Longtime suspect in Marcia Trimble case speaks out - WSMV Channel 4

Longtime suspect in Marcia Trimble case speaks out for first time

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Can you remember everything you had in your pocket yesterday, and where you got it?

Now, try to remember what was in your pockets 10 years ago. For the teenager first accused of murdering Marcia Trimble, police always seemed to come back to what he had in his pockets.

That teenager is now a 53-year-old grandfather, and, for the first time ever, Jeffrey Womack is telling his story.

By some accounts, Womack was the last person to speak to Trimble before the 9-year-old was molested and killed in the Green Hills area of Nashville in 1975. Her killer remained at large until Jerome Sydney Barrett was charged with the assault and murder in 2008. Barrett was convicted and sentenced to 44 years in prison in 2009.

But, Womack was the first person police suspected, and they continued to focus on him for years.

Initial police investigation

The very first report in the Trimble police file is handwritten on tattered notebook paper in mismatched ink.

It mentions Trimble, by name, twice.

There are eight references to Womack.

"They started asking questions about, 'What did you do this after?' I mean, all I tried to start telling them was she came to my house this afternoon at around 4:30 or whatever," Womack said. "(The detectives asked) 'Oh, well, what'd you do before that?' And I was like, you know, that's when it all started to get confusing."

"Okay, I had to empty my pockets out, and I don't remember. I know I had a condom in my pocket. And I had a $5 bill, and I had a penny wrapper with some pennies in it," Womack said.

"We know that she had a $5 bill. Her grandmother had given her a $5 bill. We knew that she had some penny wrappers. They were actually quarter wrappers with pennies in them," said retired Metro police officer Arlene Moore Burris.

'Profiled' by detectives

Four-and-a-half years after the murder of Marcia Trimble, and just hours after his 20th birthday, Womack was arrested for murder.

"It was more like I had been stalked. They called it an investigation," Womack said. "I was profiled before profiling was cool."

Womack said he had to force himself to block memories of the investigation.

"I had the ability and the guts to reach over and kick the door shut and forget about it. Had to. I don't know, I had to not let it matter. And if it ain't in your mind, it don't matter," Womack said. "Just, like, my mom getting upset all the time about, 'well you had to do something' and asked me if I killed her. 'Just tell me what happened,' with tears in her eyes. (I said) 'do you want me to explain that?'"

Ed Yarbrough, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, along with John Hollins Sr., defended Womack when he was arrested in Marcia Trimble's death.

"We have seen the determination to keep Jeffery a suspect for 30 years with inadequate proof. So, if he had told them, 'I didn't do it and I have no idea who did it,' what would that have changed? I don't think it would have changed anything," Yarbrough said. "They would have just figured, 'well, you know he's lying again. Gotta make him tell the truth.'"

Investigators return for DNA

It took 4 1/2 years to charge Womack with murder and seven months for the case against him to collapse.

But, police certainly didn't drop it. Another 10 years would pass, and in 1990 - again on his birthday - detectives drove to the Burger King that Womack was managing to collect his DNA.

"Five blue lights come flying through the parking lot, and I already knew. I didn't know what they wanted, but I knew who they were coming to see," Womack said. "(Detective) Tommy Jacobs comes in the kitchen. He comes in, and one cop - he got his hand on his gun - and the other one's got his gun down by his side. And there's soap suds all over the floor, and Tommy Jacobs says, 'Oh, hey Jeffrey. Don't look like you've changed at all.' I said, 'You neither, a-----. Put the f----- guns up.'"

DNA samples don't match

"So, we get to General Hospital, that's when they pulled all the hairs from my body," Womack said. "Fifteen from both arms, 15 from my chest, 15 from my groin, 15 from both thighs, 15 from each eyebrow, 15 from my mustache and then they drew blood. And nobody else had to do all that."

Womack's DNA would never match the evidence at the murder scene. Yet, the following year, came a brand new investigative summary with the same old conclusion.

The team is convinced that the guilty suspect has been identified, and through an aggressive and thorough prosecution effort, Womack will be found guilty of this crime, the report said.

The district attorney said no to a prosecution.

Father buried near Marcia Trimble

A year after that, on the 22nd anniversary of Trimble's death, police planted a camera and microphone near her grave on a tip that Womack might come there to confess.

He had been seen at the Mt. Olivet cemetery.

"I was here in '91 for the burial of my father, and I've never, ever came back," Womack said.

You can throw a stone from his father's grave to Trimble's. They are that close.

Full-hour documentary on Channel 4

This is just a small piece of Womack's story. After all, he spent 33 years under a cloud of suspicion following the crime that changed Nashville forever.

Channel 4 knows how important this story is, and has been, to the community, so we are dedicating a full hour to the investigation of the Trimble case Saturday at 7 p.m.

The documentary is called Indelible: The Case against Jeffrey Womack.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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