Jack Kerwick

To judge from the ghastly details of “The Wichita Massacre” that I relayed in a recent article, it is difficult not to think that this abomination of a crime supplies us with as blatant an expression of unmitigated evil as any that we’re likely to encounter. Indeed, Reginald Carr and his brother Jonathan are in fact the “soulless monsters” that one of their two surviving victims described them as being, and if they were white and their victims were black—rather than the other way around—there isn’t a person in America who wouldn’t have long known this.

Yet as a reader was quick to note, there is another crime that occurred in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2007 that rivals, and may, if this is possible, even exceed the massacre in Wichita for its raw savagery. Like the case in Wichita, “the Knoxville Horror,” as it’s dubbed by those relatively few interested souls that dared to report on it, has received virtually no national coverage.

And like the case in Wichita, the perpetrators in Knoxville were black and their prey white.

By all accounts, Channon Christian, a 21 year-old senior at the University of Tennessee who lived at home with her parents and brother, was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. Her boyfriend, a 23 year-old trim carpenter named Christopher Newsom, was equally beloved by lots of friends and family.

Little could either one of them have known that when they left their parents’ homes on the night of January 7, 2007, they would never see their loved ones again.

On this fateful Saturday evening, Channon and “Chris” had planned upon going to a friend’s birthday party. Chris arrived to meet Channon at another friend’s apartment so that he could follow her to the party in his own car. But first he escorted Channon to her own car where he leaned over to give her a kiss.

And that’s where the young couple was greeted by thugs who carjacked and abducted them at gunpoint.

Channon and Chris were driven to the rundown residence of their assailants: George “Detroit” Thomas; Letalvis “Rome” Cobbins; Lemaricus “Slim” Davidson; Eric “E” Boyd; and Vanessa Coleman. It at this house of horrors that Channon and Chris would be subjected to a species of brutality that defies the imagination—and that would, ultimately, culminate in their deaths.


Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at jackk610@verizon.net or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.