Jackson, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has charged a man with first degree murder and first degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping in a 1986 cold case in Lexington, Tenn. that remained unsolved until now.

John Edward Miller, 47, who is currently incarcerated in the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg on unrelated charges, was served with the warrants yesterday.

On March 14, 1986, 32-year-old year old Betty Carol Thomas, of Lexington, Tenn., received a phone call at her residence by an unknown male who asked to meet her at Waugh’s Pizza in Lexington.  According to family members, she left her home at 11:45 that morning and was never seen or heard from again. Her family later discovered her 1971 Ford LTD abandoned at Waugh’s Pizza. Three days later, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department and Lexington Police Department launched an investigation into Thomas’ disappearance.

On December 25, 1986, hunters found human skeletal remains in the Pine Lake state recreational area south of Lexington which were identified by the medical examiner in Memphis as Thomas. The findings of the medical examiner revealed that Thomas died as a result of her throat being cut.

In January 2013, a witness called the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department and provided a statement that John Edward Miller confessed to killing Thomas with a cutting instrument in March 1986 and placed her body near a “state lake.” In February 2013, another witness provided a statement to TBI agents recalling overhearing a telephone conversation that Miller made prior to Thomas’ disappearance detailing plans to kidnap Thomas. The relationship between Miller and Thomas remains unknown. TBI has subsequently exhumed Thomas’ remains to obtain DNA and resubmitted evidence in the case for testing with more advanced technology.

Miller was charged with aggravated robbery in Carroll County in 1986 and received a 40-year sentence. He was out on bond for the robbery when Thomas went missing. He was paroled in 1995 and was arrested in Illinois on robbery and burglary charges which resulted in the revocation of his parole. Miller was sent back to Tennessee and has been incarcerated here since 2002.

Betty Carol Thomas-Crownover