Saturday, August 20, 2011
Scene of a Crime
This quiet spot with its hut and picnic table is just off Highway 100 on the Main Drive of Percy Warner Park. Yet once, in the 1980s, a young woman who was out sunbathing was murdered here. The son of a nurse I worked with came across her body. He was out collecting leaves for a high school science project. He ran out to the highway to flag down help. When the Metro Police came they saw a shirtless man fleeing down a road at the Steeplechase course. They cornered him, and he went to prison for shooting this young girl. It was a random crime, but as the police learned more they found that William Dugger, the murderer, had tried to kidnap another woman earlier that year, but she had fought him off. That diminuitive woman was Andrea Conte, the wife of the future governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen. At the time, Ms. Conte owned a cookware store in a mini-mall off White Bridge Road near Belle Meade. Dugger tried to drag her into his car, but Ms. Conte broke free.
I walked past this place this morning. How peaceful it was. Squads of young men from high school and prep school cross-country teams ran by oblivious to history. But I remember. I came to this city 30 years ago this week, and this was just one of the stories I have to tell.