Suspect arrested in 25-year-old cold homicide case from McMinn County

Submitted Photo Tennessee Bureau of Investigation / Rodney E. Jackson
photo Submitted Photo Tennessee Bureau of Investigation / Rodney E. Jackson

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Friday that a man wanted in the 1996 killing of a woman in McMinn County was arrested last month.

Rodney E. Jackson of Roseville, Illinois, was arrested Jan. 18 by the Illinois State Police in connection with the death of Barbara Danley (Lehman) Johnson, whose body was found in November 1996 off a ramp on Interstate 75 in McMinn County, according to a TBI news release.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County cold case unit solves murder with ties to former Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton)

"I am incredibly grateful for the relentless work on the part of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in this case," 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump said in the release. "Despite the years that have passed since her murder, Barbara Johnson will have her opportunity at justice."

When Johnson's body was found in 1996, an autopsy determined homicide was the cause of her death.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County grand jury indicts man in 2011 cold-case slaying of Chattanooga man)

Twenty-five years later this August, agents submitted evidence to be re-examined to the TBI crime lab in Knoxville. Results of the re-testing and further investigative work concluded that Jackson was connected to the case, the release said.

"This is a perfect example of why we are so appreciative of [Gov. Bill] 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," TBI Director David Rausch said in the release. "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."

Jackson has been charged with one count of first-degree murder. He was extradited to Tennessee, where he has been booked into the McMinn County Jail, the release said.

(READ MORE: TBI seeking leads in 2016 Bledsoe County double slaying cold-case)

Calls to the jail and the McMinn County Sheriff's Office seeking information on Jackson's bond status were unsuccessful.

- Compiled by La Shawn Pagán