The Knoxville Horror: The Crime and the Cover-Up
By Nicholas Stix
May 14, 2007
On Saturday, January 6, 2007, Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, of Knoxville, Tennessee, went on a date from which they would never return. On their way to the home of another couple, they were carjacked and kidnapped. Over the next 24 hours they were beaten, gang-raped, tortured, and murdered.
If Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom had been black and their killers white, everyone in America would know their names. Because they were white and their killers are black, their fate has been shrouded in a thick silence that has given rise to a host of gruesome rumors. Their story highlights the strange and twisted nature of race relations in America.
The men who kidnapped and killed Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom have not yet gone to trial, so they are theoretically innocent. This account is based on documents filed in federal and state courts, and on sometimes-vague allegations in news reports.
Miss Christian picked up Mr. Newsom in her 2005 Toyota 4-Runner. Some time just after midnight, Letalvis Cobbins, 24, along with his brother Lemaricus Davidson, 25, and George Thomas, 24, stopped the couple at gunpoint. Mr. Davidson had already been convicted of carjacking and aggravated robbery in Tennessee in 2001, but had served only five years.
The three men tied up the two whites and took them in the 4-Runner to an apartment where Mr. Cobbins and Mr. Davidson lived. This was in a rundown rental house at 2316 Chipman Street in East Knoxville, which is overwhelmingly black. Mr. Cobbins’s 18-year-old girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, met them there.
All four, including, Miss Coleman, then engaged in an orgy of rape and violence. They anally gang-raped Mr. Newsom, and orally, anally, and vaginally gang-raped Channon Christian. They brutally beat both victims and poured cleaning fluid down Miss Christian’s throat. They killed Mr. Newsom, leaving him with “multiple gunshot wounds,” and set his corpse on fire.
They also killed Miss Christian. Knoxville police refuse to say how Miss Christian was murdered, but an Assistant U.S. Attorney suggests she may have been “choked.”
The day after the carjacking, Knoxville police found Miss Christian’s 4-Runner, abandoned near the railroad tracks. Close by was Mr. Newsom’s desecrated corpse. A fingerprint from Lemaricus Davidson inside the vehicle was the basis of a federal search of his apartment, and two days later authorities found Miss Christian’s “battered” corpse in a garbage can in the kitchen.
Police and reporters have promoted the view that this crime was a simple carjacking that got out of hand, and that the rapists poured cleaning fluid down Miss Christian’s throat to destroy DNA evidence. This appears to be wrong on both counts. The killers ditched Miss Christian’s SUV just a few hours after they stole it, which suggests they had no great interest in it. Also, according to court documents, they had already planned on killing Miss Christian, so they could have used the cleaning fluid after she was dead. They did not bother to “clean” her vagina and anus, which were stuffed with DNA evidence. It appears to this reporter that the carjacking was just a way to kidnap, gang rape, torture, and murder whites, and that the killers used the cleaning fluid for the sole purpose of further torturing Miss Christian.
This story has been strictly local news, but it did assume a certain limited notoriety on the Internet. Not long after the first newspaper reports, a story with the following headline began circulating on the Internet:
“White Couple Abducted; Both Man and Woman Were Raped, Beaten, Cut Apart and Killed. Five Blacks Arrested In Case. No Media Frenzy Over ‘Racist’ Attack.”
The report, with photographs of the victims and the suspects, continued as follows:
“The animals pictured below raped Christopher Newsom, cut off his penis, then set him on fire and fatally shot him several times while they forced his girlfriend, Channon Christian, to watch. An even more cruel fate awaited her!
“Channon Christian, was beaten and gang-raped in many ways for four days by all of them, while they took turns urinating on her. Then they cut off her breast and put chemicals in her mouth … and then murdered her.”
The earliest version of this story seems to have appeared around February 21 on the web page of New York State radio host Hal Turner. Many of the details, including the amputations and urination, have not been in other reports, nor are they mentioned in court documents.
Despite considerable effort, I have not been able to get to the bottom of this story. A local reporter said that the rumors of sexual mutilation are not true, but did not offer sources for this information.
I asked the Knoxville police to confirm or deny Mr. Turner’s claims, or even to give the victims’ causes of death. Public Information Officer Darrell Debusk was unfailingly polite, but would tell me nothing. Were the victims mutilated? Were they alive or dead when this happened? “That is something that we have not discussed in the public and is information that will come to light during the trial…. Right now, we’re not discussing the details of the investigation.” Officer Debusk would not even give a cause of death: “Again, that’s evidence in a trial that will be presented during the trial.” (Only later did I learn that federal authorities had already announced the causes of death.)
The claim that the “investigation is ongoing,” was plainly untrue. The suspects had all been arrested, indicted, and bound over for trial. Prosecutors bind over defendants only after the police have finished their investigation. When I asked for a copy of the Knoxville police preliminary report, which had been released to local reporters, Officer Debusk was happy to oblige—so long as I dropped by department headquarters in Knoxville. If that wasn’t convenient for someone living in New York State, I could have a local person pick one up for me, or a Tennessee resident could pay for a copy and ask that it be sent to an in-state address. Clearly, Officer Debusk just didn’t want me to see the report.
Other Knoxville officials—at the county medical examiner’s office, sheriff’s department, and criminal court—all referred me back to the Knoxville Police Department. Police chief Sterling Owen IV ordered this stonewalling policy, and the information has been so tightly sealed we cannot even assume the trial transcript will be released to the public.
Meanwhile, in this deliberate void of information, a different kind of rumor has grown up, notably at the black, anti-white web site, “Svengalimedia.” This site celebrates black-on-white murders, and sponsors an annual “Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto, Black, Male, Felon Bragging Rights Competition” for the most gruesome black-on-white murder. Lemaricus Davidson is this year’s frontrunner.
Svengalimedia’s contributors have celebrated Miss Newsom’s rape: “Privileged whites deserve to feel and know our experiences and values firsthand and not just from word of mouth or by books and movies. Their families need and deserve to have terrible memories & experiences with blacks.”
Other contributors have proposed novel theories about the crime. One is that Channon Christian had driven into a black neighborhood “to buy drugs.” Another, which has piggybacked on the sexual mutilation rumors, claims that Miss Christian staged the carjacking and cut off her own breasts. According to this fantasy, Miss Christian wanted to die from black sexual torture, and arranged everything herself. Svengalimedia contributor Waldorf Carathers even hinted at the existence of a “death by sexual torture sex video directed by Channon Christian,” noting that cell phones had been found at the Chipman Street house, and might have been used to record the killing.
Fantasies as obscene as these are even found in the “respectable” black mainstream. Last November, in the federal carjacking and weapons trial of Dedrick Griham, defense lawyer Emory Anthony Jr. claimed that the victim, a white Birmingham woman who works as a lawyer, had “staged” a carjacking and was a willing participant in her own rape and sodomy. Mr. Griham claimed that the white victim had gotten in touch with him with the help of an (imaginary) prostitute named “Puddin” or “Pumpkin” through whom she had offered him money to fulfill the victim’s feverish fantasies. The jury didn’t buy this story, and convicted Mr. Griham, who had 13 previous felony convictions, on all counts. The judge sentenced him to life plus 84 months.
Likewise, it is not uncommon for blacks to be indifferent to, and even show “Svengalian” satisfaction in the face of cruelties done to whites. In 1973 and 1974, the Nation of Islam carried out a series of black-on-white killings in San Francisco known as the Zebra Murders. Blacks killed at least 16 whites and injured another 8 or 10 in what was, again, a spectacular crime wave that was little reported outside its local area. Clark Howard recounts in his classic 1979 work, Zebra: The True Account of the 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco, that in 1974, at the height of the white panic, two teams of San Francisco Examiner reporters and photographers could not find a single black resident who expressed any sympathy for the white victims.
Similarly, during the 2002 Washington, D.C.-area serial murder spree by the Black Muslim John Muhammad and his teenaged protégé, Lee Malvo, before the pair killed a black man, a black female psychologist on a Fox News talk show remarked, with great satisfaction, that whites now knew what blacks put up with all the time.
What does this Knoxville crime—horrible enough without the unsubstantiated elaborations—tell us about race and crime in America? As noted above, if the races had been reversed, this would have been a media extravaganza on the scale of Rodney King or James Byrd Jr. Second, the police would have laid all their cards on the table, and the press would have savored every lurid detail.
But because this was a particularly repulsive black-on-white crime, the police and national press have been tight as clams. In the absence of details, some racially conscious whites have been prepared to believe gruesome rumors. Anyone who is aware of the underreported horrors of past black-on-white crimes is unlikely to be surprised by anything: The Wichita Massacre was replete with sexual torture (see AR, August 2002), blacks cut off a living man’s penis during the Zebra murders, the Yahweh Cult killers in Miami during the 1980s were ordered to bring back a head, finger, or ear to prove they had dispatched a white person.
At the same time, the media stir up anti-white hatred and promote the fantasy that white women lust for black fulfillment. This only feeds the degeneracy that ends up in places like Svengalimedia—and federal courtrooms.
Perhaps when the killers go on trial later this year or early next year, the media will be shamed by the enormity of what they hear to write the truth. Or perhaps they will continue to pay lip service to the pious and pathetic myth that only whites can commit “racist” crimes, and will continue to suppress inconvenient facts. Until our country wakes up to racial reality, we will be treated time and again to shameless trampling on the public’s right to know.
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