Select Page

Fear the Hills: Adam Braseel

The year was 2006, the height of the opioid crisis, when in the mountains of Tennessee, government agents were investigating a medical clinic run by the Garner family and its ties to kingpin pill-dealer Malcolm Burrows. Just as they were hot on the trail of connecting the conspirators in a pill-mill scheme, Burrows was found brutally beaten to death outside his home. 

Newly appointed Sheriff Myers, whose family owns the local pharmacy, quickly pins the murder on an unsuspecting visiting UPS worker, Adam Braseel, who is falsely convicted after Burrows’ relatives identify Adam as the culprit. Meanwhile, pill dealer Malcolm Burrows is portrayed as a model citizen, and no one talks about the Garner’s Arabian horses, which vanish from their Prairie Plains Road ranch after agents raid the clinic.

Was Burrows killed to halt the investigation? Or did the mystery run deeper? Five years after the conviction, Adam Braseel’s sister Christina finally retrieved the case file and discovered that they’d been deceived — Burrows was not the man he was made out to be at the trial, or by the local paper who knew better. Frustrated in their attempts to find out more by the climate of fear where few are willing to talk, the Braseel family hire a new attorney, but Adam’s appeal stalls out for being “filed improperly.”

While looking into making a movie in the region, DK finds a clue left by one of the agents investigating Burrows and Garner’s pill-mill. He also makes the startling discovery that the “Sergeant Brown” who testified against Adam at his trial was not the “Sergeant Brown” who investigated the crime scene. It seems that Sergeant Mike Brown vanished after the murder and has never been found. DK announces a casting call for a movie to find the missing officer and publish files that could get people killed if it is learned they still exist and remain hidden. 

What ensues is a five-year struggle to free Adam Braseel and to get the truth out. A truth that has yet to be acknowledged by those involved in the initial investigation of the Burrow’s pill-mill, or by a prosecutor who allowed accomplices of the pill-mill on the stand to conspire with a crooked sheriff to convict an innocent man.

In one of the most egregious instances of injustice ever seen, an innocent man was convicted to hide and protect a pill-mill that was flooding millions of illicit pills into a region already decimated by drugs. 

Grundy County would go on to become the 13th highest opioid selling county in America, all while an innocent UPS worker was falsely imprisoned and his family was driven to bankruptcy, both financially and emotionally. 

 In 2019, in spite of vast evidence of corruption, Adam is forced to take an unfair deal if he wants to be released from the jaws of the 12th Circuit prosecutors.

But then a man dies prompting those who had kept silent in fear, to finally come forward to speak. Which they do now in this book!


“Everyone who talks about the case goes bye-bye.” Coty Crisp, who did wind up testifying at the 2019 hearing.

Those horses were Junior’s babies,  ” Krista told me Burrows killed them. If anyone had Malcolm Burrows killed, it was Junior.” Tami LaMore. Former employee at Community Medical Center. 

“We could never verify she had a horse killed.” –  Prosecutor Steve Strain who convicted Adam Braseel for the murder of Malcolm Burrows. 

“He’s a man who has no remorse for killing.” –  Former Community Medical Center employee who believed Junior was behind the murder of Malcolm Burrows, knowing there was an innocent man in prison.

“I thought the Sergeant Brown who testified was the Sergeant Brown at the crime scene.” – Juror Cindy McKinney when talking about how they had been fooled.

 “When I took office Sept 1, 2014, there wasn’t even a single file on the Braseel case, the question is this: was there something the past administration didn’t want me to see?”  – Sheriff Clint Shrum


“Malcolm was a drug dealer, but he was not treated as such. I went to Malcolm and told him not to sell drugs to my 12-year-old boy. There was no one else to go to.” – Brenda Griffin. Tracy City


“The way they have spun this story is maddening. I have sat and watched this all get covered up once again.” – Jesse Vaugh – former 911 dispatch Grundy County.

“ I asked Krista if Junior had Malcolm Burrows killed, she said Oh, sweety there was so much going on back then, he probably did.”-  Deborah  Aaron, former daughter-in-law of Krista Garner.

“I have already lost two sons, I got nothin to say,” – Lila Seagroves, Adam said she begged him not to testify. 

“Everybody knew? I am mad, and I am hurt. How could they leave our family in the dark like that? To find out now, that everyone knew — about Malcolm— about Becky and Kirk but didn’t tell us. I am hurt, and I am mad.”- Adam’s sister Christina who fought 12 years for her brother’s freedom.

“Don’t let the bad choices of others ruin your day.” – Adam Braseel.

“It was an ordeal, he was beating on the door. Yelling he would turn them all in, and he would kill the horses.”- Tami LaMore, former employee of CMC

The horses were killed at night. I believe I saw one of the heads on the porch.” –  Former employee. Tracy K.

“The danger is very real, and I have family. I would like to help Adam, but I would need a confidentiality agreement.” – Anonymous.

It was the most chilling backwoods Deliverance scenario I could conceive of. Watching the trial on video. A courtroom scene so corrupt it made the Scottsboro Boys trial look like they got justice. A witness openly communicating with the prosecutor on what to say. In that courtroom, when a mother and her adult son emerged from the backwoods and could somehow rattle off the smallest details of Adam Braseel’s car. 

It was wrong, you just knew it was.

They said the murder happened at night down a dead-end road in the woods,  when the Grundy County Sheriff’s office sent Sergeant Brown to handle the assault call for Burrows’s sister.  After the ambulance left and Kirk left, and he was pretty much alone except for the deputy who said he was watching,  Brown stopped back at the car and found the body of Malcolm Burrows lying face down in a bed of leaves, his wallet gone— so they said. 

But what was stunning, was seeing in the video that the Sheriff’s Deputy, Sergeant Brown, who was testifying, the one the court said found the body of Malcolm Burrows— he was not the Sergeant Brown who was at the crime scene. The sergeant Brown at the crime scene was Mike Brown, a decorated army veteran, not this lump of good-ole-boy they had up on the witness stand.

 But looking for Sergeant Mike Brown, from what I could gather, he had vanished just after the murder. No report was in the record.  I looked for days but there was no sign of him. I thought of talking to Sergeant Troy Brown to see what he had to say.  But then learned he had recently died. Was Mike Brown dead as well?  

“My god Carmichael, what the hell is going on here?”  At that moment realizing we had to do something big. “Maybe he left the country?” said Carmichael. 

It was time for drastic action.