Jeremiah Lexer (June 6, 1826 – July 5, 1902), was a 19th-century East Tennessee plantation owner who, along with Hezekiah Hamblen, was a key factor in establishing Hamblen County, Tennessee before becoming controversially involved in disappearances and murders of local residents and travelers at the turn of the century.
Jeremiah Lexer lived on a massive plantation on the outskirts of Hamblen County in Talbott, Tennessee with his extended family from 1826-1902. Records show that he was a seemingly upstanding member of the community.
In 1887, missing people cases began to be reported to Hamblen County Sheriff J. F. Hayes and continued until 1902. These reports were considered unlinked and attributed to dangerous mountainous wildlife or becoming lost in the massive Appalachian Mountains.
On July 5, 1902 Jeremiah Lexer took his own life after a brutal killing-spree that left his entire family slain. After his plantation was searched, the gruesome discoveries of over 30 bodies was a shock to the community. It was later discovered that in his old age, Lexer suffered from undiagnosed Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia.
With the economy of Hamblen County struggling, and a push by government officials to populate the under-funded county, local media and law enforcement were bribed to cover-up the murders, so as not to dissuade potential residents and business owners from moving to the county. Once the bribes were received, most information and evidence collected from the plantation was destroyed by law enforcement and the remaining bits were sealed. The local newspaper, The Morristown Gazette, wrote almost nothing about the story.
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