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Hamilton County District Attorney investigators Mike Mathis and Kathy Goforth, Chattanooga police cold case supervisor Sgt. Bill Phillips and TBI liaison Jeremy Lofquest meet with case agents, Red Bank police Lt. Jay Lamance, Detective Michael Ray and TBI special agent Mark Wilson.

 

Barbara Gill was killed 10 years ago and her case has long since gone cold.

But last week, investigators took a second look at her homicide as part of the new multi-agency cold case division that Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston created in late September.

The cold case team is the first of its kind in Hamilton County -- a task force of sorts, led by former Chattanooga police major crimes investigator Mike Mathis and Sgt. Bill Phillips.

And while the Chattanooga Police Department has 113 unsolved homicides between 1976 and Jan. 1, 2014, the task force isn't focusing only on those cases. The cold case division also is taking on cases from neighboring cities, like Red Bank.

That's where Gill's case started. She was reported missing from the Cherokee Motel on Oct. 23, 2004. Her body was found almost a month later -- on Nov. 16, 2004, -- along the side of U.S. Highway 41 in Marion County.

Her death was ruled a homicide but remained unsolved.

So last week, members of the cold case division met with Red Bank police investigators to take a fresh look at Gill's case. The group came up with several new ways to approach the investigation.

"We're leaving Friday morning to go to speak with the forensic pathologist who was familiar with this case to get some ideas from them and some questions answered from them," Phillips said.

Lt. Jay Lamance, who is handling the case for Red Bank, said he's glad to have the cold case division's help.

"We made out a game plan," he said. "It was really nice to have a group from different jurisdictions participate, because you can draw from a lot of resources that Red Bank just doesn't have."

Phillips said the division has yet to actually solve its first cold case, but that investigators have made significant progress on several cases.

"It's going over the facts that were documented throughout the years, looking at different views, different ideas on how to try to make progress in a case," he said. "We're making progress and we hope to continue that so we can hopefully close some cases."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.

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