Judge Sets $200,000 Bond, Strict Conditions, For Man Charged In 1997 Chattanooga "Cold Case" Murder

Monday, May 5, 2014
Detective Bill Phillips testifies as Lebron Hollingsworth looks on
Detective Bill Phillips testifies as Lebron Hollingsworth looks on

Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern set a $200,000 bond and strict conditions for a man charged in a long-unsolved 1997 Chattanooga murder.

Judge Stern said if Lebron Hollingsworth makes bond he will have to wear a bracelet with GPS tracking and stay in Hamilton County.

She also said he would have to hire his own private attorney. He is currently represented by the public defender's office.

Tommy Johnson, a former Chattanoogan who said he is the best friend of Hollingsworth, said he had spoken with Key Bonding Company about making his bond. Hollingsworth is a boilermaker, who works at various locations across the country as dispatched by his union.

The witness said Hollingsworth lived in Birmingham and then Texas over the past decade. He was arrested at Amarillo, Tex., after an indictment by the Hamilton County Grand Jury in January. He was mistakenly released the next day and then, soon thereafter, was picked up in Ohio and then brought here.

He had previously been under no bond.

After a lengthy hearing, Steven Brown of the public defender's office said there is "little, if anything, to tie" Hollingsworth with the murder of estranged wife Victoria Carr Hollingsworth. She was reported missing by her parents on Aug. 18, 1997, and her skeletal remains were found on May 29, 1999.

Detective Bill Phillips said he had been working on the missing person case of Vicky Hollingsworth for almost 14 years. He said Hollingsworth reported her missing a day after the parents did when she did not show up for work.

Her two children by a previous relationship said they had been left alone when their mother did not return home.

Ms. Hollingsworth, though the couple was separated, still would get up around 5 a.m. each morning and take him to his job at the time. Her Mustang was found at her parents' residence on Duncan Avenue.

Detective Phillips said a small amount of blood was found on the passenger seat. He said the car had been drenched with some type of petroleum-based product.

There was a branch that was stuck on the car's muffler. The detective said it matched a bush that was in the defendant's back yard at 3214 4th Ave.

He said there were tire marks leading back to the bush, and the marks were the same size as those on Ms. Hollingsworth's car.

A cadaver dog was brought in and hit on an outbuilding. The detective said the dog's handler said that indicated that a dead body had been in the shed.

Det. Phillips said the couple had been together that weekend, including at a flea market on E. 23rd Street not long before she disappeared.

A skull was found at a residence on Taylor Street at the foot of Billy Goat Hill on May 29, 1999, then the rest of the body was found. Through dental records, the body was traced to Ms. Hollingsworth.

The detective said one witness has died and another has suffered a series of strokes and is unable to talk.

He said the new information includes interviews with several prior spouses or girlfriends of Hollingsworth, who say he has a temper and can become violent.

Detective Phillips said Hollingsworth initially gave a statement, but would not talk when he was brought back in. He said after his arrest in Texas, he denied any involvement in the death of Ms. 

Prosecutor Neal Pinkston said Hollingsworth has a fairly lengthy criminal record, including several drug convictions.

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