Intentionally ignored and buried in the Hamblen County records for many years, public interest has once again brought the Jeremiah Lexer murders to light. Once a dark blemish on the seemingly quiet East TN county, Hamblen County now receives notoriety as the birthplace and home of one of America’s Earlierst Known Serial Killers – Jeremiah Lexer.
Lexer lived on a massive plantation on the outskirts of Hamblen County with his extended family from 1826-1902. Records show that he was a seemingly upstanding member of the community, with no notable grievances with either the government or neighbors.
Beginning in 1887, multiple missing people cases were reported to the Hamblen County Sheriff James Franklin Hayes over the next 15 years. These reports were considered unlinked and attributed to dangerous mountainous wildlife or becoming lost in the massive Appalachian Mountains. No one suspected that a quiet citizen was responsible for these suspicious disappearances. Tragically, it was discovered a murderer lived amongst them.
On July 5, 1902 Jeremiah Lexer took his own life after a brutal killing-spree that left his entire family slain and nothing but bloody carnage left for people to discover the following day. After his plantation was searched, the gruesome discoveries of over 30 bodies was a shock to the community. The blatant disregard for human life and extensive torture tactics discovered, sickened those who saw it. Some victims were locked in a giant ironclad room, within one of his barns, where they were left to literally starve to death. Many of the asphyxiations took place upstairs in his office. The victims’ bodies were dropped by secret chute from his office to the basement,where some were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models. Lexer also burned some of the bodies or placed them in lime pits and other chemicals for disposal. Within the basement were discovered two giant furnaces as well as pits of acid, bottles of various poisons, and even a stretching rack.
The Lexer murders were covered up and forgotten for years. The government officials who took it upon themselves to cover up these atrocities, for the good of the community, have long since passed, and the secret Lexer files were officially released in 1987. Today the Lexer Plantation serves as the home of Frightmare Manor – a highly successful and nationally recognized Haunted Attraction.