knoxville news
knoxville news entertainment rss linkedin twitter facebook contact smoky mountains knoxville legal notices travel knoxville sports business knoxville daily sun lifestyle food knoxville daily sun advertising about knoxville daily sun

Homicide victim found in Loudon County nearly four decades ago identified
Published September 20, 2023; 12:01 p.m.

James Keith Nuchols
James Keith Nuchols; courtesy image

LOUDON COUNTY, TN – A man whose remains were found in 1985 in Loudon County has been identified as a result of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative.

On September 29, 1985, a body was discovered by two juveniles riding bicycles along Buttermilk Road off Interstate 40 in Lenoir City. Forensic anthropologists determined that the remains were those of a white male, likely between the ages of 40 and 57. The victim had been shot, and his death was ruled a homicide.

According to forensic anthropologists from the University of Tennessee, the man had been deceased for one to two weeks prior to the discovery of his remains. TBI special agents and investigators with the Loudon Sheriff’s Office worked to determine the identity of the victim through the use of fingerprints and technology available in 1985, but their efforts were not successful. After exhausting all leads, investigators could not determine the victim’s identity, and he was classified as a John Doe.

Attempts to identify the Loudon County John Doe continued, and in 2015, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center submitted a sample of his remains to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI). A sample was also sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory. A DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes that the man would eventually be identified, but no developments occurred.

In December, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents submitted a sample of the man’s remains to Othram, a private lab based in Texas, for forensic genetic genealogical (FGG) DNA testing. Scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the man. Last month, agents made contact with one of those individuals and obtained a familial DNA standard. That standard was submitted to Othram for comparison against the DNA of the unidentified man. At the same time, a TBI Intelligence Analyst was able to locate a set of the victim’s post-mortem fingerprints. The prints were submitted to the TBI Crime Lab in Nashville to be analyzed by the Latent Print Unit. Forensic Scientists confirmed that the unidentified remains belonged to James Keith Nuchols (DOB: 10/15/26) of Blount County. Additionally, as a result of FGG testing, scientists with Othram also concluded that the DNA was a match for Nuchols.

Now, TBI special agents are hoping the public can help provide information that may help solve the murder of James Keith Nuchols. If you have information about this homicide, specifically any knowledge about individuals Mr. Nuchols may have been with before his death, please call 1-800-TBI-FIND or email tips to

You can read more about TBI’s Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative here.


knoxville daily sun Knoxville Daily Sun
2023 Image Builders
User Agreement | Privacy Policy