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Jones to continue Berry investigation

Expressing confidence the murder case of West Knox Countian Johnia Berry will be solved, new Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones said a timetable for completion of DNA suspect testing is hard to pin down.

“We’ve sent over two hundred pieces of D-N-A to be tested, and we still have some that are out,” said Jones, who emphasized his experience as a former homicide lead detective. “T-B-I has done really good ... they hired six more D-N-A analysis people. There was a big backlog, now we’re down to some forty pieces that are left, that have been outsourced to another lab. ... It’s a time-consuming process that they have to go through.”

Berry, 21, a University of Tennessee graduate student, was brutally murdered Dec. 6, 2004, in her Brendon Park apartment in Cedar Bluff.

Concerning the Berry family and general public sentiment, “It’s a sad situation ... I understand they’re frustrated,” Jones said, “but we’ve worked that case as hard as we’ve worked any homicide case since I’ve been here, and I’ve been a policeman twenty-eight years [the last 21 at KCSO after seven with the Knoxville Police Department].”

With KCSO Detective Brad Hall assigned full-time duty on the Berry case, “We will solve that case — I hope sooner than later,” Jones said.

Jones added contact with TBI and Attorney General Randy Nichols’ office happens “on a weekly basis.”

Rebutting suggestions that TBI should be called to assist with the case — or even take over — Jones said “they’ve never investigated homicides in Knox County ... T-B-I doesn’t have near the manpower we [do]. I don’t know how many agents they have assigned to this county, but it’s a very small number.”

“T-B-I works homicides in the smaller counties that don’t have the manpower or don’t have the larger departments.”


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