Unknown criminals are scary, even more so when the perpetrator has a particular type of victim that he looks for. In this case the suspect is believed to be a male serial killer whose preferred victim is females with reddish hair. After killing them he abandons their body along a major highway.
The murders started in October 1978 and seems to have stopped in 1992. The women, several who were unknown for many years, were believed to be hitchhiking or sex workers. The women were from the midwestern states and it’s unknown if there were more than one perpetrator. The number of victims may not be known but currently there are 6 – 11 victims.
The Known and Unknown Victims:
- Lisa Nichols (Jarvis) – 28 years old – Originally from West Virginia, found on I40 near West Memphis, AR. Identified by fingerprints nine months after being strangled. When found Lisa was wearing only a sweater. She was identified by a couple who had let her stay with them in Florida. She had died in September of 1984.
- Possible victim – Linda Schacke – Bound, strangled and dumped along I40 in Tennessee. Linda also had red hair, but she survived and was able to identify her attacker.
- Tina Marie McKenney Farmer – 21/22 years old – January 1985, she was found on an embankment on I75 near Jellico, TN. She was in an advanced state of decomposition when she was found and would not be identified until September 6, 2018. Tina was also murdered by strangulation. Last seen in Indianapolis, IN and had accompanied a trucker to Kentucky.
- Campbell County victim – 4 miles from Jellico, TN, the skeletal remains of a young girl were found on April 3, 1985. She was believed to have been between 9 – 15 years old and had been dead up to four years before she was found. It is unknown how she died, but it is possible she was a victim in the redhead murders. The knot in the cloth found around her neck was similar to that of Linda Schacke’s bindings.
- Cheatham County victim – March 31, 1985, the skeleton of a red-haired woman was found in Pleasant View, TN. She had been dead approximately 3 – 5 months. She may also be linked to the murders as her remains were found on I24. It is believed that she was between the ages of 31 and 40 at the time of her death. Her identity is unknown.
- Espy Regina (Black) Pilgrim – April 1, 1985, a woman was found in a large refrigerator in Gray, KY. She had died from suffocation, and the refrigerator was left alongside Route 25. It was believed she had been hitchhiking to North Carolina using the CB Radio. Her hair was red, and she was petite, less than 5 feet tall, and approximately 24 – 35 years old. She would not be identified until October 1, 2018.
- Wetzel County victim – February 13, 1983, a woman was found alongside Route 250 near Littleton, West Virginia. The body was dumped recently as there was snow on the ground but not on the body. There were tire tracks and footprints to indicate that she had been moved there after death. She had been dead approximately 2 days.
- Elizabeth Lamotte – In April 1985, a young white woman was found in Greeneville, TN. She was killed up to six weeks prior and had died from blunt force trauma and a stab wound. She was between 14 – 20 years old and had miscarried before her death. Her natural hair as light brown to blond but had red highlights so investigators aren’t sure if she’s related to the Redhead murders. She was identified in November 2018.
- Jerry Leon Johns – In 1985, Jerry was a 37-year-old trucker who lived in Tennessee. He was the attacker identified by Linda Schacke. His DNA linked him to the murder of Tina Marie McKenney Farmer as well. Jerry was in jail for is attack on Linda and died in prison in 2015. Had he remained alive he would have been indicted for the murder of Tina Marie as well.
- Jerry however was dismissed in the Redhead murders.
- 32-year-old Pennsylvania trucker. He was questioned after kidnapping and raping a woman in Indiana. He was questioned by the Tennessee police and later dismissed from the investigation as well.
It’s sad when crimes happen and innocent lives are lost, but it’s a tragedy when the victims are still unnamed, and their loved ones have no answers about where they are or who killed them. The case is still open, and if you have information, please contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-824-3463.