There’s something bone-chillingly interesting about a good murder mystery, which is why shows like CSI and Criminal Minds flood television network every night of the week. Tennessee has its own rough past, drenched in murderous stories that will keep you locking your doors.

15) Tony von Carruthers: In February of 1994, Tony shot his mother, her teenage associate, and his drug dealer in the Memphis area. He then took them to Rose Hill Cemetery and proceeded to bury them all alive. He now sits on death row but continues to maintain his story that he was “framed.”

14) Jim David Adkissen: One of the most notorious shootings in the state took place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. Adkissen later admitted to targeting democrats when he opened fire on the church congregation in July 2008, leaving two killed and six injured. He is now serving life in prison at the Northwest Correctional Complex prison.

13) Andre S. Bland: October of 1992 found Bland in his apartment complex parking lot with a gun, and the evening ended with the death of Ontrain Sanders. The shooting took place in Shelby County and he confessed to the crime the next day.

12) Thomas Dee Huskey, AKA, “Zoo Man”: A convicted rapist and believed serial killer, Huskey murdered his victims – all Knoxville prostitutes – by strangulation. He garnered his nickname from the local women of the night, because he liked to have sex near the Knoxville Zoo. This may be due to his former job as an elephant trainer. Huskey was sentenced to 66 years in prison for rape, but was not convicted of the murders due to a supposed mistrial in 1999.

11) Laron Ronald Williams: After escaping from the Memphis Correctional Center in April 1981, Williams shot and killed a Memphis police officer and Roman Catholic priest. He was caught in May and sentenced to twin life sentences.

10) Byron Looper, AKA, “Low Tax:” A former Tennessee politician , Looper changed his name to, “Low Tax” hoping to push his career forward. However, when the active Ku Klux Klan member shot state senator Tommy Burks to death in October 1998, he lost all chances at winning office. Looper was sentenced to life in prison, and died in 2013.


9) Lester Street Mass Murders: In Memphis, 2008 Jessie Dotson was charged with six counts of murder. He used both a shotgun and knife to kill family members and visiting friends. Dotson had already spent fourteen years in prison, and committed these crimes shortly after his release.

8) Jerry Ray Davidson: Forty-three year old Virginia Jackson was found naked and mutilated in Dickson County in 1995. Her body was so dismembered that the coroner was unable to determine the specific cause of death. Davidson has since been sentenced to death for the crime.

7) Sedley Alley: On July 11, 1985 Alley kidnapped nineteen-year-old Suzanne Collins and beat her to death with a screwdriver the night before her graduation from the Millington Naval Base. Although Alley attempted to convince the jury that he suffered from a multiple personality disorder, he was executed by lethal injection in 2006 – only the second time this method of execution was used in the state since 1960.

6) Hubert Glenn Sexton: Sentenced to death after the murders of Stanley and Terry Sue Goodman in Scott County, Sexton admitted to sexually abusing the two and leaving their bodies to be found by their young teenage daughter. She discovered them in their bed after they were shot to death. On June 30, 2001, Sexton was sentenced to death and awaits execution on death row.

5) William Eugene Hall: Stewart County was the location for the murders of Myrtle and Buford Vester. Hall broke into their home with Derrick Quintero, both of whom had recently escaped from a Kentucky prison, and killed the couple in their sleep. Their bodies were found two days later by a neighbor.

4) Leonard J. Young: The murders of William Bramlett and young coed Hillary Johnson were committed by Young who was stalking a former girlfriend. Young carried a sawed off shotgun and knife on his person, and exhibited intensive overkill with each of his victims. Many believe he was deeply psychologically disturbed. He is currently serving his sentence on death row.

3) Richard L. Odom: While already on the run, Odom raped and murdered 77-year-old Mina Johnson as he fled Mississippi. The body was found in the backseat of the victim’s car, and showed signs of severe sexual trauma with multiple stab wounds. Odom was convicted and sentenced to life in prison as a result of his fingerprints being recovered from the scene.

2) Billy Ray Irick: Seven-year-old Paula Kay Dyer was found raped and murdered in Knoxville, with all the evidence pointing towards Irick, who was a friend of her parents. Irick was supposed to be babysitting the girl, but she was found asphyxiated in her living room. Irick was discovered hiding beneath a bridge and confessed to killing Dyer. He pleaded severe mental illness but was ultimately sentenced to death.

1) Garland Milam, AKA, “Soul Sucker”: Not much is known about the Milam save that he was homeless and lived in the woods. He confessed to the police that he strangled two or three other homeless men. Milam told the police that he, “got addicted to sucking the souls out of people.” He plead guilty and is serving two life sentences.


These are some pretty wicked stories, you simply can’t make them up. They’re eerie. And sad. And a reminder that there is a darkness out there that you want to keep far, far away. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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