A former Tennessee governor’s administration helped pay a homicide contract for a 1979 hit on a federal witness who was buddies with union boss Jimmy Hoffa, authorities stated.
The white contract killer wore a wig, faux beard and was in blackface when he gunned down Chattanooga businessman Samuel Pettyjohn, a cooperating witness in a corruption scandal that introduced down the now-dead governor, Hamilton County prosecutors introduced Wednesday.
Pettyjohn had money and jewellery price $100,000 on him when was killed on Feb. 1, 1979 inside a Beverage Mart he owned, authorities stated in a information launch.
“Essentially, Mr. Pettyjohn cooperated with authorities and knew too much about what was going on locally, as well as the state level, and individuals didn’t like that and so individuals hired someone to murder him,” Hamilton District Attorney Neal Pinkston stated.
“Here we are some 42 years later.”
Ex-Gov. Ray Blanton was underneath investigation on the time of the homicide for allegedly handing out early parole to prisoners in alternate for money. He was by no means indicted, though three members of his administration have been.
The DA was requested in a information convention on Wednesday how certain he was that Blanton’s administration helped pay for Pettyjohn’s homicide.
“I’m very sure,” he stated. “I’m proof positive.”
Still, the case is now closed – with Blanton, the alleged gunman and others concerned lengthy lifeless. But a grand jury heard the brand new proof Tuesday and stated it might’ve indicted the killer on a first-degree homicide cost had he been alive.
“Our Cold Case Unit put in countless hours to solve this unusual case,” Pinkston stated in an announcement.
“Hopefully, it will bring some closure and peace to Pettyjohn’s surviving family members.”
Pettyjohn was an influential proprietor of a number of companies and nightclubs with ties to the underworld and the Teamsters union, a DA report on the case stated.
He helped facilitate the offers within the “cash-for-clemency” scandal and dropped off funds to representatives of the governor’s workplace, prosecutors declare.
When the FBI seemed into the allegations, Pettyjohn gave testimony to a federal grand jury not less than as soon as earlier than he began cooperating with the FBI instantly, at one level giving an inventory of names to agent Hank Hillin, the DA report stated.
Hillin later wrote a e book on the investigation known as “FBI Codename TENNPAR.” By the conclusion of the probe, 5 witnesses have been both murdered or dedicated suicide, prosecutors stated.
In 1982, two folks have been arrested for killing Pettyjohn however the prices have been dismissed.
The chilly case was reopened in 2015. Using outdated data and new informants, prosecutors recognized financial institution robber William Edward Alley as Pettyjohn’s executioner. The informants stated Alley had netted a contract between $25,000 and $50,000 for the murder-for-hire, prosecutors allege.
Alley died in 2005.
Saadiq Pettyjohn, one in all Pettyjohn’s sons, spoke on behalf of his household in regards to the new allegations.
“It is a curse and a blessing to grow up in a family that is connected to crime,” he stated in an announcement.
“When that person dies, you can either go that route, or you can go a different route, and all of us chose to go a better route with education and try to do better in our lives.”
Blanton died in 1996, however he confronted bother at the same time as his time as governor got here to an in depth in 1979.
While nonetheless being probed for the scandal, he pardoned and commuted the sentences of greater than 50 prisoners shortly earlier than he was out of workplace, The Associated Press reported. Fellow Democrats and Republicans moved up by three days the inauguration of Blanton’s successor in consequence, the AP stated.
In 1981, he was convicted for extortion and conspiracy for promoting a liquor license to a good friend whereas in workplace for $23,000.
With Post wires