17 Years Later, Jameika Porch’s Killer Still At Large

Sunday, August 14, 2011 - by Judy Frank
Jameika Porch
Jameika Porch

If Jameika Porch were alive today, she’d be old enough to vote.

Chattanooga’s most famous unsolved child murder case began 17 years ago today.

The diminutive four-year-old wasn’t in the bed she had been sharing with her eight-year-old cousin at 1708 Tunnel Blvd. when her grandma went to wake her up in the morning.

Annie Tatum wasn’t worried; she thought her daughter, Joyce Porch, had come to the house to pick up her child. It wasn’t until she talked to Ms. Porch and learned that the little girl wasn’t with her that alarm bells went off.

Ms. Porch came to the Eastdale neighborhood where Ms. Tatum lived and began searching – unsuccessfully – for her missing child.

It wasn’t until that afternoon, after the family’s efforts had turned up nothing, that police were finally summoned.

Hours turned into days, and days into weeks – and finally years. But the case continued to go unsolved, and Jameika Porch’s whereabouts remained unknown.

Attempts to reach Assistant Chief Tim Carroll, one of the original officers looking into the child’s disappearance, were unsuccessful. Over the years, however, the former detective has commented repeatedly about the difficulties the case presented to investigators.

Seven hours elapsed between the time the family first realized the little girl was not there and the time they called police, he has explained. Consequently, by the time police got to the crime scene, evidence had been compromised.

When the family woke that morning, for example, they discovered that a plexiglass panel had been removed from an outside door. But since members of the family often took out the pane in order to get into the house, they thought nothing of it – they went ahead and replaced the panel.

Nevertheless, an intensive investigation was launched. Police talked to the little girl’s family and their associates. They combed the neighborhood from which she disappeared. The department’s public information officers regularly answered questions from the media, hoping that somebody who heard about the missing little girl would be able to provide the clue needed to help police locate her.

Eventually, the case went nationwide. Jameika Porch’s name became a fixture on missing children websites, and her case was publicized on shows such as "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries." A $6,000 reward was offered.

Nothing worked. There was no trace of the little girl for more than five years – until October 1999 when workers from a tree trimming service discovered skeletal remains of a small child at Riverside Industrial Park off Amnicola Highway.

The area was searched by officers with cadaver dogs and members of a Chattanooga Police Academy class. The collected remains were taken to the medical examiner’s office, where it was determined that the body was that of Jameika Porch and that the cause of her death was ligature strangulation.

On April 25, 2000, police went public with the DNA results and other findings and once again asked that anybody with information about the case contact investigators.

Today, another 11 years later, the case remains unsolved.


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