They are questions that have plagued the family of Christina Bussell since she went missing more than five years ago: What happened? Where? Why?
To date, those questions have yielded no substantive answers. But a Middle Tennessee private investigator is hoping to turn up new leads that will ultimately see the case solved.
Joe B. Brodioi said he accepted the Bussell case pro bono, hoping to bring closure to the family of the Winfield woman.
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The complete story can be found in the Jan. 19, 2017 print edition of the Independent Herald.[/s2If]
[s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]Based in Murfreesboro, Brodioi is a retired U.S. Air Force Security Service operative who later worked as a civilian operative for the NSA. He told the Independent Herald last week that he has been in touch with Scott County Sheriff’s Department chief detective Randy Lewallen to offer his support, and that the sheriff in his home county has been in touch with Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips to vouch for his credibility.
“I am a Tennessee licensed private investigator and, as such, I have no police authority, so any information or leads will be handed over to Detective Lewallen,” Brodioi said. “I am a professional and, as such, will always conduct myself as one.”
Bussell was 26 years old when she went missing in September 2011. She was last seen walking along U.S. Hwy. 27 in Winfield. Numerous witnesses saw her on the road that day, but then it was as if she vanished into thin air. Sheriff’s Department investigators have followed up on hundreds of leads, at times searching abandoned strip pit ponds for her body, or following leads into Kentucky. At one point, a picture emerged from the Carolinas of a woman who had been arrested. She looked remarkably like Bussell — so much like her that even her own sister, Alisha Cooper, thought it might be her. It turned out not to be.
Cooper has worked tirelessly for the past five years to keep her sister’s name and photo in the public eye, hoping that someone who knows what happened will eventually come forward, providing authorities with the information they need to close the case. It was Cooper’s efforts that ultimately led her to Brodioi, through a mutual acquaintance — Marie Doan of Mansfield, Oh.
Doan runs the non-profit organization We Help the Missing, dedicated to missing persons throughout the United States. Doan posted a photo of Bussell, along with details of her disappearance.
Brodioi saw the photo, wished Doan well in her efforts to help Bussell’s family, and might have thought that to be the end of it. But Doan had other thoughts, soliciting Brodioi’s assistance.
It was merely coincidence that Brodioi has Scott County ties. He said Oneida holds a special place in his heart, because his wife’s grandparents — Albert and Estelle Vaughan — were from Oneida, and many of her family, including her uncle and aunt, Hubert and Phyllis Duncan, still reside here.
“We visited there many times with my wife’s grandparents,” Brodioi said. “Actually, Scott County and many people there make it seem like home to us.”
Brodioi makes it clear that the case is not about him or Doan, but about helping a family find closure. That’s something Cooper said has been long-awaited.
“Trying to find Christina and not knowing has been the hardest five years of my life,” Cooper said. “We all need closure of some sort.”
Although Bussell’s family long held out hope that she was alive and well somewhere, they’ve long realized she may not be. Still, they say, justice should be served.
“I just wish she was out there somewhere alive and there was some crazy reason why we haven’t heard from her but I know that most likely is not true,” said Cooper of her sister, who left behind young children when she disappeared in 2011.
Cooper hopes that someone who has information about what happened to her sister will “feel like they have to tell just to get it off their chest.”
That’s where Brodioi said he and his team of specialists will come into play.
“On this type of case, people who have information sometimes are reluctant to talk to law enforcement or the family but will contact me as a PI, an outsider of sorts, with leads that help in solving the case,” he said. “We are hoping that is what will happen on this case.”
Brodioi can be contacted at 931-636-1619, or through his website, www.brodioiinvestigations.com. Anyone with information about the case can also contact the Sheriff’s Department, 423-663-3111.[/s2If]