Unsolved TN: What happened to teen who vanished off Dickson highway in 1987?

DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than three decades ago, on April 15, 1987, the community of Dickson was stunned by a case that remains unsolved to this day.

It was one day away from her prom night and 17-year-old Martha Leanne Green had just gotten off work at the Holiday Inn in Dickson, where investigators said she regularly greeted guests who would stop and stay the night.

Shortly after her shift ended, Green’s twin brother stopped at the hotel, located off Highway 46 near Interstate 40, to pick her up. They were heading back to their family’s home in White Bluff in a Chevy Monte Carlo with tinted windows.

SEE ALSO: Sheriff holds out hope in 1987 case of missing Dickson teen

However, they only made it about a half-mile down the road before the car ran out of gas near a business called “The Barn,” according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

A family coming home from church spotted the siblings stuck on the side of the road and stopped to help, but while her brother went with them to get gas at a nearby Shell station, Green stayed behind.

Martha Leanne Green
Martha Leanne Green

Her brother was only gone for about 10 minutes before returning to the car. However, by then, Green had vanished. Officials said she left behind her purse and keys, which were found in the front seat of the Monte Carlo.

Deputies with the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office began searching for the high school junior after she was reported missing around 10 p.m. that night.

Martha Leanne Green’s disappearance still haunts Dickson County

In an interview with News 2, former Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove, who was a part of the TBI during the investigation, said authorities immediately knew Green had not just walked off by herself.

He led a team of detectives who spent countless hours searching and looking into her disappearance, with thousands of possible leads investigated. However, detectives never found Green.

Martha Leanne Green at 17 years old and age progressed to 40. (Courtesy: NCMEC)
Martha Leanne Green at 17 years old and age progressed to 40. (Courtesy: NCMEC)

Over the years, one man has stuck out as a primary suspect, but there has not been any physical evidence directly connecting him to Green’s disappearance.

According to Breedlove, investigators confirmed three suspected serial murderers were on Highway 46 that night — one of which was Robert McKinley Richards, who was incarcerated in Florida on rape charges after Green went missing.

UNSOLVED TENNESSEE: Find more of the state’s cold cases, missing persons, and other mysteries

Authorities said Richards later confessed to killing Green, as well as a nurse from Memphis, but he was also a known liar. Richards reportedly led them on a wild burial chase, taking them from place to place where he claimed to have buried Green’s body.

However, searches of those locations never turned up any evidence. A cellmate ended up killing Richards in prison and he was never charged in the case.

As time has passed, the stretch of road where Green went missing has changed, along with many other parts of the area. Green’s mother never found closure before she passed away but did get one final request from Breedlove.

“I said, ‘Miss Green, would you do something for me? Would you please come back to me; I don’t care if you haunt me in the middle of the night – just something I can go on so I can find her remains’. And we laughed about it. But it’s just one of those where if it goes unresolved, I’m just hoping someone somewhere will find her remains,” Breedlove said.

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Investigators still believe someone might have information that could help solve the case. Green was last seen wearing a white shirt, faded blue jeans, and white tennis shoes. According to the TBI, she had green eyes, but often wore brown contacts.

While foul play is suspected in the case, Green would be 54 years old if still alive today. Anyone who has any information is asked to contact the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office at 615-789-4130 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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