Betty Joyce Brown, also known by her married name “Betty Simmons,” was 29 years old when she was found dead in a wooded area in South Knox County, Tennessee.
The coroner ruled her death a homicide, but more than three decades have passed, and her killer is still at large.
On July 13, 1985, Brown was busy moving into her new apartment on Tarleton Avenue when she decided to go to a grocery store nearby. But after buying a hot dog, she vanished.
Seven days later, the mother of three was found dead.
According to The Knoxville News-Sentinel, on the afternoon of July 20, 1985, a resident was walking to his mailbox when he noticed a foul odor.
When he searched the wooded area near his driveway, located off Maloney Road, he found the charred body of a female laying on top of a bed of charcoal.
Before finding her body, the resident told detectives that he had found blood stains and a pair of undergarments in his driveway nearly a week earlier.
Four days later, the body was identified through dental records as that of Brown, who died from a stab wound to the chest.
An autopsy showed that Brown had been deceased for about a week before she was found.
It was reported that the Austin-East High School graduate was stabbed with a five-inch knife before she was set on fire.
The Knox County Chief of Detectives stated that Brown had “a long arrest record for prostitution, drugs, larceny, etc.”
She would often work as a prostitute on Magnolia Avenue, which led investigators to believe that she may have accepted a ride from someone she didn’t know.
Investigators said she may have been killed somewhere in the area between midnight and 1 a.m. on July 14, 1985, before the perpetrator obscured her body in the woods.
One of Brown’s relatives told the media in 1985 that “even though she was a prostitute, she didn’t deserve to die like that. She did what she did to make a living, but she never did anybody any harm.”
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Betty Joyce Brown is encouraged to contact the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at (865) 215-3520 or (865) 215-3590.