(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): This is Missing Pieces. I’m Todd Matthews and tonight we have Eddie Thrasher. Welcome Eddie.
EDDIE THRASHER (Guest): How are you doing Todd?
TODD: Tonight we’re going to talk about Eddie’s missing brother, John Matthew Thrasher. Eddie is a good friend of mine. I went to school with him so I’ve known him forever. His brother went missing August 14, 2004, and has not been heard from since. A lot of stories have circulated in town and I think we’ve got a potentially dangerous situation with this case. What do you think Eddie?
EDDIE: Yeah, there have just been a lot of rumors and things that didn’t have anything to do with the case that were talked about and it probably interfered with the case. It was told that he was last seen at a fairground but I don’t think that that was actually the case, I think that he was probably last seen leaving my Dad’s house getting in a vehicle with a person and that was as close to I know as being the truth from what I was told from my Dad, who has now passed away.
TODD: It’s kind of funny for me, this case, I mean knowing the people, usually I get to know the people after they have a missing family member and in your case it’s kind of the opposite. I knew you and so it just seems strange; I never thought, you know, in 5th grade, that I’d be talking to you…or anybody.
EDDIE: Oh yeah. I used to watch Unsolved Mysteries, it was one of my favorite TV shows and then when this came about, it was…now I can watch something like that or America’s Most Wanted and it actually means something, whereas before it was like a make-believe thing.
TODD: I don’t think anybody wants to learn anything firsthand like that. I’ve been working on this type of stuff for many years now since I met my wife and I got involved in a Jane Doe case, but I learned so much during that time from people and then you realize that you don’t know anything because I don’t know what it feels like to be you and I don’t want to know what it feels like to be you in this case. It’s just crazy; I’ve had a hard time working with this case, you know I have heard the rumors, the same rumors that you’ve heard and I know it’s difficult, especially when it’s in our own community. You know John and you guys lived right here in Overton County for a while and supposedly went missing from Putnam County, and there are so many stories with this case, it’s just…it’s unreal, it’s just unreal. And I know you, Eddie has never been a person that’s been in the center of anything, and I know it’s a hard spot for you to be in right now because you just kind of wanted to be left alone, and I noticed that growing up, you know you didn’t bother anyone and you didn’t want anyone to bother you, and I think you’re still the same.
EDDIE: Well, John, he was almost 15 years younger than me, he was more like a son almost at times rather than a little brother to me, and so it hit me in a couple of different ways when he went missing.
TODD: And you know I talked to your wife and I got to know your wife over the phone and through email and usually it’s her that I’m communicating with rather than you, and she talks about how it’s difficult for you, I know it’s difficult for you all the time, but there are times that I kind of sense a hopelessness.
EDDIE: Yeah, it’s something that at first we thought we were getting a lot of help with and then it was just like as if it was forgotten about and that’s something that we don’t want it to be forgotten about. We know that somebody knows the truth to it and we just want somebody to come forward and tell the truth because it would be the best for them and for us and everybody involved…it would be a blessing.
TODD: You know I noticed that ever since…just almost immediately after this happened there was a reward posted in the newspaper. It’s in the newspaper every week, and I think you said your mother was behind that. ‘A $2,500 REWARD – John Matthew Thrasher was last seen and last heard from August 14, 2004. At the time he was 21 years old, 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. He had brown hair and brown eyes. His family loves and misses him very much.’ You know he looks so much like you and just seeing this is just crazy to me. I think it’s probably the closest one, you know I’ve gotten close to people after the fact, but this has been the closest one to home, where I actually knew the people. This number, there’s a telephone number on the reward website, who does that go to? Who would I reach if I called that number? (931) 261-7429
EDDIE: There should be a number on the website to my mother, I believe.
TODD: And we did make a brief website for your brother; it’s pretty small but it’s got a little bit of data: www.JohnMatthewThrasher.com and it will be linked to this episode’s webpage so it will be available for people to look at. At the time, it was all I knew to do for you, because you don’t want to get in law enforcement’s way if they are indeed actively searching a case and it was a relatively new case. It’s been 4 years now, but I didn’t want to bother them but I did want to help move that data out there. I had hoped that you would never need the help from somebody who works on cold cases. I did want to get your brother’s case on Doe Network and North American Missing Persons Network so that he would be out there and he’s there. This is going out to the globe but I don’t know if that’s the place for this, you know? I just think everything lies right here at home.
EDDIE: Yeah, I do too, but maybe it’s something that if it’s aired on local news, that somebody that knows something will come forward.
TODD: And I’m hoping, you know tonight we’re doing this for this radio show and it’ll be aired very quickly after we tape record this. I’m working with Fox News right now and they’re going to be here within 24 hours and I’m going to try to get something going with you with that and it’s going to be on a broader scale and I’m hoping it will help because, Eddie, I don’t know what else to do, because I don’t know it you had a lot of cooperation with this from the beginning. Now when this first happened, you know they say he was last seen at the Putnam County Fair in Cookeville, Tennessee, that’s 20 miles from here, how did you learn that your brother wasn’t around anymore?
EDDIE: It was 3 days after he was missing before I was even aware that he was missing. He lived with my Dad and my Dad was a very sick man and he did not mention to anybody that my brother was missing, and then just out of the blue I got a phone call from Dad that he was missing and I asked, “Did you report it to the police?” and I guess he had just reported it to the police within hours before he talked to me. So I went to the police station immediately. I even left work and me and my wife went and we tried to file a report and tell them the best we knew about stuff to do with him, like certain tattoos he had on his body and a description of him, you know, somewhere around 6’1” or 6’2”, his weight, his age and stuff like that, just something that might help, but after a few contacts with them, it just sort of disappeared after that.
TODD: I did a couple of articles for the local paper and…nothing. I didn’t hear anything. It was just funny, it was just like nobody heard it, and I don’t understand that. You know we’ve all heard the rumors, and what Eddie and I are saying without saying…we don’t know what’s happening in this community with this case, we don’t know how much we’re endangering our own selves by talking about it, but you can’t just not talk about it, because this is somebody that this family loved and he was loved by other people and this just shouldn’t happen to people.
EDDIE: I know that for a while, there were a lot of young people getting involved with drugs and children had overdosed, and my brother was involved in drugs, it’s not something that I’m proud to talk about.
TODD: It’s common now. I don’t think anybody can hide it away and play like it’s not true, but it is true and I think you’re brave for just, you know, the truth of the matter is it was a reality.
TODD: There is a sad thing that happened; your Dad, Charles, passed away in February 2005.
EDDIE: (Talks to someone ‘off camera’). Sorry about that.
TODD: That’s okay, you’ve got some stuff going on there but that’s okay, we just do it like that, it’s just a conversation on a radio show.
TODD: But now, your Dad passed away in February 2005.
EDDIE: He passed away February 2nd in 2005 and that made this case even harder too because he could have added more probably to this than anybody else could, and he felt guilty about John going missing because he was in bad health and he couldn’t help John and have anything to do with John’s life and he probably felt like that interfered in some way.
TODD: Now on the page that I had made for him, it’s just raw, it’s just got data there, there’s not a lot but it’s about to change and it’s going to be a little bit better than what you’ve got right now. I’ve got a link, I’ve got a telephone number at the Livingston Police Department (931) 823-5635, if I was the public and I had a tip about this case and I was going to call the Livingston Police Department, is that going to do any good?
EDDIE: Well I would like to think so. I have confidence in Sheriff Melton that has come aboard there and I’m just not sure about what was going on before he came aboard and maybe somebody will know something and they’ll go to him and tell him what they know.
TODD: So I should probably route the information back to the Sheriff’s Department rather than the Police Department?
EDDIE: Well that would be my suggestion. I don’t really know and I’m not really sure because I don’t know a lot of people in either one of those departments, but that would just be my first thought process.
TODD: Now, did you feel like there was some type of resistance when you reported him missing?
EDDIE: Well what Dad said is that when he filed the report was that he was told, “Well he’s a young man, he’s at least 18 years old, and he can make his own decisions and he’s probably just out partying and this, that and the other.” Dad just talked to a regular deputy, I’m not sure whom he talked to now. My wife might be able to tell you but I don’t really remember a name and this person had said, “Oh, he’ll be back,” but my brother wasn’t the type that would be gone. If he was gone overnight he would call Mom or Dad and tell them he where he was going. He went to a rock concert in Texas one time and called and told my parents, “I’m in Texas.” Even though that was a little crazy, at least he was the type that would tell them where he was.
TODD: I mean he was 21 years old when this happened.
EDDIE: Yeah, that’s what I was saying.
TODD: He’s a kid, no doubt about it. You know I’m looking at teenagers now at the high school and some college students, he’s a kid, there’s no doubt about it, he’s still a child. You know why it’s difficult, he’s an adult, and why it’s difficult to put a tail on somebody, so to speak, when they are missing as an adult, there are the privacy issues…
TODD: …but the bad thing is, and in this case, the privacy issue has probably prevented help in this case that could have come sooner, and that’s the scary part. You know things could have happened sooner. You know sometimes the privacy issues are there to protect your privacy and your personal information, but they can also prevent recovery efforts for somebody.
EDDIE: Yeah, I just got the impression that if it had been something that…I know recently, I’ve got a boss at work who had a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old break down on the side of the road where they had run out of gas, but nobody knew where they were and they were getting a phone signal that wasn’t making it all the way through and somehow they got the impression that the phone signal was coming from Knox, and this was in the wee hours of the morning, like 7:30 – 8:00 in the morning, and so they were under the impression that somehow their children had made it to Knox, which is an hour from Overton County. Anyway, to make a long story short, they found them on the side of the road about 3 hours later, on a side road, out of gas. And they couldn’t find them at school, but they were making major efforts to find them, and the reason they were making majors efforts to find them is because they were minors.
TODD: And I can understand that. I mean, you know minors just can’t go missing. I did create a document and we’ll talk about that sometime; it’s called ‘The Living Will For The Missing’ and I’m thinking, “If this was me, I wouldn’t want to be…I’m coming home tonight to my family.” If I don’t come home tonight, I don’t want the police to assume, “Oh, he’s having an affair. He’s a grown man, he can come home when he’s ready.” If I’m not home tonight when I’m supposed to be home, I want somebody looking for me, because I’m not intending on that to happen. It can mean the difference between recovering somebody or rescuing somebody and bringing them home alive, or recovering somebody that’s not alive. You know what if I went over an embankment and I’m sitting there waiting and I think, “Oh well, as soon as the privacy issue time period passes, they’ll come and look for me,” and I hope I’ve not starved to death in that length of time. I have no problem signing something like that. It’s just like a living will, you know, “Don’t put me on a respirator,” and “If I ever go missing, I’ve not done it on purpose, and please come look for me. I waive all privacy laws and come and look for me because I want to come home.”
TODD: And I’m hoping that we might be able to use that to affect the cause a little bit to help people like this because the privacy issue, I feel like sometimes invades our rights to be found, you know, because nobody wants to go missing, I don’t think.
TODD: Not like this.
EDDIE: No, not like this.
TODD: Because I don’t think that he would have done this to you. I don’t think he would have, just out of the blue, decided, “I’m going to relocate and I’m going to be gone for 4 years.
EDDIE: No, he was a very outgoing type person and even though somebody’s personality and their life can change quickly, I still find it hard to believe that this happened without there being a reason.
TODD: Well, we’re going to have you tomorrow, and we’re going to work with Fox News. I don’t know how far it will go, but I think it might go as far as New York City tonight on national news, and I hope it will help, because I don’t know what else to do. We’re right here in our own community and I don’t want to step on toes or prevent action of local law enforcement. I don’t want to insult or cause problems for them, or be accused of causing problems for them, but I do want the people to know that hear this, we’ve heard a lot of tales, we’ve heard a lot of things, and to repeat them again here would probably not be the right thing to do, but there are a lot of stories and if there is some bigger law enforcement agency that we can get to come in a look at this, we want to do it. We’re not doing it ourselves, we want more people to come in and work on this case.
EDDIE: Well a lot of people have said that he’s probably only missing. If he is only missing, he has some very distinctive tattoos like he had his name written in old English letters on the inside of his right arm, spelling his last name, Thrasher. And a tattoo like a rope chain like some professional wrestlers have, about an inch wide and with a knot tied in it up on the bicep of his left arm, if I remember correctly. I have very few pictures of him from the last couple years he was around, and he had Japanese letters tattooed in at least two places on his back, is the best that I can remember, up somewhere around the wide part of his back, I think.
TODD: Do you have any photographs of these tattoos or know who gave him these tattoos?
EDDIE: No, I might find this out, but as far as actually knowing it, or if I’ve got…I might have photographs of the tattoos on the arm, but as far as the others, I really doubt that I do. I don’t know but I can see if my son or my wife might describe it better than me.
TODD: I’ll tell you what we can do. If we can noodle back a little bit and find out who gave him these tattoos, and I’m sure you could probably find out, it’s probably a basic tattoo that we might be able to re-create on paper and actually show it to people.
EDDIE: I’m thinking it’s somewhere in Putnam County so that would narrow it down quite considerably. There are not that many tattoo artists in Putnam County.
TODD: So we’ll try to work on that. We can work on that and I do know a tattoo artist in Putnam County and actually used him before trying to get some information on another tattoo, trying to see if a tattoo was a pretty common tattoo. It was a tattoo on an unidentified person and he was of help; he did help point me in the right direction, so maybe we can go back again and get more description. I think we need more information for this case. I think something terrible happened in Overton County, and like I said, we don’t have to go about naming names, but I think something happened…here. And, you know, to even talk about it, I know we’re pushing the envelope and putting ourselves out into danger, but we’ve done that before, and I don’t want people to think that this is going to go away. People are not going to just stop because they’re afraid. We can’t be afraid forever, and we won’t. There are other people and there are other justices, and if nothing else, God will take care of all of it later one day. So whoever…
EDDIE: That’s true.
TODD: In the end, we’re going to win. One way or another, we’re going to win. So, it will all come out one day, and hopefully everybody that was involved in this, if they do know more, you know I don’t know what kind of person John was in the end, but I know you said he’d probably been involved in drugs at some point in time, but if somebody has done something to him, you know who has really asked for anything like that? How do you justify something like that?
EDDIE: You can’t.
TODD: You can’t. You know there are a lot of people involved. It’s not just one person involved, it’s a whole family, it’s a whole community. I think this case has been too invisible in the community and I think it’s because people are afraid to talk about it, and that’s not going to work. You know it might take things to go one step at a time, and we won’t say much here tonight, but it’s not going to go away. It won’t go away no matter what happens to anybody. We have enough data. We know enough, and we have enough information to actually keep it going and keep it alive. Nobody is going to forget it, and I’m hoping that maybe over the next few days we’ll have some opportunities to change things and I have to apologize to you. I wish with all the things I’ve been involved in and all the government projects I’ve been involved with for the missing and unidentified, I wish that there was something else that I could bring to you.
EDDIE: Well l just appreciate your help, Todd, and I knew you for a long time and I appreciate your help. I think that networks like what you’re doing is a needed thing and there are all kinds of missing people out there, not just somebody from my family, but from all over.
TODD: Yeah, it’s sad, and nobody wants to be part of that big family of missing persons, but I’ve met a lot of wonderful people doing this. There have been some…some of the best friends I have now are people I knew through this and they’ve become like family, and I’m sorry that you have to be a part of that and I think you’ve learned that over the past few years, but purposely I’ve not been too loud about this particular case because I was hoping that maybe there was something that I didn’t know about, maybe there was a tip that they were waiting out, but I’m thinking after 4 years, nearly, I have now decided that I’m not sure that anything is going on anymore. And I don’t want to be blamed for it if I had shut up, you know, maybe they could have done something; if anybody had shut up, maybe they could have done something, or we’ve spoiled it in some way, or even if we’ve endangered ourselves, I don’t want to think that anymore. I’m done with it. I’m done with it enough that I want to find opportunities for you to help change this, and I know this is hard for you. Eddie, is a very…you’re a very private person, I know that. Like I said before, you didn’t want to be bothered and you wouldn’t bother anybody. You wouldn’t harm a fly if it would leave you alone, and it’s not fair for this to happen to you, or anybody. But I think you’re going to find that you’re going to have to change things and reach out to the community and I hope I can help you do that. I’m hoping that we can change this. We’ll try.
EDDIE: I appreciate it.
TODD: That I know, we’ll try, and I know this has been hard for you to do tonight, but you have to do it. There’s no choice. I know that, there’s no choice. All we can do is try, and you’ve got a great wife, and I think she’s been your backbone a lot of times. She has really motivated a lot of people that have been involved in this case and making sure that they’re keeping on their toes. I’ve seen her and I’ve heard her in action and I’ve spoken to her and I think you’ve got a pretty good wife trying to help you out. I want you to hang in there and hopefully we’ll have some more help on the way soon. If nothing else, we’re going to keep looking, I know that. I know that there are going to be more opportunities to pop up, and after this next effort where we’re using some of the national news, hopefully we can talk again and we’ll just keep scratching and seeing what we can come up with on this, but by no means is it over.
EDDIE: No, I don’t think so either.
TODD: It’s just now moving into my world, my world of cold cases, and I know a lot of people that I think can help me and they’re too widespread to worry about wiping out. You know the fear factor there is gone now. There are people that can help us with this that nobody around here can get to them and nothing is going to change anything. They’re not bigger than here and I think that we can do something about it. We’re at least going to let people know about it. This just shouldn’t happen in this day and age, not in a small community like this. We have a…I feel good letting my kids go to school here and I want to feel real good about it, but as long as things like this can happen in a community like this, it’s scary. I think it’s time the community woke up and recognized that we’ve got something that we need to take care of. If this had been a wealthy person’s child, or some prominent member of society or a politician’s child, I think something different would have happened.
EDDIE: Yeah, unfortunately, I agree with you on that.
TODD: I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it happen, but all people are born equal and they are equal, and we should consider everybody equal. I’ve worked on cases that are homicides and the victim was a prostitute and that prostitute is every bit as good as me or you. She might have made a poor choice in life but people do what they have to do to survive. Nothing diminishes the person’s value.
EDDIE: That’s right.
TODD: Especially not to their family and the people that love them, so we will look, and I think now is when our journey on this will begin. So I’m looking forward to talking to you tomorrow. We’ll be working with a national reporter and I think we’ll talk to you again soon, I hope. I hope you’ll hold up and hang with me with it. I will hang with you. We’re going to try to do something with this and move it up a notch; turn up the heat just a little bit and see what we come up with. And I appreciate you doing this tonight, I know you didn’t like to do it.
EDDIE: Thank you, Todd.
TODD: But you did a great job, and we’ll say goodnight to our audience and you and I will talk for just a few more minutes and I’ll be seeing you soon.
EDDIE: Thank you, Todd.
TODD: All right. Goodnight everybody.
John Thrasher's Vitals:
Date of Birth: November 26, 1982
Date Missing: August 15, 2004
Age at Time of Disappearance: 21 years old
From City/State: Overton County, Tennessee
Missing from: Overton and/or Putnam County, Tennessee
Height: 6' 0" to 6' 1"
Weight: 180 lbs
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Tattoos: "Thrasher" written in Old English on inside right forearm, tattoo of a 1" wide "rope" with a "knot" around left bicep, tattoo across back of neck, tattoo of an unusual design with the initials "JT" in the center across lower back.
Clothing: White T-shirt with logo and blue jeans.
Investigators Hope Water Searches Uncover In Cases
November 18, 2008
LIVINGSTON, Tenn. - A Federal Bureau of Investigation dive team suspended its search for a body in Overton County Monday.
Divers and crews searched inside Standing Stone State Park. Cadaver dogs indicated that they sniffed something in the water. According to Overton County Sheriff's investigators, sonar readings indicated a body may have been in the water.
Six FBI divers from Virginia didn't find any human remains in the state park, which covers nearly 11,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau in north-central Tennessee.
"You know, you're looking for one person and you end up having to use the dogs and of course, you speculate that possibly it could be something and that's the only person that I know of that we have missing in Overton County," said Overton County Sheriff's detective Gary Ledbetter about John Matthew Thrasher.
The 21-year-old vanished from the Putnam County fair in 2004. It remains an unsolved case.
Divers Monday searched the same area were two weeks ago murder victim Jennifer Cornell first went missing. Her body was not found either in the water.
"Any leads we get we try to track down. We were not necessarily hoping to find a body today, but we were hoping to get some closure if was John actually there," Ledbetter said.
Thrasher's mother said she is hopeful for an unexpected outcome, but realistic about the prospect that her son won't be found alive.
The dam inside the state park was the site of a search two weekends ago for Cornell.
"There may be some things in the future we may try just to make absolutely sure that there's not somebody out there," Ledbetter said.
He more water searches are a very real possibility. He doesn't regret summoning FBI divers from Virginia on a hunch based on two cadaver dogs.
If anyone has information on John Thrasher's whereabouts, call the Livingston City Police at 931-823-6496. Investigators said callers can remain anonymous.
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