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Police call DeSheena Kyle case ‘possible homicide,’ name boyfriend person of interest

The missing Knoxville woman’s boyfriend has been named a person of interest.
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 11:19 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - More than three months after her disappearance, the Knoxville Police Department declared the DeSheena Kyle case a possible homicide and named her boyfriend a person of interest.

Desheena Kyle Update: More than three months after her disappearance, the Knoxville Police Department declared the Desheena Kyle case a possible homicide and named her boyfriend a person of interest. Here's what we know now.

Posted by WVLT on Thursday, September 23, 2021

“It is definitely news you won’t want to hear,” Kyle’s aunt Rita Turner said.

In regards to the new developments, the family said they are shocked and it is borderline unbelievable. However, Turner said police have been operating under the assumption the case was a homicide for months.

DeSheena Kyle was reported missing from her apartment at 1307 Wilson Road on June 28 by her grandmother, who authorities said last spoke to her on June 14. She has not been seen or heard from her since June 23, according to police.

Authorities said they decided to treat the case as a possible homicide based on the lack of sightings, the longer amount of time that has passed without contact with friends or family, and other factors.

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen spoke on the recent rise in violent crime in the Knox County area recently, asking the public to submit any information they might have about a case.

“I would like to make a plea to the public on that case. If you know anything about that case would you please come forward even the slightest bit of information may help us find her or find out what has happened to her,” said Allen in an interview on Tuesday about homicide statistics in the county.

Kyle was in a relationship with John Bassett at the time of her disappearance, according to police. They named him as a person of interest in the case, although he has not been charged in connection to her disappearance. Bassett, 29, has been in custody since July 7 following an arrest for an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. Police said he was later given additional weapon and drug charges following that arrest.

John Bassett was once charged with domestic assault, according to police records.

“Bassett undoubtedly has something to do with it,” Turner said.

The KPD police chief said the plan to bring Kyle home is still underway.

“I cannot fathom the intense emotions and grief that DeSheena’s family has experienced over the past three months,” said Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas. “We are in complete support of the family’s efforts to find DeSheena and involve the community in those efforts to bring DeSheena home.”

As of September 20, KPD officials said 17 tips have been submitted but there had been no updates on the case. Kyle’s whereabouts remain unknown and the circumstances of her disappearance are unclear.

Rahnaizah Skinner, a best friend of Kyle, said she last spoke with Kyle a few days before her last verified sighting.

“She texted me June 16th. We had plans to go to the beach this past weekend for her birthday. She never hit me up and that was the last time,” shared Skinner.

KPD investigators said they spent hundreds of hours searching different locations, interviewing potential witnesses and people with relevant information and following up on countless leads. Authorities said the Special Crimes Unit, Violent Crimes Unit, Organized Crime Unit, and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC0) are involved in the investigation. State and federal law enforcement agencies are also helping.

“The KPD has never tired on this case and will continue to work vigorously to find DeSheena,” Chief of Police Eve Thomas said. “We have developed significant leads and made substantial progress on this case. We have also received numerous tips on the case, and we know that there are people still out there who have answers. We ask anyone who has information that could assist investigators to please come forward.”

Kyle is approximately 5′3 and 130 pounds. If anyone sees Kyle, they are urged to call 9-1-1 immediately. Anyone with information concerning her whereabouts is urged to contact @tn_crime at easttnvalleycrimestoppers.org.

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