Sheriff says Abbott died of head trauma

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Investigators have determined that the woman whose body was found near the Blue Hole Recreation area approximately two weeks ago died as the result of blunt trauma to the head, according to Carter County Sheriff John Henson.
   Establishing the cause of death was the second piece in the puzzle that investigators were working on in order to solve homicide case. The first piece of that puzzle came when investigators were able to identify the woman as Terri Michele Sanders Abbott, 33, of Johnson City. According to Henson, Abbott had been missing since mid-February. An officer with the Johnson City Police Bureau stated that Abbott was reported missing by her mother a few days after investigators discovered her body.
   According to Henson, the next step in the investigation is to find out where the crime was committed. "Right now we're collecting the evidence and trying to determine the location of the crime scene and interviewing possible witnesses," he said. "We are trying to get the investigation set up to where we can develop a suspect. At this time we do not have a suspect, but we do have some strong leads we're working on."
   Investigators are currently looking for the crime scene in Carter and Washington Counties, Henson said. "If your crime scene is not where the body was found, you start looking at where the person was from," he said.
   Investigators from the JCPB as well as from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are aiding Carter County Sheriff's Department officers in the search for a crime scene. "Once the crime scene is established we don't know which side of the line it will be on," Henson said. "It could be in my county or in another one."
   Abbott's family members are helping investigators to solve the mystery of what happened to her. "I know they've talked to the family several times. I don't know how much light they've been able to shed on the case," Henson said. "Our understanding is the lady was married and is divorced and had three children who were living with the father at the time of her disappearance."
   Henson said he feels the investigation is moving along well. "In my opinion, we are making progress. We are working on some good leads," he said. "Whatever it takes is what we'll do to get to the bottom of this thing."