Man convicted in Hamilton County cold case slaying

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – A Hamilton County jury has convicted a bowling alley owner charged with killing a man whose body was found in a steel drum on a lake about 35 years ago.

News outlets report jurors, who began deliberating on Saturday, returned the guilty verdict on Monday morning against 62-year-old William Hawk, who was sentenced to life in prison. He was charged with murder in the slaying of Johnny Mack Salyer.

Hawk was arrested in September. Prosecutors say he killed Salyer, whose body was pulled from a 55-gallon steel drum floating on Chickamauga Lake on June 3, 1981. Salyer’s body was so badly decomposed that authorities could not determine how he died.

The trial marks the first conviction since the county formed its Cold Case Unit.