Text Version:

(Introduction to show begins)

TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host):  I’m Todd Matthews.  This is Missing Pieces and tonight we have an old guest back, an old friend of mine, Elizabeth Pendergrass.  How are you doing Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH PENDERGRASS (Guest):  Good.  How are you?

TODD:  I’m doing good.  We run ourselves ragged all day long with our kids and I know you work.  Now where do you work?

ELIZABETH:  Boys and Girls Club.

TODD:  Okay, now that keeps you busy.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, it does.

TODD:  I wouldn’t do it for $100 an hour, I guarantee you.

ELIZABETH:  (Laughs)  It takes a lot of patience.

TODD:  Elizabeth is the granddaughter of Leoma Patterson, and you might remember Leoma Patterson from Episode 10, and I’m hoping that everybody will go back and review that.  There have been some significant updates since we’ve done that Episode 10, several shows ago, and this family has become like family to me.  I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with them, especially Barbara and Pearl and Frankie and Elizabeth and I think a great deal of them.  They live here close to me so they’re hillbillies like me so I can relate to them really easily; we speak the same language.  Okay let’s catch you up on a little bit; let’s try to recap exactly how we got together in the first place.  In your own words, we’ll just let you take off with it.

ELIZABETH:  The way we got together was mother, Barbara Ashton, had hired a lawyer to re-exhume the body and the lawyer had known that he’d helped identified Jane Does and helped in situations like that.  So Lynda Simmons had introduced my Mom, Barbara, to Todd and he thought that he could help the family, and he started in asking questions and helping us get the body re-exhumed and what we needed to do, him and Lynda Simmons.  So once the body was exhumed, he helped get the DNA results and things like that.

TODD:  And we got some of the best people to work on it.  We got Dr. Bill Bass from the Body Farm fame; he’s actually hired, and I think a lot of the media that has worked on this case maybe misunderstood, Dr. Bass was not working on behalf of the state, he was actually hired by the family, paid by the family for this…


TODD:  …and he was working for you and he was supposed to report back to you guys with all of his findings and I think he, himself, did a really good job of doing that; not everybody co-operated,

ELIZABETH:  Yes, he did a really good job.  We were very pleased with his findings and things like that.  He was very patient with us and answered all of our questions and I think he’s done a really good job.

TODD:  So we dug her up one time and that was in 2005...


TODD:  …and got a DNA sample, put her back in the ground and ran the DNA.  We’re thinking that there is a possibility that this is not Leoma Patterson buried in this grave.  The initial DNA came back as not a match and this was at a DNA lab recommended by Dr. Bass, he gave the family a list of labs and they picked one.  They had to go with economical, they had to do what they could, but they were all legitimate labs and the DNA test results came back and indicated that this was not her, and that surprised all of us.  We were all…and I think that you too, you know, you and I have a private conversation and your mother was…I think a lot of what you did originally was trying to take care of your mother and hope that she was okay, but I don’t really think that you expected this not to be your grandmother.

ELIZABETH:  No, some of us didn’t, and we were hoping it was just to ease the family’s peace on that and when it came back, it was very shocking, which it wasn’t a shock to my Mom but it was to a lot of the grandchildren and a lot of the kids because the oldest daughter thought it was her.  So, I mean, when somebody gives you something and says, “Yes, this is her,” and then later on you find out it’s not her, you know it takes a big toll on your family.

TODD:  Well, you know, Barbara’s quite pleased with herself because she didn’t really want it to not be her, but I think that she felt like all of her work and worry all of these years is finally vindicated.


TODD:  Dr. Bass, and he went on record in newspapers saying, “The family was right.”  You know I think she had every reason to think, “Finally, finally I got my point across.”

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, and that was her whole…the whole point of this is to show people that it’s not her because even when they actually buried this body to begin with, when the police gave it back to them, she always thought that it was never her.  So when it’s 20 years and you sit and think about things like that, eventually you’re going to make it an accomplishment.

TODD:  Well why did she originally think that this is not her mother?

ELIZABETH:  Well because the story that the boy gave didn’t add up and the way that the police wouldn’t help in those areas, it’s a lot of stuff, and the police reports and things like that just didn’t add up.

TODD:  You know they told the family to go look for themselves.


TODD:  Jimmy, the guy that actually confessed to killing her at the time, later said he didn’t.  He said he killed her; he beat her on the head with a tire iron…


TODD:  …and we know there were no marks on the skull that would indicate a bashed skull, and you know I’m not an anthropologist so I can’t say exactly what happened to that skull.  It didn’t appear to be damaged.  You know I got to see it first-hand and there didn’t really appear to be any damage to it.

ELIZABETH:  No.  And also, Dr. Bass, when he looked at it, he said there were no fractures to the skull whatsoever.

TODD:  And he looked at the teeth, and I think Dr. Bass, he’s one of the best.  Him, and Dr. Emily Craig in Kentucky, are two of the top anthropologists that you’ll ever run into, and when he was thinking that this was a Jane Doe potentially, he said things that I think helped to reinforce the family’s belief that this is probably not her, and some of the things were the wear on the teeth.  What did he say to you guys?

ELIZABETH:  Yeah.  The wear on the teeth was, like in the front they had wear like a seamstress that put pins in her teeth all the time, or she just smoked a pipe, so that’s the way he was, and the teeth weren’t straight, they were overlapping each other…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …and my grandmother, of course my Mom said she had perfectly straight teeth all the way across.

TODD:  Now do you think that this is just the way that your mother is remembering things or if this is really accurate?  And I love Barbara, she’s top with me.  I really think a lot of her but do you think that time could have changed the way that she sees this?

ELIZABETH:  To me, when something like that happens to somebody, you know your body features change.

TODD:  Absolutely.

ELIZABETH:  All of that really changes because you don’t have tissue and things like that anymore, and anything could have happened.  They could have…I don’t know, it’s just really weird, because a lot of her children remember her teeth and she did snuff so and there were dark markings on the teeth…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  ...that he said that’s from somebody who could have done tobacco.  Tobacco could be snuff.  Even men that did snuff or whatever, it leaves markings on their teeth.

TODD:  I mean I think he entered this as a possibility.


TODD:  You know I don’t think he meant that this was a fact.


TODD:  But it reinforces…

ELIZABETH:  He couldn’t rule it out.

TODD:  Yeah, he couldn’t rule it out; he couldn’t.  I think he did the best that he could and you know Barbara, that’s what she was expecting to hear.


TODD:  She expected to hear that it wasn’t her and I didn’t believe it.  In fact, with Lynda Simmons, I was…Lynda asked me to be a consultant with her on this particular case and I asked the family to do another DNA test.  I asked them to do a second one just to make sure and I know that was a terrible expense, and the family have actually been the people that have borne all of the expense on this, particularly Barbara and Frankie and Ronnie Patterson.


TODD:  They have been the primary people spending money on this and they paid for another.  We took a swab from Pearl, the oldest daughter, and again it was confirmed.  And I asked them to match the DNA against the original one, which is Frankie; we tested her DNA with the bones.  Pearl’s and Frankie’s matched and neither matched the bones.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah.  And when that came back, that was a shock to the other ones also, except for a couple, and they said, “Well, we knew it wasn’t going to match.”

TODD:  And I felt good about it, you know, because I’d already had a reconstruction done and I honestly felt like that reconstruction bore some resemblance to Pearl, I did.  I thought it looked like her.

ELIZABETH:  The forehead…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …and then sort of like the nose feature, to me it looked like a 25-30-year-old woman.

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  But when you look back at some of her pictures, she wasn’t a woman that had all kinds of wrinkles; she took very good care of herself.

TODD:  But you know reconstruction can’t relate that.


TODD:  I took the actual skull to a dentist, my dentist, and I’ve done that before with this dentist, and I asked him about the wear and tear factor on these teeth, and he felt that it was of the appropriate age.  You know that’s not a positive ID, and Dr. Bass noticed this first and we’re going to tell it, because a lot of things have not been put out in the media that should have been originally, the teeth were just a little bit messed up with how they were glued back into the skull.


TODD:  And Dr. Cleland Blake, he probably did the best he could with what he had.  He’s the pathologist in Morristown, Tennessee, and he was actually originally in charge of this body and the identification process and he glued some teeth back into the socket that weren’t really in the right spot.


TODD:  And you actually met with Dr. Blake…your mother did.

ELIZABETH:  Actually my Mom and my aunt and my sister went down there to see him, and he had pulled my grandmother’s file out and was talking and showing pictures and things like that to my Mom and my sister and my aunt.

TODD:  Now how did they find him?

ELIZABETH:  How did they find him?

TODD:  No I meant when they actually met him, did they feel like he was being honest with them or forgetful…because he had some bones that should have actually been with the body.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah.  Well, when he got into the file, he thought that he still had the remains, and then he’d seen his signature on there and he said, “Well I guess somebody on my staff, that was authorized to, released them.”  He had two bones; one of them was a throat bone…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …and I want to say pelvic or an upper leg bone.

TODD:  And Dr. Bass wanted to see these bones.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah.  And Dr. Bass…and that’s when we got a court order after they talked to him, that whenever we went and got a court order to be exhumed and all that, he also put in there and that any bones that went with this body, Dr. Blake was supposed to turn over.

TODD:  And we didn’t really hear anything back from Dr. Blake.  I think we all tried to make contact with him.

ELIZABETH:  Dr. Bass tried to call him.  They actually went out to bring him the papers to release the bones and never got any contact back with him.  So it’s my understanding that shows that he goes to, he shows the bones.

TODD:  Now, did your family have to spend a lot of money trying to get these court orders?  I feel guilty because these are some of the things I recommended that they do, and for whatever reason…?

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, well, there was a lot of money spent…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …but I mean you can only do so much.  I mean you can’t go and say, “I’m here and I want them right now,” because you don’t know what he’s done with them.  He might be having them, for whatever reason I don’t know why, I mean because you would want everybody’s bones together that belong to that person.

TODD:  Well I know that he did get sick, and I did speak to his wife, and I have no reason to believe that this is a fabrication that he is sick.  I know a few people in your family are not real happy about him, but…


TODD:  …I do believe that, in conversations with his wife, that she did seem to try to find me something, I just don’t think...it’s either been mixed up or it doesn’t exist anymore, but she was not able, but she did send photographs and anything that she could.  She did make an honest effort to try to help me.

ELIZABETH:  And she probably doesn’t even know what the bones are.

TODD:  No, absolutely not.

ELIZABETH:  Because that’s not her field, because he’s the one who does it.

TODD:  And I know she kind of helps him with it, but…


TODD:  But when we actually decided that this wasn’t her, again, the time came that we had to dig her up again.


TODD:  Because we had a problem; we had a Jane Doe and we had to figure out exactly what happened and Dr. Bass came back again.

ELIZABETH:  He came back again.

TODD:  And we re-exhumed this body and this time we had another artist to do a reconstruction at UT, she did that, and there was more DNA taken and then one of the students at UT actually made some type of discovery.


TODD:  And she’s telling us that the DNA was tested wrong.


TODD:  We did find that the bones were probably soaked in Clorax and that could have damaged the DNA, and I understand that.  You know that wasn’t an effort to try and conceal the identity of this person, but it was sort of a common practice, but I would have thought that they would have thought of that, you know when they were doing all of these DNA tests, that it’s common to disinfect and try to clean the bones up, you know.


TODD:  It was the type of bleach that they used, it just surprised me that they didn’t come to that conclusion earlier.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, because there was already so much money spent.

TODD:  Yeah, you did a lot, you know.


TODD:  So now, all of this aside, we’re up here and they’re actually doing this reconstruction and they’re deciding that there’s probably something wrong with the DNA.  Lo and behold, you are actually told at one point in time by Sheriff David Ray, who used to be a TBI agent, but he’s now Sheriff of Claiborne County, he showed you guys some rings.

ELIZABETH:  Ah yes, me, my mother and my aunt met with him and he had just a little bit more information than we did, but we had taken what we had and he met us and he talked to us a little bit, the second time, about what he had.

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  And we talked back and forth and he pulled out some rings, and he said, “This is what was found at the crime scene.”  He asked my Mom and my aunt, “Do you recognize any of these?” and my aunt said, “No, I don’t recognize those,” she said, “she never wore those.”

TODD:  And these rings were not found actually on the skeleton…


TODD:  …the skeleton was partial, yet they were in the area.

ELIZABETH:  They were in the area that they found this body at.

TODD:  They could have been stolen.


TODD:  Who knows?  I don’t know where they came from.

ELIZABETH:  And some of them were like little gold wedding bands, silver bands, turquoise rings and things like that and so then after that he told us that when we got ready to do some more DNA that we could actually have the rings.

TODD:  And if it proved out to be your grandmother, he would let you have the rings.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, if it proved to be my grandmother then he would give those back.

TODD:  So then we’re at this point; they did the new reconstruction and the artist did a very good job and I did see what I thought was a resemblance to some of the family members and I know that not everybody agreed.  I don’t think that it was a family divided as some of the media did reflect but I mean there certainly were some differences of opinion.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, there was a difference of opinion on it.

TODD:  But, nonetheless, we actually put the cases on the Doe Network, both of them; Missing Leoma and Unidentified Lady, and everybody seemed to be agreeing that this was probably a Jane Doe until they found this error in the DNA.


TODD:  So where are we at now?  We can’t get any DNA, but we got all of you guys’ DNA, now what are we going to do?  We have nothing to test.

ELIZABETH:  We have nothing.

TODD:  So, Sheriff David Ray, which he didn’t tell us before, when he showed the family the rings…

ELIZABETH:  He didn’t tell us before.

TODD:  …now what did he find in his filing cabinet at home?

ELIZABETH:  Dr. Bass called my Mom and said, “Barbara, I need to talk to you.  I got a package today in the mail and it’s from Sheriff David Ray,” and then he said, “Do you know anything that he has?”  That’s when my Mom says, “Well, I know we have some rings that were found at the crime scene where the body was.”

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  And he said, “Well, this is not a set of rings,” he said, “This is a scalp of hair.”  And during that time, that police officer that was working on the case, they wanted some hair rollers that were from my grandmother…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …to match hair from the rollers and the scalp of hair that they found at the crime scene.  My Mom, she called and she said, “I can’t believe that this just happened,” and she said, “He didn’t say anything to us about having that.”

TODD:  Isn’t that kind of odd?  You forgot that you have a human scalp?

ELIZABETH:  Well, you know, if you work with a case like that, and this is just my opinion, if you’re really wanting to help a family find out what happened to their mother, their daughter, their son, or whoever that family member is, you’re not going to hold anything back from them.

TODD:  You know, I’ve talked to David Ray through the attorney’s office up until that point, and he never mentioned that to me and I felt really good about him, and I think your family felt really good…


TODD:  …that he was going to be somebody that would help you guys.

ELIZABETH:  Right.  And the impression that we got was that he really wanted to help us because he was still concerned about the case.

TODD:  And I felt that was genuine, but I don’t know exactly why…now how do you forget that you have a scalp of hair?  And even if he did, okay.  Now, this is where…they tested the scalp against your sister, Michelle.

ELIZABETH:  Uh huh.  They tested the scalp and they tested the hair on the hair rollers, against my sister.

TODD:  And they say that these all match.

ELIZABETH:  They say that these all match.

TODD:  Okay now, we’ll leave that at that, you know, there’s still a little more out there that we’ve not told you guys, and we’re not going to right now, we can’t.  But…so they’ve come to the conclusion, all of a sudden, then what happens?  We get everything back…


TODD:  …and, you know, we’re still in a quandary here, everybody is kind of spinning with this.  You know we’ve got these remains back, Dr. Bass he called your mother over there, and what happened that day?

ELIZABETH:  He called my mother over there and my aunt and my uncle went over there.


ELIZABETH:  To UT.  And he said to come down and, “This is the DNA results that we got.”  And my mother said, “Well who did you test it against?” because we thought that he had used Frankie’s and Pearl’s.  My sister had said something about it but there was just so much that was going on, it really did comprehend to my Mom what she was doing, so that’s what.  And so he set them down there and told them the DNA results and he said, “We’ve come to the conclusion that as of now, this is your mother,” because he tested all of these together.  And so he gave the remains back and they all signed a paper and everything like that, that all the bones that we gave him to exhume were there.

TODD:  And you know, Dr. Bass, he is…this is a good man.  I know Dr. Bass.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, he’s a very good man, and he’s done really good.  We’re pleased with everything that he’s done.  He was very patient with us and answered all of our questions and we’re just really pleased with everything that he’s done.

TODD:  Now, people need to know, it seems like the state was conducting all of these investigations; the state did absolutely nothing at this point.  Most of the DNA tests, save this one, and the attorney’s fees, everything was actually conducted by the family.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, everything was done by the family.  We never got any response from the state or anything like that, and still haven’t gotten any response.

TODD:  So now we’ve got this body at home and we’re still a little concerned with it, and Dr. Bass, later, some of Dr. Bass’s colleagues feel that the lab made a mistake; the lab that you selected from a list that he gave you.


TODD:  Now how do you just…and the lab is not agreeing with that.  They’re saying that they didn’t make a mistake.

ELIZABETH:  Right.  They’re saying that they didn’t make a mistake because everything came out, I mean, because that’s the normal testing that they do.

TODD:  So now we’re at this point and there’s still one more thing that we’re not going to tell anybody tonight but the final thing that we did, we’re not going to tell that, not at this time, but we were at this point where Barbara thought, “Well this lab said this and they’re holding up for what they say and they’re still saying that they did it right.”  Dr. Bass’s DNA comes back and says, “Okay, this is her,” we’ve got a problem.


TODD:  But we have these remains and I know your mother is very hesitant about putting them back in what she felt was her mother’s grave and there was quite a contradiction there.  You know, “Is this my mother or not?”  You know it’s not enough to tell somebody, “This is you mother, go bury her.”


TODD:  You know she had been up and down; Barbara had been through so much…all of you guys have been through so much.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, and you know when you have all this confusion, it’s hard to accept some things.

TODD:  And you had a lot of family that disagreed at this point, and a lot of them felt that you should go ahead and bury this body, and I know it caused a great controversy in your family and that’s very sad.  I hated to see that and it’s things that we really can’t go into here, but the decision came, “We’re going to have to go ahead and bury this body.”

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, they had come to an agreement among five out of seven.

TODD:  So, we got a baby casket.

ELIZABETH:  We got a baby casket and put it back.

TODD:  And that was a lot cheaper and that’s normal with skeletal remains.  We’ve done it with the Tent Girl, to get a baby casket and put the remains in it because there are so few remains, there’s no sense getting a full-size casket, and we found a new grave.


TODD:  In Fentress County.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, in Jamestown.  It’s a church about 2 or 3 miles from where my mother lives and my aunt lives.

TODD:  And that way they can kind of watch over things.  You know I know in their minds, they’re still a lot of questions out there and I think that we’re going to continue to look at some of these questions.  It’s not just cut and dried and there are things that we are doing right now to try to look a little deeper because I want your family to feel like everything possible was done, and I know right now that they don’t feel like it.  If this is her, according to state officials and Dr. Bass, if this is her, what was supposed to happen?  You were supposed to get some rings back.  Now where are we at with that?

ELIZABETH:  We haven’t…my mother has tried to contact him.

TODD:  And who is ‘him’?

ELIZABETH:  David Ray.

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  And there was no response.

TODD:  Who is supposed to have the rings now?

ELIZABETH:  David Ray is still supposed to have the rings now.  Those were never sent to Dr. Bass.  The only thing he sent to Dr. Bass was the package of hair that he had kept supposedly all these years, even after my grandmother was buried.

TODD:  And we tried…and I’ve seen the hair, and we tried to look at the hair and the initial crime scene photos, and I do say crime scene, because I do think she was murdered, and it does appear that this hair, even though the color doesn’t seem quite right, it does appear that it’s attached to this particular skull.


TODD:  I don’t know how to dispute that further without better photographs, and I did ask Dr. Blake and his wife did give me as many photographs as they had and I can’t say yes or no for sure.

ELIZABETH:  It is really hard to tell.

TODD:  It is.  It’s very confusing and I’ve let some people that are professionals in the field look at it, they declined to have their name involved in it, but they did look at it and I couldn’t find anybody that could give me positive words to tell me for sure.  They couldn’t say yes or no that this looked like it belonged to this body.


TODD:  But I did get an explanation as to things do changes when exposed to the environment, could be that it could have changed colors, could have changed a lot of things

ELIZABETH:  Well, when it’s things like weather and things like that, because that’s what Dr. Bass had explained to us, because he had seen the photographs also and he said that when you’re in weather and things like that, that it does change the color of your hair, because when something is laying on the ground and the sun is hitting it, that’s like if you take a piece of construction paper…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …and lay it on the ground and come back a couple hours later and it’s faded from the sun.

TODD:  And that’s absolutely the truth.


TODD:  It’s hard for people that have been through this rollercoaster to accept this, you know, it is your mother, it’s not you mother.  And if this is your mother and there is no problem with it, we need to try to get court orders to get some of this stuff moving.


TODD:  We can’t get the bones and we can’t get the rings.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, and so…

TODD:  Why?

ELIZABETH:  Nobody answers anything that they call upon.

TODD:  I mean, you buried her; you took the remains back and you buried this body even though your mother still has some questions in her heart.  You know for sure you like to see something in black and white; you’ve got two tests, one says ‘yes’ and one says ‘no’.


TODD:  That’s hard to accept.  I can’t say, “Well, listen to this one and not that one.”

ELIZABETH:  It’s very confusing.

TODD:  She’s back to where she was.


TODD:  Could be, couldn’t be.  And the lab still says that their work is accurate and they were feeling like they’re still correct.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, they’re still feeling that they’ve done the right thing and that they didn’t mess up on anything.

TODD:  So where do we go from here?  We do have plans and we just kind of wanted to update everybody to know where we were.  We went through everybody with this, you know, I’ve been in contact with Jimmy Maggard, he’s the man that actually confessed to killing her and then later says no, and his story has changed dramatically over time.  I’m not really sure what his motivation is, I don’t know, I can’t get enough of the story out of him to say yes or no.  I don’t know.

ELIZABETH:  It’s very confusing at this point.

TODD:  So she’s buried and I’m sure that your mother will continue to put flowers on the grave, but the DNA samples are still out there, and I do not think that your mother is going to be happy until she gets the jewelry…

ELIZABETH:  And the bones.

TODD:  Yeah, the bones.  You know I don’t think that you’re going to get the bones from Dr. Blake; I don’t think they exist anymore.

ELIZABETH:  Probably not.  They probably do not exist.

TODD:  And I have to wonder, were some of these multiple DNA signatures that have been indicated to me, could these bones have been mixed up?  And I know that Dr. Bass originally said no, but is it possible that these bones were mixed up?  You know I know Leoma has passed away, I know she’s dead and this scalp very well could be her scalp, but there are so many unanswered questions, and I’m not going to argue with your mother or Pearl.  I know that they feel like this is not their mother.  I just don’t know what to believe but I think all of us involved in this deserve more answers to these questions and we’ve not got it yet, and I know Dr. Bass, he did the best he could.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, he did.  He was very helpful and very patient with the family.

TODD:  But I think he went as far as he could go.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, he went as far as he could go, and I believe he really hated not giving a definite saying, “Yes, this whole thing is your mother,” because you can tell by his attitude, he was like, “Did I give this family closure, or did I not?”

TODD:  Yeah.  I know it’s probably hard on him, you know, and he did, you know he mentioned this in the book, he has a book that’s out and he did cover this case in the book.  I just want to make it clear that none of your family received any payment for the inclusion in this book.

ELIZABETH:  No.  When we had this exhumed, he was already conducting a book…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …on several cases that he has done through the UT Body Farm, and all he asked was, “Could this case be in it?”  And, of course, four out of the seven agreed and said, “Yes, that’s fine.”

TODD:  And that’s an honor.


TODD:  I mean, he is a top-seller publisher and I think it’s an honor that he was able to put her case in that book.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, because when you go to somebody like that, that has that much knowledge, I mean, yes, it’s an honor to say, “Could your case be in here?”  You know, even if it turned out to be her, either way, even if it didn’t or it did, he said, “I would like to put it in there.”

TODD:  He left it up to fate; whatever happened, he put it in there.  I think his opinion in the book, at that point in time, he did feel like that was her, and your Mom didn’t argue with it.  The way he worded it in the book, she didn’t blame any fault toward the family…


TODD:  …and he presented the science that he had and his personal opinion, and I think he did best that he could, but I know that there were people that felt like the family…at least some of the family members were paid for their participation in this book, and I know that’s not true.  I’ve talked to them, I’ve talked to Jon Jefferson, you know the co-writer, Dr. Bass’s co-writer, and it’s just not true. 

ELIZABETH:  No, it’s not true, and to let everyone know that when my mother started for a lawsuit…

TODD:  Uh huh.

ELIZABETH:  …they were never in for any kind of money to be handed to them.  They have dished out every bit of everything that had to be paid and the money is not the issue, they just want answers.

TODD:  She has only spent money.  I know that the only money that has ever been exchanged, is money that they have spent.


TODD:  So…but just to let everybody know that we’re not going to give up on it.  There are a few questions, you know, and the family still wants these rings, and I don’t blame them, if the position is that this is their mother, then we’d like to have the rings back.


TODD:  You know I don’t think that’s a big question unless there’s a problem out there that we don’t know about, that the family doesn’t know about.  Is there a reason why the rings are not being released?  If so, should they not be aware of it?

ELIZABETH:  Yes, and that’s all they have to do is just tell us why.

TODD:  It would relieve a great pressure off Barbara if she actually had the rings.


TODD:  And that question there, that’s almost reinforcing that something is wrong.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, and when you have those in your mind, that gives you more doubt than anything.

TODD:  A lot of unanswered questions that I think we’re going to be working on this for some time to come yet.  We’ve watched each other grow old, I think, trying to work on this, and I wish…I want to give this more time than I have.  There are so many…I get like 3,000 emails a day sometimes, and trying to juggle my family life, and I know that you are, so we work on things as we can, but I’m very fond of your family and I feel like I’ve failed you in so many ways because I’ve not been able to give your mother what she needs and I hope that one day I can help get her what she needs.

ELIZABETH:  Well, and we appreciate everything that you have done because whenever you have somebody that’s willing to step in and help, that means more than anything.

TODD:  I just want to put her back where she is supposed to be.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah.  Because back then, they never received any help or anything, it was just like, “Here it is, go bury it,” and when you’ve got somebody like you that really takes their time these cases, whether it does turn out to be her, that’s not the point, the point of it is that you were there to help the family and led them in the right way to go and got some closure.

TODD:  I mean all their questions are legitimate questions and I think that they deserve the answers.  You know if it’s the rings, give them the rings.  If there is no question left, there’s no doubt about it, and they’ve allowed you to bury this body, yet again…


TODD:  …and if there is still a question, there’s some debate that’s holding these rings back, then you certainly need to know that.  And I’ll tell you, I’ve not heard anything to tell us any different, and I know how many times has your mother tried to call?

ELIZABETH:  Oh, she calls at least three times a week.

TODD:  And that’s been for how long?

ELIZABETH:  It’s been since…I want to say since August.

TODD:  And Pearl, your aunt Pearl Smith…?

ELIZABETH:  She calls too.

TODD:  And I know that she has given them heck, she’s trying to get something.

ELIZABETH:  Oh yeah.

TODD:  And do they get any answer, any reply?

ELIZABETH:  No, no answer.  They’ll leave a message, they’ll get no calls returned.

TODD:  I have to wonder, where is the compassion?  You know, it ends in a terrible state of misunderstanding, you don’t understand what’s going on, and we’re talking about calling the authorities in Campbell and Anderson Counties, we’re talking about the State Officials and County Officials in those areas and at least return their calls, and at least try to explain it to them.  If this family just simply does not understand what’s happening, and you know all the answers, can somebody please just enlighten them, tell them what’s going on.  I’ve spent a lot of time with them, I’ve come to know them and they’re like family now and it’s not that hard to take a little bit of time try to explain it to them and help them to understand what has happened.  You know, it’s the least that could happen, the very least.

ELIZABETH:  Yeah.  I mean that’s all they want, they just want a few answers.

TODD:  And remember, we’re not done yet.


TODD:  There are still a few things, a few options that we have to take, and we will take them.  And I don’t think that…if your mother passed away not knowing exactly what happened, I know that her children, and some of her other grandchildren will continue.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, it will be continued.  It will.  Because we won’t stop until we find the answers.

TODD:  Well, we will try.  We will try.  Wow, we ran through that one quick.

ELIZABETH:  That was pretty good, wasn’t it?

TODD:  Yeah, I think we’re doing a good job.

ELIZABETH:  Oh yeah.

TODD:  Now where are you at now?  We’re still taping and you’re hiding in the bathroom...

ELIZABETH:  Yeah, I’m in the bathroom.

TODD:  ...so you could find a quiet spot.



TODD:  I have to do the same thing.  We’re taping this radio show and I have to go hide in a closet or a bathroom sometimes because the kids are so loud and we just have to fit this in our lives and find a way to do it and try to help people if we can.


TODD:  Okay, so I’ve exposed your secret that you’re hiding in a bathroom.

ELIZABETH:  (Laughs)

TODD:  Okay, we’ll say goodnight to everybody and we’ll talk to you a little bit longer after we cut the tape, and we’ll be back again next week.  Thanks.

ELIZABETH:  Thank you.

TODD:  All right.  Bye-bye.

Place a banner to this case on your MySpace:

Simply copy and paste this code anywhere in to your MySpace proflile:

Resources for this case:
(Leoma Patterson): http://www.doenetwork.us/cases/2143dftn.html
(Unidentified Jane Doe): http://www.doenetwork.us/cases/514uftn.html


Bones buried in Patterson's grave are hers, Bass says

By Bob Fowler
News Source: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/jun/28/bones-buried-inpattersons-graveare-hers-bass/

A skull and handful of bones exhumed in December from a remote grave in Anderson County’s New River area are indeed those of homicide victim Leoma Patterson.

Forensic anthropologist Dr. William Bass confirmed that finding Wednesday.

The announcement ends a two-year effort to identify the bones that included two grave exhumations, numerous DNA tests and a facial reconstruction.

“We finally pushed the right buttons,’’ Bass said. “It just shows that it takes a lot of people to get the information that you need to make an identification.’’

It took tweaking a former TBI agent’s memory and his retrieval of long-stored evidence — a swath of human hair — to finally close the baffling case.

Bass’ announcement also ends years of uncertainty for Patterson’s seven children, divided over whose bones rested in their mother’s grave.

Questions, however, still linger, said Patterson’s son, Ronald Patterson of Jamestown. “We’re trying to find out the truth,’’ he said. “We’re trying to find out what happened to our mother.’’

Leoma Patterson was a 52-year-old divorcee when she was last seen alive Oct. 20, 1978, leaving Peggy’s Place, a Clinton Highway bar, with two men.

Six months later, children playing next to Norris Lake in Campbell County made a gruesome discovery: a cluster of dog-chewed human bones with some jewelry and a mat of human hair nearby.

Using techniques available at the time, forensic pathologist Dr. Cleland Blake ruled there was enough evidence to conclude that the bones were Leoma Patterson’s.

But with family members unconvinced, the bones remained for years in Blake’s morgue in Morristown.

A great-nephew confessed to the killing in 1985, and the bones were finally interred in the family cemetery in New River.

Some family members continued to express doubts, and the bones were exhumed in August 2005.

An initial battery of DNA tests showed no match between the bones and DNA samples from two of Leoma Patterson’s daughters.

That reopened a cold case, and authorities were alerted. Although they now thought the bones weren’t their mother’s, Leoma Patterson’s children reinterred them.

Frustrated by delays and told they needed more DNA testing, the heirs obtained a court order and re-exhumed the bones last December.

Seven more sophisticated DNA tests followed.

Researchers failed to retrieve any mitochondrial DNA from the bones, said Jon Jefferson, who teams with Bass to write best-selling books based on Bass’ experiences.

Jefferson said he then called Blake’s wife. He learned that Blake in the late 1970s normally simmered human bones “a day or two in water with detergent and bleach’’ to clean them as part of his standard procedure.

That practice, commonplace at the time and before the advent of DNA testing, “is not good for DNA,’’ Jefferson said.

Stymied without a good DNA source from the bones, Jefferson said he recalled that a mat of human hair was discovered at the crime scene.

It was found next to the bones, and it tentatively matched hair on rollers in Leoma Patterson’s house, he said.

Jefferson said he called Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray, who was the TBI agent investigating Leoma Patterson’s death.

“I asked Sheriff Ray enough questions that he got kind of curious,’’ Jefferson said.

Ray had a file on the case at his house, Jefferson said.

“Lo and behold, there was the hair mat,’’ Jefferson said, with the original TBI seals still intact.

That DNA hair sample matched DNA from one of Leoma Patterson’s granddaughters.

The odds are 99.99 percent that the granddaughter and the woman “whose remains we’ve been looking at are of the same maternal lineage,’’ Jefferson said.

“We’re not saying it’s not her,’’ said Leoma Patterson’s son, Ronald Patterson. “But we’ve got a guy in prison who said he beat her in the head with a tire iron and a perfect skull with no fractures.’’

Ronald Patterson said that if family members agree, the bones would be reinterred — for good this time — in the family cemetery.

Site Meter
Missing Pieces is a weekly 1 hour Public Service Announcement brought to you by www.LFGRC.org

Missing Pieces comes to you in the form of a Internet Radiocast / PSA
as well as a resource / archive located at www.MissingPieces.info
that is produced and maintained by

All production efforts, services and web space are donated by
the above entity on a voluntary basis.
"Frankie Davis, daughter of Leoma Patterson, on set of Resurrection"

"Family members remove unidentified body from mother's grave"
Top Forensic Anthropologist Dr. William Bass
helped the family with the re-exhumation.

Almost thirty years ago, Leoma disappeared from Anderson County. Six months later, remains were found near Norris Lake. Investigators always thought they belonged to Leoma.

Then in 1985, Jimmy Maggard confessed to her murder and said he dumped her body in the same area near Norris Lake. Police closed the case.

The family never thought they buried the right person. Last year they had the remains exhumed, tested and then re-buried. DNA tests later showed it was not their mother.

Saturday, after obtaining a court order, they had the remains re-exhumed from Leoma's grave.

"Really, it's horrifying," says Leoma's daughter, Barbara Adkins.

With the help of a court order and top Forensic Anthropologist Dr. William Bass, the remains were exhumed for a second time.

"The hopes are that we identify this individual and we also identify Leoma Patterson," says Bass.

But this day was also used to pay tribute.
Family members gathered pictures and a poem and put them in a memory box.

Now that is buried in their mother's grave. "It would make you feel better if she were actually in there," says Leoma's granddaughter, Elizabeth Pendergrass. "There's nothing hidden that will not be revealed and I believe that strongly."

Dr. Bass will test the remains and send the information to the National Crime Information Center to see if they can identify this woman.

Abby Ham, WBIR.com
Last updated: 12/2/2006 10:58:59 PM

(Left to Right): John Olivio, Elizabeth Pendergrass, Michelle Adkins, Barbara Adkins, Todd Matthews & Pearl Smith
on the set of "Resurrection"
"Click Here To Watch Video"
View Episode 10 For More Information On This Case
Special Thanks to
with www.whokilledtheresa.blogspot.com
for transcribing this episode!

Guest: Elizabeth Pendergrass
Leoma Patterson's family still have questions...
Exhumed twice and finally rebuuried.
Aired: February 19, 2008
Additional Information & News Updates
for Leoma Patterson Case