Show Notes

On the 1st of June 1987, a woman shot a female she believed was trying to break into her home. When the police arrived to question her two supposed accomplices, they were shocked to learn that they didn’t know who she was and 33 years later, neither do we. Let's uncover the case of the Knoxville Jane Doe. 


If you have any information on the identity of the Knoxville County Jane Doe, please contact the Knox County Sheriff's Office on (865) 215-2243

Music by: CO.AG MUSIC - The Rake

Twitter: @Uncover_pod






Composite of what the Knoxville County Jane Doe may have looked like
Composite of what she may have looked like aged approx. 16-17
A picture of the top she was wearing when she died
Photo of her tattoo




Namus number – 1567 


Show Transcript

On the 1st of June 1987, a woman shot a female she believed was trying to break into her home. When the police arrived to question her two supposed accomplices, they were shocked to learn that they didn’t know who she was and 33 years later, neither do we. Let's uncover the case of the Knoxville Jane Doe. 

On the 1st of June 1987, two male friends were driving to a party on their way, they picked up a female hitch hiker. Although neither of the men can agree one exactly where they picked her up, it is generally agreed to have been at a rest stop in the Bulls Gap area. The three of them went to a party together and at some point during the evening, the two men claimed that together, the trio conspired to rob a house nearby. The plan was, apparently, to trick the occupants to come outside by faking a domestic dispute outside the house and after the resident open the door to see what was going on, they would then enter however that is not what ended up happening. The home owner, a 23 year old woman, and her male guest were woken up by the dispute taking place outside. Jane Doe battered on the door, pleading for the woman to let her in. It is not known what the dispute between the three, fake or otherwise, was about however the woman thought that Jane do was trying to break into her house so opted not to open the door. The commotion escalated and the resident called the police She informed Jane Doe to move away from the door as she had a gun. Jane didn’t listen and in an attempt to protect herself and her home the resident fired a single bullet through the door, hitting Jane Doe just above her left ear and killing her instantly.  

The police seemed to believe this version of events as the Jane Doe's entry on VICAP states that she was "killed participating in what was believed to be an attempted robbery" The autopsy revealed that her blood alcohol was .0.13 at the time of her death. This means that she was probably experiencing blurred vision and loss of physical control over her body. Her judgement would have been significantly impaired and she might have been experiencing dysphoria, described by as "an emotional state of agitation, unease or depression." Without witnesses at the party providing an account of her behaviour that night, it is impossible to accurately determine how a BAC on 0.13 would have affected her personally, I think that it's up for debate whether someone who was intoxicated to that degree could have feasibly carried out the plan the men described. Although, I was unable to find any information on whether or not they are also drunk. Drunk people do unpredictable and stupid things all the time so it is possible that the three came up with this plan together. I would just like to make the point that it is also just as possible that the woman felt in danger or unsafe with the two men, the three got into an argument and the woman went to the home she would later die at to seek help. While it was perfectly reasonable for the resident to have thought her safety was in danger whilst Jane was trying to enter her home, we only have the two men's say-so, as to her motive. I couldn't find out whether the police had traced down and questioned the other people who had attended the party the three had been prior to the incident. To say that the men are unreliable witnesses is a major understatement however telling the police that you conspired to break into a house is a weird thing to lie about. During my research, I came across an entry on a Websleuths forum on this case and the writer claims to have spoken to a detective working on the case. It is important to mention that none of this information has been verified or corroborated by the police so take it with a huge pinch of salt. Never the less, this is that the web sleuth posted;  I finally spoke with Det. Moyers, with Knox County Sheriff's Office, very friendly and accommodating fella! He says the men that Jane was with, one was an older (around 60) man(the vehicle belonged to him) and he had been driven by the younger man (in his late 20's) back to TN. from KY. and the vehicle was not at this home at the time of Janes shooting. The older man had a business not far from the home where Jane was shot. The building they(Jane and men) originally were at, was a place they (the men) would sometimes party at. The men picked Jane up at a Rest Area (just off exit 4)about 4-5 hours the evening before, to give her a ride, however she agreed to "party" with them, so the men took her with them to this building. At the time that they picked her up, the men said she appeared to be high(the Detective will get back to me on toxicology report) and later she started acting even more strange and took off, the younger man, caught up with her and talked her into coming back to the building, it was late, the younger man tells her that she could get arrested or SHOT roaming around this particular neighbourhood, as it was off the beaten path and the folks around there all had guns and were VERY protective of their property. Jane remained at the building awhile and then just went berserk, the younger man says, for no "reason" and takes off again on foot, the younger goes after her again, Jane ends up at this house, the younger is arguing with her about coming back to the building, Janes wraps her arms around a post on the porch and tells him, she is not leaving the home, so he turns to head back to the building, Jane is screaming at him, Homeowner gets awakened, Homeowner calls 911 and arms themselves, at the same time yelling through the door that she (homeowner) is armed and calling the Sheriff, younger man yells back, CALL them, I can't do anything with her and continues to walk away, all this can be heard on the 911 tape, Homeowner then says Jane is trying to come through the door, kicking on the door, Homeowner tells Jane, Stop or I'll shoot, Jane doesn't stop and gets shot. The investigators came to the conclusion that Jane was having a "mental" episode before being picked up and during her time with these men. Jane's clothes were dingy and believed to have been worn for days, the men had given her the Dolphins shirt and the pants she was wearing were well-worn and thin. This younger man had a lengthy criminal record, but nothing violent, mostly petty theft and misdemeanours. The younger man was originally charged with attempted burglary to get him to come back in and give an interview with Detectives, charges were dropped after he cooperated with the investigation. So, no trial for either men. The men do not recall if Jane ever told them her name......"


If, and this is a big if, we take this post at face value, I feel it poses more questions than answers. Yes, it seems to confirm the theory that Jane Doe was not trying to break into the home and was looking for help, but her autopsy didn’t show any presence of drugs. While it is possible that her behaviour was caused by alcohol  or perhaps mental illness, this account contradicts the information police have provided to the media. Police do often keep certain details out of the news to preserve the integrity of the investigation but I highly doubt they would outright lie or fabricate details of her death as this would be more likely to hurt the investigation instead of helping it and as far as I could find, the 911 recording has never been released. Although there is a lot about this account that doesn’t quite add up and we can’t verify whether this information did come from law enforcement, I thought it was important to include it as a possible theory as to what may have transpired that night.  


Jane Doe was a white female aged between 21-30 years old. She weighed around 115-120lbs and stood between 5'4-5'6.  Her eyes and hair were both brown and she had what appears to be an amateur tattoo on her left arm with the initials BH. She was wearing a Miami dolphins jumper that had the number 32 on it, light blue trousers, white  socks, tennis shoes and a silver link bracelet. Her ears were not pierced when she died and there is a composite sketch showing what she may have looked like when she was alive. There is also an age regression sketch that shows what she might have looked like when she was around 15-16 years old. This could prove to be particularly helpful if she was a runaway as her family might not recognise her by the fiorst sketch if they hadn't seen her in several years.  


The autopsy revealed an array of different injuries Jane Doe had suffered during her lifetime. She had previously fractured her clavicle, which is the bone that often stands out, located between and ribcage and shoulder. This fracture had since healed although she also had a crushed vertebrae which would have likely caused her to suffer from back pain as a result. She had healed fractures in both her left and right tibias (the large bone at the front of the lower leg) and the left tibia was secured with a metal pin. Her fibula, located next to the tibia) was also secured with a metal plate. The injuries are not thought to be caused by abuse. When I heard this list of past injuries, my first thought was a car accident, mainly due to the clavicle fracture, as this bone is often broken due to the placement on seatbelts and back and leg injuries are very common in these types of accidents. I am not a medical professional and I do not know that to be fact, just a theory. Furthermore, she had a scar on her abdomen and one of her central incisors were missing. It was either extracted or was never there to begin with. The space where this tooth should have been had been closed up. DR Emily Craig from the Kentucky state medical office, stated "Those injuries, that medical information, will be far more important in identifying her than the (recreated) image of her face". Forensic isotope testing has been performed being tissue from her bones and her tooth enamel to see if they can pinpoint where she might have been from, or at least lived during her life. This type of testing is very experimental and nowhere can defiantly be ruled out, this is just a guide. The states the test determined that she might have been from one of the south eastern states including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. She might also have been from Canada.  


I would like to end this case with a quote from Sergent Perry Moyers from KCSO's Cold Case Squad. Regarding the identity of the Knoxville County Jane Doe, he said "There wasn't any ID on her of any kind, not even a wallet. No clues. There was just nothing...She's somebody's daughter, and she may be somebody's sister or maybe even somebody's mother. We would like to get her identified and maybe give closure to a family." 


If you have any information that may be related to this case, I ask you to contact the KCSO Cold Case Squad at or Moyers 865-215-3742. Or Jim Balloch may be reached at 865-342-6315.