Real Name: Unknown, Tom Johnson is believed to be an alias.
Aliases: Tom Johnson, Tommy Johnson
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder
Missing Since: October 1992
Details: In September 1992, a music video company in Nashville, Tennessee ran ads for a CPU and monitor in the classified section of a newspaper. On October 7, a man calling himself "Tom Johnson" inquired, saying he was a freelance computer programmer and database consultant. A few days later, Tom met with Jeremy Rolfs, a video tape editor, for a demonstration of the equipment. The two agreed on a price of $31,000 and afterwards, Tom requested that the equipment be delivered to Marietta, Georgia. At first, the equipment was set to be delivered directly to Tom's office, but Tom said that the directions were so complex that it'd be easier to meet up at the Knights Inn, a motel in town.
At 1:30 AM on October 24, Jeremy and his fiance, Heather Uffelman, set off for Marietta. They arrived at the motel at 7:30 that morning. Tom said his business partner had the check and would be along in about half an hour, so Jeremy and Heather went out for breakfast. At 8 AM, Tom suggested they load the computer into his car while they waited, which they agreed to. For twenty minutes, the three made small talk in Tom's motel room before Tom pulled out a gun.
Tom had Jeremy and Heather lay down on the ground and roll themselves up in bed sheets before he hit both of them repeatedly in the head with a hammer. As Heather screamed, he continued to hit her. When Jeremy said "stop screaming and he'll leave" he returned and struck Jeremy several times, before returning to Heather. Jeremy remained conscious throughout the ordeal and was able to see Tom dust the counter-top for fingerprints before leaving. As soon as Tom left, Jeremy crawled to get help for him and Heather. They were rushed to a hospital, where Heather succumbed to her injuries around 12:30 PM. Jeremy was released on October 27.
Police questioned witnesses and searched the motel room. One of the few clues they found was the hammer, which was still wrapped in plastic. They were unable to determine where it was purchased. The police also learned that an hour before the attack, while Jeremy and Heather were having breakfast, a woman at the motel complained of a lot of noise coming from Tom's room. The police believe the woman may have been an accomplice of Tom's, trying to sabotage the plan when she learned he intended to murder them instead of steal.
Tom's car was a black cherry or dark brown colored Dodge Dynasty with red interior and Tennessee plates. At the time, he was in his late twenties or early thirties; he would today be in his forties or fifties. He is approximately 6'0" and weighs 165 pounds. He has sandy brown hair and may be wearing glasses. At the time, he was wearing an expensive pair of boots made of either snake or alligator skin.
The stolen computer was an Apple Quadra 950; it is used for desktop publishing and videotape editing. It had a 4 GB Hard Drive, 30 MB of RAM, and a 125 MB optical drive. The CPU's serial number was #F62164JW671. The Monitor was a 24" super high resolution color display with the serial number #92020501.
Investigators have evidence that Tom Johnson pulled a similar scam just one week before Heather's murder. For unknown reasons, he never showed up for the appointment.
Extra Notes: This segment ran for the first time April 27, 1994.
To protect his identity, Jeremy's full name was not revealed in the segment.
Results: Wanted - Jeremy and Heather's family later created the "Heather Uffelman Memorial Scholarship" in her honor. Tragically, Jeremy was killed on March 31, 1997, in a car accident in South Africa; he was hit head-on by a driver who had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel. He was 27 years old. The identity of Heather's killer has never been revealed.
However, public opinion has since suggested that a computer company owner from Nashville named Tom Steeples may have been the killer. Steeples had committed a double murder in a motel room in April of 1994 that was eerily similar to the attack on Heather and Jeremy. In that case, he lured a young couple, Rob and Kellie Phillips, to the motel with the promise of a record deal, and beat them to death as well. Steeples also murdered Ronald Bingham, a business partner and Nashville bar owner, in October of 1993. Along with that, he also beat and sexually assaulted a young woman several years prior.
It has been noted that Steeples closely resembles the composite of Johnson and matches his physical description. Also, the car Johnson was driving had Tennessee plates; Steeples was from Tennessee. However, Steeples died in prison of a drug overdose in July of 1994 without ever being officially connected to this case.
- When it happens to you - Jeremy Rolfs
- Reward offered in death of student
- 'Unsolved Mysteries' to broadcast segment on MTSU student's death
- Murfeesboro crime profiled
- DNA ties suspect to deaths
- Steeples' past reveals evidence of troubled life
- Jeremy Rolfs, Adviser In Peace Corps
- Mystery Monday: Heather Uffelman
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Tom Johnson
- Heather Uffelman at Find a Grave