Middle Tennessee Mysteries is dedicated to shining a light on cold cases, unsolved murders and missing people in Tennessee.

Davidson County: Winnie Gebremicael

Dec 04, 2017 at 12:00 pm by Michelle Willard

Davidson County: Winnie Gebremicael

The body of Freweini “Winnie” Gebremicael was found burned in 2006 on the side of the road with a bullet in her head.

Gebremicael, 34 when she died, had been missing for three days when she was found surrounded by candy bar wrappers and beer bottles near Thompson Lane in Nashville, according to an article in the Nashville Scene.

In the 11 years since her death, her murderer has not been found.

The Victim

By all accounts, Freweini “Winnie” Gebremicael was a hard-working immigrant who owned her own business in downtown Nashville.

The 34-year-old mother of two teenagers when her life was cut short in 2006 immigrated to the U.S. when her native land Eritrea broke out into violence with Ethiopia. Eritrea is a country in northeast Africa on the Red Sea coast. Gebremicael was born in Asmara, its the capital.

Her ex-husband Amanuel Simon was a fighter for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front before the couple immigrated in 1991. They fled their home country through Sudan to the U.S. She “proudly became a U.S. Citizen in 2001,” according to her obituary.

She owned and operated The City Coffee Shop in the Market Street Emporium on Nashville's Second Avenue. The coffee shop had been open a year when she was killed.

Gebremicael was last seen alive when she dropped her 17-year-old daughter at school on May 5. Her family reported her missing later that day.

Gebremicael “was known and loved by many,” according to a post about a benefit show held at Windows on the Cumberland.

WKRN reported more than 250 people, from homeless to musicians, attended her funeral.

The Crime

Three days after Gebremicael was reported missing was “found fatally shot, burned and dumped near a creek at 75 Whitsett Road,” according to a press release from Metro Nashville Police Department's South Precinct.

“I prayed to God for it not to be her. My heart broke,” her daughter said in an interview with the Scene.

She had been shot once in the head and set on fire, the Nashville Scene article said. Bruce Levy, who was Davidson County medical examiner at the time, said he believed Gebremicael was already dead when she was burned because of a lack of soot in her lungs.

(As an aside, Levy was charged with simple possession of marijuana in 2010. It was found during an investigation that some of the pot was stolen from corpses, according to The Tennessean.)

The Suspects

According to the Nashville Scene report, Gebremicael had recently been divorced from Simon when she was killed.

In the article, family and friends describe him as a controlling and possibly abusive husband. During her brief disappearance, they said he was noticeably absent. After her body was found, they said he seemed unconcerned.

Police called him a “person of interest in the case, but not a focus of the investigation.”

In the 11 years since her death, no arrest has been made in the case.

If you have information on a cold case, you may email information to the Homicide Cold Case Unit or call 615-862-7329. You can also call the Nashville Police Department's Crime Stoppers Division anonymously at 615-74-CRIME (615-742-7463).

Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics and true crime podcasts, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)murfreesborovoice.com. 

Sections: Unsolved Murders