BON AQUA, Tenn. (WTVF) — Records and confirmation from a source close to the investigation revealed the property where investigators are searching for evidence in the Tabitha Tuders case was once tied to a man long considered a person-of-interest.
Albert Franklin has been on the radar of the Metro Nashville Police Department since the 13-year-old girl vanished as she was walking to catch a school bus near her East Nashville home in April 2003, NewsChannel 5 learned.
Even though his name has been brought up during the investigation within the past 17 years, Franklin has never been charged with a crime related to the disappearance nor was officially deemed a prime suspect.
Franklin, also known as Frank Nitty, is currently serving a federal prison sentence in West Virginia for a drug operation sting in 2010 when he owned a bar on Dickerson Pike called Mustang Sally's. He has denied any involvement in the Tuders case.
In a press conference on Wednesday, MNPD Spokesperson Don Aaron said there was a recent tip that Tuders may have been on the property around the time of her disappearance.
Tax records NewsChannel 5 obtained showed the property was bought by D & B Investments in June 1999 and sold in June 2003, which listed Franklin as one of the owners. It was sold back to the original owners seven months later. It went through at least two different owners, one as recent as two months ago with D&G Real Estate Holdings.
B.Y. Peery of Bruce Peery Co. in Dickson said it was his father who first purchased the land in 1999 before his late brother took over and sold it.
Crews with MNPD, FBI and urban and search rescue could be seen laying down blue tarps on the property and using boxes to sift through soil on the second day of the search. Investigators not only had a warrant to search the property but had a second one to look through a 1994 Fleetwood motor home, white in color with green and brown stripes, that has been parked at Bruce Peery Co.
“The gentleman that owned it passed away years ago and it's been here longer than I’ve been here which is 10 years,” assistant manager Lauri Hill said. “I told the investigators if there’s anything I can do, I’ll help but I don’t think there’s anything there.”
Hill said detectives were there for only about ten minutes. She did not want to reveal who last owned the motor home but claimed Peery’s brother had lent it to Franklin at some point.
Records also revealed that he may have also lived in East Nashville in the early 2000s.