I have been casually looking for information about my Grandfather, my mother's father, Donald Austin Collette for several years. Luckily this year I hit a break through with old Knoxville, TN newspapers and was finally able to find information and details about the night he was killed. However, i cannot find any record or information, excpet for the Social Security Death Index record, about him, his burial or barely even about the guy that was charged and convicted of thie crime. His name seems to "vanish" in my research after April 8, 1976 and the incident occured on April 6, 1976.
I have found very little relating to the trial and hearing the person that was charged with his death stood. His name is Lawrence Burnette Thomas, who was arrested in Chicago by the FBI on Marh 11, 1977. Who was then extraditd back to TN. The last information I have on his legal case is a newspaper article listing bulk Parole and Pardon cases to be heard the following week. I DO know he was Paroled because he received a seperate charge of drunk driving less than a year after that article.
If anyone has any suggestions on where to look or even just trying to amend my searches to say something different would be greatly appreciated. The information listed below is the main details i've been using to search.
Donald Austin Collette
DOB: March 20, 1935 DOD: Aprl 6, 1976 41 years old
One paper says it occured in Vestal, TN the rest mention Knoxville, TN or "South of Knoxville", but that it occured on Spruce St
Shot with a .357 Magnum Shotgun
Lawrence Burnette Thomas was charged with First Degree Murder but convicted of Voluntary Manslaughter
I have no information on where he was buried, all I know is he was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was taken to University Hospital. I've even tried searching through my Grandmother's name, who was married to my Grandfather at the time with 3 kids. Her name, at the time, was Lois Deanne Collette (Maiden name Ross). Her name upon her passing in 1999 was Lois Deanne Ross Collette Spears. She was one of those that never dropped any of her last names.
Thank you for even taking the time to read this, what I am sure sounds like rambling, but your time is greatly appreciated.