UPDATED: A photo of the victim, Michael Bell, has been added to the end of this post.

NASHVILLE – Representatives from the offices of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the 25th District Attorney General and the Hardeman County Sheriff today announced the creation of a $24-thousand reward, in an effort to gain information about a 1998 unsolved murder in Hardeman County.

At the request of then-District Attorney General Elizabeth Rice, TBI Special Agents joined the Hardeman County Sheriff’s Office in investigating the July 23, 1998 murder of Michael Bell. At that time, Mr. Bell was a clerk at the McKee’s Stateline Convenience Store, located on Highway 125S between Middleton, Tennessee, and Walnut, Mississippi. The investigation revealed that an unknown individual shot and killed the clerk, then left the store in a 1990’s General Motors model sedan, and drove toward Walnut, Mississippi. Information gathered during the investigation indicates that robbery doesn’t appear to have been the motive of the shooting of Michael Bell, but he was instead the target of a coordinated murder.

The FBI has joined the TBI, 25thJudicial District Attorney General’s Office and the Hardeman County Sheriff’s Office to continue to aggressively investigate this 1998 murder. The partnership has resulted in new leads being developed in this case. On behalf of this investigation team, on Thursday afternoon, 25th District Attorney General Mike Dunavant and FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Gavin announced the creation of a $24-thousand reward. Investigators believe there are people in the community who can provide information that will assist in helping solve this crime. This reward is for information that directly assists law enforcement in the arrest and conviction of the person and or persons responsible for the death of Michael Bell.

Anyone who has information about the July 23, 1998 murder of Michael Bell at the McKee’s Stateline Convenience Store in Hardeman County is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.