Federal authorities make another push for justice in 1998 Hardeman County murder

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HARDEMAN COUNTY, Tenn. — The U.S. Department of Justice has taken the lead in the unsolved 1998 murder of a Hardeman County convenience store clerk, joining the FBI and state and local authoritiesauthorities announced Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney Mike Dunavant said authorities will not give up on the 21-year-old murder of Michael Bell, and a reward of $24,000 for information still stands.

Michael Bell’s 1998 murder in Hardeman County remains unsolved.

New, enhanced images from surveillance video is now available, and authorities have found new leads in the case, he said.

The case is now being investigated as a business robbery involving death under the federal Hobbs Act, Dunavant said.

Bell was a clerk at a convenience store on July 23, 1998, when an unknown person shot him, then drove south toward Walnut, Mississippi. An investigation later showed Bell was not simply the victim of a robbery, but a coordinated killing, Dunavant said.

Hardeman County Sheriff John Doolen pleaded with the public for any information on Bell’s murder.

“This death, this murder has affected this community,” Doolen said. “There is no closure yet, but it’s getting close.”

Anyone with information should call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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