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Thread: Leoma Patterson, 1978, Tennessee

  1. #1

    Leoma Patterson, 1978, Tennessee

    Leoma Patterson
    Missing since October 20, 1978 from Anderson County, Tennessee
    Classification: Missing

    Vital Statistics
    • Date Of Birth: June 11, 1926
    • Age at Time of Disappearance: 52 years old
    • Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. She was a "snuff" user at the time of her disappearance.
    • Dentals: Perfectly straight teeth.

    <HR>Circumstances of Disappearance
    Patterson was reported missing on October 20, 1978 from Anderson County, Tennessee.
    She was last seen at Peggy's Place, a bar that used to be on Clinton Highway. Police reports say she left the bar with two men. Days later, Leoma was reported missing.
    On March 12, 1979, children found skeletal remains on the banks of Norris Lake in Twin Cove.
    Tests at the time concluded that the remains were of Leoma Patterson. The bones were laid-to-rest in September 1985 in Phillips Cemetery in Anderson County, Tennessee. In August 1985, a great-nephew confessed to killing Patterson by hitting her over the head with a tire iron and dumping her body in the same spot where the remains were found. Although there were inconsistencies, the body lay buried for almost 30 years.
    In 2005, Leona’s family hired Dr. William Bass, to exhume the remains to confirm if this was indeed their mother. DNA samples from teeth taken from the grave were compared with DNA from two different daughters of Leoma Patterson, and there was no match.
    In February 2007, DNA tests confirming that bones exhumed from Leoma Patterson's grave aren't hers was ruled faulty. A more complicated form of DNA testing is needed and is planned.


  2. #2


    Oct. 20, 1978

    * Divorcee, 56, last seen at Peggy's Place on Clinton Highway.

    March 12, 1979

    * Skeletal remains found at Twin Cove in Campbell County.

    August 1985

    * Great-nephew, Jimmy Maggard, admits killing her.

    September 1985

    * Family inters bones in Anderson County cemetery.

    August 2005

    * Remains exhumed from Phillips Cemetery.

    April 26, 2006

    * Announcement that investigation is reopened.

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    Paper: Knoxville News-Sentinel, The (TN)
    Title: DNA tests in Patterson case ruled faulty
    Date: February 3, 2007

    A bizarre mystery swirling around a woman who went missing 28 years ago has taken an even stranger turn, Dr. Bill Bass said Friday.DNA tests confirming that bones exhumed from Leoma Patterson's grave aren't hers have been ruled faulty, the famed forensic anthropologist and author said.

    And some say a clay model built upon the now re-exhumed skull bears a strong resemblance to Patterson, Bass said.

    This may be Leoma,Bass said. After all of this, it's possible it could be her.

    The startling developments have reopened a family's wounds and worries over the fate of their long-missing mother.

    I'm telling you, this is a mess,said Pearl Smith of Jamestown, one of Leoma Patterson's seven children. It's mind-boggling and everything else.

    The still-unfolding saga has also divided family members.

    Some insist that authorities were right all along when they said bones discovered in Campbell County months after Patterson vanished in 1978 are hers.

    Three of Patterson's children disagree just as insistently. They say the facial reconstruction doesn't resemble their mother.

    That's not my mother,Smith said. My mother had perfectly straight teeth, and that's not her teeth.

    Patterson, a 52-year-old divorcee, was last seen alive Oct.

    20, 1978, leaving a Clinton Highway bar called Peggy's Place in the company of two men.

    Six months later, children playing next to Norris Lake in Campbell County discovered a small cluster of human bones, the rest scavenged by animals.

    Using techniques available at the time, forensic pathologist Dr. Cleland Blake ruled there was enough ancillary evidence to conclude the bones were Patterson's.

    But family members remained unconvinced for years, and the bones stayed in Blake's morgue in Morristown.

    It was only after a greatnephew confessed to the slaying in 1985 that the bones were interred in the family cemetery in the remote New River area of Anderson County.

    But doubts lingered, and the family hired an attorney and had the grave exhumed in August 2005 and the first DNA test conducted.

    That exam showed that DNA taken from one of the skull's teeth didn't match a daughter's DNA swabbed from her cheek.

    Another daughter's DNA was swabbed and compared to the tooth, and again, there was no matchup, while the sisters samples matched. The cold case was reopened, and authorities were notified. Frustrated by delays, the family obtained a court order for a re-exhumation, which Bass conducted in early December. That's when other questions emerged, Bass said. A new staff member in the University of Tennessee's anthropology department looked at the original DNA tests, he said.

    When she looked at the DNA test that was done by the lab out in Nevada, she said, Hey, this isn't done right,Bass said.

    The problem, he said, is that the Nevada lab normally deals with fresh tissue samples. The older the source for DNA, the more likely it (DNA) can degrade, Bass said.

    People think that DNA is the answer to everything, but it's not,he said.

    A more complicated form of DNA testing is needed and is planned, Bass said. We want to do the thing right.

    The facial reconstruction was done by an expert in that field, Bass said. Some family members say the sculpture closely resembles a picture of Patterson when she was about 25 years old, he said.

    I don't see no resemblance at all,said Patterson's son, Ronnie Patterson of Jamestown. Her nose is smaller, and her teeth are nothing like my mom's.

    Patterson said the family's years-long, costly efforts to dispel their doubts and obtain closure have been stymied by a lack of help from officials.

    Right now, I'd like the authorities to step in and do something,Patterson said.

    If this turns out to be our mother, we'll accept it.
    Last edited by Starless; 06-12-2008 at 07:27 AM.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Leoma Patterson, 1978, Tennessee

    Ok, thanks to Dr. Bill Bass's 2nd book, "Beyond the Body Farm", this case can be marked solved.

    It turns out the 1st DNA exam was inconclusive. It didn't exclude Leoma as the person who was buried.

    A 2nd DNA attempt, by a different lab, also failed. There simply wasn't enough DNA left in the available samples to get a complete profile.

    However, news of the attempt reached David Ray, the original TBI investigator when the body was found. He looked at his case files and found the hair and scalp tissue recovered when the body was found.

    DNA was able to be extracted from them and it was matched to Leoma Patterson's granddaughter. The skeleton was indeed, Leoma Patterson.

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