Overview of John Raymond Constant, Jr.
John Raymond Constant, Jr. was a 35 year old man who was found dead on March 16, 1973 in the cab of a truck underneath a bridge in Vonore, Tennessee. The flashing hazard lights and bullet hole-riddled truck caught the attention of local Tom Miller, who was the first to find John. Although his sister and mother described him as not a "sterling character", they believed that John was about to turn over a new leaf and become an informant for local crime organizations such as the Dixie Mafia, with whom John was rumored to have dealt goods for.
However, authorities came to believe that John had been killed on March 15th, and that his body had been moved from another location due to the lack of blood in the truck cab. A sole witness, S.L. Poteet, claimed to had seen John and two other men (one later identified as Marvin Ray "Big John" Pittman and the other falsely identified as Harold Buckner) at a 24-hour carwash in Etowah, Tennessee - twenty five miles away. Poteet reported hearing "like firecrackers, some scuffling and a truck slinging gravel" while washing his car. He also claimed to have seen John slumped over in a car between Pittman and the other man, who then drove away.
A few months later, John's friend, Ray Owenby, was shot four times and died from his wounds. Due to the seemingly random nature of the murder, authorities believed that there was a connection between the two murders, although a concrete connection was never established.
In June 1975, Pittman - believed to be a hitman for the Dixie Mafia - was found dead in Tampa, Florida. Several years later, in 1982, Poteet underwent hypnosis and identified Harold Buckner as the other unidentified man in the truck from the carwash. Buckner was indicted and surrendered himself to the McMinn County Sheriff's Office, but all charges were dropped before it could proceed to a trial. Poteet later clarified that the third man in the truck had hair similar to Buckner, but was not him. Buckner passed away in 1997.
Where the case stands today.
In February of 2019, authorities arrested Max Benson Calhoun. He was charged with the first-degree murder of John Raymond Constant, Jr. and pleaded not guilty. An anonymous tip from December of 2018 led authorities to focus on Calhoun - first, his father had owned the car wash where John was possibly murdered; second, the tip claimed that they had been in in contact with John's sister on Facebook, and that she had heard Calhoun confess to the crime years prior. One day before the official trial began, in April 2021, all charges were dropped due to the lack of evidence and the shaky credibility of the tipster. The Facebook messages had been deleted, so there was no way for either team to review them, and the person who had submitted the tip had passed away.
If you have any information about the 1973 murder of John Raymond Constant, Jr., please submit a tip on the Monroe County Sheriff's Office website.