When state senator Fred Thomas “Tommy” Burks was found shot to death on his Cookeville, Tennessee, farm on October 19, 1998, investigators believed that the upcoming election had something to do with his death. Moreover, the news about a jilted opponent and an eyewitness account seemed to give cops the breakthrough they wanted. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Deadly Sins: No Forgiveness: The Politics of Murder’ chronicles Tommy’s brutal death and shows the investigation led straight to his rival, Byron Looper. If you are intrigued by this case and want to know if Byron Looper is still dead or alive, we have you covered.
Who Was Byron Looper?
Interestingly, since Byron entered his young adult life, he wanted to hold an official post in the government. He was initially a part of the Democratic party but lost in the Georgia House of Representatives elections before moving to Tennessee. Once in Tennessee, Byron joined the Republican party but again failed to secure a post at the 1994 Tennessee House of Representatives elections. However, he refused to give up and, in 1996, became the tax assessor of Putnam County. Ultimately, his career in the government seemed to be failing as reports mentioned that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation charged him with misuse of county property and people, as well as theft. Still, he seemed pretty confident about winning the Tennessee State Senate seat for the 15th District.
Interestingly, the seat Byron desired was held for a long time by Tommy Burks from the Democratic Party. Tommy seemed quite popular in the area and was well-liked by the local citizens. Thus, sensing another defeat in the upcoming elections, Byron decided to take matters into his own hands and murder his opponent. Thus, on the morning of October 19, 1998, Byron traveled to Tommy’s farm and shot him while the state senator was sitting in his pickup truck. Once the police got wind of Tommy’s murder, they rushed to the spot and noticed that the senator had died from a single bullet wound to his head. However, a thorough search of the area revealed the bullet that killed Tommy and tire tracks that could lead directly to the suspect.
Is Byron Looper Dead or Alive?
Nevertheless, law enforcement officials received the most significant breakthrough when a farmhand, Wesley Rex, came forward and claimed he had witnessed the murder. Rex mentioned that he saw Byron drive past him before stopping beside Tommy’s truck and putting a bullet through his head. Additionally, one of Byron’s school friends, Joe Bond, testified that the suspect confessed to the killing in front of him. Thus, with enough evidence to warrant an arrest, Byron Looper was charged with murder.
When produced in court, Byron insisted on his innocence, but the jury refused to see eye to eye. They convicted him of murder and sent him to life in prison without parole in 2000. Interestingly, Tommy Burks’ family asked prosecutors not to push for the death penalty. Nevertheless, in June of 2013, Byron was serving time behind bars at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in unincorporated Morgan County, Tennessee, when he suddenly passed away inside his cell. He was 48 years at the time of his death, and the autopsy mentioned that he breathed his last following a cardiac event.