Local attorney speaks about finding cold case bones
LOOKOUT VALLEY, TN. (WRCB) -- Investigators are working overtime this weekend to track down a cold case killer. Hamilton County detectives have reopened the murder case of 33-year-old Melissa 'Missy' Ward.
Ward was reported missing by her family in November of 2004. A month later her remains were found in Lookout Valley off Cash Canyon Road.
This week detectives conducted another ground search of the area. They aren't saying what, or if anything, was found. Saturday Channel 3 spoke with the man who stumbled across the murder victim's remains six years ago.
Bryan Hoss is a defense attorney in Chattanooga. He was checking out a property lot he was interested in buying when he found Ward's remains, and says it was more than a little strange finding himself on the other side of the crime spectrum.
"We meet the seller on the property," Hoss says. "There were several lots, so we started walking across them."
It happened in these woods off Cash Canyon Road, while Bryan Hoss was checking out a piece of land he wanted to buy.
Hoss says they were walking along a bluff lot when he noticed a deer trail. The attorney say that's when he spotted white bones scattered down the side of the embankment.
"The guy I was with thought they were deer bones but that didn't make sense to me," he says.
Hoss says he knew the bones were human when he saw the skull. He immediately called 911.
"I actually helped them put up the crime scene tape," says Hoss.
This happened in December of 2004. The bones were later identified as belonging to 33-year-old Melissa 'Missy' Ward through forensics. From there the case went cold, Janice Atkinson with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says they had no probable cause for an arrest.
This week new information prompted detectives to reopen the case and search the area where Ward's body was found again.
"At one point they did think there could be more than one suspect," Atkinson says. "I don't think that's the direction they're going now."
Investigators combed Cash Canyon Road for two more days before closing the search Friday afternoon. Atkinson won't comment on what, if anything, was found.
"It's really weird and it's getting creepier by the day," Hoss says.
The attorney was surprised to learn investigators had reopened the case. He hopes to see Melissa Ward's killer brought to justice.
"I was glad," he says. "I hope they solve the case. It's one of those things where you're cheering for law enforcement."
Melissa Ward's family declined to comment for now, saying they don't want to compromise the active investigation.