The tragic murder of a local businessman will soon be featured on national television.
“Murder Comes To Town,” a new show on Investigation Discovery ID, will feature the story of the murder of Harvey Fuson, which occurred in January 2011. Fuson’s murder shocked the town of Cumberland Gap as well as the entire Tri-State area.
A crew from the show was in the area in October of last year to research the episode, called “End of an Era,” and the story behind it. The crew spent several days interviewing various people regarding the case.
“The story of Harvey Fuson’s murder jumped out at us because it was so shocking for that small town,” said Dave Lane, the producer who conducted the interviews and researched the information. “No one thought that anything like that could happen there.”
Fuson, 66, of Harrogate, was found dead on Jan. 25, 2011, in his store, The Old Drug Store in Cumberland Gap. Fuson’s wife discovered him unconscious in a puddle of blood on the floor of his store just after 1 p.m.
In April of 2011, Donnie Smith, of Cannon Creek Lake Hill in Middlesboro, Ky., was indicted and arrested for first degree murder in the case. Smith entered a guilty plea to second degree murder in April of 2012. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Producers of the new show decided to feature the Fuson case because he was a local legend, with a background in racing and love of talking to natives and tourists alike who visited his store.
“When I was first approached about participating in the production of this filming, I was very hesitant. I felt it could open old, dreadful memories of the untimely and tragic death of Harvey Fuson,” said Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray. “I notified members of Mr. Fuson’s immediate family and the prosecuting attorney of this and they agreed it may do some good for everyone and Claiborne County. This filming illustrates how difficult it is to collect the evidence of an unwitnessed homicide.”
Fuson was well-loved by the community and his death shook it to the core. His family has supported the efforts of the television show’s crew.
“My family and I are so grateful to our friends and community for all their support during this unnecessary tragedy that had been placed on our family,” said Teresa Fuson Tinnel, Harvey Fuson’s daughter. “My father has been deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.”
Several law enforcement agencies banded together in the investigation. The Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department, TBI Special Agent Jerry Spoon and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Cumberland Gap Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the National Park Service, the Eighth Judicial Drug Task Force and the Eighth Judicial District Attorney General’s Office were primary investigators. The Middlesboro Police Department, Bell Co., Ky., Sheriff’s Department and the Knox County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the investigation.
“The Harvey Fuson investigation was a perfect example of law enforcement and prosecutors working together from the outset,” said Jared Effler, local assistant district attorney for the Eighth Judicial District Attorney General’s Office who prosecuted the case. “The Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office and TBI were fantastic to work with. I use the lessons I learned from that case when I’m teaching homicide investigations to other agencies.”
Individuals interviewed about Fuson and the case collectively agreed they are honored to be part of immortalizing a local legend and friend.
“I am very honored to be a part of this filming,” said Ray. “This is not about me, but about the memory of my friend, Harvey Fuson.”
“Murder Comes to Town” uncovers the shocking murder mysteries that haunt small town America, according to a description from producers.
“From the mountains of Appalachia to the deserts of the southwest, we’ll discover the dark secrets that lie just beneath the surface of America’s heartland,” they said.
The episode, “End of an Era,” will air Monday, Feb. 17, at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery ID. That can be found locally on MediaStream cable on channel 102. After airing, full episodes may be downloaded from iTunes, according to producers.
Marisa Anders may be reached at 423-626-3222 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.