Theories versus “theories”

In scientific discourse, a theory is a hypothesis that has not been proven but which does have considerable evidence to support it. An example of a scientific theory would be the Theory of Evolution. A hypothesis that doesn’t have considerable evidence to support it remains a hypothesis.

I kind of take the same approach on the Charley Project when it comes to what might have happened to an MP. I only have so much time and would prefer to spend it wisely, and if I’m going to update a casefile with a suggestion as to what may have happened to the MP, it’s not going to be something a random person suggested on their blog.

In my mind, a valid theory either has to come from someone in a position to know what they’re talking about (such as the police investigating the case, or someone else very close to the case), or, if it comes from elsewhere, it has to have some evidence to support it. Any suggestion that doesn’t meet either of those criteria falls into the realm of speculation, and I don’t have time for that.

For example, virtually every female who disappeared during the sixties or early seventies and had long hair parted in the center has been pinned on Ted Bundy by somebody at some point. But while Bundy was a very prolific killer who racked up quite a body count and probably had victims no one knows about, he wasn’t the only serial killer operating during that period and his time was not infinite. He had to sleep, eat, hang out with his friends, attend work and school, etc.

If the person pinning Bundy on an unsolved case could, for example, at least show that Bundy was in that town at the time, that’s one thing. But trying to blame Bundy for every missing or murdered woman who even remotely fits his victimology, particularly ones in states he is never known to have visited, is basically seeing hoofprints and pinning them on zebras rather than horses.

I’m not just talking about Bundy here, but about any kind of speculations without evidence. Regarding a case of two MPs who were sailing alone and got lost in a storm, and whose boat was later found adrift, someone told me “theories” that one or both of the people had survived and either had amnesia or felt too guilty to come home. These “theories” had actually no evidence at all to support them and were just people grasping at straws hoping the MPs were still alive.

I don’t think it would do any good for me to put such speculations on my site and it might do some harm.

15 thoughts on “Theories versus “theories”

  1. SHARI KIZZIAR January 7, 2019 / 10:33 pm


  2. Peter Henderson Jr. January 8, 2019 / 8:48 am

    I have always felt the idea that Bundy killed young women with long straight hair parted in the middle because it fits his victimology, was absurd.

    If you look at High School and College yearbook’s coast-to-coast during the time period Bundy was active you will find that over half the female population had that hair style.

    His victims wore that style because it was very popular at the time, nothing more.

    Now, if Bundy’s known victims’ hair had been styled in a beehive hairdo that would have stood out, as the beehive style was popular throughout the early to mid-60s but by the end of the decade had lost popularity.

    • Meaghan January 8, 2019 / 8:50 am

      My thoughts too, Peter! Half the women in the country must have had long straight hair parted in the middle!

      I’ve seen the claim that all his victims had long straight DARK hair parted in the middle, which is easily debunked as he had plenty of blonde victims.

  3. Patrick Kerrigan January 8, 2019 / 6:26 pm

    The thing is that there are a number of serial killers in this country. I came across a case of some guy, who abducted and murdered a girl in Idaho. He had committed a number of these crimes across the country, and finally caught in Idaho. He held very menial jobs and just drifted around the country. He was not a rocket scientist.

    That’s why I stress in comments on Iowa Cold Cases website, if a specific cold case has been entered into the FBI’s VICAP system. This way we can see if this particular M.O., came up in any other cases somewhere else.

    What I like was the murder of some girl in Ohio. It finally came out that the authorities were able to identify the offender in her murder. The problem was that he was dead. The other part was that members of his family knew he was involved in her murder, and kept it secret for over 40 years. One of them was his niece who was afraid of him. I don’t know how they lived with that knowledge.

  4. Diamond Lil January 9, 2019 / 11:36 am

    off topic – Meaghan did several entries on the McStay family.

    The murder trial against Chase Merritt is under way this week for those interested in following it. I believe it was reported that the trial may go through April.

  5. Catherine January 10, 2019 / 1:23 am

    I have similar feelings listening to several popular unsolved case podcasts. Why some of them finish with theories is at times very misleading. I don’t need a theory if you presented the evidence well. It’s either there or it isn’t. I know these theory segments are in response to media or reddit stuff, but I agree it’s more often so damaging. One I heard recently was intensely guilty of this. Cringe.

      • marsyao January 10, 2019 / 10:36 pm

        Well, it is …, waiting for the press conference tomorrow

      • marsyao January 11, 2019 / 1:00 pm

        It has confirmed that Jayme was targeted as I suspected, and there were no social networking communication between Jayme and the suspect Jake Thomas Patterson, how the suspect get to know her and her family? There are still lot of things we don’t know yet.

  6. Patrick Kerrigan January 11, 2019 / 1:43 pm

    I wonder if Jake Thomas Patterson, is connect to any other related crimes. It appears that he had no previous contact with Jayne’s family. So, it would be interesting to known how she became the target and his decision to kill her parents.

    I wonder if his family knew he had issues. I would like them to apologize to her family and the community, if they new he had issues and took no steps to deal with them. But we have many missing young girls who disappeared with their older boyfriends.

    • marsyao January 11, 2019 / 2:09 pm

      He has no criminal records in WI, and since he is an adult, what could his family do ? And be careful about “disappeared with their older boyfriends.”, people may misunderstand what you mean, so far there is no evidence Jayme and he knew each other

  7. Patrick Kerrigan January 11, 2019 / 9:03 pm

    I agree that she had no contact with him prior to him murdering her parents and kidnapping her. However, there a number of cases of young women, who were either dating guys that were 5 or more years older then they were. There was a case in Florida, where a guy in his late 30’s who was hanging around with two young girls about 17 or 18.

    So, I was just throwing out the comment, because he he kidnaps a young woman, at least 8 years younger then he was. I don’t care if he was an adult, they have some responsibility for his actions.

    I posted earlier that there was a young woman who was kidnapped and murdered in Ohio. It came out many years later after the offender had died that his family knew he was the offender. Yet, they chose to remain silent. We were lucky, that he did not kidnap another young woman, and murder her. It bothers the hell out of me, that they protected this guy, and that at least one of her parents died not knowing who took their daughter and killed her.

    On top of it the local police apologized for the lack of following up their initial investigations. Because the guy, who claimed that he saw another individual standing over her body, was the actual offender. He also had a criminal record at the time. He pointed to a young man, who had serious mental health issues. He confessed to her murder, but the ACLU, was able to get involved and saved him form prison. The police considered that the case was closed as the offender had been arrested and charged.

    • marsyao January 13, 2019 / 6:06 pm

      Make my day

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