Unknown Charles Earles Killer-(s)- Tennessee- 2007 Nov 5, 2018 4:33:58 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Nov 5, 2018 4:33:58 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: City of Knoxville website)
No one reported hearing the shot that killed Charles Earles.
On the night of Dec. 6, 2007, the 28-year-old answered the door of his apartment on Cavalier Avenue in East Knoxville. Someone met him with a gun.
Even Earles' mother, Diane Morris, who had nodded off next door as a neighbor braided her hair, didn't hear the fatal shot. She returned to her apartment — in the same duplex as her son's — took her medicine and climbed into bed.
"I didn't know my son was in the house, already dead," Morris said.
A shell casing
More than a decade later, Earles' killing remains unsolved, but a pair of police investigators are bringing a set of fresh eyes to the case. Last month officers canvassed the area, knocking on doors and handing out fliers.
"If someone didn’t speak because they were afraid, 10 years have lapsed," said Sgt. Rodney Patton, a 31-year veteran of the Knoxville Police Department who's taken over the investigation.
"People have moved on, some bad people have gone to prison. Maybe somebody’ll talk to us now."
Investigators say they have little to go on. They believe Earles opened the door to a familiar face, as he was found lying near the door, and Patton said there were no signs of a struggle.
Other than that, Patton said he has no suspects, no motive, many questions, few clues and just one piece of physical evidence: a single shell casing left at Earles' apartment on Cavalier Avenue, a short road off South Chestnut Street that's home to three duplexes and one small house.
"I know it seems like, 'Wow, these guys don’t know anything,' " Patton said. "But that’s why this one’s been there 10 years."
A missing safe
Earles moved to Knoxville in 2005 to help support his mother after her father died. Always quick to flash a smile, Earles was selfless and giving, family members said, and he had a talent for making others laugh, even if the joke was at his own expense.
"For the first few years, that’s how we got through," said Earles' father, McGhee Bowden. "Any time any of us would get sad, we’d remember something crazy silly that he had done. And you would just laugh because that was him."
At the time of his killing, Earles was working at the Hardee's on Asheville Highway, saving up money to move back to Jacksonville, Florida. He lived there for six years after serving at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, according to family members.
Aside from a charge of driving without a license, Earles' only run-in with Knoxville police came a year before his death, when an officer pulled him over and asked him to get out of the car.
The officer wrote in an arrest warrant that Earles ran, then struck him in the chest before being shocked with a Taser. When Earles was arrested, he had 7 grams of cocaine, a handgun and $731 on him, police say. He was killed before the case against him was resolved.
Patton wouldn't say whether he believes Earles' killing was drug related.
Earles' mother, Morris, believes it wasn't. She thinks someone he knew well betrayed him by telling others where he kept his money — in a safe hidden in his apartment. After the killing, the safe was nowhere to be found, family members said.
"They probably stole the safe," Morris said. "They robbed my son and killed him. ... They didn't have to. Nobody deserves to die."
An unidentified caller
Someone did call E-911 to report a shooting the night Earles was killed, but the call was placed from a pay phone on Asheville Highway, several miles away from where the shot was fired on Cavalier Avenue, recalled Nevin Long, the KPD investigator who originally worked the case.
The caller, who was never identified, said a man had been shot at an intersection near Cavalier but didn't mention an apartment and gave no further details, said Long, now a lieutenant in the patrol division.
The police officers and firefighters who swarmed the area found nothing, Long said — "no body, no blood trail, no other calls saying shots fired there."
Roughly an hour later, about 9:30 p.m., Morris bolted upright in bed as a woman banged on her door. The woman asked her if Earles was alive. Morris rushed next door, where she found her son dead.
Morris says there are two faces she'll never forget.
Before she found her son dead and before she went to bed that night, Morris walked back to her apartment from her neighbor's house.
In Earles' driveway, she said she saw two men. She recalls them being "really shaky and nervous."
"I asked them what's going on, and they said they were waiting for my son," Morris said.
She noticed Earles' cars were parked in the driveway and figured he was home. But the men said he wasn't there, so she went inside and went to sleep.
Morris now suspects the men were involved in her son's killing. She said she described them to police, and she's certain she could pick them out of a lineup.
"I want you to put in the newspaper that whoever took his life should come forward," she said. "Please come forward."
knoxvilletn.gov/government/city_departments_offices/police_department/criminal_investigations/unsolved_murder_cases (is under 2007 cases)
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