchhiking, their bodies dumped along major highways. Farmer had been bound and strangled and was 2-5 months pregnant at the time of her death. She was found fully clothed.
Of the six to eleven victims of the Bible Belt Strangler, only two have ever been identified.
It is believed most of the victims who remain unidentified is due to being estranged from their families due to living “high risk” lifestyles and may not be native to the state their remains were located.
Some were found nude and some partially or fully clothed. There were also some variations in the methods the serial killer used to murder his victims.
Lisa Nichols, 28, was found on September 16, 1984, near an entrance ramp on Interstate 40 near Schererville, Arkansas. Estranged from her family, she had been a resident of West Virginia and often used the last names Lisa Fuller or Jarvis.
Nashville police were familiar with Nichols, who had one of the longest prostitution records in Nashville and Davidson County. It is thought Lisa may have been hitchhiking and abducted after leaving a truck stop.
Lisa had been strangled and left alongside the freeway wearing only a sweater, found by a hitchhiker approximately 20 miles east of West Memphis. Lisa is thought to have been the serial killer’s second victim. Lisa was identified a year later, in 1985, by fingerprints.
The Wetzel County Victim is thought to be the first of the Bible Belt Strangler’s victims, although some law enforcement is skeptical her death is connected.
On February 13, 1983, two senior citizens reported to police that they thought they saw a mannequin lying face down in the snow before discovering it was a human corpse. She was located alongside Route 250 in Wetzel County, near Littleton West Virginia in an area where trash was often illegally dumped. It was determined the body had been dumped in the area fairly recently because the body was void of snow that covered the ground.
It is presumed the victim had died approximately two days prior, however, cause of death has never been determined.
She is one of the oldest victims being between 35-45 years old. She was well-groomed, not consistent with someone being transient. Police suspect, she may have been a sex worker or a member of a West Virginia Hare Krishna commune, known as Vrindaban, in Marshall County.
The Campbell County Victim was found on April 3, 1985. It is believed she had died one to four years prior to being located. She was one of the younger victims, estimated to be between 9 and 15 years old.
She was located by a passerby near a strip mine, approximately 200 yards off Big Wheel Gap Road, in Campbell County, 4 miles southwest of Jellico near Interstate 75.
Thirty-two bones including her skull were recovered, along with scraps of clothing, size 5 hiking boots, and a necklace and bracelet made of plastic clothing buttons.
The Cheatham County Victim was located March 31, 1985, in Cheatham County, in Pleasant View, Tennessee. Her body was found on the side of Interstate 75, between mile markers 29-30.
Believed to be between 31-40, her skeletonized remains were found clothed, along with a hat with a Palm tree graphic. An examination of her teeth indicates some crowding and overlapping of her teeth.
The Knox County Victim was found in a white Admiral refrigerator alongside Route 25 in Knox County near Gray, Kentucky. The refrigerator has a decal of the words “Super Woman” on the front. The victim, who died of suffocation and had been deceased for several days.
She was found nude with the exception of two distinctive necklaces with one heart pendant, the other a gold Eagle and two different socks, one white, the other green, with yellow stripes.
There were reports the victim may have been on a CB radio prior to her death soliciting a ride to North Carolina. Forensic examination indicates she was between 24-35 years old and had previously given birth to a child.