Wayne County Sheriff Ric Wilson said the 2010 murder of a young woman is the most bizarre case he has ever seen.
“This is like one of those things you see in a 48-hour mystery, not something here in Wayne County, Tennessee,” Wilson said. “This case had so many twists and turns, it was unreal.”
According to officials, Rose Goggins, 21, was killed by the grandparents of her 11-month-on son in January 2010.
Steven Beersdorf, 46, and his wife, Sylvia, 43, have each been indicted for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They are being held without bail in the Wayne County Jail.
The Beersdorfs are accused of killing Goggins, who lived with them at their Beech Creek community home, which is between Waynesboro and Clifton. She was engaged to their son, who was in training with the Tennessee National Guard at Camp Shelby, Miss., at the time of her death. He is back in Wayne County and has custody of their child.
Authorities contend the motive for the killing stemmed from the Beersdorfs’ fear that Goggins was going to take away their grandson and keep them from seeing him.
Wilson said Steven Beersdorf’s trial is scheduled for March in Lawrence County. He said although a date for Sylvia Beersdorf’s trial has not been set, it is expected to be held this year.
Goggins’ remains were found Jan. 28, 2010, scattered over a 10-foot area on the Beersdorfs’ property. The site is in a wooded area about 250 yards behind a two-story log cabin at 1099 Swinging Bridge Road in Clifton.
Investigators with the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff’s office sifted through layers of dirt to recover the remains. Authorities said they found flesh and small bone fragments.
Investigators said forensics experts used DNA from Goggins’ son to identity the remains.
Authorities were originally told Goggins’ body was thrown into the Tennessee River near Clifton. Crews spent several days searching a 10-mile stretch of the river above the John Wilder Bridge.
“This case had many twists and turns — from a missing person case to a murder,” the sheriff said. “And to be honest, we came close to never finding her or what happened.
“If we had not decided to go (to the Beersdorfs’ property) and look around, I don’t know what would have come of this. And even then, it was by the grace of God we found the site.”
Authorities have accused the Beersdorfs of trying to cover up the killing by burning the body and then trying to chop it up with a backhoe.
“I’ve worked more than 30 murders, and by far, this is the worse, most brutal case, I’ve ever been involved in,” Wilson said.
Wayne County Executive Jason Rich said the Goggins case is one of the most talked about murder cases he can remember in the county.
“When it all came about, (the case) was the only thing people were talking about,” Rich said. “It’s a year old and there are still people talking about it, and when those trials start, I’m sure people are going to be following it.”
Rich agreed with the sheriff that the case almost seemed “made for television.
“There was a lot of mystery and suspense surrounding what actually happened to her,” he said. “Finding out what was done to the body, and the way she was killed, is certainly something that our area has never seen before and hopefully never will again.”
The Beersdorfs reported Goggins missing Jan. 16, 2010, after she did not arrive at an emergency medical technician training class she was scheduled to attend two days earlier in Lawrenceburg, Wilson said.
The burned remains of her car were found Jan. 15, 2010, on an isolated logging road in McNairy County. Authorities said the car’s GPS unit indicated it left the Beersdorf residence a day earlier.
“The crime scene was spread over three counties,” Wilson said.
If convicted, the couple could be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.