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

Robertson County: Teresa Peden

Dec 17, 2018 at 10:00 am by Michelle Willard

Teresa Peden

When Teresa Peden disappeared in 2003, her husband told investigators that they had fought and she might have run off to Florida with his half-brother.

C. Eugene Peden said his wife left in a huff after he wouldn't have sex with her and accused her of having an affair.

But was he telling the truth?

More than a decade after her remains were discovered in Adams, Tennessee, turning her from a missing person to an unsolved murder, and a dark secret emerged that implicated her husband in her disappearance and death.

The Victim

Teresa Peden, 45, was a janitor in Robertson County schools when she disappeared from her home in rural Robertson County.

Teresa had two "nice" children and kept a clean house. Her family said enjoyed camping and surfing the internet.

She had a turbulent relationship with her husband, Clinton Eugene "Gene-o" Peden but he told The Tennessean in 2006 that she was "a good woman."

(Her home has alternately been reported as being in Cedar Hill, Springfield and Adams.)

The Disappearance

Teresa Peden was last seen Aug. 3, 2003, at her home on Mud Cat Road.

She left after having an argument with her husband, according to a missing persons report filed with the Robertson County Sheriff's Office.

It wasn't odd for the Pedens to argue. They often sparred about money, parenting and jobs, Eugene Peden said. But this time, it was something different. Eugene Peden told The Tennessean in 2006 that the couple had argued about sex.

"She wanted it, he said, but he wasn't interested because he believed she was cheating on him," the article said.

He also claimed his wife left occasionally because of her mental illnesses and "she hated me when she was off her medicine," he said.

But she always came home, he said.

He told a reporter that he searched Robertson County for her, checking his brother's house and everywhere he could think of before reporting her missing.

He said he thought she had left him for good.

Eleven days after she was last seen, Eugene Peden reported his wife missing and claimed she might be with his half-brother, Jackie Lee Marlow.

Investigators also believed she had left her husband and family until a jogger discovered the skeletal remains and tattered clothing of a middle-aged woman in the woods near Old High 41 in Adams. The discovery was made during the annual Tennessee-Kentucky Threshermen's Show, which was held July 15 and 16 in 2006.

The remains were sent to the medical examiner in Nashville where it was determined it was Teresa and the cause of death was "multiple sharp-force injuries."

After a sheriff's deputy told Eugene Peden that the remains were those of his wife, he said "I'm going to be blamed for something I didn't do," Peden told The Tennessean.

The Theories

For three years, Teresa Peden's family believed she might have left with Eugene Peden's half-brother, Jackie Lee Marlow.

Eugene Peden told police Teresa and Marlow had talked together about wanting to move to Florida and that she had $1,300 with her when she left.

Marlow, who has a long history with the law, had disappeared around the same time Teresa did. He was of particular interest in the case because of his extensive career as a criminal. Marlow has been in and out of prison since 1979 for more than a dozen convictions including larceny, receiving stolen property, burglary to a motor vehicle, forgery and escape from prison.

"He would get out of the penitentiary and stay at Gene's a week or two, then get in trouble again," Eugene's brother Bobby Peden said in an interview with The Tennessean.

Bobby Peden told the newspaper that Marlow told him in late 2003 that he didn't know where Teresa was but he had taken Teresa's car and left it in White County. Marlow had taken the car to steal a safe but it broke down and he stole another car to make it back to Robertson County.

Robertson County Sheriff's Detective Lt. Don Bennett said Marlow was a person of interest in Teresa's disappearance and death but was cleared when he surfaced in 2010 at the Turney Center Industrial Prison in Only, Tenn., on a burglary charge.

After Marlow was cleared, the focus shifted to the husband.

The True Crime

In 2016, investigators discovered the argument the Pedens had was not about who Teresa was having sex with but about who Eugene was.

According to a press release from the Robertson County Sheriff's Department, Teresa had found out that her husband had raped a 16-year-old girl. The couple argued and Teresa threatened to turn him into to the authorities, according to one news report.

Peden, who is registered as a sex offender for a charge of incest, then stabbed her to death and disposed of her body in an embankment off Old High 41 in Adams.

It was after Peden was charged with the rape in August 2016 that investigators connected the two crimes.

"Our detectives worked diligently and tirelessly to bring justice for Teresa and her family. This shows our commitment to justice and continued effort to ensure those responsible face the consequences for their actions. I am proud of the work by our team," Sheriff Bill Holt said.

In September 2016, a Robertson County Grand Jury indicted Eugene Peden for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. He entered a guilty plea to the rape charge and is currently housed at the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Tennessee.