Why I want to be sheriff

WBIR-TV, Channel 10 offered candidates a chance to film a short video as to why we should be elected.

The link is here:


My video is here:


Thank you to Channel 10 for this opportunity. Anytime a candidate can connect directly to the voters it’s a good thing for the election process.

We are in the stretch run this week with the election this Thursday, Aug. 7. As I said in the news media this past week, the voters know me and they know my opponent. It’s their decision.

I was humbled this week by an endorsement from Joan Berry, the mother of Johnia Berry, who was slain in 2002. The Berry family offered their support for my campaign, and I gratefully accepted.

Winston Churchill observed that “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

The Berry family has given the lion’s share of their heart after Johnia was killed. They could have succumbed to the grief. Instead, they wanted to make this community safer.

Joan Berry and I will hold a press conference Tuesday. A press release was sent Monday to the news media:



DATE: Aug. 4, 2008

SUBJECT: Berry family endorsement

Randy Tyree, the Democratic candidate for Knox County sheriff, will hold a press conference Tuesday at his election headquarters at 10330 Technology Drive off Pellissippi Parkway.

The press conference will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, and will be attended by Tyree and Joan Berry, the mother of Johnia Berry.

The Berry family had concerns about the 2004 unsolved murder of their daughter and felt that then-Sheriff Tim Hutchison was unwilling to accept investigation assistance from the TBI and was preventing the case from being featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” a national television show that helps solve crimes and locate suspects.

Randy Tyree declined to raise the issue during the 2006 election campaign because the murder remained unsolved, and he didn’t want to say or do anything that could compromise the case or politicize the death of Johnia Berry.

“Losing someone you love is difficult enough, but losing someone to an unwarranted, horrific act of violence is beyond words,” Joan Berry said. “And that is exactly what happened to us. Our lives were changed when we got the call on the morning of December 6th, 2004, telling us that Johnia had been stabbed to death. We drove to the hospital that morning, buried Johnia that Thursday and then began our mission to find the person responsible for her death.

“Over the next few years, we dealt with our grief while working very hard to find the killer. Family and friends joined us in passing out thousands of fliers. A reward was offered. Billboards were posted across the area. Detectives with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department worked extremely hard to solve the crime. And all the while, Sheriff Tim Hutchison refused to accept outside assistance from the TBI and other outlets that could have, in our honest opinion, helped immensely.”

Hutchison won re-election in 2006 and then was ousted by a court decision over term limits for county officeholders. J.J. Jones, the interim sheriff, was appointed to the position, removed from office because the process broke the state’s Sunshine laws and then was reappointed in compliance with the law.

 “Once Tim Hutchison was replaced by J.J. Jones, we were hopeful that the new Sheriff would be more willing to accept the assistance of outside resources,” Joan Berry said. “He was not. Instead, we felt that Sheriff Jones was continuing along the same path as Mr. Hutchison. Even still, we were not deterred in our effort to find justice for our daughter. We stayed true to our mission of keeping Johnia’s case in the public eye in hopes that someone would finally come forward with the information we were so desperately seeking. And, thankfully, that day finally arrived.”

Taylor Lee Olson was arrested in 2007 and charged with the brutal stabbing death of Johnia Berry, a 21-year-old graduate of East Tennessee State University who had moved to Knoxville to pursue graduate studies at the University of Tennessee.

On March 24, 2008, Olson, 22, used a bed sheet to hang himself from a clothes hook in jail.

The Berry family believes a highly politicized sheriff’s department led by Hutchison and now Jones hindered the case from being solved much sooner, and the family believes Tyree will work to remove the culture of turf protection from the department.

“Though this is still a very difficult and heartbreaking time in our lives, the only thing I can now do is try to help others,” Joan Berry said. “Losing someone you love is beyond words and that’s something that you cannot change. But if you ever lose someone to a violent crime, you shouldn’t have to struggle with a system that should be working with, and not against you. You do have a say in changing the system.

“Being Sheriff should not be about politics. Being Sheriff should be about doing everything in your power to ensure the safety and harmony of the community. The Sheriff should be accountable to the citizens who have entrusted them with this very important position.

“This is why I am supporting Randy Tyree in the race for Knox County Sheriff. While I don’t live in Knoxville, I still have family there and I believe it’s time for a change.”

I am both grateful and truly humbled by the support of the Berry family.

Sadly, my opponent quickly showed his petulance.


Sheriff (J.J.) Jones’ campaign wasted no time in responding, releasing a statement just over an hour after Tyree’s release: “Two detectives were assigned full-time to the Johnia Berry case. They had no other duties for three years except to solve this case. I told Joan Berry it would be solved and it was. As I sympathize with the Berry family over the loss of their daughter, this is just another desperate attempt by Tyree to gain free media time.”

That’s pathetic J.J. Jones.

The voters have a clear choice this time.

Thank goodness.

And godspeed to the healing of the Berry family.



One Response to “Why I want to be sheriff”

  1. Matthew Broderick Says:

    Good article, thank for sharing

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