FBI works with Elizabethton students to identify Bible Belt Strangler


For nearly a year, students at Elizabethton High School have been trying to solve the murders of the Bible Belt Strangler.

The case involves the murders of six different red headed women from four different states: Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

One of the bodies was found in Greene County, Tenn. Having a murder so close to home motivated the students to dig into the case.

"For most students, when they think about serial killers they think big cities. But when they they realized there was one within 30 minutes from here, they became so passionate about the project," said Alex Campbell, the students' teacher.

After all their hard work, the class was invited to the Knoxville FBI bureau to present their findings to special agents.

"This truly is an incredible experience . You don't get a chance to meet with the FBI everyday, and I will probably remember this for the rest of my life," said William Bowers, a senior in the class.

Bowers says the project was a great way to learn, while also having fun.

"The biggest thing I learned was empathy," said Bowers. "Most of these woman were prostitutes and all didn't have family to go home to."

The FBI agent in charge at the Knoxville bureau is Troy Sowers. He says in his 21 plus years as an agent, he's never had the opportunity to collaborate with students like this.

"I love the fact that at such an early age they're getting exposure to law enforcement. I hope we encourage them to look at law enforcement as a career as they move through high school and through college," said agent Sowers.

Since the students started looking into the unsolved cases, two new victims of the Bible Belt Strangler have been identified.

The case has gone from cold-- to active.

"We think the suspect is a Caucasian white male who lives somewhere in Knoxville and who is truck driver," said Bowers.

Agent Sowers says the FBI is now following new leads and is getting ready to conduct new interviews, to hopefully find the answers to these unsolved crimes.

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