DA’s Office Closes a 43 Year Old Murder Case

Chattanooga (WDEF) – The Hamilton County’s D.A.s office is closing the books on a 43 year old murder case.

In 1972, the co- owner of Hick’s Brothers Restaurant was gunned down at his home in an apparent robbery.

Police had a suspect back then, but could never prove their case.

He was Harry Brooks Daniels, who was under investigation for several other robberies of local restaurants and taverns, including the old Black Angus on Brainerd Road.

Last fall, District Attorney Neal Pinkston formed a cold case unit to review unsolved murders.

They dug into the original files from 1972.

And local attorney Jerry Summers connected them to a new witness, who verified the information.

They have concluded that if Daniels were still alive today, they could now prosecute him.

Pinkston would like to let the victim’s family know the final outcome.

Leon Hicks had two adult children, Mike Hicks of Chattanooga and Mrs. William Griffith of Erlanger, Kentucky.

If you have any contact information on them, please call the Cold Case Unit at 423-209-7470 or by email at coldcases@hcdatn.org.

Case Synopis

59-year Leon Hicks, co-owner of Hicks Brothers Restaurant at 1501 East 23rd Street, finished work the evening of March 10, 1972. As part of his normal routine, Hicks took his teenage dishwasher home, dropped his girlfriend at her house, and then went to his residence at a trailer park on South Holly Street.

Sometime after 2:00am on March 11, 1972, neighbor Ray Gorrell heard gunshots and went to investigate. He found Leon Hicks lying dead at the foot of the steps to Hicks’ trailer. Hicks had been shot three times.

Evidence recovered at the murder scene included three .38 projectiles and a fedora hat.

Initially, the investigation revealed no known suspects.

In late March 1972, the Chattanooga FBI Office received information from the US District Attorney’s Office in Atlanta leading to the identity of suspect Harry Brooks Daniels, white male, DOB 12/29/1910.

Daniels was a career criminal who lived in Atlanta but frequented Chattanooga. In the months prior to Hicks’ murder, Daniels had robbed several Chattanooga restaurants and taverns, including the popular Black Angus.

Numerous people reported Daniels bragged about killing Hicks and showed them a gunshot wound he claimed he received during the struggle with the tavern owner.

In April 1972, police executed a search warrant of Daniels’ Atlanta apartment. They recovered a pair of bloodstained shorts, five (5) fedora hats of the same size as the one collected from the murder scene and various medical supplies indicative of ongoing treatment for a gunshot wound.

Harry Brooks Daniels was brought to Chattanooga and indicted on the Black Angus armed robbery. But the murder investigation stalled.

Categories: Hamilton County, Local News

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