False leads

As I’ve stated so many times before, I view the Charley Project as a place to share the story of a person’s disappearance: before, during, and after. That includes talking about the false leads that inevitably crop up during an investigation.

The Beverly Potts casefile, for example, details a number of leads that went nowhere, including a woman who wrote a letter that said she’d caught her husband disposing of Beverly’s body and left it in her house. It turned out, as I recall, that her husband was horribly abusive and she thought he would kill her, so she left the letter as a kind of attempt to frame him for child-murder from beyond the grave, assuming he actually did kill her.

As many of you know, there have been exciting new developments in the Jacob Wetterling case, and I dutifully updated his casefile. The details of disappearance includes an aside that Jacob’s father is an adherent of the Baha’i religion, a faith which not many Americans are familiar with, and there were rumors among the locals that Jacob’s dad’s religion had something to do with his son’s abduction.

A person posted a message on the Charley Project’s Facebook account saying they’d never read about Baha’i in relation to Jacob anywhere, and suggesting it be removed.

Well, the thing was, I hadn’t read about it either. The information about Jacob’s father’s religion and the subsequent rumor mill had been added to the casefile by Jennifer Marra back when she was running the MPCCN. So I checked with Newslibrary, a major source of old news articles, and found a St. Paul Pioneer Press article that referenced it. So at least I could confirm the accuracy of the information. (Not that I ever doubted it in the first place; Jenni cared as much about accuracy as I do.)

My question to you guys, though, is: where do we draw the line? At what point does a false lead or ruled-out potential suspect or local rumor become irrelevant, and perhaps even detrimental to the story?

Honestly, although I haven’t removed the info, I’m not sure I would have put the Baha’i thing into Jacob’s casefile if I myself had written it from scratch. There’s been news lately about Roger Day, an interview with his sister who mentions a “pedophile” who lived nearby and whose home was searched. They found bones that turned out to be not human. Yesterday I updated his case with more info, but didn’t include the bit about the neighborhood pedophile since there seemed to be no evidence, beyond his sister’s speculation, that Roger had any particular interaction with the man.

Where do we draw the line?

Select It Sunday: Beverly Potts

Selected by Christina S.: Beverly Rose Potts, one of Charley’s oldest cases. She disappeared from Cleveland, Ohio on August 24, 1951 — that is, sixty-two years ago. In the unlikely chance that she’s still alive, Beverly would be 73 years old next month. Her Charley Project casefile is quite long with over 1,000 words about the case history, with its many twists and turns and dead ends. She was last seen walking home from a nearby park. She almost made it home safe. But she didn’t.

Author James Jessen Badal wrote an excellent book, Twilight of Innocence, on the Potts case. I highly recommend this book to MP buffs, and if you have a Kindle you can buy it for less than eight bucks. From what I recall from the book, Badal believes Beverly was probably killed on the night of her disappearance, and that her body might very well be buried on her own street.

Beverly’s parents and sister are dead, and the person(s) responsible for her disappearance is probably dead also. I highly doubt this case will ever be solved. The best we can hope for is maybe her body being found.