In the early morning hours of February 1, 1979, Sam Pettyjohn was gunned down in his beer store on South Market Street.
Pettyjohn was found lying on his back with a .38 revolver inches away from his right hand. A cigar was still burning between his fingers. He had been shot four times with a .45 pistol.
Investigators believe the killer shot Pettyjohn in the chest, then stood over him and fired three shots to the head.
After the murder, witnesses saw a tall black man walk calmly out of the store, put the gun inside his overcoat and then disappear around the corner of the building.
Investigators believe Pettyjohn's death was a contract hit. No money was taken from the cash register or from Pettyjohn's wallet. He was also found wearing several expensive diamond rings.
The 52-year old business man had a lengthy criminal record. He was awaiting trial for murder, arson and insurance fraud related to a massive explosion that leveled the 300 block of 9th Street, now known as ML King Boulevard. The blast ripped through two nightclubs Pettyjohn operated, injuring 13 people and killing 55-year old Frank Ratcliff.
Pettyjohn had also testified before a federal grand jury in 1977 during the early stages of TennPar, an FBI investigation into a parole buying scheme that rocked Governor Ray Blanton's administration.
At the time he was killed, police suspect Pettyjohn was involved in gambling and dealings drugs.
Original Investigating Agency: Chattanooga Police Department
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