A map that shows where Trenny Gibson was last seen in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
A map of where Trenny Gibson was last seen — photo Knoxville News-Sentinel

A MURDER RUNS THROUGH IT

Whatever Became of Trenny Gibson?

Girl gone missing

Leslie Stahlhut
7 min readJan 12, 2020

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Friday, October 8, 1976, was, in many ways, an ordinary mid-autumn day in Knoxville, Tennessee. It had rained throughout the night, but as daybreak neared, the rain tapered off while the humidity continued to hovered around 96%.

That morning, when Teresa Lynn “Trenny” Gibson got up to get ready for school she needed to prepare for a long bus ride. There was a field trip planned to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for a horticulture class that the high school junior was enrolled in. Despite her long-term goal to study landscape architecture at the University of Tennessee, on this day, her short-term wish was that her high school field trip to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) would be canceled. Days earlier, she and her father had discussed their mutual misgivings about the upcoming trip.

Trenny was so confident that the outing would be canceled due to the weather, she did not dress for a day’s hike. Instead she chose an all blue ensemble: a blue blouse, a pastel blue striped sweater, blue jeans, and blue Adidas shoes.

From a distance of more than four decades, it seems that Trenny’s ensemble was selected to showcase the $600 sapphire and diamond ring she also wore that day. She had it bought for herself from money she had saved from her summer at her job at Morrison’s Cafeteria.

When Trenny finally did leave for school, no one — not her mom, not her dad, not her brothers, not her sister, not her dog, and most likely not even Trenny, knew that it would be the last time she would ever see 1427 Whitower Dr.

Bearden High School

While Trenny Gibson may have harbored the hope that the field trip would be cancelled, by the time she arrived at Bearden High School that day, it turned out the the field trip was going to happen after all.

Trenny got on the bus and sat next to a friend of hers, Robert Simpson. No one at the time or later noticed anything untoward or problematic with their interactions. Somewhere around 12:30 that afternoon, the bus, along with the bus driver, Wayne Dunlap, the teacher who had organized the trip, , and 41 students, one of whom was Trenny…

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Leslie Stahlhut

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog: https://www.crochetbug.com