Arrest made in Trimble case

After 33 years, Nashville's most notorious murder case may finally be closed.
[Story updated 12:27 pm]

Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson announced today that a grand jury has indicted Jerome Sidney Barrett for the 1975 murder of 9-year-old Marcia Trimble.

According to Johnson, a Davidson County Grand Jury heard the charges against Barrett on Tuesday and presented a sealed indictment on the charges of first degree murder and felony murder. The sealed indictment became public today when Barrett was served with a capias. He is currently in the Davidson County Jail awaiting trial for the 1975 murder of Vanderbilt University student Sarah Des Prez.

The authorities released a statement from Virginia Trimble Ritter, mother of the murdered Girl Scout, who has asked the media not to seek her out for interviews. "It sounds as if this could be the next chapter in the life and death of Marcia Trimble," Ritter said.

"My family and I are grateful to this wonderful community for hearts opening to us, prayers continuing to be prayed, and for friends and strangers who have stood with us believing that one day we would all know the truth of Marcia's death."

Marcia Trimble went missing on the evening of Feb. 25, 1975, having gone out into her quiet Green Hills-area neighborhood to deliver Girl Scout cookies to buyers. Her body was discovered 33 days later, on Easter Sunday, in a neighbor's garage.

The mystery surrounding the Trimble murder has transfixed Nashville like no other crime in its history. As recounted in this history column, the unsolved murder shook parents and children alike when it occurred, and it has continued to do so.

The Trimble family has not been the only one impacted by the decades of speculations and unanswered questions. Several men who were teen neighbors of Marcia had their lives profoundly affected, as we reported in December. Police sources continued to float the names of two young men in particular to the media as suspects long after DNA testing had conclusively exonerated them.

At a press conference announcing the indictment, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman was asked whether he had consulted recently with Jeffrey Womack, who was arrested for the crime in 1979 but then released, or March Egerton, whose home was once stormed by armed police enforcing a subpoena. Thurman said he has been in touch with Womack, stating: "He has cooperated in our investigation." Thurman said he had not contacted Egerton for several years.

A reporter asked Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas, who was present at the news conference, whether he felt he owed Womack and Egerton an apology on behalf of the department.

"Let me say this," Serpas replied. "Detective Pridemore, Detective Postiglione and Detective Miller have given a career and a lifetime to providing relief to victims and families, and that's what we do."

Detective Bill Pridemore, Sergeant Pat Postiglione and Commander Mickey Miller have spearheaded the recent police investigation of the case. Metro's cold case unit was able to apply new DNA analysis techniques to evidence from the February 1975 Des Prez murder and bring charges against Barrett in that case, which goes to trial in October.

Thurman refused to comment on the role of DNA in Barrett's new indictment, though sources confirmed last year that Barrett's DNA was identified in crime scene evidence from the Trimble case.

Thurman, who successfully tried the Perry March murder case, is slated to prosecute in the Barrett case. He stated that Barrett cannot face the death penalty if convicted. Tennessee's capital murder statute was unconstitutional at the time of the killing.

Note: In 2001, Nashville Scene staff writer Matt Pulle wrote a pair of cover stories that constitute the most comprehensive single narrative of the Trimble case yet published. The articles are available at this link and this link.