The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has suspended its involvement in the Holly Bobo murder and all other cases in the 24th Judicial District after an argument bedtween District Attorney General Matt Stowe and TBI Director Mark Gwyn, according to the Jackson Sun.
“Stowe made allegations of misconduct by TBI and other law enforcement agencies, both local and federal,” Gwyn said in a written statement Wednesday. “He also repeatedly stated he wanted our agency to suspend all activities in his district. … Stowe may characterize this as a misunderstanding, but his requests were clear and I wasn’t the only one who heard it.”
Stowe issued a written statement earlier Wednesday in which he denied that he initiated the TBI’s suspension of its assistance with cases in his district. The 24th District is made up of Benton, Carroll, Decatur, Hardin and Henry counties.
Stowe said he “fully expects the TBI to continue to work in cooperative partnership with law enforcement agencies across this district in all facets of criminal investigations as requested by these individual agencies.” Following a meeting with Gwyn and others on Friday “in which professional differences were expressed,” Stowe said, he sent a letter Tuesday asking the TBI to continue working with agencies in the district.
Gwyn has proposed a meeting, to be facilitated by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, to try to resolve the dispute. But until further notice, the TBI has discontinued its active investigation of cases including the murder and kidnapping of Decatur County nursing student Holly Bobo.
Since Bobo’s disappearance in 2011, Gwyn said, TBI special agents have devoted thousands of hours to casework and forensic analysis. “The investigative records and results from a vast majority of the evidence submitted in the Bobo case have already been turned over to the district attorney general’s office for his further investigation, review and prosecution,” according to Gwyn’s statement.
The results of pending forensic analysis will be provided in a timely manner, Gwyn said. But TBI personnel will no longer offer comment or information about the Bobo case or any other case originating in the 24th District.
…TBI agents also will no longer investigate new cases in the 24th District, the statement said. “Local law enforcement agencies will be responsible for investigating the incidents in their jurisdictions, and will also be responsible for securing and funding forensic analysis for all future cases,” Gwyn said.
Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd said that the TBI cutting ties with the district will have a dramatic effect on how cases are handled. He said the biggest help the TBI provides to local law enforcement is forensic services such as DNA testing, and manpower and money to investigate cases.
Losing that help will affect county and city budgets, Byrd said.
…Gwyn said that Stowe attacked the work of the TBI and other agencies involved in the Bobo investigation at a meeting Friday, which also was attended by Amy Weirich, 30th District attorney general; Garry Brown, 28th District attorney general and president of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference; and Wally Kirby, executive director of the conference.