Rutherford County detectives hope to solve oldest case with new leads

Rutherford County detectives hope to solve oldest case with new leads (Image 1)

In Rutherford County, detectives are hoping to get new leads on their oldest cold case.

On May 17, 1977, a man was found inside a vacant house on Halls Hill Pike in east Murfreesboro with his throat slashed. Investigators identified the man as Eugene Ewing, 45.

Det. Sgt. Dan Goodwin staid two little boys playing outside spotted Ewing hunched over a couch in the open garage.

“It appeared he had been killed with a knife or razor. His throat had been slashed a couple times,” Det. Goodwin stated.

He also said the abandoned home was known as a place to gamble and drink, and Ewing had a history of alcoholism. The 17-year army veteran was getting treatment for it at the VA Medical Center.

Robbery appeared to be the motive.  Pieces of his identification were scattered around and his wallet was gone.  There was no trace of the suspect.

“They found some beer cans and a couple liquor bottles. They sent them in for analysis, but no prints were able to be raised,” Det. Goodwin said.

A man was seen at the home around the same time and a composite sketch of his appearance was released to the public.

Ten months later, Jerry Sylvertooth was brought in for questioning.  He looked eerily similar to the composite.

Sylvertooth was also a veteran getting treatment at the same VA hospital and had a criminal history.  However, for unknown reasons, he was never arrested.

Det. Goodwin said in those years, record keeping was minimal and there's no information about what detectives asked him.  It's also unknown what Sylvertooth said about his relationship to Ewing, if any.

Records show that Sylvertooth died in Glendale, Arizona in 1999.

Det. Goodwin wonders if he slipped through the cracks or if a killer is still out there.  He hopes someone comes forward with new information.

Detectives on the case hope to speak with the two young boys who discovered the body, or anyone else who might have known anything about Ewing and Sylvertooth in the late 1970s.

“One thing we find in old cases is folks are worried they have information and they're in trouble because they never said anything, and that's not true,” Det. Goodwin said.

He explained they opened the case several times in the 1990s and then again in 2009.  He said they could have run DNA tests on those beer bottles found at the scene.

However, about 10 years after the crime, most of the evidence room was destroyed after a sewer pipe overflowed at the jail.

Ewing's daughter, Marilyn, told News 2 that even though it's been many years, their family still wants justice and closure.

Ewing was a native of Marshall County and was a divorced father of five children.

He served in the U.S. military from 1951 to 1968, including the Korean War.

Det. Goodwin said the day before he was killed, Ewing got a job at a local hotel as a handyman.

The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office currently has 11 cold cases.

If you have information pertaining to the case, please contact Det. Goodwin at 615-904-3015.

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