Manage episode 293280185 series 2077470
For the second time this month we feature the troubling, tragic, SAD murder of a young girl during the Christmas holiday season a long time ago. This one is incredibly tragic because it’s pretty clear who the killer is and he was never arrested. On December 26, 1980 six year-old Avery "Peaches" Shorts left her home in Knoxville, Tennessee with 58 cents in her pocket, bundled up by her mother Hazel, who asked her youngest daughter to walk to the local store to buy her a bottle of Coke. It was a fifteen-minute round trip. Little Peaches never returned. When 50 minutes had passed with no sign of her daughter, Hazel called the police – and immediately – before the night was through – dozens of law enforcement personnel were searching for Peaches. And in the coming months the number of police and private citizens searching for her grew into the hundreds. No success. It wasn’t until 13 months later, in January 1982, that the body of Peaches Shorts was found – by hunters on an old farm buried under a cattle chute. Her neck had been broken. A wire was wrapped around her neck. Her body was mostly decomposed, but her hair remained – still in pigtails with the ribbons Hazel had placed in it before she left the house still in a bow. She still wore her jacket, buttoned to the top, just as it was when the little girl left to buy her mom a soft drink. No evidence of sexual assault was present. Peaches had simply been brutally strangled – with no evident motive. No motive, that is, other than pure anger and spite. And the police had a perfect suspect to fill that bill – a longtime drifter and con man named Mitchell Reed. Seems Reed, who was more than twice the age of Hazel, had been dating Peaches’ mom (along with at least two other local women), and had been nagging Hazel to let him move in with Hazel and her three kids. Hazel didn’t want that, and had continually put Reed off. On the day of Peaches’ disappearance, Reed had yet again visited Hazel and had yet again pressured her to let him moved in – and once again Hazel had told Reed she’d “think about it.” That did not sit well with Reed, who left in a rage. A witness saw Reed in the local store where Peaches was buying her mom’s Coke. Reed later denied ever seeing her there. And through all the questioning, all the investigations – no matter what the police did to break him, Mitchell Reed never did – he simply lit another cigarette and flashed a smile. And there has never been enough evidence to arrest him or conclusively peg him as the murderer. Could someone be so cold and selfish as to brutally kill a beautiful young girl for no reason other than revenge at her mother for refusing his selfish request? Join Melissa as she tells this horrific tale of justice denied, possibly forever, and the toll it’s taken on the family and the law enforcement personnel who, even to this day, can’t – and won’t – let it go. If you think you may be able to help provide conclusive evidence of Mitchell Reed’s (or anyone else’s) involvement in the murder of Peaches Shorts, please contact Knoxville Police at (865) 215-7317.