The presumed abductions of Faye and John Whatley in 1976 is pretty bizarre and I thought I’d blog about it cause I’ve never had a case before where the only thing that seemed to be missing from the house besides the people was a part of the house itself. The cops seem to have given up on solving the case, which is going on 45 years old.
Some questions that occurred to me as I was researching the case, and for which I found no answers in the news articles at the time.
- Did the Whatleys lock their doors? They seem to have lived out in the country, so perhaps they didn’t bother.
- Did the couple own any guns, or know how to use them? If so, was one of those guns a .22?
- Where was the barn in which the door was located? If it had been searched multiple times before, it was probably pretty close to their home. Was it on the Whatleys’ property? Is it possible the door could have been missed in previous searches?
- When the door was found, was there any blood or fingerprints or other physical evidence on it? Had it been wiped off? While 1976 forensics were quite primitive compared to today, they should have been able to detect blood and type it.
- Are they 100% sure it was the Whatleys’ door that turned up in that barn? I don’t know much about doors but they all pretty much look alike, and unless it was a custom-made one or something, wouldn’t it be hard to tell the Whatley’s door from a similar-looking mahogany door?
- This was a second marriage for John and I think for Faye also. Were there any issues within the two sides of the family? Any personal grudges, any ne’er-do-well children or grandchildren or in-laws or anything like that?
- Who was expected to inherit the couple’s estate once they passed? Did they have life insurance? Have they ever been declared dead, and if so, when?
- Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing them, but Lucas seems to have confessed to virtually every crime that was put in front him and most of his confessions turned out to be false. Is there any actual evidence to back up his statement? Is he still considered a possible suspect?
The whole thing makes no sense. How does it happen that people (and there had to be more than one person involved in this) somehow get into the house without leaving signs of a break-in, subdue or kill the Whatleys without leaving any evidence of a struggle (save the single gunshot fired from inside the house; what happened there?), remove a door from its hinges and take that too, take the Whatleys and the door away without bothering to steal anything else, and then go and put the door up in a barn loft and do god-knows-what with the Whatleys, then never make a ransom demand or anything, and keep their mouths shut about it during the ensuing years? What does anyone gain by that?
I’m not discounting Lucas entirely. He was a legit serial killer and seemed to like going around the country with his buddy Ottis Toole murdering people for no reason whatsoever. But as I said, he confessed to a lot of things he didn’t do, and this operation seems to be a bit too organized for him.