The call came in at 10:00 a.m. to Sullivan County Police Station that shattered our small town. My first cousin John Scanlon the police chief related after our Sunday dinner that a horrific homicide had taken place on Reedy Creek in a scenic view of the woods in Preston Forest. A father and son had been out for a hike when the boy noticed a couple of large trash bags in the sandy terrain along the creek bank. The son ran ahead as the father swiftly followed, nature lovers ; at first they were concerned that trash was contaminating the creek. Taking rubber disposable gloves from the backpack, the father opened a bag to see a grisly sight. The stench of death was undeniable and a hand, torso, foot were visible from the open bag. A large amount of blood was collected and pooled in the creases of the trash bag.
The father waited for the police chief and a deputy to arrive on the scene. The son was picked up by his mother and transported home a ten minute drive away, the twelve year old threw up on the scene. Shaking violently, he was available for questioning if needed. Deputy Russell Rodefer retrieved the three bags of evidence to transport to East Tennessee School of Medicine. The community was stunned, our grandparents had never locked their doors on their fifty acre farm. Tonight would be the exception to routine, all doors would be locked. I would be sleeping downstairs close to the front porch. The long night through I listened to the mantle clock chime the hours passing. Hopefully, this week would bring to light answers to this horror.
On Monday morning a disheveled woman of about fifty, holding on to the arm of her daughter entered the police station trembling as she was assisted to a waiting area. The secretary, Emily Hilton offered the women coffee as she explained the police chief was expected in by 9:00 a.m. Dental records identified the victim as Roger Myers, and the police chief had grown up in this community with this young man. The women have come to fill out a missing person's report. With the official identification on the police chief's desk, he invites the women into his office. John Scanlon used to go hunting squirrels and fishing for carp up in the higher elevation of Preston Forest when they were young boys. When Roger was sixteen, his father was hit by a drunk driver. Soon after Roger began drowning his sorrow in alcohol and hanging out with drug users. His mother was in denial and enabled his drinking lifestyle. His sister, Jenny held the family together and was here to support her mother.
John Scanlon reviewed the official report of the autopsy. The mother filled him in on the bizarre circumstances. On Friday night, approximately at 1:00 a.m. , Virginia Myers received a phone call from her son. " Mom, Help me! " " They are killing me." Background noise made it difficult to talk, and she told him she loved him and to come home. Rock music blared for what seemed an eternity, then an unfamiliar voice came on the party line. "Hey, man! " " Who is this? " His mother says to the unknown man she is speaking to her son. The phone goes dead. She and her daughter are left to grieve until they could come in on this early Monday morning.
With this information, the police chief and two deputies began making visits to the area of Boozy Creek looking for possible suspects. Up on Boozy Creek that runs adjacent to Reedy Creek there is a motorcycle gang called the " Peacemakers ." They are obnoxious, rowdy, and deadly. They have been known to beat up folks and leave them for dead. I have witnessed a gang member traveling from their cabin clubhouse past my grandparents farm with a friend with benefits riding with him. I am about eleven years old sitting on a picnic table in my grandparents yard. Past the barn, down Boozy Creek, I see the young woman yank his helmet off his head. He abruptly brakes the motorcycle, as she throws the helmet into the pasture field of my grandparents property. I walk around to the front porch of the white framed farmhouse. My parents are sitting on the porch as this young woman walks up to speak to us. The motorcycle blasts on down the country road. The young woman asks for a ride back to Ralph's bar and grill where she was picked up on Friday night. After a long holiday weekend she is ready to go wherever home is, she asks for a ride. My parents take her back to the bar and I stay at my grandparents.
Nowadays, someone might engage in idle chit-chat or gossip about the good old days. Not all the days were good. No one was willing to come up against the " Peacemakers. " At times in hush hush tones you would hear talk of someone being shortchanged in a restaurant when the gang would come in rowdy and drunk. They would eat and drink, get up and walk out, and pay nothing for their meals. Their were stories of young women and acts of debauchery. Young men testing the limits would try to join their gang, beaten up and left on the side of a country backroad.
The police chief, John Scanlon moved across country still in police work. In these woods it is dark and dangerous. Dead men do not talk. At best we live out a false security, behind locked doors. There are years that go by on spooky, Halloween nights scary stories are told. An old man by the name of Ben Harkleroad, that talks a little too much about the money he has hidden under his mattress. He is at the local barbershop. Who is there to hear and act on this knowledge? A month after his disclosure, his cabin in the woods is burned to the ground. In the investigation that transpires the old man's remains that are gathered are his skull and heart. This is a cold case to be sure. A father and son take a walk in Preston Forest, discover three bags of body parts. Who carried out this heinous crime? Some of us know the stories are real, some of us more than others.