A Labor Day Murder

May 6, 2013

A Labor Day Murder coverChief Sam Jenkins learns of an illegal card game and the sale of moonshine at the Iron Skillet restaurant and decides to raid the premises. That looked straight forward until a firearms examiner links a confiscated handgun to an unsolved homicide. Jenkins encounters political corruption, domestic abuse, and a cover-up in his pursuit to solve the murder.

Published and produced by Mind Wings Audio.

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Read An Excerpt

At 11:30 Saturday night six of the twelve cops employed by Prospect PD and I waited outside the Iron Skillet on Sevierville Road. Five of us had driven our personally-owned pick-up trucks to haul away the furniture, file cabinets, and other accouterments used by the owner to promote gambling and sell untaxed alcoholic beverages.

I keyed the portable radio I held. “Prospect-one to all units, do it.”

Officers Bobby John Crockett and Vernon Hobbs slammed on the front door. Harlan Flatt, Leonard Alcock, and Junior Huskey covered the back door and the windows at the rear of the restaurant. Stanley [Rose]and I moseyed up to the front.

A man looking like a bartender answered the door. The two cops pushed their way in. Stan and I followed.

“Police department, we have a search warrant. Nobody move!” Bobby called out. No one moved.

“Where’s Audie Blevins?” I asked, waving a copy of the [search] warrant in my left hand.

“That would be me,” said a short, well dressed man of about sixty. I handed him the paper.

“This is a warrant to search your premises for evidence of illegal gambling and untaxed liquor,” I said. “I see two card games, care to explain anything?”

“Jest some friendly games, officer. We get t’gether ever once’t in a while t’ play cards, nothin’ more.”

“Have a seat, Mr. Blevins, and don’t touch anything.”

I told Bobby Crockett to open the back door and let the three other cops in. While Stan and I took names and capped the drinks on the tables with Glad-Wrap, the boys searched the restaurant, the adjacent office, and the storerooms.

The quickest way to put pressure on a restaurant owner is to threaten to take away their liquor license. I demanded a copy of his from Audie Blevins. As I recorded all that information, Junior Huskey got my attention.

“Sam, look-it here.” He gave me two folders and a well stuffed, padded manila envelope. One folder was marked players, the other was unmarked; the envelope was full of cash. I looked over the two page list of players. There were over thirty names with telephone numbers. The unmarked folder had several loose-leaf pages showing dates and dollar figures. The dates went back more than two years to March of 2005.

Crockett and Harley Flatt carried in four plastic gallon milk jugs all full of clear liquid.

“They’s about six or seven more jest like these in the back,” Harley said. “Take a whiff, boss.”

He popped the cap off one jug and lifted it to my nose.

“Yahoo.” I took a half step backwards. “Smells like pure alcohol; must be 190 proof or better,” I said, and turned to the closest table of players. “Any of you guys feel like you’re going blind?” No one seemed to enjoy my attempt at humor. “Confiscate everything and box up all these glasses we’ve put tops on. We’ll let the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms people analyze this for us,” I told Harley.

Then Vern Hobbs walked up, extended his hand and showed me a large revolver.

“Got this in the office, boss. Nice lookin’ gun.”

It was an old Smith and Wesson model 1917, .45 caliber revolver; a revolver that fired .45 automatic ammunition.

“Bag it and tag it, Vern. I’ll send it off to be checked.”

#

“Hey, can you buy the luck you always seem to have?” [FBI Special Agent] Ralph Oliveri asked, several days later.

“What luck? I’d prefer to think of it as superior police ability. What are you talking about anyway?”

“The gun you gave me [to check out]. Give yourself a gold star. You got a jackpot.”

“Keep talking, Ralphie, I’m starting to get excited.”

“The gun was used in a homicide near your neck-of-the-woods. In September of ‘06 a guy named Harvey-Dean Mullins was shot to death in his Maryville home. The Blount County Sheriff has the open case. Two distinct sets of prints on the gun. One matches to your defendant. The other is an unidentified partial. The gun’s on its way back to us as we speak. Pretty good stuff from your little jerk-water PD.”

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