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A Tale of Mysteries and Accusations in Rural Tennessee

Murder Case of Jessica Morrison

By Johnny SixPublished 5 months ago 7 min read

In the serene countryside of Afton, Tennessee, a tranquil summer evening took a bone-chilling twist as a man and his loyal canine companion stumbled upon a horrifying revelation. Unveiling itself before their eyes was the motionless corpse of a youthful mother, Jessica Morrison, forsaken on the edge of the road. This heart-wrenching destiny served as the inception of an intricate and enigmatic homicide investigation that continues to confound both law enforcement and the general populace. Within this article, we delve deep into the intricate details surrounding the perplexing murder case of Jessica Morrison, entangled with a labyrinth of potential culprits, conflicting evidence, and an irreparable tragedy.

The Discovery:

During the evening of August 12, 2016, Donald Kohn Jr. was taking his dog for a stroll along Judge Neil Loop, a secluded and rarely used road near Afton. Unbeknownst to him, this leisurely walk would result in a disturbing revelation. He came across the motionless body of a young woman. Without delay, Donald notified the authorities, initiating a sequence of events that would expose a heinous crime.

Identifying the Victim:

The victim's identity was unknown at first, but it was soon uncovered. Within hours of the discovery, Jessica Morrison's mother and fiancé arrived at the police station, concerned about her disappearance earlier that day. Jessica, a 21-year-old mother of two, was tragically identified by her tattoos. The autopsy showed that she had died from severe head trauma.

The Unlikely Suspect:

As the investigation progressed, attention started to focus on an unexpected individual: Vonda Smith, the grandmother of Jessica's children. Vonda had been responsible for taking care of Jessica's sons, but their bond had become strained, resulting in canceled arrangements and a sense of unease. Jessica's family held the belief that Vonda had become excessively entangled in their affairs.

Evidence Against Vonda:

Detectives discovered significant evidence implicating Vonda Smith, as bloodstains discovered inside her vehicle suggested Jessica had been present. Nevertheless, Vonda's defense contended that her physical stature and well-being rendered it improbable for her to have administered the savage blows that resulted in Jessica's demise.

The Bloodstains and Cleanup:

The presence of bloodstains in Vonda's vehicle indicated that Jessica had been transported in it, although they had also been eradicated using bleach. The endeavor to cleanse the stains gave rise to inquiries regarding Vonda's participation and motive. Nevertheless, the absence of tangible evidence on Vonda's person and uncertainties surrounding her capability to commit the offense rendered the case more intricate.

Conflicting Testimonies:

Conflicting accounts were presented in the witness testimonies. Certain residents asserted that they observed Jessica at her residence during the period when her murder occurred, implying that she could not have been present in Vonda's vehicle. Conversely, there were individuals who identified a white van, resembling the one linked to Vonda, at the location. Moreover, Vonda's son, William Smith, was implicated as the individual who had utilized Vonda's car that evening, thereby raising additional uncertainty regarding her potential involvement.

DNA Evidence:

The introduction of DNA evidence brought about additional complexities. Although male DNA was discovered beneath Jessica's fingernails, it did not correspond to any known individuals connected to the case. Gary Ely, Jessica's fiancé, was implicated in the case based on DNA analysis, as his genetic material matched the sperm found on her underwear. Nevertheless, the potential involvement of a third individual as the father of a child remained unresolved.

The Trial and Conviction:

Vonda Smith underwent a trial regarding the homicide of Jessica Morrison. In the month of May in the year 2018, a jury declared her culpable of first-degree murder in relation to Jessica's demise, as well as second-degree murder for the loss of her unborn child. Consequently, she received a life imprisonment term, with the potential for parole after completing 51 years, essentially constituting a lifelong incarceration.

Doubts and the Appeal:

Despite being convicted, doubts about Vonda's guilt lingered. Defense attorney Ron Kuby delved into the case and explored the theory that Vonda was protecting someone else. Vonda's appeal highlighted uncertainties about her role in the crime, pointing out the lack of evidence indicating she was harmed during the assault and her intimate connection with Jessica.

A Closer Look at the Investigation:

The Jessica Morrison murder case is an intricate web of questions, suspicions, and unresolved mysteries. The conviction of Vonda Smith has raised numerous questions and has spurred further investigation into the case. Let's take a closer look at some of the key aspects of the investigation and the challenges that have emerged.

The Crime Scene:

The location where Jessica Morrison's body was found is an essential piece of the puzzle. While her body was discovered on Judge Neil Loop, investigators believe that this was not the actual site of her murder. The question remains: where did the crime occur, and how did Jessica end up on that remote road? The lack of a murder weapon has further complicated the search for answers.

Vonda Smith's Involvement:

The prosecution argued that Vonda Smith was the primary suspect in Jessica's murder. The presence of bloodstains in Vonda's car, her involvement in the children's lives, and the strained relationships within the family pointed to her as a potential perpetrator. However, questions about Vonda's physical capability to carry out such a brutal attack raised doubts about her guilt.

Witness Testimonies:

Witnesses played a crucial role in shaping the case. Conflicting accounts of Jessica's whereabouts on the day of her murder and the sighting of a white van further muddied the waters. The credibility of these witnesses and the timeline of events remained a subject of debate throughout the trial.

DNA Evidence and Gary Ely:

The introduction of DNA evidence brought its own set of complexities. While male DNA was found beneath Jessica's fingernails, it did not match any known individuals connected to the case. This mysterious DNA sample added another layer of uncertainty. Gary Ely, Jessica's fiancé, was implicated based on DNA analysis, but questions about the involvement of a potential third party as the father of Jessica's child remained unanswered.

The Appeal and Ongoing Investigation:

Vonda Smith's conviction left many unsatisfied with the outcome. Defense attorney Ron Kuby, known for his work on high-profile cases, took on Vonda's appeal. Kuby's investigation unearthed several points of contention and raised doubts about Vonda's role in the crime.

Protection of an Accomplice:

One theory explored during the appeal process was the possibility that Vonda Smith was protecting someone else. Kuby's team argued that Vonda might have taken the blame to shield another individual. This theory added a layer of complexity to the case, leaving the identity of the true perpetrator shrouded in mystery.

Lack of Evidence of Harm:

Another significant point raised during the appeal was the absence of concrete evidence indicating that Vonda had been harmed during the assault. This lack of evidence raised questions about her involvement in the physical aspects of the crime.

Intimate Connection with Jessica:

Vonda's intimate connection with Jessica Morrison was another aspect of the case that generated intrigue. Despite their strained relationship, it was challenging to reconcile the idea that Vonda would harm the mother of her grandchildren. This intimate connection remained a central focus during the appeal.


The Jessica Morrison murder case presents a disturbing narrative of homicide, allegations, and ambiguity. The conviction of Vonda Smith gives rise to multiple inquiries regarding the actual perpetrator of Jessica's murder and the potential involvement of others. As the case persists in attracting public interest and undergoing legal examination, it serves as a disquieting indication that certain enigmas may forever remain unresolved.

The complexities of this case continue to puzzle investigators, legal experts, and the general public. The search for justice and answers remains ongoing, and as more details come to light, the truth behind Jessica Morrison's tragic demise may one day be revealed.


About the Creator

Johnny Six

I'm a devoted stay-at-home mom, passionate about alternative education and homeschooling. My daughter is my focus, and together, we explore various hobbies,cooking, art, nature, reading, and music.

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  • Victor Pope5 months ago

    Hi Johnny, I thought the way you laid out the timeline of events in your article was excellent. Breaking down the discovery of Jessica's body, the investigation, trial, and appeal really helped walk readers through all the twists and turns in the case. The section where you described the conflicting witness testimonies was especially well written. You presented both sides in a clear, impartial manner. Great job bringing this intricate true crime story to life! I'll be sure to look out for more of your articles.

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