Hamblen Co.murder mystery solved; What cracked the cold case?

HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Kim Sipe's job description is as endless as the phones ringing in her office.

"We're busy. We're a busy county," said Sipe, an administrative assistant at the Hamblen County Sheriff's Office.

In her nearly three years at the sheriff's office, Sipe has seen countless cases come and go. But, there's one that has stuck with her for fourteen years.

"You see this stuff on TV and you hear about this stuff but you don't ever expect it to happen to you or your family and it's totally different when you have to live with it," said Sipe.

In March of 2003, Sipe's aunt, Mickey Moore, was robbed and murdered in the driveway of her Morristown home. For years, the case was cold.

"We've lived for fourteen years knowing her killers were walking free probably in this county and that's a lot to stomach," said Sipe. "Probably about four or five years ago my parents thought we may never see this happen in our lifetime."

But two years ago, deputies caught a break.

Sheriff Esco Jarnagin and his team dusted off the case and took another look.

"Upon looking on it, sometimes with a fresh mindset and fresh eyes you can pick up on something that might have been missed and we felt like the case could be solved," said Jarnagin.

Deputies arrested Johnny and Carmen Kirk. Both were suspects since day one, but there was never enough proof to charge them.

"Sometimes you have to take a lot of pieces to make the puzzle and that's what we did in this case," said Jarnagin.

This fall, fourteen years since the murder, the puzzle was finally finished. Jarnagin said both Johnny and Carmen Kirk pleaded guilty.

"For going on fifteen years we've dealt with this and it was by God's grace and a lot of hard work from our sheriff's office that justice has been brought now.," said Sipe.

Even though the wounds from her aunt's death will never quite close, the case finally is. For the first time in more than a decade, waiting for the phone to ring will just be part of her job and not a part of her life.

"If there's other families out there that have a cold case, don't give up the hope for it, don't give up the faith for it because it's possible," said Sipe.

Sipe wanted to specifically thank Lt. David Stapleton, a detective for the department, for never giving up the search for justice.