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Body of suspected murder victim to be reinterred

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The body of a man believed to be a victim of murder in the 1960s is to be reinterred in a private family service on Monday at Bellwood Cemetery.

The remains of Charles “Butch” Cooksey were released on Wednesday by forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville after they conducted an autopsy using the latest in technology to discover how Cooksey died.

Cooksey’s body was found in the road on a rural section of Highway 70 on June 14, 1969. His death was originally ruled a hit-and-run. He was 19.

“To say that he was run over multiple times is an understatement,” Ashe told The Wilson Post in its Oct. 23 edition. “His body was badly mangled, but there was very little traffic on that road back then. It was most likely the same car that ran over him several times.”

Questions have persisted since then about his death resulting in the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department recently reopening the case.

“We know more now than we knew when we started,” said Sheriff Terry Ashe who knew Cooksey. “We know who did it, but knowing it and proving it are two different things.”

The autopsy took quite a while, Ashe said, noting that the UT Department of Anthropology is one of the best in the nation in such matters and as a result they have a lot of cases. “They took a lot care and attention because of the length of death,” he added. The body was exhumed in October.

Ashe said he has had verbal conversations with University of Tennessee’s Dr. Lee Jantz, one of the nation’s foremost forensic anthropologists, and local investigators have a couple of additional interviews to conduct. They will then talk with the District Attorney’s office about the evidence and how to proceed.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at

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