- [S104] Cocke County, Tennessee, and its People, Cocke County Heritage Book Committee, (Walsworth Publishing, 1992), 273.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 18 Jan 2009.
Just Plain Talk - Cold days don't phase castings
- [S84] E-Mail, Nancy Powers [email@example.com], 3 Jan 2010.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 3 Aug 2006.
Convicted murderer dies in prison
- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 23 Jul 2000.
Death row inmate resumes appeals
Even death-row inmates get the blues sometime.
Edward Leroy "Tattoo Eddie" Harris, on death row for the brutal slaying
of two Gatlinburg motel employees, insists it was depression that drove
him to seek his own death earlier this year.
Feeling better now, Harris says he has found the will to live and is
asking that a federal judge "disregard" Harris' request to drop appeals
and face the death chamber.
Harris has been on death row for 12 years after a Sevier County jury
delivered the ultimate punishment for his role in the vicious stabbing
and shooting deaths of Melissa Suttles Hill and Troy Dale Valentine.
Hill, the wife of a Sevierville Police Department dispatcher, and
Valentine, a Cocke County native, were repeatedly stabbed and then shot
at point-blank range in September 1986 while working at the Rocky Top
Village Inn in Gatlinburg.
The killings were vicious. Hill was nearly decapitated by repeated
thrusts of a large hunting knife. Police have said Valentine, bound to
a bed with handcuffs, likely was forced to watch as Hill was savaged
before he too was stabbed.
The pair were then shot, and their ravaged bodies left in the
blood-soaked motel room.
The double slaying sent shock waves through the town that relies on its
quiet, mountainous image to draw millions of visitors each year.
The fact that Hill, a motel clerk, and Valentine, a security guard, were
ordinary folks with low-paying jobs and families to support fueled
outrage and fear among Sevier County residents.
The arrests of 4 suspects, including Harris, may have quelled that
fear, but the case's notoriety was just beginning as a bizarre cast of
Harris, covered in the tattoos that spawned his nickname, had to be
placed in protective custody because of death threats against him.
His co-defendant, Joseph Demodica, was a male stripper with a penchant
for violence and was dating a 3rd co-defendant, female impersonator
Rufus Doby, who adopted the name Ashley Silvers, through most of the
Harris' girlfriend, Kimberly Pelley, was the 4th co-defendant and was
portrayed as a battered woman who was a slave to Harris' demands.
Doby drew a media circus with his impromptu press conferences,
brightly painted nails and carefully coiffed hair.
Added to the mix was surprise state witness Antonio "Sunshine" Jones, a
stripper who taught Harris to read and write, and Johnnie Lowe, a Sevier
County woman who insisted she fell in love with Harris while visiting
her husband, an inmate at the local jail.
When the case finally wound to a close more than 2 years after the
slaying, Harris was sentenced to die; Demodica imprisoned for life plus
another half of a lifetime; Pelley was jailed for life; and Doby, the
least involved in the actual killings, was handed a few decades' worth
Only Harris has appeals still pending. Having exhausted state appeals,
his attorneys currently are petitioning U.S. District Court judges to
review the case.
In May, Harris filed a handwritten, 1-paragraph motion in federal court
asking to be executed.
A conference was then set between Harris' attorneys and the state
Attorney General's Office, which is handling the appeal for the
prosecution. That conference likely w ill not be held now that Harris
has changed his mind.
According to Harris' latest motion -- again a handwritten, one-page
document -- the convicted killer had "been under a lot of stress" and
"felt that my attorney's (sic) were not working in my best interest."
Depressed, Harris decided to give up his appellate fight and accept his
fate, the motion states.
"I overreacted," Harris wrote.
He continued, "I now am less stressed and I have spoken to my attorney's
(sic) and I now feel more positive about things and I would like to have
my ... appeal heard."
The appeal is pending.
- [S131] Divorce Record.
Husband's Name Wife's First Name Wife's Maiden Name County Court Date of Divorce File #
VALENTINE TROY D WILLA B [NOT GIVEN] COCKE [NOT GIVEN] 08-06-1984 16238