Family of cold case victim says they always suspected son

10:22 AM, Apr 14, 2012   |    comments
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With 25 years elapsed since the murder of Bobbie Lou Hill in Knoxville, the victim's siblings say they are not surprised her son was the person finally arrested for her death.

Siblings Joyce Long and Howard Maples spent the past two decades piecing together the details of their sister's death.

Every new rumor or tip they passed along to investigators.

But they say the district attorney's office never felt they had enough to make an arrest.

That all changed Friday. Knoxville Police announced first degree murder charges against Billy Ray Hill, Jr.

Police say Hill murdered his mother, 45-year-old Bobbie Lou Hill, in her Knoxville home in September 1986.

Investigators wouldn't reveal the break in the investigation, citing the need to tie up "loose-ends."

Neither will Long or Maples. But they both say they're incredibly grateful for the detective's work.  First-cousin Mary Branam of Knoxville also expressed relief that the case may finally have the possibility of closure.

Long says she always knew Billy Ray was connected to her sister's death.

"He just killed her. Murdered her. Beat her, stabbed her," says Long. "I don't know how you could live with that all these years."

In the days and weeks after Billy Ray reported discovering his mother's body beaten and stabbed to death, Maples says every corner shop was buzzing with rumors Ray was culprit.

"I hear this everywhere I was going, around the neighborhood," says Maples. "It's hard to believe somebody in your family would do something like that."

Billy Ray Hill stayed away from his mother's side of the family since her funeral.

Long says she had one phone conversation last year with Ray and asked him to come clean.

"Our mother, she always told us 'vengeance is God's. It belongs to him. We knew that, but we didn't know when it would be," says Long.

They describe their sister as a soft-spoken lady.

They now suspect Billy Ray murdered his mother while looking for drug money.

But they say Bobbie was a private woman and kept her son's drug use and physical abuse to herself.

"I wish she had talked to my brothers. I wish she would have told them. But she didn't," says Long.

Maples says the thought gives him many regrets.

"Sometimes when you sit around, or when you go to bed, you think about it," recalled an emotional Maples.

The family wants to thank the detectives who never let Bobbie Lou's case disappear.

But now Long says her message is for Billy Ray.

"I'd tell him he'd better confess. Go ahead and tell what you did because he's going to answer to God."

She says she hopes their families story will inspire other victims of cold cases to hold on to hope that justice will come.

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