Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 6, 2019

Hamilton Co. DA re-opens Tonetta Carlisle cold case

Tonetta Carlisle was 15 years old when she was last seen walking home from City High School, where she was a freshman, at approximately 2:55 p.m. on March 16, 1989. She was headed to her family’s residence in the 600 block of Hamilton Avenue at the time.

An eyewitness told Chattanooga police she observed Carlisle’s abduction approximately half a block from Carlisle’s home at approximately 3 p.m. The woman said she saw unidentified suspects jump out of a tan and yellow vehicle with the Tennessee license plate number LKH 920, forcibly pull Carlisle inside the vehicle and then drive away.

The witness told authorities she and her husband chased the vehicle and gave the police department the license plate number. Carlisle’s mother filed a missing child report with Chattanooga police eight hours later when her daughter failed to return home from school.

The plate number of the vehicle involved in the abduction was traced back to Jeffrey Jones. Jones was previously convicted of rape and aggravated sexual assault and served eight years in prison.

He was released about a year before Carlisle disappeared. Jones committed suicide and was found inside his van on March 18, 1989 – two days after Carlisle was last seen. He had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

There has been no trace of Carlisle since that time, but Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston has directed his cold case unit to re-open the case because he believes it’s solvable.

“I believe Jeffrey Jones is an important piece of the puzzle,” says Pinkston. “We would like to hear from anyone who has any knowledge of Jeffrey Jones, specifically within his last year or so before he committed suicide.”

Pinkston urges anyone with information about Jones, or Carlisle’s disappearance, to call the cold case hotline at 423 209-7470 or email coldcases@hcdatn.org.

Source: Hamilton County

District Attorney’s Office