Daughter of cold case murder victim files wrongful-death lawsuit

Billy Hawk (second from right) in court for his jury selection. The jury later found him guilty for the 1981 death of Mack Salyer. Now his daughter is filing a wrongful-death lawsuit.

The daughter of a man killed in Chattanooga in 1981 is now filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against the man a jury convicted for the crime earlier this month.

Shana Salyer is the daughter of Mack Salyer. She was 2 years old at the time of his death. Salyer was killed, and his body was stuffed into a barrel and then thrown into the Tennessee River.

Billy Hawk was found guilty of the crime on June 6th, a few months after the case was reopened by Hamilton County's Cold Case Unit.

Previous story | Jury in cold case murder reaches guilty verdict

During the trial, a self-described 'crooked cop,' Terry Slaughter, testified that Hawk knew a lot about Salyer's death before it became public. But defense attorneys painted Slaughter's testimony as tainted, saying he spent time in a federal penitentiary for giving a false statement not under oath to the FBI.

Vicki Salyer, Mack Salyer's wife in 1981, took the stand during the trial.

She testified she last saw Mack about two weeks before his remains were found. At that time, she told the jury, Mack was trying to get out of the drug life.

"He said, 'Don't worry, I'm gonna take care of everything. I'll fix everything and we'll have a place to live,'" Vicki said.

The lawsuit is seeking damages against Hawk for "mental and physical suffering endured by Johnny Mack Salyer during his gruesome murder as well as the pecuniary value of the life of Johnny Mack Salyer given his age at the time of his death, life expectancy, and ability to earn an income.

The lawsuit also says Hawk is liable for "loss of consortium damages based upon both tangible and intangible benefits including love, education, support, guidance, and care, all of which was denied by Defendant's murder of her father, Johnny Mack Salyer.

Read the full lawsuit below.

Salyer's lawyer Darren McBride tells NewsChannel 9, "It is hard to imagine a death caused in a more singularly inhumane manner than that perpetrated by Billy Hawk on Johnny Mack Salyer. Through the tireless efforts of Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston and his staff Mr. Hawk is now facing criminal responsibility for his heinous actions. It is my firm belief that Mr. Hawk will now be called to account in a similar fashion through our civil justice system."

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