January 11, 2006

East Tennessee > Ronnie "The torso of 1977 was not Paul Hurst" Sellers Has a New Sign

Ronnie Sellers

Last Saturday we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Alcoa. So did Ronnie Sellers, the local man who's known his red and white sign with the message "The torso of 1977 was not Paul Hurst." Only now he had a new sign.

I met Sellers last summer when I spotted his old sign on his car parked at Midland shopping center. I stopped to take a cell phone picture and he came out of the laundromat to talk to me. He told me his story, but it didn't make sense the way he was telling it. He gave me a photocopy of an old Daily Times story from September 27, 1978, and mentioned that Blount Today had a recent article.

Hurst, who worked at K-25 in Oak Ridge, was a boxing coach in Blount County.

Sellers boxed for Hurst and his son Sunny in the early 1970s. Sunny Hurst coached him when Sellers fought then unknown "Sugar" Ray Leonard at the Ohio State Fair in October of 1973. Leonard won the fight by decision.

"I lost by one point," Sellers said. "I could have knocked Leonard out. I met him the night before, and I thought he was a heck of a nice guy."

About four years after that fight during the Thanksgiving weekend of 1977, Paul Hurst disappeared. A decapitated body was found behind University of Tennessee Medical Center, and it was determined it was Hurst’s body.

According to Sellers, years later, the body was exhumed and doctors found evidence that maybe it wasn’t Hurst’s body. Now Sellers wants officials to reopen the closed case and find Hurst.

I asked my mother about it, and she remembers the story well. She says it was all over the local news at the time in Blount County. The Daily Times photocopy shows a front page, headline story about the case, with a photo of Blount County Coroner Roy White, and private investigators Jesse Creech and Raymond Anderson. The men are at a press conference with a WGAP microphone on the table. My mother remembers Raymond Anderson, who was quite the character. Last Saturday Sellers had a cardboard box next to his car with stapled photocopies of that story, along with Daily Times front page headlines from October 30, 1978 and November 23, 1978.

The latter story reports that forensic examiner Bill Bass examined the body after exhumation and concluded that it was Hurst, though Hurst's son disputed the report at the time. Bass is now a nationally-known forensic anthropologist who created the University of Tennessee's "body farm" for researching decomposition. It was made famous by the Patricia Cornwell book of the same name. I don't think anyone has noted the odd fact that the body farm is located behind the UT Medical Center, which is also where Hurst's torso was found in 1977. UT's body farm opened in 1981. (LATER: I'm not endorsing a conspiracy theory. It just seems like there may be some mundane connection between the two things, if only in Seller's imagination.)

Bass is also the subject of Sellers' new sign, which reads "Did Dr. Bass produce the body for the Paul Hurst Torso Conspiracy?" This strange story just got a little stranger.

LATER: Ronnie Sellers responds to this post

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


Les, Paul and Sunny Hurst invested alot of time and maybe a small portion of money in training me. Sunny was in the Navy where he fought pro until he married and continued in the sport by training Navy boxers. Sunny told me he was teaching me a Cuban style of boxing. I went from a sub-novice champion in 1972 to an open division Southern Champion in 1973. I came down with a flue virus before the National tournament in 1973 and did not get to know the man who won my weight division until later that year. That was Ray Leonard and I met him in Columbus Ohio in the Ohio State Fair. No one told me who he was until after I fought him. People told me he was predicted to win a gold medal in the next Olympics and go on to be a world champion. I thought Leonard was good competition, but he didn't scare me. I was better than Leonard and had him hurt two or three times but I had no desire to knock him out. I personally met him the night before and loved him like a brother. His girlfriend, who he later married, was there as well. When we get back to Maryville, Sunny Hurst didn't talk to me for a whole year. He was the one that did all the training on me. His dad, Paul, had me sparring with only beginners for the next two and a half years until I finally quit. Sunny also pinched a nerve in my back between my shoulder blades, I'm sure on purpose to hurt my ability to continue boxing. None of what happened made sense until I found out the torso was not Paul Hurst. I don't know how much Paul and Sunny was paid to get rid of me but it was enough to pay for the torso. Seven years ago I made a vow to not let Paul and Sunny get away with screwing me. If you need more info you have my email address. Ronnie Sellers

Posted by: Ronnie Sellers at January 28, 2006

Les, Dr. Bass did not examine the torso after it was entombed. The conclusion he came to was from Dr. Lash's report and x-ray comparisons. On the back side of my sign about Bass is , Did Dr. Lash modify Paul Hurst's x-ray to look like the torso. In that newspaper article on Bass' conclusion Coroner Roy White made the statement that the x-rays Lash used (the x-rays from Union Carbide of Paul Hurst and the ones Lash supposedly made of the torso} were the most perfect he had ever seen. The x-rays looked identical and were made almost twenty years apart, one of a live person and one of a dead torso. He said the positions looked the same. I believe Lash covered Paul's x-rays from Union Carbide were the torso was cut and made a modified copy that would look like the torso. I talked to two doctors, that handled the torso, about the cuts that were made on the torso and both agreed that they were made with a fine cutting tool and the cuts were straight. That is how Lash was able to produce x-rays of Paul to make them look like the torso. He used these fake x-rays to mislead the police. Sunny played along with everyone knowing the torso wasn't his dad and when everything came to a stand still, he let it die down. Sunny was in on this conspiracy from the beginning. He was part of it. These are my assumptions. If you had been there when I stomped a mudhole in Leonard's ass, you would understand why Leonard was willing to pay Sunny and Paul to get rid of me. Ronnie Sellers

Posted by: ronnie sellers at January 28, 2006

Someone new is helping to spread the word.

Look at track 2's title

Posted by: Jim Krihlane at April 23, 2008

raymond andersen is so involvled with this he probley killed him hiself or had it done

Posted by: stepeniesummey at August 31, 2008

raymond andersen is so involvled with this he probley killed him hiself or had it done

Posted by: stepeniesummey at August 31, 2008
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