Questions remain after Shelbyville man’s skull discovered along Duck River

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For more than a decade, one Tennessee family has been searching for answers on what happened to Bobby Smelcer.  

According to family, on November 21, 2010, Smelcer went to work, then to the store, and finally returned to his mobile home on East Lane Street in Shelbyville. A friend who drove Smelcer home that day was the last to see him alive.  


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Family became suspicious after Smelcer didn’t show up to work the next day and asked a maintenance worker to check on him.  

“His phone was there, his keys, everything that he would have needed if he’d have walked out the door willingly, he would have taken with him,” his sister, Kristy Matheson told News 2. “The backdoor was found left open, but there were some blood drops back by the front door. Just a few, very small drops of blood which did turn out to be Bobby’s blood.” 

For two years, Smelcer’s family searched for answers. In April of 2012, a fisherman discovered Smelcer’s skull along the Duck River.  

“It was very upsetting to know that it was him,” Matheson said. “You still hold that little bit of hope, even though in your heart you know just from not hearing from them, you still hold on to that little bit of hope. So hearing it was devastating.” 

More than a decade after his disappearance, the rest of Smelcer’s remains have never been found. 

“It would be so good for our family to finally get justice for Bobby. I don’t even know how to put that in words. I have wanted that for so long, it would just mean the world to us,” Matheson said. “I hope this lays this on their heart of whoever’s listening to do the right thing.”

Smelcer worked as a mechanic in Shelbyville and was one of eight siblings. He also left behind two daughters, one of whom died without knowing what happened to her dad.  

“I’m a firm believer in the Lord, so I trust in him, and I know that one day, you know, the truth always comes to light. So, I know one day it will. It’s just in His timing I guess,” Matheson said.  

Anyone with information is asked to call the Shelbyville Police Department at 931-684-5811 or tips can be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 931-685-4300. 

If you have a Unsolved Tennessee murder or missing persons case you’d like for Nikki to investigate, email NMcGee@wkrn.com.

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