Circleville Writer /// 501 /// 502

26 comments

  • Dayna
    Dayna AZ
    I should wait for part 2 but.. I’m thinking it had to be one of the coworkers of the bus drivers that were said to be getting hit on by the superintendent. I’d like to know what the bus drivers said about the validity of what was in the letters— were they being harassed? The writer says things like “my girls” and “airing *our* grievances along with your dirty laundry”. It sounds like the writer is maybe “one of” the girls, or feels a responsibility to look after them. Who would have had access to the brother in laws gun? Did Mary? I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I feel skeptical of her.

    I should wait for part 2 but.. I’m thinking it had to be one of the coworkers of the bus drivers that were said to be getting hit on by the superintendent. I’d like to know what the bus drivers said about the validity of what was in the letters— were they being harassed? The writer says things like “my girls” and “airing *our* grievances along with your dirty laundry”. It sounds like the writer is maybe “one of” the girls, or feels a responsibility to look after them.

    Who would have had access to the brother in laws gun? Did Mary? I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I feel skeptical of her.

  • Robert LeFevre
    Robert LeFevre
    I would be curious if the revolver was a double-action or a single-action. If it is double-action, the pistol can go off without manually cocking back the hammer. Pulling the trigger will bring the hammer back and fire the gun. If it is a single-action, the gun will not fire unless the hammer is manually cocked back. If it was a double-action, it could have reasonably gone off in the accident. If it was a single-action, unless he physically pulled the hammer back before entering the vehicle, it could not have physically went off in the accident. I didn’t think about him pulling the hammer back before entering the vehicle until I started typing, but this could help people unfamiliar with firearms the two possibilities with a revolver.

    I would be curious if the revolver was a double-action or a single-action. If it is double-action, the pistol can go off without manually cocking back the hammer. Pulling the trigger will bring the hammer back and fire the gun. If it is a single-action, the gun will not fire unless the hammer is manually cocked back. If it was a double-action, it could have reasonably gone off in the accident. If it was a single-action, unless he physically pulled the hammer back before entering the vehicle, it could not have physically went off in the accident. I didn’t think about him pulling the hammer back before entering the vehicle until I started typing, but this could help people unfamiliar with firearms the two possibilities with a revolver.

  • Jules
    Jules FO
    Dayna, I got the same feeling as well.

    Dayna, I got the same feeling as well.

  • Amy
    Amy Kcmo
    Listening now! I agree that there are probably more letter writers. But I really think it's gotta be Paul's wife or at least someone's wife. Not to be sexist (I'm a woman) but women can be more vindictive than men alot of the time, so I could totally see this happening if a woman found out her husband is cheating. Also the trash talk about her fits because she would be trying to deflect off herself. What a creepy story!!! I love the true crime stuff from the 70s and 80s too. Such a crazy time!!!

    Listening now! I agree that there are probably more letter writers. But I really think it's gotta be Paul's wife or at least someone's wife. Not to be sexist (I'm a woman) but women can be more vindictive than men alot of the time, so I could totally see this happening if a woman found out her husband is cheating. Also the trash talk about her fits because she would be trying to deflect off herself. What a creepy story!!! I love the true crime stuff from the 70s and 80s too. Such a crazy time!!!

  • Matt
    Matt Cleveland
    I've heard/read that the Superintendent had a 17 year old son, and that there was speculation that some of the earlier letters could have been written by him. This is the first series of podcasts or write-ups on this case that omitted this connection entirely. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on this.

    I've heard/read that the Superintendent had a 17 year old son, and that there was speculation that some of the earlier letters could have been written by him. This is the first series of podcasts or write-ups on this case that omitted this connection entirely. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on this.

  • Kat
    Kat Parts Unknown
    New theme for Circleville episodes only? Or permanent change? I like that the Captain gets to play with the music bumpers too.

    New theme for Circleville episodes only? Or permanent change? I like that the Captain gets to play with the music bumpers too.

  • Becky
    Becky Raleigh NC
    Could it have been Mary herself writing the letters and setting up her own “attempted murder”? Almost like a munchausens type of attention seeking thing? Maybe she wanted her husband to leave her so she could be with the superintendent. When the husband didn’t leave her she set up a phone call when she knew her husband had been drinking. Just a thought…

    Could it have been Mary herself writing the letters and setting up her own “attempted murder”? Almost like a munchausens type of attention seeking thing? Maybe she wanted her husband to leave her so she could be with the superintendent. When the husband didn’t leave her she set up a phone call when she knew her husband had been drinking. Just a thought…

  • D
    D London, UK
    Whenever I hear about this case I can't help thinking one of the bus drivers drivers started it and soon gossipmania took over and the whole town began to write shit about each other... It's hard to feel serious about it and I have to keep reminding myself it turned tragic for some. It's all the stereotypes about small towns turned up to 11.

    Whenever I hear about this case I can't help thinking one of the bus drivers drivers started it and soon gossipmania took over and the whole town began to write shit about each other... It's hard to feel serious about it and I have to keep reminding myself it turned tragic for some. It's all the stereotypes about small towns turned up to 11.

  • Dr. Nick Rivera
    Dr. Nick Rivera Springfield
    The letter writer is obviously Mary, although there were likely copycats who joined in. It is far-fetched that anyone else would know her bus driver number, as quoted in one of the letters. The letter writer knows too many details of the Gillespie‘s life to not have been someone exceedingly close to the situation. She also has the most obvious possible motives. She appears to have craved attention. She may have been something of a jilted lover when it comes to the superintendent, becoming obsessed with him in an erotomanic fashion and deciding to destroy him. She appeared to have a bad marriage (why else the affair?) and she appeared to want to torment and emasculate her husband. That's why revealing the affair was appealing to her as opposed to being an argument against her being the letter writer. She also would one of the few people having the opportunity to take the gun from her brother-in-law. Having signs placed along her bus route is also very suggestive; who else would know Mary's bus route so intimately? In regard to the booby trap, the perpetrator would have to be someone who was so knowledgeable about Mary's circumstances that they understood that the “awful sign“ should be placed at the end of her route, and with the placement timed at the end of the day when she no longer had passengers. How could anyone be assured that Mary would pull down this sign to trip the booby trap; it seems an incredibly unlikely and frankly stupid plot, and seems more like an attention-grabbing tale made up by Mary. It seems very suspicious that the one sign that causes her to stop her bus to take it down also just happens to be the one that is booby-trapped. The sign apparently implied the superintendent’s interest in her 13-year-old daughter - this appears to be Mary's way of angrily accusing the superintendent of being a pedophile. It would also appear that Mary had animus toward her brother-in-law, who she certainly did not stand up for when the serial number was able to be lifted from the gun she likely pilfered and subsequently used to stage the unlikely murder attempt. It appears possible that she hated all the men in her life... who else would take the time, risk, and great effort to try to persecute all the major male figures in Mary’s life? She was essentially the 1970's version of a vicious obsessive Internet troll, filling the angry void and sense of inadequacy in her life with her malicious and destructive letter writing campaign. We need DNA extracted from the stamps of the surviving letters to compare to the major players in this drama. I know what match I would bet on.

    The letter writer is obviously Mary, although there were likely copycats who joined in. It is far-fetched that anyone else would know her bus driver number, as quoted in one of the letters. The letter writer knows too many details of the Gillespie‘s life to not have been someone exceedingly close to the situation. She also has the most obvious possible motives. She appears to have craved attention. She may have been something of a jilted lover when it comes to the superintendent, becoming obsessed with him in an erotomanic fashion and deciding to destroy him. She appeared to have a bad marriage (why else the affair?) and she appeared to want to torment and emasculate her husband. That's why revealing the affair was appealing to her as opposed to being an argument against her being the letter writer. She also would one of the few people having the opportunity to take the gun from her brother-in-law. Having signs placed along her bus route is also very suggestive; who else would know Mary's bus route so intimately? In regard to the booby trap, the perpetrator would have to be someone who was so knowledgeable about Mary's circumstances that they understood that the “awful sign“ should be placed at the end of her route, and with the placement timed at the end of the day when she no longer had passengers. How could anyone be assured that Mary would pull down this sign to trip the booby trap; it seems an incredibly unlikely and frankly stupid plot, and seems more like an attention-grabbing tale made up by Mary. It seems very suspicious that the one sign that causes her to stop her bus to take it down also just happens to be the one that is booby-trapped. The sign apparently implied the superintendent’s interest in her 13-year-old daughter - this appears to be Mary's way of angrily accusing the superintendent of being a pedophile. It would also appear that Mary had animus toward her brother-in-law, who she certainly did not stand up for when the serial number was able to be lifted from the gun she likely pilfered and subsequently used to stage the unlikely murder attempt. It appears possible that she hated all the men in her life... who else would take the time, risk, and great effort to try to persecute all the major male figures in Mary’s life? She was essentially the 1970's version of a vicious obsessive Internet troll, filling the angry void and sense of inadequacy in her life with her malicious and destructive letter writing campaign. We need DNA extracted from the stamps of the surviving letters to compare to the major players in this drama. I know what match I would bet on.

  • Kati
    Kati WA
    I’m currently listening to episode 501. I’m an English teacher and this case seemed SUPER familiar. There is a short story called “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson. The plot is essentially: elderly gossip sends anonymous letters “warning” people of the “evil” in their lives. Relationships ruined, chaos ensues, elderly woman is caught and the town takes revenge. Super fascinating that the Circleville writer does something so similar. I wonder if they were familiar with the story.

    I’m currently listening to episode 501.

    I’m an English teacher and this case seemed SUPER familiar.

    There is a short story called “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson. The plot is essentially: elderly gossip sends anonymous letters “warning” people of the “evil” in their lives. Relationships ruined, chaos ensues, elderly woman is caught and the town takes revenge. Super fascinating that the Circleville writer does something so similar. I wonder if they were familiar with the story.

  • Cee Bee
    Cee Bee
    P1. Re Ron Gillespie's odd death. With a single vehicle accident one always needs to consider suicide. Which would also match with the unusually high (for him) blood alcohol. And if he did grab his gun as he left the house, it could be backup in case he was only semi-squished after the crash. Could also explain a test shot to check it was working OK. Stressful time if he knows Mary is banging her boss.

    P1. Re Ron Gillespie's odd death. With a single vehicle accident one always needs to consider suicide. Which would also match with the unusually high (for him) blood alcohol. And if he did grab his gun as he left the house, it could be backup in case he was only semi-squished after the crash. Could also explain a test shot to check it was working OK. Stressful time if he knows Mary is banging her boss.

  • True Crime Garage
    True Crime Garage
    @ Matt - yes that is something I considered as well. He is still living in Circleville and I reached out to a bunch of people I know still living there asking about 5 people in particular. He was one. We try to keep the coverage to 2 hours so we do have to prioritize the information we are presenting. This case to cover everything we could have done 5 to 6 hours. It's possible the man you mention wrote some of the letters but my feelings are as stated on the show... The early letters contained a ton of work related information all based around the schools and the bus drivers. He would not have known a lot of that info. As for the booby trap, he would not have had access to the gun. Plus threatening his father's job might not be in his best interest but not out of the question. It's a very interesting angle and one I found myself seeking answers on but none of it went anywhere. There were better suspects and while I wouldn't eliminate him, he certainly fell in priority. Cheers Nic

    @ Matt - yes that is something I considered as well. He is still living in Circleville and I reached out to a bunch of people I know still living there asking about 5 people in particular. He was one. We try to keep the coverage to 2 hours so we do have to prioritize the information we are presenting. This case to cover everything we could have done 5 to 6 hours. It's possible the man you mention wrote some of the letters but my feelings are as stated on the show... The early letters contained a ton of work related information all based around the schools and the bus drivers. He would not have known a lot of that info. As for the booby trap, he would not have had access to the gun. Plus threatening his father's job might not be in his best interest but not out of the question. It's a very interesting angle and one I found myself seeking answers on but none of it went anywhere. There were better suspects and while I wouldn't eliminate him, he certainly fell in priority.
    Cheers Nic

  • True Crime Garage
    True Crime Garage
    @ Kat - it's a possible new theme. Trying it out to see what everyone thinks. Cheers Nic

    @ Kat - it's a possible new theme. Trying it out to see what everyone thinks.
    Cheers Nic

  • Melissa K
    Melissa K Indiana
    Great episodes guys and congrats on surpassing the 500 episode Mark, that is something to be very proud of! I don't want to be a Debbie downer, but I hope you guys go back to the original opening theme song. It just felt weird to me. But I may get used to it.... either way, love you guys lots! Melissa K Indiana (Cincinnati OH area)

    Great episodes guys and congrats on surpassing the 500 episode Mark, that is something to be very proud of! I don't want to be a Debbie downer, but I hope you guys go back to the original opening theme song. It just felt weird to me. But I may get used to it.... either way, love you guys lots!

    Melissa K
    Indiana (Cincinnati OH area)

  • C
    C Missouri
    After listening to Part 1, my best suspect is Mary, for the reasons others have already mentioned.

    After listening to Part 1, my best suspect is Mary, for the reasons others have already mentioned.

  • Kim
    Kim Texas
    I'm surprised no one has considered Massie's wife as the original letter writer. The focus for the writer early on seemed to be the alleged affair as the Captain said. Maybe Massie and Mary WERE having an affair and the wife was trying to break it up. After Massie and his wife divorced and he and Mary begin a relationship out in the open the jilted wife could still be pissed and continue the harassing letters for a time. Just a thought.

    I'm surprised no one has considered Massie's wife as the original letter writer. The focus for the writer early on seemed to be the alleged affair as the Captain said. Maybe Massie and Mary WERE having an affair and the wife was trying to break it up. After Massie and his wife divorced and he and Mary begin a relationship out in the open the jilted wife could still be pissed and continue the harassing letters for a time. Just a thought.

  • Kathleen
    Kathleen Chicago
    I vote for the original opening them song. There is so much comfort in what is familiar especially with so much craziness going on in the world. I do appreciate the new version as a work of art and would like to see you use it in episodes here and there. But keep the opening as is. Change is hard. Why mess with perfection?

    I vote for the original opening them song. There is so much comfort in what is familiar especially with so much craziness going on in the world. I do appreciate the new version as a work of art and would like to see you use it in episodes here and there. But keep the opening as is. Change is hard. Why mess with perfection?

  •  JC
    JC
    You guys do so much research. Cheers, mates!

    You guys do so much research. Cheers, mates!

  • Aspen
    Aspen NH
    The only theory that makes sense to me is that Mary herself was the letter writer.

    The only theory that makes sense to me is that Mary herself was the letter writer.

  • Phyllis
    Phyllis MO
    Enjoyed these two episodes. Awesome hearing you both laugh and goof off❤️ Great info and music!! 👍🏻

    Enjoyed these two episodes. Awesome hearing you both laugh and goof off❤️ Great info and music!! 👍🏻

  • Abigail
    Abigail NE Ohio
    I was so excited to see you guys covered this case. Gen Why did it a few years ago and I remember thinking at the time I wanted to hear your take on it. I find it strange we are told Ron knew the caller was the writer, but he never identified the caller to his kids. He just said "it's the writer" and ran outside? I'm surprised the kids knew about the letters in the first place, and that he'd grab his gun in front of them and drive off in a hurry. I too don't think this is a police cover up and most likely an accident, but I could possibly believe Ron's truck was rigged or break line cut or something and the phone call was just meant to get him in the vehicle to have an accident. Did Mary and Paul say the caller was David Longberry? And is David the person that police gave a polygraph to? One thing that stood out to me was that Ron was supposedly getting up an hour early every morning to take these signs down. Who benefits from this if this is some wild goose chase? Does Mary then also leave the house early to carry on this affair with Gordon, with Ron not there to witness her leaving early/question her? To believe that though, either she or Gordon are the one putting the signs out and I don't know if I can buy that. The lettering size and neatness in a perfect row of some of the letters reminds me of the paper we used in elementary school when we first learned how to write. It had basically two rows of ruled lines and you were to fill both lines with your letters. Just a thought, not sure how common this type of paper is outside the school. The postcard received by Unsolved Mysteries is weird. The "el sickos" line and bringing up the sheriff doesn't jive with the other letters to me. I wonder how many writers there actually were. I do think Paul and Mary could both have been writers at different times, unaware of each other at first but later Paul figured it out and perhaps blamed her for Ron's death like Nic suggested. Paul would have to be an idiot though to think he could use his own gun on the booby trap if he truly did that, regardless if he claimed it were "stolen." What a wild story. Loved the trailer this week and the music. Keep up the fantastic work.

    I was so excited to see you guys covered this case. Gen Why did it a few years ago and I remember thinking at the time I wanted to hear your take on it.

    I find it strange we are told Ron knew the caller was the writer, but he never identified the caller to his kids. He just said "it's the writer" and ran outside? I'm surprised the kids knew about the letters in the first place, and that he'd grab his gun in front of them and drive off in a hurry. I too don't think this is a police cover up and most likely an accident, but I could possibly believe Ron's truck was rigged or break line cut or something and the phone call was just meant to get him in the vehicle to have an accident. Did Mary and Paul say the caller was David Longberry? And is David the person that police gave a polygraph to?

    One thing that stood out to me was that Ron was supposedly getting up an hour early every morning to take these signs down. Who benefits from this if this is some wild goose chase? Does Mary then also leave the house early to carry on this affair with Gordon, with Ron not there to witness her leaving early/question her? To believe that though, either she or Gordon are the one putting the signs out and I don't know if I can buy that.

    The lettering size and neatness in a perfect row of some of the letters reminds me of the paper we used in elementary school when we first learned how to write. It had basically two rows of ruled lines and you were to fill both lines with your letters. Just a thought, not sure how common this type of paper is outside the school. The postcard received by Unsolved Mysteries is weird. The "el sickos" line and bringing up the sheriff doesn't jive with the other letters to me. I wonder how many writers there actually were. I do think Paul and Mary could both have been writers at different times, unaware of each other at first but later Paul figured it out and perhaps blamed her for Ron's death like Nic suggested. Paul would have to be an idiot though to think he could use his own gun on the booby trap if he truly did that, regardless if he claimed it were "stolen."

    What a wild story. Loved the trailer this week and the music. Keep up the fantastic work.

  • Ryan P
    Ryan P Parts Unknown
    Congrats on 500 episodes guys! Just a couple of quick thoughts on this case.... I think that Paul's ex-wife and new boyfriend were the one's that placed the booby trap and sign in the yard for Mary to find. Paul's ex-wife had a family member that owned a yellow el Camino and she also had access to Paul's gun. Her new boyfriend also matched the description of the man standing by the El Camino. I also believe that they sent Paul the letter in prison mentioning a "set up". If Ron was somehow aware of the affair that Mary was having with GM before he received his first letter would he tell anyone else in his family? Would that be enough to start sending Mary, Ron, GM and the school board letters in an effort to protect their brother's marriage? Paul's ex-wife also planned on writing a book and asked Mary for Paul's type writer after the divorce (some of the letters around this time were typed and not hand written). Paul's ex-wife had motive to commit all of the crimes with the only exception being Ron's death, which I believe to be accidental.

    Congrats on 500 episodes guys! Just a couple of quick thoughts on this case.... I think that Paul's ex-wife and new boyfriend were the one's that placed the booby trap and sign in the yard for Mary to find. Paul's ex-wife had a family member that owned a yellow el Camino and she also had access to Paul's gun. Her new boyfriend also matched the description of the man standing by the El Camino. I also believe that they sent Paul the letter in prison mentioning a "set up". If Ron was somehow aware of the affair that Mary was having with GM before he received his first letter would he tell anyone else in his family? Would that be enough to start sending Mary, Ron, GM and the school board letters in an effort to protect their brother's marriage? Paul's ex-wife also planned on writing a book and asked Mary for Paul's type writer after the divorce (some of the letters around this time were typed and not hand written). Paul's ex-wife had motive to commit all of the crimes with the only exception being Ron's death, which I believe to be accidental.

  • Luciana S
    Luciana S
    Another great episode guys, thanks!

    Another great episode guys, thanks!

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte Maryland
    I'm glad Kati mentioned "The Possibility of Evil," by Shirley Jackson. Read it if you haven't! It horrified me when I first read it. Thanks TCG for focusing on this mundane but powerful type of crime. Also, I REALLY like the new theme music - go Captain.

    I'm glad Kati mentioned "The Possibility of Evil," by Shirley Jackson. Read it if you haven't! It horrified me when I first read it. Thanks TCG for focusing on this mundane but powerful type of crime.

    Also, I REALLY like the new theme music - go Captain.

  • Fix website
    Fix website Crashland
    Your website keeps crashing because it is trying to load 50 videos. I’m begging you please split the web site to smaller pages, add a search feature, and link to seasons instead of requiring scrolling through. Thanks

    Your website keeps crashing because it is trying to load 50 videos. I’m begging you please split the web site to smaller pages, add a search feature, and link to seasons instead of requiring scrolling through.
    Thanks

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous USAs
    I realize that historical data shows that women are far less likely than men to be serial killers, but there’s also gotta be something about the Circleville killer that does not fit historical norms or else it would have been solved by now. Nic/Captain, any idea if there was significant “batching” of letters in terms of the dates they were sent?? Thanks, as always. Great episode. If the genders of the characters involved in this plot were flipped, then Mary undoubtedly would have been considered the lead suspect. “He” is alleged to be having an affair, and then “his” wife dies in accidental car crash when he is away on vacation? We would be highly suspicious that it was accidental. The relationship with female superintendent starts only after “his” spouse died? We wouldn’t believe it. The “real killer” sets up a booby trap (a 🚧 that he finds) to try to kill “him” but thankfully the gun doesn’t fire? We wouldn’t believe it. I’m going with Mary as a master-manipulator, black widow 🕷-type who loves being at the center of her own batshit crazy novel. —She was having the affair with Massie when she sent that first letter to herself. —She sent the letter to her husband to set up a love feud between her husband (Ron) & Massie with her as the object of both’s attention. —She was involved in the phone call that led to Ron leaving the house the night he died and had him run off the road (or similar) while she was away on vacation. —At some point, she also developed a love relationship with Paul Freshauer. —She set up the “booby trap” as a way of scorning the ex-lovers (ie signs about Massie raping her daughter; stealing Paul Freshauer’s gun from his home and placing it in the “booby trap”). —Some ex-lovers may have helped her write the letters over the years. Just a guess, but it feels as logical as any of the possible explanations in this case. Out of curiosity,

    I realize that historical data shows that women are far less likely than men to be serial killers, but there’s also gotta be something about the Circleville killer that does not fit historical norms or else it would have been solved by now.

    Nic/Captain, any idea if there was significant “batching” of letters in terms of the dates they were sent??

    Thanks, as always. Great episode.

    If the genders of the characters involved in this plot were flipped, then Mary undoubtedly would have been considered the lead suspect. “He” is alleged to be having an affair, and then “his” wife dies in accidental car crash when he is away on vacation? We would be highly suspicious that it was accidental. The relationship with female superintendent starts only after “his” spouse died? We wouldn’t believe it. The “real killer” sets up a booby trap (a 🚧 that he finds) to try to kill “him” but thankfully the gun doesn’t fire? We wouldn’t believe it.

    I’m going with Mary as a master-manipulator, black widow 🕷-type who loves being at the center of her own batshit crazy novel.
    —She was having the affair with Massie when she sent that first letter to herself.
    —She sent the letter to her husband to set up a love feud between her husband (Ron) & Massie with her as the object of both’s attention.
    —She was involved in the phone call that led to Ron leaving the house the night he died and had him run off the road (or similar) while she was away on vacation.
    —At some point, she also developed a love relationship with Paul Freshauer.
    —She set up the “booby trap” as a way of scorning the ex-lovers (ie signs about Massie raping her daughter; stealing Paul Freshauer’s gun from his home and placing it in the “booby trap”).
    —Some ex-lovers may have helped her write the letters over the years.

    Just a guess, but it feels as logical as any of the possible explanations in this case.

    Out of curiosity,

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