Melissa ‘Missy’ Atkin was only 36-years-old at the time of her death. She met a man named Scott Reynolds about 10 years before she died. Together, they had a son named Lucas. Scott and Missy’s relationship worsened, and they argued constantly about custody of Lucas.
Missy, Scott Reynolds, and Lucas
On December 16, 2007, Missy’s father, Doug Atkin, called the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office at 4:20pm.
Doug said he and his wife went to check on Missy, and found her dead in her bedroom. Doug told the dispatcher that he thought Missy had been murdered, and there was blood everywhere. The police arrived at Missy’s at 4:24pm.
Missy was found lying face down on her bed. Her hands were zip tied behind her back, and she was nude from the waist down. There was blood on Missy’s head and on the bed. It was clear that Missy had been shot several times in the back of the head, and had maybe been sexually assaulted. When the police moved Missy’s body, they found a .32 caliber bullet. It was sent to the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) for testing.
There was no bedding on the bed, and several items of clothing were scattered around the room. The front door and windows were locked, but the back sliding glass door was still open. The blinds on the door were blowing to the outside.
It had rained the day before, and several muddy footprints were found in the kitchen area. The police were able to rule out robbery right away, as Missy’s electronics and jewelry were found still inside the home.
The Time of Death
The police guessed that Missy had only been dead anywhere from 4-12 hours. There was no sign of rigor mortis.
One of Missy’s neighbors came forward, and said he had last seen Missy at 11:45pm on December 15. Missy’s parents had found her dead at 4:20pm on December 16.
The police spoke to Doug and Linda Atkin. They said they had been at Lucas’ karate class on December 14, and spent the next day, December 15, with Missy. They said they were with Missy until about 7:30-8pm on December 15. Missy said she needed to go to Walmart, and had asked them to call her the next morning to give her a wake up call.
Scott had also been at Lucas’ karate class on December 14 to pick him up. Scott had gotten angry at Missy because she was planning a 6th birthday party for Lucas. It was Scott’s weekend with Lucas, so he showed up to the karate class to pick him up.
The police brought Scott in for an interview. Scott said that his heart went out to Missy’s family, as no one should discover their child like that.
Scott admitted that he and Missy had issues. The police believed Scott glossed over how bad their arguments were. Scott said they got along until Missy said Lucas deserved to be with her more.
Scott was asked where he had been that weekend. Scott said he had been with his new girlfriend, Eve Barger, Lucas, and Tanner, his older son from a previous relationship. Scott said they had been at Eve’s house in Lewisburg, Tennessee, about 45 minutes to an hour from Missy’s house.
Scott said they ate dinner and watched TV. Scott said Eve went to bed around 11pm, but he stayed up later to watch a movie with Tanner. Scott said they went to bed around midnight, and woke up at 4am to hunt. Scott said he went to bed at 5am, woke up the next morning, on December 16, and watched football all day. Scott said they returned back from Lewisburg around 7:30pm.
Scott agreed to let the police search his house. In the house, they found jeans with blood on them and black zip ties.
When Eve was interviewed, she told the police that she never met Missy. She said she knew how bad their arguments over custody of Lucas were.
The police asked Eve if she owned any guns, and she said yes, a .32 caliber. The same caliber as the bullet they had found.
Eve’s story about them being in Lewisburg matched Scott’s. The blood on the jeans was from Tanner, as he had gotten a nosebleed. The zip ties were not the same type as the ones that had been on Missy. For now, it looked like Scott and Eve were not involved.
Missy’s Last Movements
The police obtained the surveillance footage from Missy’s shopping trip to Walmart. On December 15, Missy was seen entering Walmart at 8:52pm.
While Missy was shopping, an unidentified man was seen approaching her. The two talked for about an hour until the man left. But, the man came back into the store at 10:40pm, and talked to Missy for a few more minutes, before leaving at 10:47pm. Missy left Walmart at 11:30pm, and was seen by her neighbor in her house at 11:45pm.
The police looked at Missy’s phone records. They saw that she had received a phone call during the time that she had been talking to the man at Walmart. The phone call was from her brother. Missy’s brother said that the man had actually answered the phone when he called. Missy’s brother said that the man made a joke when he asked for Missy. The man had joked that he would try to wake Missy up to come to the phone.
The unidentified man was actually a family friend of the Atkin’s. He admitted that he answered the phone to play a joke on Missy’s brother. This man was married, but said he did have a crush on Missy.
He said he was at Walmart, left, but had to go back into the store after his wife called. He said he drove home, and was with his wife the rest of the night. He was ruled out as a suspect.
The case stalled for a few days, until Missy’s custody lawyer dropped off some audio tapes to the police. Missy had decided to record her phone calls with Scott because their arguments were getting so bad.
On the recorded messages, Scott can be heard telling Missy that he wasn’t going to stop calling her. Scott said, “you can either pick up your phone, or I can come find you.”
The police turned to Missy’s autopsy report to help them. There was no sign of sexual assault. The police believed that whoever had killed her had either wanted to humiliate her, or stage the scene to throw off the investigation.
The medical examiner had found 3 more bullets in Missy’s skull. Missy had been shot a total of 4 times in the back of the head. The bullets were unique, and had been manufactured in the 1960’s. Eve had mentioned that she owned a .32 caliber pistol.
A search warrant was obtained for Eve’s house in Lewisburg, and her car. Inside the house, they found a gun bag, but the .32 caliber pistol was missing. In the car, they found .32 caliber bullets.
Eve had mentioned to the police that before they left Lewisburg, they had burned all of their trash. It was mostly ash, but the police were able to find a Wrangler label from a pair of jeans and several rivets.
The bullets from Missy’s skull and the bullets found in Eve’s car were compared, and were a match.
Eve, who was now a suspect, was interviewed again. During the interview, the police showed her a picture of Missy. Eve started to cry, and said she needed to tell them something she had left out.
Eve said Scott woke her up on December 16 around 5am, and confessed to killing Missy. Eve said she wanted to help Scott until she realized that he might have been trying to frame her. Scott had access to Eve’s gun and her car, and took both to kill Missy.
The police obtained an arrest warrant for Scott, but he wasn’t at his house. The police feared that he had taken Lucas and fled. The police asked Eve if she would be willing to call Scott while they recorded the call. She agreed.
Eve’s call to Scott went to voicemail, but he called her back, and said he needed to call her from a private line. Scott told her that he didn’t know if his phone was being tapped, or if he could trust her.
Eve told Scott to tell the police the truth. Scott said if he did that he’d go to jail, and never see Lucas again. Eve told him that children visit their parents in prison all the time. Scott replied, “not for killing their mother.”
Eve told Scott that she afraid because he used her gun and car. Scott reassured her she’d be fine as she was asleep the whole time.
On December 26, 2007, the police knew that a custody hearing was scheduled. They believed that Scott would be there because his motive for killing Missy had been to get custody of Lucas.
Scott did show up, and was arrested without incident.
In July 2008, Scott was found guilty of first degree murder.
It’s believed that Scott took Eve’s gun and drove from Lewisburg to Missy’s house in Murfreesboro. It’s believed that he arrived around 1 or 2am, and surprised Missy. He then tied Missy up, and shot her several times. Scott probably did want to humiliate Missy, but also wanted to throw the police off, so he took her pants off.
Scott is a monster. He wasn’t thinking about his son when he snuck into Missy’s house and brutally killed her. Scott wanted his son to live with him more, but now, he’s rotting in a jail cell. Lucas is now an adult, but both of his parents didn’t see him grow up.
Doug and Linda seem like such amazing human beings. They knew that Scott was most likely involved. My heart breaks that they had to find their daughter in her house due to Scott’s selfish act.