Nashville man convicted in 1979 cold case murder - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville man convicted in 1979 cold case murder

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Freddie Lee Johnson Freddie Lee Johnson
Ethel Hethcote Ethel Hethcote

A Davidson County jury has convicted the man accused of killing an elderly woman in her Hermitage home in 1979.

Freddie Lee Johnson, 61, of Seymour Avenue, was indicted in February 2012 on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Ethel Hethcote.

The conviction of felony murder carries a sentence of life in prison.

Hethcote, 72, was found dead by her daughter inside her home in the 900 block of Radford Drive on Jan. 29, 1979.

Police at the time suspected robbery was a likely motive, and a recent investigation by Metro's cold case unit led authorities to naming Johnson as the suspect.

Johnson had been working in the victim's home installing insulation prior to her murder.

Hethcote's daughter, Norma Vandivort, says over the years, they would call detectives about leads but many times they came up empty.

"She was a pretty woman, and she was so sweet. And this is mother in the bathroom of her

house. She wanted for years to have her own home," Vandivort said.

Johnson is a registered sex offender after a 1979 rape conviction in Mississippi, and police said he has been charged more than 50 times in Nashville on crimes including robbery, theft, burglary, criminal trespassing, unlawful weapon possession and motor vehicle burglary.

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