Knoxville, KnoxNews: Local

Unmarked Campbell grave now has name

March 29, 2007
Knoxville, Knoxville News Sentinel
by Ansley Haman

Nothing but forest borders a 27-mile stretch of Interstate 75 near the Kentucky state line. It is "a perfect dumping ground" for dead bodies, a Campbell County official said Wednesday.

That remoteness along a major thoroughfare may help to explain why the county now tallies three of the 13 Tennessee "Jane Does" listed in one unofficial national database, Campbell County Sheriff's Department Capt. Don Farmer said.

The Doe Network, a database run by volunteers who are dedicated to connecting missing persons with unidentified bodies, helped Farmer reduce his county's "Jane Does" from four to three on March 21.

A volunteer in Texas connected local information about a missing woman with the network's report about a Campbell County body, spokesman Todd Matthews said.

After a decade, the name Ada Elena Torres Smith can now replace "unknown" on a grave marker for a woman found strangled, stabbed and dumped near I-75 Exit 144 and Stinking Creek Road.

"Now we have a face, we have a family and not only an unmarked grave," Farmer said.

He said he felt vindicated for the years spent chasing leads with retired detective Eddie Barton since Smith's body was found Jan. 9, 1997.

"We've been so many different places trying to get an identification on this Jane Doe," he said. "Every way you can possibly imagine we've sent those fingerprints out there. We put it out on national news."

Barton credited the Doe Network with matching information in El Paso, Texas, about Smith's distinctive tattoos with a Campbell County's "Jane Doe No. 1."

"They're the ones who've actually done the grunt work," Barton said. "You could never do it by yourself with the number of missing people there are in the United States right now."

The identification breathed new life into Smith's murder investigation. Farmer now awaits a visit from the woman's family. He wants to interview them for more leads in the case.

"We're going to have to go back to the very beginning," Farmer said. "We need every bit of information they can feed us."

As soon as he had a positive ID on Smith's body, Farmer pulled the file on "Jane Doe No. 2," described as a black woman younger than 40. The second body was found in 1998 about a mile from Smith's. Farmer thinks the two murders may be connected.

"Jane Doe No. 2" is also listed with the Doe Network.

The Web site also lists two other unidentified female corpses from Campbell County - a body once believed to be Anderson County's Leoma Patterson and a teenager found in 1985.

Farmer said that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into the body once thought to be Patterson, and he couldn't confirm thee status of the 1985 case.

Matthews said the group has contributed to the identification of 40 bodies in all.

Ansley Haman can be reached at 865-342-6341 or [email protected]