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25 years after a woman was left dead along a Tennessee highway, police say they've arrested her killer

rossville cold case
Source: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Unsplash

Feb. 6 2022, Published 5:26 p.m. ET

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After 25 years, a suspect has been charged in a homicide where a woman's body was dumped along a Tennessee highway.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigations special agents and McMinn County Sheriff's Office deputies started to investigate after a woman's body was found dumped on the side of an I-75 off-ramp in McMinn County in 1996.

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An autopsy identified the victim as Barbara Danley (Lehman) Johnson, 50-years-old at the time She died as a result of a homicide in November 1996, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. Police tried to find her killer at the time, but the case went cold.

Agents re-submitted evidence from the case to the TBI crime lab in Nashville for re-examination in August 2021. That led to a McMinn County Grand Jury indictment.

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Illinois State Police arrested 53-year-old Rodney E. Jackson of Roseville, Illinois. He was extradited back to Tennessee, where he has been booked into the McMinn County Jail on first-degree murder charges.


Investigators have released few details on the case, including how Jackson knew the victim or a possible motive for the alleged murder.

“I am incredibly grateful for the relentless work on the part of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in this case,” 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump said in a statement.

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“Despite the years that have passed since her murder, Barbara Johnson will have her opportunity at justice. Part of TBI’s motto is ‘That guilt shall not escape’. They completely lived up to that motto in this case. The teamwork between the Bureau and our Cold Case Task Force was exceptional. The Cold Case Director, Calvin Rockholt, had followed this case since the formation of the task force and always believed it could be solved. The Bureau proved him right.”

rossville cold case
Source: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Unsplash

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