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Default Debbie Wolfe articles

Paper: Fayetteville Observer, The (NC)
Date: May 13, 1991
Section: Local & State


NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" telecast in December the story of Fayetteville nurse
Debbie Wolfe's drowning death. Now the magazine "TV Guide" has gotten involved
in a somewhat unorthodox way.

The magazine turned over the Debbie Wolfe case to a Hollywood private detective
named Robert Frasco and asked him to solve the mystery based solely on the
evidence that was shown on TV.

TV Guide printed the results in last week's issue. Under the headline "The Case
of the Dubious Drowning," here's what the magazine had to say about Debbie
Wolfe's death:

"The coroner said she'd drowned," said the detective, "but the pond was full of
silt and her body was clean." That leads Mr. Frasco to conclude that "her body
was placed in the pond after she was killed."

Mr. Frasco notes (the magazine story continues) with some interest that the
driver's seat of the woman's car had been pushed back much farther than it
should have been for a woman her size.

"The car seat would only have been pushed back like for that for a huge man,"
said Mr. Frasco. He surmised that "she was probably held hostage while he was
driving the car."

The Answering Machine Voice

A more telling clue: the corpse was found in an empty oil barrel. And just days
after the body was discovered by divers, the barrel mysteriously vanished. The
way Mr. Frasco pieces the crime together, the killer put his victim in the
barrel to help sink the corpse and subsequently returned to the scene of the
crime to remove it "probably because it had incriminating information, such as

Mr. Frasco believes the killer probably abducted the nurse from her home,
murdered her and then brought the body back to the pond, where he set about
making the murder look like an accidental drowning.

But who killed her? To answer that, Mr. Frasco points to a cryptic message left
on Debbie Wolfe's answering machine. Mr. Frasco believes the message was left by
a disappointed suitor:

"Do a voice analysis of the tape and you'll have your man."

End of story.

I have three comments in reaction. If murder occurred - how was it done? What
actually killed Debbie Wolfe? The point remains obscure.

There is also disagreement about the barrel. Did it exist? If so, what happened
to it?

And identifying the man on the answering machine won't help much, because there
is no evidence that the man committed any crime.

So despite the intervention of a genuine Hollywood detective, the case remains
what it always has been - a mystery.

The Rooster In My Yard

Speaking of mysteries, when I got up Friday morning, there was a chicken in my
yard. Or a rooster. I'm not sure which, because I've been off the farm for a
long, long time.

I was washing my hair when my wife announced that the rooster - it looked cocky
enough to be a rooster, if you'll pardon the expression - was pecking at the
azalea bush just outside the sun room window.

A few minutes later I went to look. And there he was.

Our vet lives behind us. Could have been his rooster, I suppose, but I'd never
seen one hanging around his yard before.

Three little boys live across the street. Might have been their rooster, but I
don't think their mother would let them have one.

Or maybe it was your rooster (I have at least two suspects in mind who shall go
unnamed). It was small and white with a black tail. My cat and I ran him into a
neighbor's yard. I was thinking my cat might eat the rooster, being as partial
to birds as he is, but Feets (that's my cat) did nothing but make that little
chirping-meow noise when he looked at the rooster.

Which wasn't for very long and I don't understand why, because if I was a cat,
don't you suppose I'd love to chase a small rooster?

Ah, well. If it is your rooster, at least now you know where he was Friday
morning. Although I have no idea where he might have gotten to by now.

Section: Local & State

Copyright 1991, 2002 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer


Paper: Fayetteville Observer, The (NC)
Date: October 26, 1990
Section: Local & State


Jenny Edwards keeps the cardboard box in the back room of The Pub, a warm and
friendly neighborhood watering hole which she owns. Regular patrons even have
their own name tags at the bar. It's that kind of place, but on the Monday night
I visited there, rain was pouring down outside and only three people had their
elbows up, talking some kind of politics.

Deborah Wolfe was Jenny Edwards' daughter. Debbie died almost five years ago.
The medical examiner said she drowned. The sheriff's department said it was an

But Jenny Edwards believes her daughter probably was murdered.

Unanswered questions surround the strange case of Debbie Wolfe. Many of those
questions are in the cardboard box, which contains the clothes she wore when her
body was taken from the water.

"Debbie had a field jacket," said Jenny Edwards, digging into the box. "This
wasn't it. Her jacket belonged to her brother, who was six feet, 185 pounds. It
was found hanging in the cabin. This jacket - the one that was found on her - is
a men's small. It's brand new, with no markings. Look in the pockets. No lint.
No sand. If she was in the water six days and nights, where's the debris?"

Seeing The Next Life

The next item she pulled out of the box was a pair of tennis shoes. They were
two sizes too large for Debbie, her mother said.

"Look at these pants," Jenny Edwards continued. "Debbie was 5-foot-3. Hold them
up. You'll see."

I did as she suggested. The pants descended to the tops of my shoes, almost in
a line with the pants I was wearing. I am six feet tall.

"This shirt," said Jenny Edwards. "It says Pittsburgh Steelers. I never saw it
before. Neither did any of her friends."

Glass beads and a handmade Indian necklace came out of the box next. Inside a
pouch on the necklace was "an evil eye. It enables the spirit to see its way
into the next life. I never knew Debbie had anything like these."

Jenny Edwards says she is "positive" the clothes aren't Debbie's. "Someone else
dressed her. And what happened to the uniform she was wearing that day?"

Recall yesterday's column. I mentioned that Debbie's uniform was long-sleeved
and had had both coffee and peas spilled on it when she had lunch with Roger
Rushing on the last day she was seen alive.

A uniform was found on the kitchen floor of the cabin where she lived. But it
was a "lightweight summer uniform that had come from the closet. And the panty
hose were not what she'd wear with the uniform she'd really had on."

That uniform, the one with the coffee and the peas, was never found, said Jenny
Edwards, who believes it was messed up "when she was killed, or taken away."

What About The Barrel?

According to Mrs. Edwards, other unanswered questions hover in the air:

* The driver's side car seat was so difficult to adjust that Debbie never
touched it. She always kept the seat in a forward position. Yet the car seat was
pushed all the way back when the car was found, parked in a strange position in
Debbie's yard. Why?

* Debbie's purse was wedged into a difficult-to-reach part of her water bed.
Who put it there?

* Beer cans of a brand Debbie never drank were found in the yard. Who threw
them there?

And then there's the infamous, ephemeral barrel, the one divers say the body
was stuffed in when they found it. Yet when the pond was drained the next day -
no barrel.

"My diver said there was a barrel," said Jenny Edwards. "The sheriff's diver
said there was a barrel. Not only that, Debbie had a barrel in her yard. It

Did someone come and remove the barrel in the night, thus erasing evidence of a
murder? Debbie's mom leans toward that theory, though law enforcement officers
decided there never had been a barrel, that what divers saw was merely Debbie's
coat, floating around her head.

Needed: A Confession

So what happened to Deborah Wolfe - dedicated nurse, lovely young woman and
all-around happy person? Roger Rushing says she was "done away with." Jenny
Edwards feels her daughter was killed, and is critical of the sheriff's
department's handling of the case.

"I think she saw something she wasn't supposed to see," said Mrs. Edwards,
citing scenarios and circumstances I can't repeat here, and even if I could,
remember. There's no evidence to back up any of her theories, just as the
conclusion that Debbie drowned accidentally is impossible to prove.

So that is where the case stands. It is not being actively investigated and
hasn't been for years. Will any of the questions ever be answered? Are they
correct questions, even?

We probably will never know.

"There would likely have to be a confession," said Jenny Edwards. "I'll never
give up, though. Would you?"

Section: Local & State

Copyright 1990, 2002 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer


Paper: Fayetteville Observer, The (NC)
Date: October 25, 1990
Section: Local & State


On New Year's Day, 1986, the body of Deborah Wolfe was discovered at the bottom
of a small pond off McArthur Road. An autopsy declared the cause of death to be
drowning. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Department said Debbie had died
accidentally. It is a conclusion that never has been accepted by Jenny Edwards,
Debbie Wolfe's mother.

"She was born," Mrs. Edwards said of her daughter. "She lived. She died. And
some say forget it. I won't forget it. When someone dies without a cause, you
want to know why. I don't shut up. And I don't go away."

Not only is Jenny Edwards not going away. The case isn't either. NBC's
"Unsolved Mysteries" has been filming in this community off and on since August,
and will air the story of Deborah Wolfe on national television sometime this

It is a story filled with unanswered questions:

* Why was Debbie Wolfe wearing clothes Jenny Edwards insists did not belong to
her when she was pulled from the pond?

* Was her body stuffed into a barrel, as the divers who found her claim, and if
so, why was no barrel found when the pond was drained?

* Why was her car parked in a way she never parked it, and why was the driver's
seat pushed all the way back, rather than left in a forward position, as Debbie
always had it?

* And why was the uniform she was wearing on the day she disappeared never

A Stuffed Unicorn

Let's go back to Christmas, 1985. In an act not surprising for someone who had
once conspired to procure a male stripper for her mother's 50th birthday, Debbie
Wolfe gave Jenny Edwards male and female "novelty" dolls for Christmas.

"Who, me, mother? I wouldn't do that," she had replied when mom opened the
package and found the remarkable duo. But she had done it, and she'd also come
to an agreement with her boy friend that they would "get serious."

It was a happy time for Debbie and her happiness showed the next day when she
showed up for work at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, where she
worked as a nurse.

She was even lugging the huge, stuffed unicorn her mother had given her for

"We had lunch that day," recalled Roger Rushing. "As we were talking, I spilled
coffee on her long-sleeved uniform. Then she spilled peas on the front of it. I
didn't feel like such a klutz any more. We arranged to meet for lunch the next
day. But she didn't come to work."

She didn't come to work because she couldn't. Either she was already lying dead
at the bottom of the pond behind her house, or she was being held against her
will by someone.

Like She'd "Gone To Sleep"

Debbie was not seen again until New Year's Day. Jenny Edwards persuaded friends
to dive into the pond to look for her body. They found her, "stuffed head first
into an oil drum," according to news reports at the time - although as I said,
no drum was found when the pond level was lowered.

Mrs. Edwards saw her daughter when she was taken from the water.

"Debbie looked like she'd gone to sleep," she said. "Her eyes were closed. Her
mouth was closed. I don't think she had been in the water six days and nights.
If so, how could I have had an open casket funeral?"

A slight amount of water was found in a bronchial tube. There was some
bruising, but nothing to definitely prove she either had or hadn't been

The medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill said drowning was the cause of
death. After all - nothing else was obvious and she had been discovered under
the water.

So drowning it was and drowning it remains.

Whose Clothes?

But the question remains - how could an active, 28-year-old nurse drown in what
was a gently sloping, fairly shallow pond? If she fell, it would have been into
the shallow part and she could easily have gotten out. Yet she hadn't gotten
out. Was it because she was dead when she went into the pond?

Jenny Edwards has not yet heard a satisfactory theory on the point.

Roger Rushing is a respiratory therapist at the VA hospital. He says he has
seen many drowning victims and "she would have shown bloating (there apparently
was none) and bluish discoloration."

Yet two autoposy reports - Jenny Edwards had an independent one done - declare
that the condition of the body was consistent with immersion in the water for
six days and nights.

The two biggest unanswered questions have to do with the barrel and the
clothes. Jenny Edwards says she was very familiar with her daughter's wardrobe,
at least partially because "half of it used to be mine."

And she swears the clothes her daughter had on that New Year's Day in 1986 were
someone else's.

TOMORROW: The Box In The Back Room.


Caption: Debbie Wolfe and Mason

Section: Local & State

Copyright 1990, 2002 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

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