Man confesses to killing two people, granted work release by former TN governor

A man who confessed to killing two people in 1977 was granted work release just two weeks after his sentencing hearing.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 7:25 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 3:28 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Johnson City man admitted to and was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his wife and her friend in 1973.

Roger and Susan Humphreys were married in 1965 when they were still in high school and had a daughter a year later.

Susan started a relationship with the second victim, John Roger Scholl and even arranged a wife swap where she would switch husbands with Scholl’s wife Diane, according to court documents.

On May 11, 1973, just one month after Susan filed for divorce, she and Scholl were both found dead inside her apartment.

Scholl was shot six times while Susan was shot 12 times, six times in the back. Investigators determined Roger used a two-shot “derringer”, meaning he would have had to reload eight times.

Roger was found guilty and sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, but less than two months after his sentencing hearing, he was able to go wherever he wanted on the state’s dime.

He was given a job as a state photographer where he was given a state-issued car and was allowed to go wherever he wanted during the day, as long as he returned to the rehabilitation center at the main prison at night.

The release sparked rumors that then-Gov. Ray Blanton’s administration was selling pardons.

Roger’s father was Blanton’s patronage chief in Johnson City.

In 1977, Blanton promised he would fully pardon Humphries.

Nashville’s NBC station, WSM, was following the governor’s actions closely.

After they broke the news on Humphreys’ release, WSM’s Carol Marin got a call that Blanton wanted a sit-down interview with her.

“I say to Blanton, ‘He’s a convicted double murderer.’ And he said, ‘Well, he hasn’t killed anybody since he got out of prison,’” Marin said, remembering the interview.

He went on to mention that paroles were not up for sale, unprompted.

“We haven’t sold a single one. I don’t know if the previous administrations can say that or not, but we haven’t,” Blanton told Marin.

On Jan. 15, 1979, Blanton pardoned or issued commutations for 52 people, including 26 convicted murderers.

Roger was one of those 52.

According to author Keel Hunt, upon walking out into the cold night that evening, Humphreys looked at his attorney and said, “I am dreaming.”

He has not been seen since.