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by Catherine Gebhardt

Mark Gwyn is Director of the TBI, having been appointed by former TN Gov. Phil Bredesen

(Feb. 27, 2011) — The following letter was sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in regard to a crime against a child perpetrated by a neighbor.  The Post & Email has covered the story previously and reported it to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, as has the child’s mother.  Gov. Haslam’s office has failed to respond.

The letter written by Ms. Gebhardt reads:

From: Catherine Gebhardt
Sunday, February 27, 2011 6:36 PM

Ms. Kristin Helm,


I understand you are the media and public relations contact for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

I am reaching out to you in efforts to understand something most confusing to me. I have a situation involving a crime against my minor daughter, which is not yet finalized, that initially evolved in December 2009. Beyond the crime itself, this has escalated into something else entirely, which is criminal as well.

In February 2010, I received correspondence from another TN State office, which ideally works cohesively with the TBI, stating that they had referred this matter, as well as the numerous materials that I sent to them, to the TBI for an investigation.

Subsequently, I heard nothing from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, therefore, I took it upon myself to contact both the Knoxville and Nashville offices. I was told that matters that did not have the request of the corresponding jurisdictional district attorney involved, could not and would not be investigated. I find this highly odd, when this matter may include the misconduct or wrongdoing of the district attorney general of the jurisdiction himself.

I understand from reviewing the TBI’s own website, that the Bureau does indeed investigate matters of public corruption. However since cronyism exists rampantly in eastern TN, how can one ensure that one receives unbiased assistance from a field agent employed by the TBI, who may be the delegated assigned investigation, and may be very familiar and acquainted, even biased and willfully so, with certain authorities in this region, that may indeed be operating unethically and illegally,  thus allowing its continuance without exposure?

Does the Bureau have some sort of quality assurance program in place to ensure this does not happen or a plan of action to engage should it actually happen? Because if there is no assurance program in place, it would seem futile that the TBI operate at all on state dollars, especially knowing the rationale of why and how the bureau even came to be.

I find it very odd, that when one is alleging gross and blatant misconduct, to hear absolutely NOTHING from the office that the matter was referred to, especially being this was referred by another office, per state statute.

Does the TBI only utilize the fusion centers, which I understand to be owned by state and local governments, so essentially are funded by the taxpayer, which are ideally established to exert a collaborative effort in the exchange of information, for what?…… selective investigation only? …while PROVABLE  crimes are continually being committed by public officials, which in turn, are adversely affecting many in the population of Tennessee communities?  Would this not also involve the crimes committed by a few authorities in the mishandling of the matter, after the initial violent crime by the perpetrators, involving my minor daughter?

Therefore, the state office making this initial referral to the TBI (another state office) for investigation, per state statute, and based upon provable tangible information provided to this referring office by me, of which I have substantially even more proof now, is not credible enough to warrant an unbiased investigation? Because it does not have the request or blessing of the jurisdictional DA involved? Did I understand this correctly?  What is the matter with this picture?

Thankfully, I have duplicated all of the material I possess and sent it to many places and to many other entities in my efforts of seeking resolution, and for safety’s sake, sent this data to places out of the state of TN. However I find it highly irregular that the TBI would not have investigated this matter, as requested by the referring state office. There must be a bump in the road somewhere.

Does the General DA conference have influence over what the TBI does and does not investigate? I am asking this directly,  because why would an entity refuse to investigate a matter referred to them by another credible state agency and cite a policy of not investigating matters because they do not have the jurisdictional request of the DA in the county where the events transpired, when the DA himself just might be part of the problem?  There are many citizens and professionals I have talked with, who think that if this policy is true, the TBI is truly being manipulated by something else.

If the District attorney, as well as other authorities in any community in TN, are engaging in wrongdoing, misconduct, and malfeasance, how exactly does one have a matter investigated in an unbiased manner by the TBI?

If the matter should be referred to another entity, say the FBI, I would suggest that the website of the TBI be revamped, as it proves to be misguiding and untrue, as it spells out with clarity that public corruption is one of its primary priorities and mentions explicitly verbiage of original jurisdiction, which would not involve the request of an District attorney.

Taken from TBI website directly:

Field Investigation Unit

The Field Investigation Unit is comprised of nearly 90 Special Agents and supervisors who represent the foundation of TBI and who are considered the heartbeat of the organization. A highly publicized and heinous murder that occurred in Greene County in December of 1949 prompted the publisher of the Greenville Sun to call for the creation of an unbiased state agency to assist local law enforcement in the investigation of serious crimes. In 1951, the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Gordon Browning created the Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification (TBCI) which evolved over the years into the TBI. Today’s field agents investigate everything from high profile murders to official misconduct of public officials to embezzlement cases and financial fraud.

The Field Investigation Unit is divided geographically into four regions. Each region is headed by a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) who supervises an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), 14 to 19 Special Agents, two administrative secretaries and at least one Law Enforcement Information Coordinator. Each Judicial District has one to three field investigators assigned to that district. In addition to investigating cases at the district attorneys’ requests, these agents are also responsible for investigations predicated upon TBI’s original jurisdiction, assisting other law enforcement agencies, and gathering intelligence to be reported to the Criminal Intelligence Unit. The Field Investigation Unit continues to place a priority on public corruption and criminal official misconduct cases as well as violent and organized crimes. TBI polygraph examiners perform hundreds polygraph examinations each year, with the vast majority of these exams being performed at the request of local law enforcement officials.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Fusion Center?

Fusion Centers are defined as a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing the ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorism activity. (Fusion Center Guidelines, August 2006).

They are owned and operated by state and local governments.

Though Fusion Centers pre-date the September 11, 2001 attacks, the concept gained momentum and was promoted by state and local law enforcement and homeland security officials during post-9/11 discussions.

What does a Fusion Center do? How does a Fusion Center “fuse” information?

State and major urban area Fusion Centers provide analysis and information sharing capabilities that support the efforts of state and local law enforcement to prevent and investigate crime in our local communities and address our most pressing national challenges such as gangs, border violence, narcotics, homicides and terrorism.

Fusion Centers receive information from a variety of sources, such as state and local tips and leads, and federal information and intelligence.

Through blending or “fusing” information and applying human analysis – the Fusion Center creates analytic products that are timely and relevant to their customers needs.

This allows state and local law enforcement to address immediate and emerging threat-related circumstances and events. It also supports risk-based, information-driven prevention, response, and consequence management programs.

Who Are Fusion Centers’ Customers?

Fusion Centers create a variety of products (strategic and tactical) that are tailored to their customers’ needs. Depending on the center’s mission their customers may include:

  • State and local law enforcement
  • Fire, Public Safety, Emergency Management, Public Health Disciplines

(I would think the TN Dept of Safety would apply here)
  • Homeland Security Directors
  • Elected Officials – Governors, Mayors, Legislators, etc…

Note: Each of these customer sets would receive different types of products – targeted to their roles and responsibilities.

Why are Fusion Centers Important? How do Fusion Centers help local communities?

An analytic resource that supports:

  • The efforts of state and local law enforcement to prevent and investigate crime in our local communities.
  • Addressing our most pressing national challenges such as gangs, border violence, narcotics, homicides, natural disasters and terrorism.

Effective and efficient information sharing and collaboration mechanism:

  • Fusion Centers receive information from a variety of sources, including federal, state, and local entities, and ensure timely and relevant information is provided to the right stakeholders within their geographic area of responsibility.
  • The Federal Government uses Fusion Centers as the primary focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt and sharing of terrorism-related information.
  • Federal agencies provide terrorism-related information to state, local, and tribal authorities primarily through these fusion centers, which may further customize such information for dissemination to satisfy intra- or interstate needs.

Saves money – leverages assets and helps local leaders make informed decisions on utilizing resources:

  • Across the country, state, local and tribal law enforcement and Homeland Security officials are being asked to do more with less. Fusion Centers offer a way to leverage the expertise of numerous public safety partners to more effectively protect our communities.
  • Thoughtful analysis about risks to our communities can help elected officials and Homeland Security leaders better utilize limited financial resources to make effective decisions about public safety matters and threats to the homeland.

Ms. Helm, I would truly appreciate your commentary at your earliest and best opportunity.

Thank you.

Catherine Gebhardt

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  1. It’s most unfortunate that Tennessee is an evil place. I am praying that the church will rise up and address these issues but more specifically that pastors in Tennessee will come to the aid and comfort of those victims of public corruption. It’s the churches’ responsibility to take a stand in these issues…

  2. The TBI is a waste of taxpayers’ money. They too have a reputation for corruption. The state of Tennessee isn’t listed as the most corrupt state in the union for no reason. The TBI must share the blame for this sad state of affairs.

  3. I don’t understand why this is not been investigated and this man brought before a Judge and Jury … How can someone shoot another person, minor child or adult, not in his yard causing him any bodily harm and not have to answer for it…

    What is going on up there in TN…

    I hope this story is submitted to the local news and to Fox news… Maybe Bill O’Rielly can have someone look into it… shame on you TN..