A Murder That Would Shock The City Of Knoxville – Pauline George Murder

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Some homicides go unsolved even though law enforcement carefully scour through every inch of the crime scene, test DNA found at the scene and check out all leads. One such homicide occurred on March 7, 1991 in Knoxville, Tennessee near the West Town Mall. Pauline Lucille Roach George would leave her place of employment and drive to her Kingston Hills home, where she would be tortured to death.

Pauline was born to Joel Evert Roach (1916-1991) and Pearl Lucille Clabough Roach (1921-2008) on June 25, 1940. She had one sister, Betty Lou Roach Fuller, and one brother, Joel Roach. She was a graduate of Rule High School on Vermont Avenue. She would later go on to marry James George on October 2, 1959 and adopt two children, Brenda and Randy Nasser. Her and James would later divorce.

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On March 7, 1991, Pauline, 50, went to work at Fort Sanders Parkwest Medical Center, where she had been an admitting clerk in outpatient surgery for 13 years. At the end of her shift at approximately 2 p.m., she clocked out, walked to her vehicle and drove to her home at 7724 Luscombe Drive, where she had lived for the past 25 years. When she arrived at approximately 2:30 p.m., she checked her mailbox, entered her home and laid the mail on the table. She stopped long enough to read a 3-page letter from her adopted son, Randy Nasser.

Pauline then began preparing for her upcoming date with her fiancé, 52-year-old Jack Lane whom she had been dating for about a year. She walked to the bedroom, laid her clothing out on the bed, took a shower and put on her house coat. From this point forward, the exact events leading up to Pauline’s death are unclear.

Jack, a firefighter, arrived to Pauline’s home at approximately 5 p.m. When he received no answer after ringing the doorbell, he walked around to the back of the home and found the door unlocked. He entered the home and began yelling for Pauline. He then walked upstairs, where he saw “her purse on the bed all scattered about.” When he went downstairs to the basement, he discovered Pauline’s body on the floor and immediately called 911.

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When law enforcement arrived to the scene, they began investigating the incident. DNA was collected, the area surrounding the home was canvassed and the home was dusted for fingerprints. Half a dozen detectives studied Pauline’s background, questioned neighbors and family members and attended her funeral in plain clothes.

The autopsy report revealed that Pauline had suffered multiple stab wounds, been brutally beaten and bled to death in her children’s playroom. Lieutenant Larry Johnson with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said Pauline had fought off her attacker. She had self-defense wounds to the hands and arms that were consistent with blocking blows.

In March 1992, detectives believed Pauline had been sexually assaulted and robbery was not a motive. In 2016, WBIR reported that detectives said there were no signs of sexual assault and robbery may have been a motive. There was some speculation that Pauline had stopped at a West Knoxville health club to exercise before returning home, but this has never been confirmed.

While Knox County detectives remain adamant that they done as much as possible to solve George’s death, her family suggests otherwise. At the time, the Knox County sheriff’s department had no forensic unit, so Knox County detectives were forced to collect their own evidence. George’s sister, Betty Fuller, and her cousin, Jan Tobler, believe investigators botched the case.

Tobler labeled the crime scene “an absolute disaster”. She went on to say “There were a lot of people in and out of that house the whole time.” Retired Knox County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Larry Johnson was the head of the Major Crimes Unit at the time. He insists the crime did not go unsolved for a lack of effort. He blames a lack of tools and inefficient DNA testing for the case remaining unsolved.

Regardless, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office managed to pinpoint several possible suspects. There is a good chance that the KCSO closely examined Randy Nasser and Jack Lane as potential suspects. The contents of the three-page letter from George’s adopted son remain unknown. Jack Lane discovered the body. Both were likely pinpointed as possible suspects, but both have apparently been cleared.

On the day of George’s death, some neighbors reported seeing an older, green pickup in George’s driveway. Investigators eventually tracked the automobile to Phillip Wayne Matthews. Matthews was well-known to local authorities. He had been arrested multiple times and was on parole for several robbery convictions. In December of 1984, Matthews was arrested for drunk driving. In April of 1985, he was arrested once again for robbery.

Matthews was arrested once again for assault and battery in March of 1985. A detective with the KSCO later confirmed that Matthews “wasn’t too cooperative”. It was also revealed that he had purchased spray paint and painted his truck a completely different color. While authorities were able to put Matthews in the area collecting scrap metal, they were never able to accumulate enough evidence to hold him.

Could The Railroad Killer, Angel Maturino Resendiz, be involved? The Mexican serial killer was suspected in as many as 23 deaths throughout the United States and Mexico during the 1990s. Resendiz took his first life in Bexar County, Texas in 1986. He eventually traveled and killed in Lexington, Kentucky and Carl, Georgia. With railroad tracks running behind George’s house, there is a slim possibility that Resendiz could be responsible. Since nothing was stolen, it is unlikely that he was involved.

Angel Maturino Resendiz was ultimately executed on June 27, 2006. Whoever was involved would have had a significant amount of blood on their clothing. If the family is correct, the door would’ve been locked. This would have meant George probably knew her killer and let them inside. Detectives claim that the garage door was unlocked. They admit George might have opened the door to her killer. However, they believe she either confronted her killer on the landing or went down into the basement before being attacked.

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A former detective admitted “We questioned the boyfriend extensively and cleared him”. He went on to say, “We questioned her son several times.” Detectives have pinpointed several good suspects, but all leads have eventually gone cold. They’ve also attempted to reignite the case several times over the years to no avail.

In 1991, Knox County hit a record for 35 murders. Also that year, 50-year-old Ruth Eileen Meredith was beaten to death at her South Knox County home. At the time of Meredith’s death, there was a number of burglary rings operating in the South Knoxville area. The case remains unsolved and it is unknown whether or not the two cases could be linked.

Today, Pauline George’s family is still waiting for answers. No murder weapon was ever found and justice was never delivered.

 

January 1, 2018 |

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