Homicide Victim Identified After More than Three Decades in Cheatham County

Michelle Lavone Inman, Photo: TBI
Michelle Lavone Inman, Photo: TBI

A woman whose skeletal remains were found in 1985 in Cheatham County has been identified, and special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are asking for the public’s assistance in determining who killed her.

In March 1985, skeletal remains were discovered near a creek bank by a motorist having vehicle trouble along Interstate 24 West in Cheatham County, between mile markers 29 and 30.

Photo: TBI
Photo: TBI

TBI agents began working alongside the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office in investigating the death. Forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee determined that the skeletal remains were those of a white female. According to the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department, the woman was estimated to have been deceased for two to five months prior to the discovery of her remains. After exhausting all leads, investigators could not determine the victim’s identity, and she was classified as a Jane Doe.

In April 2018, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center submitted a sample of the woman’s remains to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI). A DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes that the woman would eventually be identified.

In December, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents submitted a sample of the woman’s remains to Othram, Inc., a private lab based in Texas, for forensic genetic genealogical DNA testing. Scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the woman.

A TBI intelligence analyst used that information to locate potential family members in Virginia. Agents made contact with a family member and confirmed that he had a sister he had not heard from in more than four decades. Agents obtained a DNA standard from the man to be compared against the victim’s DNA utilizing forensic genetic genealogy.

Earlier this month, Othram, Inc. positively identified the woman as Michelle Lavone Inman (DOB: 4/17/61), from Nashville.

TBI special agents are now hoping the public can help provide information that may help solve her murder. If you have information about this homicide, specifically any knowledge about individuals Michelle Inman may have been with before her death, or recognize any of the clothing from the scene, please call 1-800-TBI-FIND. Or, send an email to [email protected].

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