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Old 03-25-2014, 07:00 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by TheCars1986
I know there's more to come, and the articles do bring up a bunch of stuff left out by UM (no surprise), but I just can't get over the fact that Ferrell admitted to making those phone calls to the bookstores. If the guy really was a ladies man, why did he need to do that? Sure the phone calls mean zilch in the disappearance of Cathy Ford, but then again what are the odds that there was another "phantom caller" in that small town of Gorman?

So we have two sets of calls: the "phone sex type thing" (in Ferrell's words) calls and the "meeting" calls (in which someone usually claiming to be an official would attempt to lure the call recipient to another location).

Whether this is accurate or not I'm not sure (it came from the prosecution), but I think Ferrell made something like 200 phone calls to bookstores "all over the country". (I'd be curious as to what telephone he was using, as many of those calls would have certainly been long-distance.) So I wonder how many of those calls were actually made to local stores.

While there IS definite consistency in these calls (someone claiming to be a doctor and requesting the same passage from the same book be read to him--plus, homeboy admitted he made them), there isn't always consistency with the "meeting" calls, according to Yant's investigation. Some even actually stated they didn't think the caller sounded at all like Ferrell. At least one woman was certain of it because she regularly spoke to Ferrell on the phone (for business, I think). And the calls directing women to meet the caller in "locations near Ferrell's properties" were made before AND after the times Paul was living at those addresses.

I guess I don't think it's implausible that Ferrell could have been popular with women and still engage in those calls. According to him, they started out as a "joke" and apparently got very out of hand. The passage he requested the employees read over the phone describes non-vaginal intercourse. Coming from a Catholic family, perhaps he felt some sense of shame about being allegedly aroused by what the passage described. I don't know. Your guess is probably as good as mine.

In any event, I couldn't put down this stuff all weekend. Every time I read it I was finding something new.
"Why is she lying?, it makes me wonder. What is she hiding?, it makes me wonder."

Go Vols!
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:57 PM   #47
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'I'm not going to give up'

Most important, Tucker, Evans, and Gnegy didn't even bother--or perhaps have the courage--to confront Cullers with a statement by another prank-call victim, Robin Tichnell, that the only man she had been harassed by was Melvin Grant Cullers. On Feb. 22, Tichnell had told Evans that Cullers had asked her out several times after she had waited on him when he came to Garrett National Bank to close his account.

"He talked to me a long time and asked me out," Tichnell said. "I told him no, and...he called my house and asked me out. I told him no. He called me again. I again told him no, that I was seeing someone. That didn't seem to matter, and he said he didn't give up that easy. 'I'm not going to give up.'"

The only thing Cullers was pressed on at all was how he seemed to keep so current on the prank-call reports.

In the process, Tucker brought up a bizarre incident in which Cullers entered Stoners' Video in Redhouse shortly after Loretta Stoner had reported receiving one of the calls.

According to one witness, Cullers lunged over the counter, grabbed the telephone, and said to Stoner, "Got any weird phone calls lately?"

Tucker brought up the incident up midway through Cullers' rambling statement.

"[Did] you know you scared the hell out of the Stoners?" Tucker asked.

"I didn't mean to do that...Just bugs the hell out of me 'bout Cathy."

Later, Tucker asked when Cullers had heard about the prank call received by his old target for a date, Robin Tichnell.

"I work with a guy," Cullers explained. "OK, his son knows [name apparently deleted]. I talked to her. Hadn't to her for a long time. But he said his son and Robin are good friends. He was tellin' me, the [blank space] two other people that told me...What did they tell her anyway?"

"Not going to say," Tucker replied.

The call Cullers reported, coincidentally, would be one of the most damaging to Paul Ferrell's case in the trial to come. An attractive, articulate blonde who even earned a sound bite on a Current Affair segment on the case, Sherry Arnold seemed to personify the kind of young woman a disturbed man might try to lure to a remote spot to fulfill a sexual fantasy.

The prosecution also argued that the time she said she received the call--9:50 p.m. on Feb. 15--on a pay phone in her dorm at Potomac State College in Keyser, had to be the 9:41 p.m. call of Feb. 15 to that number logged on the long-distance records of a phone registered to Paul Ferrell.

Yet Arnold said in a recent interview that she was so quick to give her 9:50 estimate because she recalled looking up to a large clock above the phone when she answered it.

"The time just stuck in my mind," she said convincingly enough to raise the question of how the time she gave and the one on Ferrell's records could be nine minutes off.

According to a statement Arnold gave on Feb. 21, the ensuing conversation went approximately like this:


"Is Sherry Arnold there?"

"Yes, this is Sherry."

"One of your friends are broke down at Mount Storm, and he told me to call you to have you pick him up."

"Who is it?"

"I didn't get his name. I am on my way to work at VEPCO [Virginia Electric Power Co.], and I don't want to be late."

"Where are you calling from?"

"The Bismark Grocery store. I dropped him off at the fire hall, but we couldn't get in so I came here."

"What is he driving?"

"A car."

"What color is it?"

"Well, uh, it's dark blue. Can you pick him up?"

"Yes, I'll come and get him."

Arnold changed her mind, though, and didn't go. Rather than the "young and nervous man" who called Knotts, Arnold described the man who called her in a Feb. 26 statement to Gnegy as someone who sounded to be between the ages of 30 and 40. She said he was sophisticated--as opposed to Knotts' not-too-bright caller--and a smooth talker who seemed to have planned questions. When she asked him something, though, he became more hesitant.

Arnold gave another statement on March 31, 11 days after Ferrell's arrest, in which she said she knew who Ferrell was, but didn't know him personally. She also reported receiving a second call that appeared to be a wrong number.

'Third call surfaces in court'

It was not until Ferrell's trial 10 months later, though, that Arnold's report of a third call came to light--although she said she had told the FBI about it earlier. Arnold said she had received the call during the fall of 1987 at about 1 p.m. on a Wednesday, which seemed to correspond to a Sept. 30 call on Ferrell's long-distance record.

Arnold said the caller identified himself as a doctor. She said he then informed her she had come into contact with AIDS and should come to an unspecified medical center for tests. When she started asking questions, Arnold said, the caller hung up.

A day after Arnold gave her first statement, a second Potomac State student from Bayard, Tracy Dunithan, told State Trooper Ann R. Black about receiving two calls from a man with a "deep, masculine voice". Dunithan said the caller asked her to pick up her ex-boyfriend, Bill Dignan, whose car had broken down on Bismark Road. When Dunithan suggested he go to a friend's house on Bismark Road for help, the caller said "all right."

Dunithan said she then called her foster mother, who drove to Bismark Road but couldn't find a broken-down care and returned unharmed.

A few minutes after hanging up, Dunithan said, she got a second call in which the caller said her ex-boyfriend still wanted her to come get him. He said he was on a little road just past a bridge leading to a trailer (presumably Ferrell's).

Dunithan said she had received the call "around 4:30 p.m." on "a Monday or Tuesday, probably a Monday."

...Gnegy's report on a follow-up interview five days later said it had been made "about two weeks prior to the taking of her statement by Trooper Black. The time period would be around [Monday] Feb. 8."

During Ferrell's trial, however, Dunithan said she had received the call on Wednesday, Feb. 2, which happened to match the time two calls were made to her dorm from Ferrell's phone.

...According to Gnegy's report, "The following Sunday (2/14/88), after she arrived at the college, a roommate answered the pay phone, and a male subject asked for Tracy Dunithan. When Tracy answered the phone, the caller hung up. Tracy stated she had never heard [emphasis added] the voice of the caller before."

In a statement apparently taken by Detective Tucker after Ferrell's phone records had been obtained by investigators though, Dunithan changed the date of the hang-up call to Feb. 7, which coincidentally, matched a one-minute call to her dorm room that showed on Ferrell's long-distance record.

Two other explanations for those calls were apparently never thoroughly explored, however.

One was that David Ferrell had occasionally dated Kelly Qualls of Bayard, who was also a student at Potomac State. In fact she was in Arnold's room when she received her call on Feb. 15.

When he was interviewed by two FBI agents about the calls, David Ferrell says he told them some of all of the toll calls might be his. He says he told them he had made several calls to the dorm in fruitless attempts to reach Qualls.

He says the FBI agents returned a few days later and told him they had confirmed that he had dated Qualls and that she said it was possible he may have tried to reach her, but never did.

"Then they told me they knew I was thinking of a career in law enforcement, and that if I tried to cover for Paul they would make sure I'd never get a job in the field. They also told me they could very easily charge me as an accomplice if I didn't keep my mouth shut," David Ferrell said.

A second explanation for the calls apparently was never even considered was the calls were made by one of a number of Paul's friends who hung out at the store and in his weight room upstairs. Some took working out seriously, but others just watched television, chewed the fat and drank beer.

Two of those friends had just had falling outs with their longtime girlfriends, Sherry Arnold and Tracy Dunithan.

One of the two, Bill Dignan, eventually got back together with Dunithan and married her. They have since divorced. Dignan, who was in the service at the time but whose name was used in the calls to Dunithan, said he had no idea who made the calls.

"But I never understood how they could say Paul made them," he said. "There were so many guys coming and going there at all hours that any of them could have been making the calls. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a game that two or three guys were playing."

Dignan added that Dunithan was placed under a lot of pressure before the trial by family members and officials.

The other involved with one of the calls' recipients was Vince Culp. Culp had dated Arnold for some time, but they had recently broken up. But he remains friends with the Ferrells and testified on Paul's behalf.

Culp said he also had no idea who made the calls

A third friend, Robert "Bobby" Harvey, Culp's cousin, figured in teh case far more than the other two. On Feb. 26, just five days after Arnold had reported receiving one of the mysterious phone calls, investigators received a report that Harvey had been following her.

Gnegy's report says that when he contacted Arnold, "She stated that she knew Robert Harvey and he had followed her around in the Bayard area this date."

Gnegy added that Arnold said she "didn't like" Harvey.

"She also informed me that she had returned home from college Thursday evening, when no one was expecting her. She had received information that Robert had been seen parked in Mount Storm, and appeared to be waiting for someone a lengthy period of time, around noon on Friday.

"This would have been the regular time that Sherry would have normally been coming through the Mount Storm area. Sherry described Harvey's vehicle as a tan Chevrolet 4x4 pickup truck, with a bug guard."

Four days earlier, Sherry's late father, Richard, told Evans that on Sunday evening, Feb. 21, he was following Sherry through Mount Storm, apparently out of fear she would be abducted by whoever was behind Ford's disappearance.

...As he followed his daughter at a distance, Arnold said, a large light tan or yellow truck turn around in a gas-station parking lot after Sherry had passed.

When Sherry and he stopped at their prearranged location, Arnold said, the truck and another vehicle with its lights out drove by at a high rate of speed.

Gnegy interviewed Harvey, whose address was given as Bismark Road. Harvey denied following Arnold. He said he was home on weekends only, and that he worked at a power plant near Waldorf, Md., which is where he was on Feb. 17.

Harvey was reluctant to be interviewed for this story...he insisted he knew nothing about the calls, never had the slightest interest in Arnold, and believed that Ferrell was innocent.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:37 AM   #48
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'Sharp comments'

(Sgt. Leslie D. Sharp, West Virginia State Police) was asked during a telephone interview if a West Virginia file on the Ferrell-Ford case existed, because none had been turned over during discovery.

"Yes, there is," Sharp said.

The rest of the interview went like this:

Q. Any chance I could see that?
A. No, there isn't.
Q. Why's that?
A. All our investigations are confidential.
Q. Even when they're closed?
A. They're still confidential. And no, you can't have them.
Q. Are you familiar with the case Sattler v. Holliday?
A. No.
Q. It's a West Virginia decision...interpreted as saying that once a case is closed, it returns to the public record.
A. Is that right? Well, go get the public record...
Q. OK...You were involved in execution of the search warrant during which the watch was found...
A. And besides that, I'm not going to discuss the case with you.
Q. Why's that?
A. Because I don't want to discuss the case with you. If you have some information that you want to give the police about the case, you could give me your information. But I'm not going to discuss the case with you.
Q. I really find that pretty amazing...
A. Well!
Q. I've talked to police departments all over the country...
A. Right!
Q. And they're never hesitant to discuss a case...
A. Right!
Q. ...that's been closed. There were a lot of comments made during the case, I don't understand why...
A. Uh huh!
Q. won't comment on it when it's completed.
A. Well, you have my answer, right?
Q. OK, thank you.

Prosecutor DiBenedetto has since refused to allow Ferrell's appeals attorney, Dan James, to review the files as wel. So the only files available in a West Virginia case still under appeal are those of a Maryland sheriff's department.

Those files, incomplete as they may be, show that Evans interviewed Robin Tichnell, one of several employees at Garrett National Bank to receive a prank phone call, on Feb. 22.

Tichnell said she also had received a call from someone claiming to be a magistrate in West Virginia on Feb. 17 at 10:50--no more than a half hour before Ford apparently received one.

"All I got out of it was magistrate in West Virginia," Tichnell said. "I tried to get it, but could not understand it. He started out fast with a line of conversation, he didn't say hello or anything."

"He told me he was holding an investigation, that it was someone I know, that he needed to ask me some questions about them. He told me to come to the Mount Storm Fire Hall, he would be there from 10 to 3 p.m. That's when I said, 'Who are you?' I didn't know what he was talking about."

Then, Tichnell added, the fast-talking caller started all over again. Tichnell finally told him she couldn't get there before 3 p.m. because she didn't get off work until 4:30. With that, the caller said he would have to get back to her and hung up. Tichnell said the mystery caller sounded official, educated and in his 30s.

Could Cathy Ford have gotten out of her meeting by also giving an excuse--that she had something else planned? After all, she did complain after the initial call that the meeting with the magistrate "screwed up" her afternoon. We may never know.

'Timing is everything'

The timing of the Feb. 17 calls to Robin Tichnell (10:50 a.m.) and Cathy Ford (11:15 a.m.) are important. Here's how DiBenedetto put it in his concluding argument at Paul Ferrell's trial:

"What connects the defendant to those calls? You again have heard the testimony. He was at the pay phone, came into the fire hall, and without much ado with the magistrate and her assistant there, went back into the truck bay area where the public phone is located, and that is where the public phone is located, and that is where he went for the purposes of interrupting or catching any calls from those two girls coming into the office to confirm whether or not they needed to come and talk with the magistrate. He stayed there for 10 or 15 minutes and he left, and he went back to the store."

Yet neither the one available statement, nor the testimony, nor simple logic support DiBenedetto's declaration.

In her original statement given to a not-so-sharp state trooper who failed to have her sign and date it, magistrate's assistant Carol Wratchford said she and Magistrate Wanda Carter arrived at the Mount Storm satellite office "at about 10:15 a.m."

"Shortly thereafter," she added, "Magistrate Carter heard a noise outside, she got up and went to the window. She remarked that Ferrell was in the phone booth. I turned around in my chair and saw him. A few minutes later, he came into the fire hall. I spoke to him, he turned and looked at us and then went through the door leading to where the fire trucks are parked...The restroom is in that area, and there is a phone. I don't remember him coming back through."

At the trial almost a year later, though, Ferrell didn't come into the fire hall a few minutes later. He came in "10, 15 minutes later."

And instead of saying, "I don't remember him coming back through," Wratchford swore he came back through "maybe 15 minutes" later. Wratchford also said Ferrell was "pretty [pre]occupied," a fact she didn't think was important enough to mention in her statement.

The best Magistrate Wanda Carter could do was say she "would guess" she saw Ferrell talking on the pay phone between 10:30 and 11 a.m. She said Ferrell was in the back for about 10 minutes, then left.

But if Ferrell was in the phone booth shortly after Carter and Wratchford arrived at 10:15, that would certainly make it closer to 10:30 than to 11. That would make it unlikely that he made the call to Tichnell at 10:50, let alone the call to Ford at 11:15.

Actually, Ferrell insists that it was impossible to have called either. he says he did, indeed, enter the phone booth--but it was to call Cathy Bernard to inquire about her son. He says he was unsuccessful, however, because the phone wasn't working--a fact confirmed by several Mount Storm residents, who say the phone was out of order almost the entire month of February 1988.

...DiBenedetto luring women to the Mount Storm Fire Hall in the middle of the day would provide Ferrell or anyone else the opportunity to harm them.

And then comes the clincher: Parker heard Cathy say the meeting with "magistrate" was canceled. And both Parker and Rose Ford suspected the third call Cathy received came from someone in Garrett County, not Grant County.

'More ties that don't bind'

Three other calls that seemed to point to Ferrell--but greatly because, as will be detailed later, the recipient of the first of those calls was told to keep her strong doubts that caller was Ferrell to herself.

When Tammy Kitzmiller answered the phone at work on Oct. 2, 1987, a man who neither said hello or introduced himself, told Kitzmiller he was thinking of applying for a job for which he wanted to use her sister, Gina Nesselrodt, as a reference, and he wondered if Ktzmiller could give him Gina's new work number.

Because the voice sounded familiar, she gave him the number. The caller thanked her and quickly hung up.

"That's strange," Kitzmiller said out loud. "That sounded like Paul Ferrell."

However, Kitzmiller says, she went on to say to herself that while the caller sounded like Paul Ferrell, he didn't act like Paul Ferrell. Ferrell was always polite and talked slowly. Whoever had just called her was brusque and fast-talking. Kitzmiller also thought it odd that someone that knew her sister as well as Ferrell did would refer to her by her full name, rather than just "Gina".

The voice also sounded hollow, like the caller was in a large, empty room with no carpet--a description echoed by several of the other to receive the prank calls, including those whose testimony was not sought because they weren't lured to an area near one of Ferrell's trailers. Several said the sound approximated that of a speaker phone when they were called on one.

It was not until later that night that Kitzmiller learned that her sister had received an unusual call from a man who tried to get her to pick up some mail supposedly addressed to her that was mistakenly delivered to Wilson-Corona Road.

Gina Nesselrodt was suspicious, however, and didn't go. Kathy Pacella did go, however, when she received a call luring her to the same location. When she arrived, though, she saw no one. After Pacella had returned home unharmed, she got another call.

"Sorry I missed you," the caller said.

DiBenedetto would later argue that the only thing that saved Pacella's life was that she had gone to Wilson-Corona Road through Bayard rather than past Ferrell's store in Gormania, where, he implied, Ferrell was waiting to follow her. The fact she returned through Gormania was what prompted the second call, he said.

But almost anyone on the Mountain would know that Pacella's route was the most logical.

...Meanwhile, Melvin Cullers' name came up once again in relation to the calls. On Feb. 26, Gnegy said he received a call from a man who identified himself as Larry Shaffer, who said he lived in the Silver Lake area near Horseshoe Run. Shaffer said he had been told by a female friend she had received a strange call in the Aurora area. He said the woman told him that she later overheard a man talking "in a public place", and asked who he was because she was positive he was the man who had called her. The man, she was told, was Melvin Cullers.

...Other calls were reported that appeared to have tried to lure area women to locations not associated with Ferrell or to areas near Ferrell's trailers before he had rented them.

...Luring phone calls, meanwhile, were also reported in Canaan Valley, Fairmont and Morgantown. Several other Garrett County women reported receiving calls that, while not luring in nature, matched the calls linked to Ferrell in other aspects that investigators chose to overlook.

The variety of times, descriptions of the caller(s)' voices, and locations mentioned can reasonably lead to two conclusions: Luring and/or prank phone calls were fairly common, and more than on person may have been making. By picking and choosing those that could be linked to Ferrell--although they just as easily could have been linked to others--officials painted a distorted picture of the calls that served their purpose very well. Whether it served justice was another matter.

Next up: Paul finds the Bronco, Sonny and Kim Nelson.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:32 AM   #49
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It's now fairly certain that Ferrell did not receive a fair trial. However, I still can't wrap my head around the various phone calls. Ferrell admitted to making the calls to the bookstores (over 200 of them!). I wonder, and knowing UM this is a possibility, if Ferrell and his friends started it out as just prank phone calls, and that Ferrell was not the only one who made the 200 calls. But if this were true, why would Ferrell say it was just a "phone sex thing" because he didn't have a credit card? Why not say it started out as some stupid prank phone calls that he became addicted to and couldn't stop? But even if Ferrell did make the crank calls over 200 times, this would have to mean that there were at least 2-3 other people (in a small town of only 200) that were also making similar calls at the same time as Ferrell. Just doesn't seem likely to me.
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Old 03-26-2014, 01:47 PM   #50
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Ok, so I went back and re-read some of the stuff Meg had posted, as well as the Ferrell appeal on "Findacase". And I initially missed this part:

"On the morning of Wednesday, 17 February 1988, the victim, Catherine Ford, a resident of Maryland, received a call from a man claiming to be a magistrate at Mt. Storm, in Grant County, West Virginia. The man wanted Ms. Ford to meet him at his office at 3:00 p.m. the same day, to discuss some checks. Later that day, a man claiming to be an undercover officer called Ms. Ford with information concerning a possible investigation of her family's restaurant by the liquor licensing authorities. Ms. Ford told her family and the restaurant employees to check identifications before selling beer, and then left the restaurant to meet with the alleged undercover officer."

This seems to indicate that Cathy received a call that day from two different men, and that she had to have at least told someone about each call. The "magistrate" call seems odd, because the guy on the phone wanted her to meet him at his "office" which was at the fire hall. But then she gets another call from a man claiming to be an undercover cop who was allegedly investigating her family's diner, and she immediately agreed to go meet this guy and left shortly after. But she did not do this when the "magistrate" called. And she also (according to her coworker) had cancelled her plans to go meet the "magistrate" because she now was going to go meet the undercover cop. So it now seems to me like two different people called Cathy Ford that morning. The police wrote off the "Magistrate" call as a prank, but believed that Ferrell was the one who made the call as the undercover cop. This case just got a hell of a lot more confusing to me.
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:00 PM   #51
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'Ferrell's follies'

Among those involved in the official search for Cathy Ford was a nervous Paul Ferrell, who, along, with Sometimes-Sheriff Ours was about to head aloft in the Buffalo Coal Co.'s helicopter.

Given the content of that last desperate phone conversation he says he had from Ford, Ferrell had feared the worst for her as soon as he had learned she was missing.

He says he began to fear the worst for himself a short time after the helicopter took off.

As the helicopter flew along the Stony River near his trailer, Ferrell says, he looked down and got the shock of his life. There was Cathy's badly burned Bronco near some other abandoned vehicles.

Ferrell says he had two instantaneous reactions.

One was shame that "something bad" really had happened to Cathy on Bismark Rd--just as he says Moon had suggested--and he could have been there to perhaps prevent it.

The other was panic. There her Bronco was, almost in his own back yard.

Then Ferrell did something he now admits was both stupid and selfish:

He did nothing.

He said nothing.

He pretended he saw nothing.

That decision would haunt him more than he could ever have imagined in the coming months.

Ferrell says Doug Tressler, Cathy Bernard's brother and a Garrett County undercover agent, added to his initial trepidation when he called Ferrell a few days later.

"He told me he had learned that someone with a Garrett county connection had been dealing drugs out of trailer on Bismark Road," Ferrell said.

"He went on to describe my own trailer, and mentioned that there were some abandoned vehicles along the river behind it and that one of them looked freshly burned. Then he asked me if I could help him. I thought he was playing mind games with me."

Not at all, Tressler says.

"I had, for a matter of time, received information a small amount of drug activity was going on there," Tressler said. "Being as it was so close to Maryland, it stood to reason some of it was coming across the line, and I thought because [Ferrell] was a deputy, if he had any information he would share it with me and help my investigation."

Why a "small amount" od drug activity several miles into West Virginia would attract Tressler's attention when there was so much going on in his own back yard and just around the curve in Bayard is somewhat suspicious.

But Tressler, who left the Garrett County Sheriff's Department just a few weeks after Ferrell's arrest on March 20, 1988, says he had no idea the trailer was Ferrell's.

Tressler says he couldn't recall where the information came from, but he was sure it didn't come from Cullers.

"I know the name, but I don't even know who the guy is," Tressler said.

Did it come from Tucker?

"To tell you the truth I don't know where the information came from."

Regardless of whom the information came from, Tressler's call, combined with Moon's remarks, gave Ferrell the feeling that he was being framed for Ford's murder.

And that prompted him to make his second mistake: He decided to try to point the investigation in another direction.

In early March, an envelope addressed to the Old Mill Restaurant arrived at the post office in Gormania. Postmarked in Pittsburgh on Feb. 29, the envelope contained $200 in cash and the following crudely printed and unsigned letter:

The only crime committed here was we had to get rid of the old man's Bronco right away. Cathy is 19 and an adult and we had to leave fast. We came into some dangerous money, so here is some money on the Bronco. More will follow. She will call you when she feels it is safe to do so. We are heading where I can get some work. Cathy made me write so you wouldn't worry. She had to get away from Moon, the Rest., and certain people. We keep the money in her green bank bag. Tell Moon to leave us alone.

It wasn't hard to link the letter to Ferrell. Ferrell's bank records showed a $200 cash withdrawal on Feb. 23. Bernard's phone records showed receipt of a collect call from Uniontown, Pa. at 9:44 a.m. on Feb. 29. And, investigators, determined, letters mailed in Uniontown at that time were often postmarked in Pittsburgh.

'Which way did she go?'

In the interim, the investigation was going in two directions--north toward Oakland and east toward Mount Storm.

The first person to be interviewed about what direction Cathy Ford drove in after leaving the Old Mill was Dale Moreland of Mount Storm, who reported seeing her driving on Route 560 toward Oakland between 1:30 and 2 p.m.

While Gnegy did ask Moreland if anyone was with Cathy (Moreland says she was alone), he didn't bother to ask Moreland if there was anyone with him. If he had, Gnegy would have learned that Moreland had three in-laws with him, and that two of them also saw Cathy as she honked and waved at them as she drove by.

Although it was never mentioned in the official report, Moreland and his in-laws weren't the only ones to report seeing Cathy going in that direction. James Richer Coulter Sr. of Deer Park told Gnegy he had seen Cathy driving between 2 and 2:30 p.m. further north on Route 560 near White Church Road. But at this point, Cathy was apparently no longer alone. "There was someone with her," Coulter told Gnegy. "I don't know if it was male or female."

Incredibly, the fact that Ford may have picked up someone between the two sightings didn't seem to interest Garrett County investigators, even though Cathy reportedly had drug-dealing friends on White Church Road. In fact, they didn't even bother to record Coulter's sighting in the official report, copies of which were later released to the press, which in turn spoke of its "depth".

They seemed more interested in pursuing leads that Ford had driven into West Virginia. And Darvin Moon beamed them toward the first two of three witnesses to say they saw her going in that direction. But all three were either vague or inconsistent about the time at which they saw her.

The first was Nita Ridder, who lives just past the Old Mill on Steyer Road. Ridder, whose sighting was first reported to the sheriff's department by Moon, testified that she saw Cathy "pull away in the (vehicle) and go towards Mount Storm" while she was out walking her dog. Ridder said she was "positive" no one was with her.

The report added that Ridder had seen Ford at the post office earlier in the day, but didn't bother to note the far-more important time she saw Ford head toward Mount Storm. Nor did DiBenedetto ask her for the time during the trial. Ridder's original statment, which might have offered a clue, wasn't made part of the record.

The second person rounded up by Moon was also vague about the time of his sighting. Rick Landis, who worked at the Three Lane Service Station between Gormania and Mount Storm, said he saw Ford drive by "sometime between 11 and 3." Landis said he expected Ford to stop for gas, as she had "many times" in the past.

But both statements conflicted with those Moon gave at different times.

In his original statement, Moon said Landis told him that "he thought it was in the morning that she went to Mount Storm, that she went past, because she always stops at Three Lanes at Hatley's and gets gas."

During the trial, however, Moon said he had "never known her going to Mount Storm without me."

If so, why did she "always" stop at Three Lanes to get gas? No one asked...

'Farsighted witness'

...On March 8, Moon and Cathy's oldest brother, Richard, had found her burned-out Bronco in the woods behind Ferrell's trailer.

The irony of Moon and Cathy's brother finding her Bronco quickly became a source of speculation--especially because Moon allegedly had discouraged several people from looking along the part of the Stony River where it was found.

In fact, Moon had been within feet of the Bronco while searching for it with Jeff Kitzmiller of Gorman within an hour or two of when he found it with Richard Ford.

Much was made of the fact that Moon and Kitzmiller came across Ferrell in the area, and that he had suggested that they search by his trailer, then called to inquire if they found anything. The fact that Ferrell had seen the Bronco from the air Feb. 22 would explain his curiosity. The fact that he had encouraged them to look suggests that Ferrell knew the vehicle's discovery was inevitable.

According to Kitzmiller's May 12 statement, "Paul asked if anyone had checked the trailer, back in the field, and Darvin said no...So me and Darvin went back there, and Paul said he was going to Petersburg or something and he went on, and we went and drove through the field. We went to about 75 feet from where Cathy's Bronco was found, and Darvin told me that he had searched all the rest by foot and there was no need to go down there."

Asked by Evans if there was anything else he should know about, Kitzmiller replied:

A. No. Just maybe the way Darvin is treating the family, selling Cathy's clothes and stuff.
Q. This is Darvin Moon?
A. Yes, he's selling Cathy's clothes, and staying with another lady and giving most of her clothes to her.
Q. This is recently?
A. Yes.
Q. In the last couple of weeks?
A. Yes.

(As best can be determined, the only piece of clothing Moon sold was a leather coat he had bought her for Christmas. But the fact that he sold it, according to most accounts within a few weeks after Cathy's disappearance, and also allegedly had Cathy's dog killed, caused some family members and friends to question why Moon seemed so certain Cathy would not be back.)

Eventually, Moon and Kitzmiller returned to the Old Mill. According to Moon, Richard Ford then said he had been told by someone at work that smoke had been seen along Stony River the day after Cathy had disappeared.

The sheriff's report seems to confirm that. But it also raises several intriguing questions.

"Squad 135 of the Bayard Fire Department spotted smoke along Route 50, west of Gorman at 11:13 hours," the report says. "I contacted Mike Steyer, assistant chief of the Gorman Fire Department, who responded to the call that day. Mr. Steyer...stated that several units, including a Bayard unit, were sent out on Route 50, [in Maryland], toward the Table Rock area."

"As one of the Bayard units arrived in the area of Stoners' Video Store, they reported seeing smoke, possibly in the Difficult Turn area of Route 50 [in West Virginia]. Steyer stated that he was not sure if the Difficult turn area would be visible from where the unit was. They did confirm through a road crew working in the area that Alpine Coal was burning garbage at the time. One unit also went out the Bayard Cemetery Road, and apparently found no smoke."

According to Vince Culp, who responded with the Bayard unit, the smoke was initially thick and black, and then it turned white.

Although the smoke remained heavy and seemed to be coming from the Difficult Turn area, beyond which lies Bismark Road, Culp said the Bayard unit's call was canceled by Garrett Communications, which at that time coordinated communications for Grant County as well. Contrary to the sheriff's report, Culp said Alpine reported it was not burning garbage that day--a fact confirmed by a company source.

For some strange reason, though, the Mount Storm unit on the other side of Difficult Turn was apparently never called out. So a large, suspicious fire that was quite likely the one that consumed Ford's Bronco apparently was allowed to burn itself out--and a potential clue to its origins probably burned out with it.

One thing Paul Ferrell's firefighter friends Culp and Kitzmiller agree on is that Ferrell could never had started such an intense fire.

Both said Ferrell, who was often kidded about his lack of mechanical know-how--he reportedly even had trouble finding an oil dipstick in a vehicle--would have assuredly burned himself up trying.

Their opinion was echoed by almost everyone who knows him.

So it wasn't until March 8 that anyone followed the Feb. 18 fire report to its apparent causation point.

And it was Darvin Moon and Rich Ford who did. In the procss, they drove past a large tire in the middle of a logging trail that runs off Bismark Road, and proceeded to the river--and the Bronco.

Moon seemed to explain how he had missing seeing the Bronco in his other searches to a reporter the following day.

"The vehicle is hard to see," Moon said. "We were down in this area looking around, and we almost drove out of here and missed it. I was the one who saw the Bronco. With it all burned and everything, it's hard to see with the trees and laurel around it."

After making a quick search in the immediate area for any signs of Cathy, Moon and Rich Ford drove to the Mount Storm Fire Hall and reported finding the Bronco at 6:24 p.m.

What had been an ineptly run investigation was about to become a catastrophic one for Paul Ferrell--and, perhaps, justice.


...Darvin Moon's report of finding the Bronco brought a host of law-enforcement officers to the scene from both West Virginia and Maryland.

According to Gnegy's report, he, Evans and Tucker responded from Garrett County. Although the vehicle's license plates had been removed, the last five digits of the vehicle identification number on the dashboard--77534--identified it as Cathy Ford's Bronco.

Rather than the investigation becoming more serious, though, it became more ludicrous.

According to Ferrell and several others at the scene, the crime-scene investigation quickly took on a circus atmosphere. Officers tramped all over the scene, destroying any chance of lifting footprints.

In a letter he wrote to attorney Ross Maruka shortly after his arrest, Ferrell said West Virginia Trooper Leslie D. Sharp--the same Leslie D. Sharp that takes the investigation so seriously that he still won't discuss it--treated it as a joke then.

"Sharp, I guess, was the head state trooper," Ferrell wrote. "He seemed to be joking the whole time. He kept bringing up Cathy Ford being off someplace getting 10 inches..."

"When it was time to leave, Van Evans...wanted to leave someone to watch the crime scene, but [Sheriff Larry] Ours and the WV state police decided it wasn't necessary."

The following morning, Moon conducted one of his numerous admitted break-in searches of Cathy Ford. His target this time was Ferrell's trailer. Moon later admitted on the stand that, as his father watched, he picked the trailer's lock and entered the trailer looking for any signs of Cathy.

You would think a man as possessed as Moon was would have noticed a cigarette butt matching Cathy's brand lying on the floor in front of the fireplace. But he didn't.

Neither did the FBI's evidence-gathering experts who combed the trailer for evidence on March 11. It wasn't until they scoured through the trailer a second time on March 19 that they happened to find what would be--as incredible as it might seem--a crucial piece of evidence used to prove Paul Ferrell had killed Cathy Ford there.

...FBI Agent William Scobie tried to explain at the trial how the cigarette butt was missed on March 11 by saying the agents had only vacuumed the pathways in the trailer.

But when he testified before the grand jury on July 12, 1988, Scobie said: "We vacuumed the entire trailer [emphasis added] to see if we could come up with some hairs or fibers that might match anything that we might find later on."

As it turned out, none of the hairs in the trailer matched those in Cathy Ford's hairbrush, even though she was supposedly beaten, shot, and killed there.

'In search of a witness'

Shortly after the Bronco was found, Lt. Gnegy interviewed Clarence Lee "Sonny" Nelson, whose wife, Kimberly Sue Nelson, would eventually become the chief prosecution witness. But you would never know it by what Nelson, whose small, ramshackle Bismark Road home was the closest to Ferrell's trailer, had to say that night.

"Mr. Nelson stated [that] about Feb. 20, he and his wife, Kimberly Sue Nelson...were at their residence when they detected a rather strong odor of smoke, which resembled burning wiring," Gnegy wrote. "They checked the house and found nothing out of the ordinary. Mr. Nelson also stated that he observed smoke moving down through the valley in the area. See statement."

It would be nice to see that statement. But it was never turned over to the defense. Instead, prosecutors turned over three statements by Mrs. Nelson that were progressively more damaging to Ferrell.

The first was given to Grant County Deputy Randy Keplinger the next morning. It also mentioned smoke that smelled like wires burning. it then went on to say that "a white car like an El Camino with a green hood on it, kept driving back and forth up and down the road. there was a man with long black hair in the car. He was driving slow. He kept going up and back a lot."

Whoever that mystery man was, it couldn't have been Ferrell, who says he was on duty the night of Feb. 20, had short hair and drove a light-blue Cavalier.

But another potential suspect apparently was in the area that night. According to the Garrett County report, Leslie Randolph Paugh, who lived in a blue house next to the Bismark bridge on Route 50, reported that, on the Saturday after Cathy Ford disappeared, Feb. 20, the everpresent Melvin Cullers "came to the Paugh residence, and was let inside by Randy. Cullers then began asking questions concerning Cathy Ford, specifically, if Paugh knew anyone in the Bayard area of a suspicious nature, and stated that [he] knew Cathy from stopping at the restaurant, and felt it out of place for Cathy to disappear under these circumstances. Cullers also stated that he knew Cathy was close to her father."

"Cullers then asked to see a photo of Paugh's wife, and then asked where she was employed. He was given this information by Randy Paugh. Cullers then observed Paugh's 18-month-old son, and made the statement, 'Your son could probably bring $40,000 to $50,000 on the market."

"Cullers made some reference to some persons in the Bayard area who were 'living beyond their means' and stated that they would be the type to snatch young children, mentioning possible connections of these subjects with 'cult groups.' Randy Paugh stated that he knew that Cullers had previously lived in the Petersburg area, with [coal mine owner] Bill Moomaw, and would have access to strip mines along the Potomac River. Cullers stated that he had keys to some of the gates to these areas, and he intended to conduct some searches of his own."

What the report doesn't say, Paugh said in an interview, is that Cullers went on to suggest that the person responsible for Ford's disappearance had to be someone who could be out on the road at a time most people are at work.

Someone like a deputy.

Someone like Paul Ferrell.

Yet, when Cullers was interviewed five days later, he didn't include Paul Ferrell in his long list of suspects.

Maybe he thought they would think he was crazy.

Or maybe he thought time would tell for him.

Paugh wasn't the only person to place Cullers in the area, either.

Steven "Beaver" Junkins, who had rented his trailer to Ferrell a month before Ford was allegedly killed there, said his former father-in-law, Charles McCrumb Sr., had come across Cullers at the time McCrumb was burying some silver foxes in the woods behind the trailer around the time Ford disappeared. The foxes' grave was discovered during a search after the Bronco was found.

McCrumb was cooperative when he was asked if he would be willing to discuss the Cathy Ford case. But as soon as Cullers' Name was mentioned, he panicked.

McCrumb: "That'd better..."
Woman in background: "You keep your mouth shut. Do you want to get killed?"
McCrumb: "I'm not going to say anything more. Goodbye."

Former Gormania resident and bar owner Bud Barkley had no such fears. Barkley is safe behind the thick walls of the dungeon-like West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, where he is serving up to 20 years on an attempted rape charge he claims was trumped up by a former Grant County deputy. (Ferrell, who participated in Barkley's arrest, says some of the things he observed at the time lend credence to Barkley's claim.)

...Barkley said he was in his truck with two other men when he saw a fire in the woods along Bismark Road--and Culler's white Pontiac Fiero parked beside the road.

"I didn't think anything about it at the time...There is a big house down there, so I thought they were burning a big trash pile. That white car was sitting right there that same night," Barkley said.

Barkley added that he saw Cullers' car parked at the same location a second time a few days later. He said he tried to get word to Ferrell's attorney about what he had seen, but Maruka apparently didn't think Barkley--a convict by then--would be a credible witness.

When Barkley asked Cullers about the coincidence, he said Cullers told him "he was getting drunk."

"But that's funny," Barkley said, "because two times his car was exactly right there where the [Bronco] was. I know the property. He said when the automobile was sitting there, he and a buddy was out there getting drunk. The next time I seen him sitting down there, he never did explain to me what he was doing there. It was sitting right where the spring was."

Barkley said Cullers later told him not to say anything about what he saw.

"When he came to tell me, my wife was there," Barkley said. "He asked me about saying nothing to nobody about it..."

...But that wasn't all Barkley claims Cullers told him to forget. He says Cullers also asked him to forget that he had told him where Ford was buried.

"He said that girl was buried out there in the strip mines, 'Right there, you know, where I was working on that there tank. Right there on the side of the hill. Right there where they were filling in'", Barkley quoted Cullers as saying.

Barkley stressed that Cullers never said he had killed Ford, only that he knew where she was buried.

"You know where the dozer was sitting up on the hill? That's where she's buried," Barkley quoted Cullers as also saying. Others recall Cullers saying much the same thing. But because Cullers was usually drunk whenever he said it, they said, no one took him seriously.

Bar owner Barkley did--especially after Cullers came back the next day and told him to forget what he had told him.

Asked if he could still find the place where Cullers had said Ford was buried, Barkley replied: "I know I could. I know for sure. He told me she was buried up there."
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:41 PM   #52
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I just started reading the most recent post and this stood out to me:

As the helicopter flew along the Stony River near his trailer, Ferrell says, he looked down and got the shock of his life. There was Cathy's badly burned Bronco near some other abandoned vehicles.

So Farrell's up in a helicopter and looks down and sees Cathy's car, burned, and near some other vehicles.

What condition was her car in at that time? Scorched but recognizable? Burned up with nothing left but the metal?

How could he identify the Bronco as Cathy's from his point of view up in the air? It was among other abandoned cars. How did he know it was hers and not some other Bronco that had been torched and dumped?

The sheriff was up in the helicopter with Farrell and must have known that Cathy drove a Bronco. Why didn't he ID it as her car? Wouldn't a burned up Bronco-shaped vehicle near Farrell's property be kind of obvious to the sheriff? Why was it up to this suspicious guy, Paul, to locate the car and keep that info to himself instead of the sheriff using his time up in the coal company's helicopter to be searching for clues?



Good grief. Just finished reading the last post. Seems like Cathy was surrounded by idiots, and most of them look guilty. And no wonder this ended up on UM and Cathy's body was never found. What a screwed up investigation. Even the FBI goofed up and missed evidence.

Please sign the petition to get Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix/Hulu

Last edited by TracyLynnS : 03-27-2014 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:15 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by TracyLynnS
I just started reading the most recent post and this stood out to me:

As the helicopter flew along the Stony River near his trailer, Ferrell says, he looked down and got the shock of his life. There was Cathy's badly burned Bronco near some other abandoned vehicles.

So Farrell's up in a helicopter and looks down and sees Cathy's car, burned, and near some other vehicles.

What condition was her car in at that time? Scorched but recognizable? Burned up with nothing left but the metal?

How could he identify the Bronco as Cathy's from his point of view up in the air? It was among other abandoned cars. How did he know it was hers and not some other Bronco that had been torched and dumped?

Not really sure. Without knowing how low the helicopter pilot was flying, it's hard to ascertain whether Ferrell's story is likely or not. (Although being that it was winter, the view from the air would have been less obscured as no foliage would be on the trees yet.) But I reckon that since Ferrell lived several hundred feet away from that dump site, he may have been aware of the abandoned cars that were already near the river. Perhaps he found one out of place (the Bronco), and jumped to the conclusion that it was Cathy's.

Or he could have been totally making it up.

The sheriff was up in the helicopter with Farrell and must have known that Cathy drove a Bronco. Why didn't he ID it as her car? Wouldn't a burned up Bronco-shaped vehicle near Farrell's property be kind of obvious to the sheriff? Why was it up to this suspicious guy, Paul, to locate the car and keep that info to himself instead of the sheriff using his time up in the coal company's helicopter to be searching for clues?

The best I can figure:

A. Sheriff Ours was not particularly observant, careless, or both.
B. Ferrell's attention was automatically grabbed because he knew they were about to fly over his property. (This isn't necessarily an indication of guilt, in my estimation. I know I'd definitely look down and around if I knew I was about to fly over my own home.)
C. Some combination of the two.

Probably C.



Good grief. Just finished reading the last post. Seems like Cathy was surrounded by idiots, and most of them look guilty. And no wonder this ended up on UM and Cathy's body was never found. What a screwed up investigation. Even the FBI goofed up and missed evidence.

I agree completely. Before I even received the articles, the first person Mr. Yant brought up in our correspondence was Melvin Cullers. Even if he didn't have anything to do with Cathy's disappearance, he sure stuck his nose into the investigation constantly in various suspicious ways, and I'm shocked he wasn't treated as a suspect--almost as much as I am that Moon wasn't, being that he was probably the closest person to Cathy at the time.
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Old 03-28-2014, 09:10 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by MegtheEgg86
I agree completely. Before I even received the articles, the first person Mr. Yant brought up in our correspondence was Melvin Cullers. Even if he didn't have anything to do with Cathy's disappearance, he sure stuck his nose into the investigation constantly in various suspicious ways, and I'm shocked he wasn't treated as a suspect--almost as much as I am that Moon wasn't, being that he was probably the closest person to Cathy at the time.

I can't for the life of me figure out why Moon wasn't treated as a suspect from the get-go. I don't even think he was looked at as even a person of interest in the case. IMO, Ferrell would have never even been a suspect if he didn't write that stupid letter. Which doesn't bode well for his innocence claims. But then again, other people in the area were acting just as suspicious as him, and they weren't even looked at. I don't think Ferrell was railroaded, but I do think once the investigators figured he was the likely suspect, they did everything in their power to convict him and ignore other possible leads.

But if it wasn't Ferrell, that means there are two other alternate theories/suspects: either she was murdered by a jealous Darvin Moon for seeing other people (or possibly because of her attempted work at exposing drug deals), or this local "boogeyman" Cullers killed her. The first person this investigation should have looked at (after Moon) was Cullers. Especially considering he was involved in a murder in 1986, held an active interest in the search for Cathy Ford, AND allegedly told someone where he knew she had been buried.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:50 PM   #55
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Weird Cathy Ford isn't on Charley Project.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:58 PM   #56
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This might be a wee bit off topic, but here is some interesting information about Cecil Underwood, the governor of West Virginia who commuted Ferrell's sentence. He was first elected in 1956, served a full four year term, ran for re-election in 1960 and lost. He was out of that office for 36 years before coming back to win a second term in 1996, served another 4 year term and lost re-election again in 2000. He was also the very first guest ever on To Tell The Truth.
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Old 03-28-2014, 10:02 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by wiseguy182
Weird Cathy Ford isn't on Charley Project.

Yeah, I always thought that was weird too. There are quite a few people who are incarcerated for the murders of missing people with Charley Project pages. Micki Jo West comes to mind.
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Old 03-28-2014, 11:33 PM   #58
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'Mystery car'

Barkley wasn't the only person to see a white car parked along Bismark Road at that time...

...David Crane Bell, who traveled Bismark Road to get to work, told Gnegy that, sometime in mid-February, he observed a white Chrysler product, possibly a Dodge Dart, parked on Bismark Road near the trail leading to where the Bronco was found.

Asked if it was a pure white, or off-white vehicle, Bell said "there was something about the car that was green, and I told one of the guys that it either was a light green car or a white car with something green...For some reason, green stands out."

David Duckett, another Buffalo Coal employee who traveled the same route to work, told Gnegy he also had seen "a light-colored Chrysler-Plymouth product" at the same location.

Duckett said the car's size "would be like a Dodge Dart, something I took in driver's training...That vehicle has stuck in my head ever since--and it looked very similar to that."

A comparison of the statements of Kimberly Nelson, Bell and Duckett shows that they are quite similar--and Sonny Nelson would give one that also matched: a Chrysler product that gave the impression of being both white and green, possibly because of a green hood. There was, in fact, a Dodge Dart in Bayard at that time that had white fenders and a green hood.

The car belonged to Ford's cousin, Chuck Carr Jr. And Carr would later figure in statements that Cathy Ford might be alive, not dead.

Daley "Butch" Uphold gave a statement that would prove interesting for quite different reasons.

Uphold told Gnegy that, on March 3, he was traveling on Bismark Road when he observed flames from a fire burning at the base of a hill at the same road marked by a large tire that Moon drove down to find the Bronco.

Since the Bronco was almost certainly burned by then, that raises the question of what the fire could have been for.

Could it have been a touch-up job, or a fire in which to plant things like burned zippers and a watch? Perhaps. According to the FBI lab report, the burned watched identified as being the same model as Cathy Ford's found in a burn pile near Ferrell's trailer--after being overlooked in two FBI searches and others--stopped working at 5:16:27. Uphold said he saw the fire between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Uphold also said that, on an evening that same week, he observed a small dark-blue compact car, believe to be a Toyota, at the same site. He said the car had a magnetic-type CB antenna on the trunk and appeared to have Maryland plates.

According to several sources, that description matched that of a car then driven by bear's Den owner Mike Inglese, Darvin Moon's cousin.


Perhaps. The Ingleses did participate in searches for Ford. But the car's description and location should have at least raised some questions. If any were asked, though, they are not part of the record.

...On March 17, nine days after Ford's Bronco was found stripped of its Maryland license plates bearing the registration 026245M, Gnegy received a call from a man identified as Clarence Stark.

Stark reported that at 9:30 the previous evening, he had observed a newer gold-colored Ford Bronco II bearing Maryland registration 06245M at C.D. Martin's store in Mountain Lake Park. Stark said a woman driver and a younger girl in the passenger's seat were acting suspiciously. He added that the driver of a newer-model blue pickup appeared to be watching the women in the Bronco.

"When they left," Gnegy wrote, "the women in the Bronco went toward Deer Park, and the truck, which left at the same time, left in the direction of Oakland. I made a check through Motor Vehicle Administration records. There is no listing for 06245M..."

...But if Gnegy had placed a 2 between the 0 and the 6, he would have struck gold. It would have--or should have--produced Maryland registration 026245M, which is the number listed in the Garrett County, West Virginia Fire Marshal and FBI reports as being the registration for Ford's Bronco.

That apparently means Gnegy missed a golden opportunity to perhaps track down a same-model vehicle as Ford's bearing her license plates. And whoever the vehicle's owner was would have--or should have--had a lot of explaining to do.

Gnegy said he couldn't comment on the discrepancy until he consulted his report, which he said was locked in Evans' office. Two days later, Gnegy said Evans had told him to refer any further questions on the investigation to him. After failing to return previous calls, Evans finally agreed to an interview, but only past this publication's deadline and under his conditions.

The most likely answer to why investigators ignored such potentially important reports is that tunnel-visioned investigators already had their man. All the had to do to get him was to fit the facts to their theory.

But that would prove easy.

All they would have to do was debase, degrade and disgrace the precious principles of the U.S. Constitution, violate basic tenets of criminal investigation, and terrify the residents of the portions of two states with horrifying but false rumors in their pathological pursuit of the least likely of several possible suspects for a murder that may not even have occurred.

'Tough questions'

Investigators had received Ferrell's permission to go through his trailer on March 11 at the end of a 45-minute interrogation in the Garrett County Courthouse.

Unlike the friendly chat with Melvin Cullers, a man recently acquitted of murder charges whose name popped up repeatedly in the investigation, this was a hardball interrogation conducted by FBI Agent James Zopp and Detective Donald W. Tucker.

By the end, Zopp almost seemed to be taunting and ridiculing Ferrell rather than questioning him:

Q. Physically, is there anything similar about these women?
A. Y'know, they're good...they're fairly attractive women. But, you know, other than that...
Q. How about their ages?
A. I couldn't even tell you that.
Q. What do you think ought to happen to the person that's responsible for this?
A. Well, if, y'know, if there's been foul play, there ought be, there oughta be, you know, something done to 'em.
Q. What do you think would be the proper thing?
A. Aw, I don't know...I talk mean sometimes. But as far as actually doing something to somebody, I don't know. You hear a bunch of people say, "Let's get him," you know. But come right down to another human being, I don't know...
Q. What reason can you think of that a person would make a phone call and try to get a woman to come out and meet 'em someplace? What would be in the person's mind? What do you think would be a motive for a person to make a phone call, and try to get a woman to come out and meet him, meet him somewhere?

And so on and so on.

Zopp was clearly trying to get Ferrell rattled. And he did. He didn't come close, however, to getting him to confess.

But the psychological warfare may just have been beginning. That, at least, is how Ferrell tells it.

And it was Doug Tressler, he says, who was the chief operative.

Ferrell says the games started shortly after the Bronco had been found near his trailer. After attending a funeral in Gormania, Ferrell says he called Bernard from Ferrell's Mart before heading for work.

"She was very upset," Ferrell later wrote in a letter to attorney Maruka. "She said Doug had called and said someone was definitely selling drugs out of my trailer. She asked if someone else used my trailer to sell drugs out of. I told her no and to relax and to tell Doug the truth. She kept saying, 'What am I going to tell him? Paul, I will lose my kids. Who else has been in your trailer? I will lose my kids.'"

"She hung up very upset. I called Larry [Ours] and took the night off and headed back up to Cathy's to see what was going on. As I headed down Garrett Road, where Cathy lives, she was just leaving. I again told her to relax. She again asked if I knew anything about Cathy Ford or drugs in my trailer. I told her no."

"When she came back, she was a little better. She said Doug had a copy of her phone bill, and asked her a lot of questions about whether I used or sold drugs, whether I was gone a lot, who I had been calling."

In another letter, Ferrell claimed that Tressler "was wanting to know about the long-distance bookstore calls. She stated hysterically that she didn't know what to do, that she would lose her kids. [Cathy Bernard Pariseau denied any knowledge of the phone calls and said she never feared losing her children.] I told her to tell him to mind his own business...She said she told Doug that I just liked to call stores for my brother, and she knew that I didn't have anything to do with Cathy Ford's disappearance..."

"The next day, she told me that Doug was back at the trailer checking blood under my new carpet. She said [her sister] Sherri would let her know about any further developments, so I should call her and keep checking..."

"According to Cathy, Doug was at my trailer several nights doing 'forensic tests' to see if Cathy Ford had been there. She said that she was worried about Doug being out there by himself, that the people responsible for the burning of Cathy Ford's Bronco might kill him. I volunteered to go out and check on Doug...She begged me not to go, that Doug would get in trouble if his bosses knew that he had told Sherri, who had told her. So I didn't go. She stated to me several times that she would lose her kids if she was connected to this thing..."

"She stated to me on several different occasion when she wanted to see me, that someone was calling her and threatening to kill her, she would say, 'I need somebody.' During the period when the Bronco was found...she was stating that she was afraid. She kept telling me that someone was outside, or that she heard cars running outside. One night during this time period she woke me up in the middle of the night and said she heard someone on the porch. I thought I heard someone too. She was looking scared. I pulled out my gun and looked outside; no one was there. She was very scared during this period. She seemed to connect it to Doug checking at my trailer, or Doug talking to me about drug activity on Bismark Road."

"I told Cathy that if Moon knew I was involved with Cathy Ford, there could be real trouble, that he was dangerous and [had] organized crime ties...I told her that I didn't want to lose her and the kids."

(Doug Tressler said he did not care to hear what Ferrell had said about his communications with Bernard. "All I can say is that I talk to my sisters all the time, and if that made Paul Ferrell paranoid, that's his problem," Tressler said.)

Ferrell says that both Bernard and he had become emotional wrecks by March 19, when Bernard had to take her daughter to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for an operation.

It was there, when Ferrell says Bernard's emotions were most vulnerable, that FBI agents cornered her for a statement in which she said that:

-On Feb. 17, she noticed a scratch near the beltline on Ferrell's back. (Ferrell claims it was caused when he was removing the things from the trailer that he burned.)

-On Feb. 19, Ferrell took her to buy carpet for the trailer. (True, Ferrell says--which is something he wouldn't have done if he had anything to hide from her.)

-On Feb. 21, while washing his deputy's uniform, she found a note in his pants pocket in his handwriting that said, "They may set you up by posing as a young couple, they may use a video card as an ID" (Ferrell claims this was part of the notes he took when local officers were briefed about the circumstances leading to Ford's disappearance.)

-That she had visited the Bismark Road trailer on Feb. 14, and noticed no stains or smell. (She wasn't interested enough in the trailer to have noticed, Ferrell says.)

-That Ferrell had been extremely nervous since Ford's disappearance and obsessed with the investigation. (True, Ferrell says--but to a great extent because of Bernard's own obsession with the case.)

-That Ferrell had an affair with Ford and hadn't told anyone about it out of fear of Darvin Moon. (True, Ferrell says. So why would he have to lure her anywhere?)

-That some of Paul's clothing was missing from her trailer, and she had not seen the items since Feb. 17. (Ferrell says they had the items for submission as evidence at the trial if Bernard raised the issue, but she did not. The trial transcript of Bernard's testimony, in fact, shows no mention of the supposedly missing clothing.)

-That about one week before Ferrell was arrested, she had told her brother that Ferrell had replaced the carpet in the trailer. She added that, "After I began talking to Doug, Paul began to call me at home or at Sherri's or my mother's, frequently three times a day...I felt he wanted to l know everything Doug told me. (Ferrell says an increasingly panicky Bernard volunteered everything Tressler had told her, and constantly expressed concern that she would lose her children if she got dragged into the case.)

On the same day, Ferrell says investigators did just what they were about to accuse him of--lure him across state lines under false pretenses. He says he was called at the Ferrell Mart and asked to come to the Garrett County Courthouse to discuss plans for new searches for Ford. But when he arrived at 9:45 a.m., he says, he was informed by investigators that he was a suspect in the Ford case and they wanted to ask him more questions.

Despite what Ferrell's attorney, Dan James, calls "a clear-cut rule"...Ferrell was not advised that he was free to leave at any time.

Among those present at the interrogation were Evans, the FBI's zealous Zopp, and Sgt. Leslie D. Sharp of the West Virginia State Police.

The interrogation continued almost continuously until 11:20 p.m. When Ferrell's father, Joe Sr., and brother, David, arrived at the courthouse and asked to see him, they say they were forcibly refused entrance and asked to leave.

During Ferrell's trial, Zopp admitted that Ferrell had said twice that morning that he wanted an attorney if he was going to be charged.

Zopp further admitted that he "felt that there was significant evidence at that point in time on March 19 to charge Mr. Ferrell in connection with the disappearance of Cathy Ford," but that he told Ferrell he was not going to be charged at that time.

"It is clear from this set of events," James argued in his unsuccessful writ of certiorari brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, "that the officer knew with certainty that the petitioner would be charged, however, they used the occasion to gather statements from [Ferrell] without advice of counsel. In fact, within two hours of the termination of interrogation and upon [Ferrell's] return to West Virginia, he was arrested and formally charged."

Some thoughts:

1. Luring Ferrell to the courthouse, not advising him he was free to leave, and then culling information out of him by knowing they had ENOUGH to charge at the time, but WEREN'T going to do so (the legality of which is questionable at absolute best) is pretty sickening. I have no doubt the object was to reap more statements from Ferrell while "ensuring" he had no counsel, just as Dan James said.

2. I think the note Cathy Bernard found in Ferrell's pocket is very, very suspect.

3. I have to play Ferrell's advocate here, though: Why would he take Cathy Bernard along to buy carpet if he was trying to conceal a crime scene? Why--if there was a secret affair between Ferrell and Ford--would he need to pretend to be someone else like a magistrate or undercover officer to lure her out someplace? (Besides the obvious: she would have easily recognized his voice.) She had a stake in keeping that relationship on the down-low just as much as Ferrell did, and was allegedly already not always a forthcoming individual to begin with.

4. Perhaps no need to state the obvious, but the law enforcement in this case was a monstrous, collective fail.
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:02 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by MegtheEgg86
2. I think the note Cathy Bernard found in Ferrell's pocket is very, very suspect.

Ok, I feel like an idiot here, could you explain to me what exactly that note means? It's confusing to me.

And that bit about asking for an attorney during the interrogation should have gotten the whole case thrown out in court. Law enforcement is supposed to immediately halt any and all questioning the second someone brings up a lawyer. And to top it all off the guy admitted it at Ferrell's trial!

And in regards to the affair, if it could be proven somehow that there was indeed a relationship between Ferrell and Ford then you can surmise that Ferrell is innocent. I wonder if there was ever any testimony from anyone that there was a relationship between the two. But Ferrell's brother says that if there was an affair, he would have known about it.
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:36 AM   #60
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Meg, your research into this is PHENOMENAL.

Call me crazy, but does anyone else want to entertain the idea that Cathy Ford may still be alive? I don't normally put too much stock into eyewitness accounts, but wasn't there one from somebody that knew her, that said she acted strangely when they spotted her?

Originally Posted by wiseguy182
if Paul Ferrell turns out to be innocent, I will eat my shoes.

Looks like I'm about to have an unpleasant meal.
"Dottie had said, in the event I got transferred that she was not interested in going with me. I wasn't expecting her to go with me. And wouldn't have even wanted her to I guess."
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