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The 24-year-old mystery in the Knoxville death of a paranoid Canadian citizen

Updated: Aug 2, 2020




The 1996 murder of Canadian resident Dennis Blair Adams, who was found dead in the parking lot of a Knoxville, Tennessee hotel on July 11 with nearly $4,000 worth of mixed Canadian, American, and German currency, remains one of thee most baffling unsolved homicides committed in the Volunteer State.

Authorities discovered that in the days before Blair's death, he acted very strange, claiming that people were trying to kill him, and traveling thousands of miles before arriving in Knoxville.


According to his family, he the 31-year-old began suffering from mood swings and was having having trouble sleeping but when relatives asked him what was wrong, hi only reply was that he , couldn't tell them about "it".


On July 5, 1996, he took all the money out of his savings account, along with thousands of dollars in jewelry, gold, and platinum. On July 7, he went to the Canadian-American border, but was denied crossing because he was a single man with a large amount of money, which fit the profile of a drug trafficker.


Blair went to Surrey, British Columbia, into his workplace, and quit.


Later that same day, he bought a round-trip airline ticket from Vancouver to Frankfurt, Germany, for $1600. The flight was to depart the next day.


Only a few hours after purchasing the ticket to Germany, Blair went to a friend’s house.


However, just hours after buying the ticket, he went to a friend's house. He said that he needed to get across the border because somebody was trying to kill him. His friend said that she was unable to help. Then, the next day, July 9, he turned in his ticket, rented a car, was able to cross the border, and went to Seattle.


Instead of flying to Germany, he turned in his ticket and rented a car. He drove across the border into the United States.Blair went to the Seattle airport, leaving his rental car, and purchased a one-way ticket to Washington, DC.


Investigators would later note this was strange since the round trip ticket would have been half as much.


Blair arrived in Washington, DC, and rented a white Toyota, then drove straight through to Knoxville, Tennessee. Going to Tennessee was another strange occurrence to the investigators because Blair didn’t know anyone in that area claimed his family and friends.


They said he had never been to the southern part of the United States.


Once in Knoxville, Blair went to a gas station, but then told the attendant that he couldn’t get his car to start.


The mechanic took the keys from Blair and realized that they weren’t the right keys for the vehicle, and told Blair.


The mechanic then gave Blair a lift to a hotel. The manager at the hotel remembered Blair distinctly, mostly because he walked in and out of the lobby five times before he registered for a room.


Afterwards, he went out of the hotel and was never seen alive again.

Twelve hours later, Blair's body, which was naked from the waist down, was found in a parking lot about a half mile from the hotel. There were several strange clues at the scene. His pants had been removed in a pulling motion and were turned inside out.


His socks were too. His shoes were off and his shirt was ripped open.


Along with the $4,000 in various currencies strewn around him, there was also a fanny pack filled with jewelry, gold, and platinum next to him.


Perhaps the most strange clue at the scene was the key to his rental car, which he had apparently lost hours earlier.


An autopsy would show that Blair died from a severe blow to the stomach, most likely from a club or crowbar. He had also been struck in the head, which left a gash on his forehead.


It was clear that a fight ensued before Blair was killed. His killer had ripped large chunks of Blair’s hair out, and Blair had defensive wounds on his hands.


Investigators recovered one long strand of hair from his hand, believed to have belonged to his killer. Certain injures also seemed to indicate that he was sexually assaulted.

Blair's odyssey had come to a violent end, and although authorities believe that the danger he thought he was in was imaginary, he was murdered, just as he had feared.


On the night before his death, Blair was seen with an unidentified man at several restaurants in Knoxville. A composite sketch was made of that man. It is not known if he had anything to do with Blair's murder.

Blair was killed on July 11, 1996, near Interstate 40 in Knoxville. Authorities believe the fatal attack occurred at around 3:30am; a construction worker claimed to have heard a scream coming from the parking lot at that time. Interestingly, he believed that it was a woman's voice.

Police at first suspected that Blair's murder was a robbery gone wrong. However, that was ruled out because none of his money or valuables were stolen. They also looked into the possibility that it was drug-related.


However, no evidence was found to support that either. Finally, they looked into the possibility that he may

have been killed by a prostitute or pimp.


However, they could find no evidence that he had ever used a prostitute.


Anyone with information that might help solve this cold case is asked to call the Knoxville Police Department at (865) 215-7000.


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