Cumberland County, Tennessee Homicide Victim Identified Nearly Four Decades After His Killer was Convicted

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, TN – A man whose skeletal remains were found in 1983 in Cumberland County has been identified as a result of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative.

On August 26, 1983, skeletal remains were discovered in a wooded area approximately 25 feet from Sycamore Lane in Crossville. A forensic pathologist determined that the remains were those of a black male, likely between the ages of 20 and 25. The victim had been stabbed multiple times, and his death was ruled a homicide. Despite not knowing the identity of the victim, TBI and Cumberland County Sheriff's Office developed a suspect in the case. In May 1984, as a result of the investigation, the individual was charged and later pled guilty to Second Degree Murder in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence.

Attempts to identify the Cumberland County John Doe continued, and in 2007, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center submitted a sample of his remains to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI). A DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes that the man would eventually be identified.  However, no matches ever came.

In December, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents submitted a sample of the man’s remains to Othram Laboratories in Texas for forensic genetic genealogical (FGG) DNA testing. Scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the man. A TBI intelligence analyst used that information to locate potential family members in Michigan. Agents made contact with one of those individuals and confirmed he had a brother who he had not heard from in four decades. Agents were able to obtain a familial DNA standard, which was submitted to Othram Inc. for comparison against the DNA of the unidentified man. As a result, Othram Inc. positively identified the man as Kenneth Levall Thompson (DOB: 11/04/1965) of Detroit, Michigan. Investigators hope this development will provide long-awaited answers to Kenneth’s family, who last had contact with him around 1982 or 1983.  

The only photo of Kenneth that surviving family members could find was taken when he was a child. If you knew Kenneth Thompson during his life and have access to a photograph of him taken in late 1970 or early 1980, please contact TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

You can read more about TBI’s Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative by clicking here.


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