MCMINN COUNTY – A man has been indicted and charged in a cold case homicide that occurred in McMinn County more than 25 years ago, following an ongoing investigation and the re-testing of evidence.

At the request of the 10th Judicial District Attorney General, in November 1996, TBI special agents joined deputies with the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office in investigating the discovery of a female body, off the ramp of Interstate 75 in McMinn County. An autopsy identified the victim as Barbara Danley (Lehman) Johnson (DOB 10/28/1946), and it was determined she died as the result of a homicide. In August 2021, agents re-submitted evidence from the case to the TBI crime lab in Nashville for re-examination. Based upon investigative efforts and the testing and results of the evidence, an arrest was made in Barbara Johnson’s murder.

On January 18th, the McMinn County Grand Jury returned an indictment, charging Rodney E. Jackson (DOB 10/31/1968) of Roseville, Illinois, with one count of First Degree Murder. Jackson was arrested by the Illinois State Police, and extradited back to Tennessee, where he has been booked into the McMinn County Jail.

“I am incredibly grateful for the relentless work on the part of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in this case,” says 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump. “Despite the years that have passed since her murder, Barbara Johnson will have her opportunity at justice. Part of TBI’s motto is ‘That guilt shall not escape’. They completely lived up to that motto in this case. The teamwork between the Bureau and our Cold Case Task Force was exceptional. The Cold Case Director, Calvin Rockholt, had followed this case since the formation of the task force and always believed it could be solved. The Bureau proved him right.”

“This is a perfect example of why we are so appreciative of Governor Lee in his recommended budget appropriation that, if approved, would provide a significant investment to allow us to take more vital and innovative steps in the area of forensic science,” says TBI Director David Rausch. “The addition of 25 positions to the Forensic Services Division will help us better manage increases in the number and complexity of cases submitted to our crime labs, as well as the funding for new technology and initiatives to solve these types of cases, and ultimately provide more timely answers for crime victims and their loved ones.”