Has the nameless creator of the notorious Circleville letters been unmasked?


This story beforehand aired on August 6, 2022.

For almost twenty years, an nameless letter author terrorized the city of Circleville, Ohio, by sending threatening letters that uncovered alleged secrets and techniques about neighbors and associates. The thriller has lengthy intrigued TV reveals, podcasters and now “48 Hours” within the quest to lastly unmask the author.

MARIE MAYHEW [“Whatever Remains” podcast]: Something fairly disturbing occurred in Circleville, beginning small and flourishing over a long time. … Residents … started to obtain letters that accused the residents of being concerned in some fairly horrible issues — embezzlement, home violence, affairs, and even homicide.

Marie Mayhew: The Circleville letter author … knew all the things about everybody … and knew everybody’s secrets and techniques.

Robin Yocum: They have been vicious and … ugly. Someone with extreme psychological issues, I’d hazard to guess.

The threatening, nameless letters saved coming — lots of of them. Most have been postmarked from Columbus, Ohio, about 30 miles north, which is the place “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty grew up and was dwelling in March 1977 — when small city Circleville started to really feel below siege. When only a stroll to the mailbox may set off terror, particularly for one girl who lived there, a faculty bus driver by the title of Mary Gillispie. 

Marie Mayhew: Mary Gillispie goes out to her mailbox. She receives a letter. … She opens it. It’s an nameless letter … distinct handwriting, and it is telling her to finish the affair … with the superintendent of the varsity there, Gordon Massie:  

Mrs Gillispie :Stay away from Massie: Don’t lie when questioned about assembly him. I do know the place you reside: I’ve been observing your own home and know you may have kids. This no joke. Please take it critical. Everyone involved has been notified. It wil be over quickly: 

ERIN MORIARTY [reading a letter]: “Mrs. Gillispie, stay away from Massie. I’ve been observing your house and I know you have children.”

ROBIN YOCUM [reading a letter] It’s your daughters flip to pay for what you’ve got carried out. … I shall come on the market and put a bullet in that little lady’s head.”

Robin Yocum: These letters have been being despatched to newspapers, elected officers, non-public residents.

Marie Mayhew: And they’re all saying the identical factor, that mainly Gordon Massie, the superintendent … he must be uncovered. He must be fired.

Marie Mayhew: Her husband, Ron Gillispie, begins to obtain them as properly.

MARIE MAYHEW [reading a letter]: “Mr. Gillispie, your wife is seeing Gordon Massie. … You should catch them together and kill them both. … He doesn’t deserve to live.”

Janet Cassady: Well, he acquired letters saying that if he did not do one thing about this affair, his life can be in peril.

MARIE MAYHEW [reading a letter]: “We know what kind of car you drive … We know where your kids go to school …” 

MARIE MAYHEW [podcast]: By August of 1977, all the things modifications when Ron Gillispie will get a name late one evening. Enraged, he picks up a gun, will get in his truck … and drives off. 

Martin Yant: And informed the … daughter that he … was going to confront the letter author. 

Martin Yant: He was touring at a excessive pace … misplaced management of the truck … went off the highway, hit a tree … and was killed.

Martin Yant: The letter author had made threats to … Ron Gillispie that …. he may find yourself useless. And then he ended up useless.

MARIE MAYHEW [podcast]: Was Ron Gillispie’s demise an accident or was he murdered? 

Pam Stanton: Murdered. 

Erin Moriarty: This case has actually left its mark. 

Pam Stanton: Yeah, it has destroyed lots of people. 

June Whitehead: I feel there was an enormous cover-up.

Martin Yant: Turned out to be fairly a thriller. 

Four a long time later, the talk over the author’s identification continues. Could a forensic doc professional have the reply?   

Erin Moriarty: Do you assume who wrote these nameless letters?   

Beverley East | Forensic doc professional: Yes, I do.


Circleville, Ohio, has the appear and feel of a quaint Midwestern city.

Martin Yant: In some ways it is kind of an all-American city. … Still has a reasonably rural character to it. … And some households have been there for many years. 

Its main attraction, says journalist Martin Yant, is the annual Pumpkin Show

Janet Cassady: Well, it was a great place to stay. … pretty peaceable ’til all these items began [laughs].

Janet Cassady is speaking about that barrage of nameless poison pen letters that started arriving in mailboxes throughout Circleville in 1977.

MARIE MAYHEW [reading from podcast]: “Small towns have big secrets buried deep under those freshly mowed lawns …” 

It caught the eye of Marie Mayhew, who researched the story for her podcast “Whatever Remains.” 

MARIE MAYHEW [reading from podcast]: “This anonymous author was hell-bent to expose every ugly little secret in Circleville.” 

At first, the author appeared fixated on the married faculty district superintendent and his rumored relationship with the varsity bus driver. 

Mary Gillispie and Gordon Massie
School bus driver, Mary Gillispie (left) grew to become the principle goal of the letters. The author accused Gillispie, who was married, of getting an affair with married faculty superintendent Gordon Massie (proper). 

Jackson Middle School yearbook

Marie Mayhew: Gordon Massie … was a well-thought-of man in Circleville. 

Marie Mayhew: Mary Gillispie was a spouse and a mom … they have been accusing her of adultery. 

Erin Moriarty: You’ve acquired the superintendent probably having an affair with a faculty bus driver? Wasn’t that sort of the speak of city? 

June Whitehead: Yeah, it was, positively. 

June Whitehead grew up in Pickaway County together with her sister Janet.

Janet Cassady [referencing a yearbook photo of Mary]: Have you seen Mary’s image? … She was Miss Jackson.
Erin Moriarty: She seems actually engaging there.

Janet Cassady: She was. 

Mary married her highschool sweetheart Ron Gillispie. 

Janet Cassady: And you would not discover a higher individual than Ronnie Gillispie. 

The couple had two kids and settled in Circleville. 

Erin Moriarty: I imply, this needed to be very awkward … for Mary Gillispie, her kids … for Gordon Massie, for his spouse, for his son … 

Marie Mayhew: It should have been terrible … I imply it was simply kind of this all-invasive poison. … there was no person that was off limits to this letter author. 

And it wasn’t only a marketing campaign of letters. There have been cellphone calls and offensive indicators that started showing alongside Mary’s bus route. 

Marie Mayhew: Ron must exit and … he must discover and choose up all of the signage about his spouse and children round Circleville.

Determined to cease the author, the Gillispies introduced their letters to the sheriff’s workplace. 

Marie Mayhew: There was an ongoing investigation. … They have been tapping telephones. They have been watching homes. … They tried to work with the USPS to … test the mail. 

But the letters continued, and small-town Circleville was consumed with hypothesis. Was the author male or feminine? Did the author stay on the town? 

Then in August 1977, Mary left her husband and youngsters at residence and drove to Florida together with her sister-in-law. 

Marie Mayhew: Ron had informed her he knew who the letter author was and he was going to handle this drawback whereas they have been in Florida. 

They have been en route after they realized Ron had crashed his truck right into a tree after getting that mysterious cellphone name. The coroner dominated his demise an accident, however Ron’s brother-in-law, Paul Freshour, believed he’d been murdered. 

Ronald Gillispie fatal crash
One night in August 1977, whereas his spouse was on her approach to Florida, Ronald Gillispie acquired a mysterious cellphone name allegedly from the author. He drove off in his pickup truck and was killed when he crashed right into a tree. A gun that had been fired as soon as was discovered below his physique, elevating the query if he had been firing on the letter author. The coroner dominated Gillispie’s demise an accident, however others suspect he was murdered. He was 35 years outdated.

Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office/Ohio BCI

Martin Yant: Although a variety of folks informed me that he was not a heavy drinker, he had nearly twice the authorized restrict of alcohol in his blood.

Also suspicious, below Ron’s physique, police discovered a .22 caliber revolver.

Martin Yant: The gun had been fired as soon as. So, then the query was, was he capturing on the letter author? … The sheriff did not give that any credence in any respect.

But Paul Freshour saved pushing the Pickaway County sheriff to take a better look. Pam Stanton was near the Freshours.

Pam Stanton: He needed the reality about Ron’s demise. He needed to know who was writing the letters too. 

The assaults on Mary Gillispie and Gordon Massie did not cease. Now, letters have been additionally being despatched to native companies, authorities places of work, faculties and individuals who lived within the space. 

Martin Yant: This individual was, at that time, fairly unbound, not afraid to say something. … And it scared lots of people … , is he coming after me or is she coming after me?

Mary had all the time denied having an affair with Massie, however after Ron’s demise, she says, they started seeing one another. That’s when the threats in opposition to her grew to become much more vicious.

Circleville letters

Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office/Pickaway County Courthouse

ROBIN YOCUM [reading a letter]: “Everyone knows what you have done. If you don’t believe us, just make them mad and find out for yourself.”

Robin Yocum writes mysteries, however again within the early 1980’s he was against the law reporter for The Columbus Dispatch. 

Robin Yocum: There have been obscenities and threats … to do hurt to Mrs. Gillispie’s daughter. 

ROBIN YOCUM [reading a letter]: “It’s your daughters flip to pay for what you’ve got carried out … 

On February 7, 1983, at 3:30 p.m., Mary Gillispie was driving her empty faculty bus, heading to select up youngsters.
She was about to show left on Five Points Pike, when she appeared over and noticed a hand-crafted signal on a fence. It talked about her 13-year-old daughter and it was obscene. She pulled the bus over. But when she tried to tug the log out the fence, she realized it was rigged with twine and a field. She says she took that field residence; she then opened it and acquired a stunning shock. 

Marie Mayhew: It was a gun, and it was able to go off. 

When Mary introduced the field to the sheriff’s workplace, investigators shortly realized it was a booby entice. Yocum was within the newsroom when phrase acquired out. 

Robin Yocum: And I keep in mind the thrill … From a newspaper perspective, it is an awesome story — a girl who had been the goal of all these letters finds a booby entice with a .25 caliber handgun rigged to it. … All reporters would need to cowl that story.

Especially if there was a dramatic twist.


MARIE MAYHEW [reading from podcast]: “There’s small town intrigue, a seemingly omnipresent unknown villain extracting revenge on the people of Circleville by uncovering their secrets, a mysterious death, an elaborate attempted murder …” 

To at the present time, there is a fierce debate about who that villain is — or was. So, we’ll take you again by way of the proof and theories and you may determine. 

Erin Moriarty: This feels like one thing out of an Agatha Christie novel, would not it? 

Marie Mayhew: It does. … there is a forged of characters … the letters would maintain coming. … And then … the inevitable tried homicide. But it is extremely a lot an Agatha Christie really feel to it. 

Circleville booby trap
Mary Gillispie took the field to the police, they usually shortly realized it was a booby entice. Investigators at Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) uncovered the gun’s serial quantity and traced it again to somebody Mary Gillispie knew. 

Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office/ Ohio BCI

And identical to one in all Christie’s mysteries, the gun discovered within the booby entice supplied the primary clue. Firearm examiners at BCI — Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation — have been capable of restore the partially filed off serial quantity.   

Martin Yant: And after they traced the gun, it got here to a co-worker of Paul’s … And he mentioned, “yeah, I sold that to Paul Freshour.” 

On the floor, says Martin Yant, it was stunning as a result of Paul Freshour and his spouse, Karen Sue, had been near Mary Gillispie and her late husband Ron — Karen Sue’s brother. 

Martin Yant: It was sort of an prolonged household that appeared to socialize collectively. 

But by 1983, when sheriff’s investigators went to speak to Karen Sue, the Freshour’s have been within the midst of a contentious divorce. 

Martin Yant: Karen Sue gave them fairly an earful. 

She informed investigators Paul had grow to be infuriated with Mary. 

MARIE MAYHEW [reading from podcast]: “Karen said Paul had thought the world of Ron and Mary before Ron died. But after his death Paul hated Mary — hated her over the ‘Massie deal’.” 

And then Karen Sue informed them that her estranged husband was behind Circleville’s nameless letters. 

Martin Yant: She had discovered one letter torn up in a commode. And she had discovered a few different letters hidden in the home. 

When investigators went to see Paul Freshour, Marie Mayhew says, he was very cooperative. 

Erin Moriarty: Did he demand to have a lawyer? 

Marie Mayhew: No. … he answered all of their questions. 

And readily admitted the gun belonged to him. 

Martin Yant: Well, they ask him … how the gun ended up within the booby entice. … and he mentioned, “I don’t know.” 

Freshour informed investigators his gun had been stolen weeks earlier and allowed them to look his home and his automotive. He even gave them samples of his handwriting. 

Marie Mayhew: It positively does seem to be he has completely nothing to cover at that time. 

He denied being the letter author and mentioned he had nothing to do with the booby entice. But he failed a polygraph. So, Paul Freshour was arrested for the tried homicide of Mary Gillispie. 

Erin Moriarty: Were you shocked when he was charged with tried homicide? 

Pam Stanton: Yes. Yes. Yeah, I used to be. 

This was the person Pam Stanton known as “Uncle Paul,” and says their households have been so shut she considered him as a second father. 

Pam Stanton: I imply, was he apprehensive … His life was on the road, his freedom … Yeah, he was scared. Anybody can be. 

Freshour was by no means charged with sending any of the threatening, harassing letters. But, in Circleville, there was an assumption that the letter author was lastly behind bars. 

On October 24, 1983, Paul Freshour went on trial on the Pickaway County Courthouse in Circleville. 

Robin Yocum: It was an enormous deal. 

Robin Yocum did not cowl the trial, however he adopted all of the news protection. 

Robin Yocum: You know, he was the mastermind behind this alleged booby entice. … however nearly all the things centered on the letters. 

First up was the meant sufferer: Mary Gillispie. She testified about discovering the booby entice after which, over the protection objections, she was requested in regards to the nameless letters she had acquired. 

Erin Moriarty: How damaging was that to Paul Freshour at his trial? 

Marie Mayhew: That was very, very damaging. 

The protection argued there was no direct menace to Mary’s life and the letters, in order that they weren’t related to the case however the choose allowed in 39 of them. 

It was a break for the prosecution, which claimed the writing on the booby entice shared similarities to these letters. 

Marie Mayhew: The letter and the writing that was on the 2×4 … was the identical block handwriting, kind of the identical cadence and the identical message because the nameless letter author. 

The state introduced within the BCI handwriting analyst who in contrast the writing on the booby entice to the letters despatched to Mary after which to samples of Paul Freshour’s handwriting. 

Martin Yant: They had handwriting analyses that indicated that the letters may have been written by Paul Freshour.
And a second professional — initially a protection witness — agreed. 

Erin Moriarty: I imply, that is fairly damaging, is not it, when a witness employed by the protection finally ends up testifying for the prosecution? 

Marie Mayhew: I can solely think about it was one thing you’d need to keep away from [laughs]. 

It was far harder for the prosecution to show Freshour made the booby entice. 

Erin Moriarty: Was Paul Freshour’s fingerprints discovered on the gun or the field that held the gun? 

Martin Yant: No. … they usually did not have a complete lot of proof in regards to the booby entice apart from he admitted that was his gun. 

There was circumstantial proof. Freshour had taken the time off from work the identical day the booby entice was discovered. And that field that held the gun  — an industrial sized chalk field — was simply discovered at Anheuser Busch the place Paul labored. 

Martin Yant: They had his gun and the booby entice, they usually had the chalk field … So, they thought they’d loads of proof. 

But nobody noticed Freshour close to the booby entice. 

Martin Yant: He had a reasonably good alibi for many of the day. 

Paul Freshour did not take the stand, however a number of protection witnesses testified to seeing him at residence. He was having work carried out on his home. The cause, he mentioned, he took that time off. 

Robin Yocum: As the trial progressed … I’m pondering a variety of these items simply would not add up. You know, the place are the fingerprints? … Where’s the bodily proof?

Paul Freshour
Paul Freshour had grow to be a suspect after the gun within the booby entice was traced to him. And though he denied establishing the system and informed investigators that his firearm had been stolen weeks earlier from his storage, his destiny was sealed after investigators spoke together with his estranged spouse, Karen Sue. She informed them that she believed Freshour was, in reality, the Circleville letter author.

Craig Holman/USA Today Network

But it was sufficient proof for the jurors. They discovered Paul Freshour responsible of tried homicide. 

Erin Moriarty How did you hear the decision? [Pan Stanton cries] Even in spite of everything this time, it is nonetheless exhausting, is not it? 

Pam Stanton [crying]: I acquired residence, and all people was only a basket case. They have been crying. Everybody was upset.

He acquired the utmost sentence: 7 to 25 years in jail.

Erin Moriarty: When Paul Freshour was convicted, did all people on the town breathe a sigh of aid? The letter author is caught. It’s over. 

Robin Yocum: I feel that is a good evaluation. … they’ve linked him to the letters, they linked him to the booby entice. We’re going to get this man out of our group, get him in jail … Everything will sort of return to regular, besides it did not as a result of the letters by no means stopped.


Robin Yocum: Paul was dwelling a reasonably good life. … had by no means had any issues with the regulation … mainly, he misplaced all the things. … misplaced his residence, misplaced his job, went to jail. 

It was inconceivable to Paul Freshour’s household and associates that the person they so admired could possibly be convicted of tried homicide. 

Pam Stanton: It’s simply preposterous. … there is not any means. 

Janet Cassady: He wasn’t dumb sufficient to place his personal gun in a booby entice [laughs]. Anybody may have gotten that gun. 

Even as we speak, former investigative journalists Martin Yant and Robin Yocum query whether or not Freshour’s verdict was truthful. 

Robin Yocum: Can I let you know I’m 100% positive that he did not do it? No, I can not. … But I can let you know … had I been sitting on that jury I’d have by no means despatched a man to jail based mostly on that flimsy proof. 

Martin Yant: The extra I acquired concerned within the case and … the extra I noticed, there have been simply too many query marks. 

At trial, the prosecution had branded Paul Freshour the Circleville letter author. But as soon as he was locked up, how did menacing nameless letters maintain coming? 

Robin Yocum: I’m not speaking about one or two letters … there have been lots of of letters that went out after he was in jail. 

The Pickaway County sheriff could not say how Freshour was capable of write and ship these letters, however he was sure Paul was accountable. The jail warden disagreed. 

Martin Yant: His warden insisted that might be unattainable. They saved him in isolation. They didn’t permit him to have pens or paper. 

Robin Yocum: He was strip searched … All his incoming and outgoing mail was inspected. … There is totally, positively no means Paul Freshour was writing these letters and smuggling them out from jail. No means. 

After Yocum and Yant wrote articles about Paul Freshour, additionally they acquired letters. And, inexplicably, so did Paul Freshour whereas behind bars.

The Circleville letters
Paul Freshour served 10 years in jail for the tried homicide of Mary Gillispie. He wasn’t allowed pens or paper whereas behind bars however the letters nonetheless continued. Even Freshour acquired one. The letter to Freshour reads partly:”Freshour: Now when are you going to believe you arent getting out of there: I  old you two years ago when we set em up: they stay set up:”

Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office/Marie Mayhew

Martin Yant: The letter author bragged about setting him up. … He mentioned, “when we set him up, we set him up good.”
Erin Moriarty: And who did Paul assume had set him up? 

Martin Yant: Karen Sue. 

Erin Moriarty: His ex-wife. 

Martin Yant: His ex-wife. 

Paul Freshour’s lawyer raised that very risk throughout his closing argument: “Who hated Paul enough to try to get him into trouble … if you read the divorce decree, who stands to profit financially, if Paul is convicted goes to prison.” 

Pam Stanton says, throughout that divorce battle, Karen Sue misplaced her residence, custody of their daughters, and was dwelling in a trailer on Mary Gillispie’s property. 

Pam Stanton: If Uncle Paul was out of the image, she acquired all of it. 

And Karen Sue was one of many first to hyperlink Paul to the nameless letters. Remember, she informed investigators she discovered some at their residence, together with that one within the commode. 

MARIE MAYHEW [podcast]: Karen tried to piece it again collectively when Paul was not at residence and mentioned she may make the title of Gillispie out on the letter. 

Erin Moriarty: Could she present them these letters? 

Martin Yant: No. … she did not maintain the letters. 

Erin Moriarty: Does that make sense? 

Martin Yant: Not to me … why would not she run off immediately to the sheriff’s workplace and say, look, that is from my husband. He’s the letter author. … she did not do any of that till after the booby entice was discovered. 

Erin Moriarty: Do you imagine that Paul Freshour did arrange the booby entice and tried to kill Mary Gillispie? 

Martin Yant: No, I do not. I feel someone stole his gun to set him up, and it labored. 

In the early Nineteen Nineties, when Martin Yant started investigating Freshour’s case, he found proof in police stories of an alternate suspect. 

Martin Yant: There was one other bus driver … who noticed what I feel may be very vital. …. It was one thing that by no means got here up at trial and it factors in a complete completely different path. 

Investigators by no means adopted up, however Yant did. The feminine bus driver informed him that 20 minutes earlier than Mary discovered the booby entice, she had pushed by the identical spot. 

Martin Yant: She mentioned … she noticed a person standing beside an … El Camino … But the person turned away from her and acted like he was going to the toilet … So, she did not get a great take a look at him. 

The description did not appear to match Paul Freshour. 

Martin Yant: She mentioned he was a big man with sandy hair. And Paul was not giant, and he had very darkish hair. 

Erin Moriarty: And wasn’t Karen Sue at that time courting a person who was giant with sandy hair? 

Martin Yant: Yes. 

And what in regards to the El Camino? 

Martin Yant: There’s no proof that any inquiries have been made about who might need an El Camino. 

Erin Moriarty: Didn’t in reality … Karen Sue’s brother have an El Camino? 

Martin Yant: That’s what I’ve been informed. 

But Marie Mayhew believes attempting to attach the booby entice to Karen Sue is tenuous at finest.

Marie Mayhew: There’s somebody who appeared like the person she was courting driving a automotive that appeared prefer it may have been her brother’s…. none of that factors again to Karen Sue. 

Marie Mayhew: I do not imagine that she framed her husband for this or was answerable for it. 

Ten years after Paul Freshour went to jail, the intrigue surrounding the case caught the eye of the tv sequence “Unsolved Mysteries.” But in December 1993, earlier than filming even started, the present acquired a postcard with an ominous menace. 

MARTIN YANT: [reading postcard] “Forget Circleville, Ohio. … If you come to Ohio, you el sickos will pay. The Circleville writer.” 

It did not deter the present from going to Circleville. Even Paul Freshour, who had simply been launched on parole, agreed to speak. 

PAUL FRESHOUR [“Unsolved Mysteries” interview]: I’d actually prefer to see somebody actually take a look at this case, on the letters. Reopen the letter a part of it and get in and discover out who wrote the letters. 

Pam Stanton says Karen Sue was not blissful “Unsolved Mysteries” was on the town, or that Stanton agreed to be interviewed. 

Pam Stanton: I acquired a cellphone name and her telling me it might be in my finest curiosity to not go. 

Karen Sue did not take part in this system, however in accordance with Stanton, she saved monitor of everybody who did. 

Pam Stanton: She sat in a automotive on the opposite facet of the intersection and took photos of all people going out and in for the interviews. 

If true, Marie Mayhew says that does not show something. What’s extra, Karen Sue has by no means been thought of a suspect by police. 

Marie Mayhew: I feel she’s a really handy villain. 

“48 Hours” reached out to her, however she didn’t reply to our requests for an interview. 

Martin Yant: There are so many twists and turns on this case … all-of-a-sudden one thing … will floor and makes you rethink what you have been pondering. 

Martin Yant is true. And there’s one other twist to return.


It took almost 20 years, however in 1994 the Circleville letters abruptly stopped when Paul Freshour was launched from jail. 

Erin Moriarty: Did folks when he acquired out nonetheless assume he was the letter author? 

Pam Stanton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Martin Yant: He was very damage. And he was damage with what it did to his household. 

A really uncivil struggle had been raging for years between Paul Freshour and his ex-wife, Karen Sue. Even their two daughters have been divided over their dad. And caught within the center was their son, Mark. 

Pam Stanton: He was so loyal to his mother. … But he liked his dad, too. But with Sue … you have been going to be her son or his son. 

Pam Stanton says Mark selected his mother, and by no means as soon as visited his father in jail. 

Pam Stanton: He would not inform me why. He simply mentioned he could not. 

It was Paul Freshour’s gun found within the booby entice that helped land him behind bars. 

According to Martin Yant, Freshour strongly suspected that the thief was his personal son. 

Martin Yant: He did inform some folks that the gun had been stolen. And I did interview one man that mentioned he particularly informed him that he thought it was Mark, the son. 

Erin Moriarty: And this was earlier than there was any speak of a booby entice? 

Martin Yant: Before the booby entice. 

Freshour saved his suspicions about his son to himself, says Yant. 

Martin Yant: Family loyalty meant extra to him, though his son had completely rejected him. 

Erin Moriarty: Why did not he … level the finger at his son? 

Pam Stanton: Paul … get his son in bother? No, Uncle Paul would’ve by no means carried out that. 

Erin Moriarty: But he knew he may go to jail. 

Pam Stanton: No, I do not care. … Uncle Paul would have died earlier than he had seen Mark go to jail. 

Pam Stanton: All this destroyed Mark. … The divorce, the letters … all of it destroyed him in a means that may by no means be mounted. 

Just earlier than dawn on September 11, 2002, in Portsmouth, Ohio, a person’s physique was discovered floating within the Scioto River. It was 39-year-old Mark Freshour. He had shot himself. His mom, Karen Sue, later informed police her son had suffered for years from despair. 

Pam Stanton: And I firmly imagine when Mark took his life, he couldn’t cope with the guilt any longer. 

If Paul Freshour truly had nothing to do with the booby entice, is it additionally doable he had nothing to do with the letters? 

Robin Yocum: As he informed me …”I didn’t write the letters. … I didn’t do this.” 

Martin Yant: Even after he acquired out of jail, he approached the FBI and requested them to … examine the case. 

The FBI by no means responded, says Yant. But almost three a long time later, one in all its former star profilers agreed to look at the Circleville letters for “48 Hours.” Mary Ellen O’Toole has explored among the darkest prison minds from the Green River Killer to the Unabomber. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: Whoever the author is, they’re flying below the radar display screen …coming throughout as very regular … and folks wouldn’t suspect them. 

The Circleville letters
One letter to Mary Gillispie reads:”Lady: This is your last chance to report him: I know you are a pig and will prove it and shame you out of Ohio: A pig sneaks around and meets other womens husbands behind their backs, causes families and homes and marriages to suffer:”

Pickaway County Courthouse

Who was the Circleville author? Or have been there a number of writers? O’Toole believes one solitary creator churned out each letter. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: When you may have one individual and one individual solely … that individual can take the key to the grave. 

Erin Moriarty: Do you assume it is male or feminine? Can you inform? 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: All proper [laughs]. I knew that might be one in all your first questions. … When it involves the letter author, gender may be very troublesome to discern. 

That’s as a result of the author was intelligent, constantly misleading, and manipulative, says O’Toole. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: You see the manipulation proceed all through these letters. 

She went all the best way again to the author’s first letters in 1977, looking for hints about gender and located some. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: The letter author saved referring to, “I’m the boyfriend of a woman.” … They needed to make you imagine, “I’m not a woman, I’m a man.” 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: And seeing … how they have been attempting to cover who they have been makes me assume there could possibly be a … good risk, it is a feminine. 

Altogether, O’Toole inspected 98 letters, discovering the phrase decisions and the grammar revealing. 

Erin Moriarty: How educated is that this author? Can you inform? 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: I’d say this isn’t a extremely educated individual. … due to the standard of the sentences and the way they have been put collectively. 

Significant, says O’Toole, contemplating that Paul Freshour had a job as a supervisor at Anheuser Busch and a grasp’s diploma. She says there have been different figuring out clues from the nameless author. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: As you learn these letters, you may see the letter author is basically havin’ a great time. 

Erin Moriarty: What does that say about that individual? 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: The letter author is fairly callous. … This individual … must know, “I’m hurting people and that’s OK with me.” 

An indication the author might need been affected by a character dysfunction, says O’Toole, that means that she or he knew the distinction between proper and mistaken, however merely selected “wrong.” 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: So, that might counsel to me that of their common on a regular basis life, they sought methods to be a bully … to be intimidating.

If that is the case, Pam Stanton says that doesn’t sound like her Uncle Paul. 

Erin Moriarty Did he have like a darkish facet to him or something? 

Pam Stanton: Never. Uncle Paul was by no means bitter, by no means indignant. 

Erin Moriarty: Do you assume the letter author was Paul Freshour? 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: Right now, I’ve my doubts. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: Sitting right here as we speak, I’d say I can not rule him out. But I’m … different causes that inform me … it’d in reality be someone completely different. 

And O’Toole doesn’t imagine the secretive author would danger publicity by setting a booby entice in a public place. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: That suggests to me that will have been carried out by someone else who took benefit of the scenario. 

The thriller appeared to solely deepen. But one professional is satisfied she does know the identification of the Circleville author. 

Beverley East: 100% positive.


When the 1980 Robert Redford jail drama “Brubaker” wanted extras within the Columbus space, Paul Freshour channeled expertise as a former jail guard to play one on the massive display screen. Little did he know he’d ultimately serve a decade for tried homicide. And though by no means charged with terrorizing Circleville with the letters, he needed to stay with folks believing he was the author. But not sisters, Janet Cassady and June Whitehead. 

Erin Moriarty: What is one factor that you just actually need to see corrected? 

June Whitehead: I do not assume Paul’s responsible. I feel he served these 10 years in jail, and I do not assume he was responsible of the tried homicide. And I do not actually assume he was the letter author. 

And with former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole believing the author could possibly be somebody apart from Paul Freshour, it calls into query the testimony of these two handwriting specialists at his trial linking him to the letters. So, “48 Hours” turned to forensic doc professional Beverley East, in search of her impartial evaluation. 

Beverley East: I do not wanna hear the story ‘trigger … the paperwork inform me the story. 

That story, says East, begins by figuring out distinct writing patterns in Paul Freshour’s recognized writing. In this case, letters he wrote to a good friend. 

Beverley East
“48 Hours” needed an impartial evaluation of the Circleville letters and turned to forensic doc professional Beverley East, who studied among the nameless letters and a few of Paul Freshour’s handwriting examples. She identified how distinctive the letter “G’”was written and some different numbers, which satisfied her she is aware of who’s accountable. East says she is “100 percent sure.” 

CBS News

Beverley East: The “G” in Grimer is a really uncommon G. Looks like a six, a quantity 6. 

Erin Moriarty: And that is uncommon? 

Beverley East: That’s very uncommon. 

She then studied a number of 49 of the nameless letters — spanning from after they first began in 1977 by way of the Nineteen Nineties — and located that uncommon “G” formed like a quantity 6 in a number of of the Circleville letters, together with one despatched whereas Paul Freshour was in jail. 

Beverley East: So Gillispie, Gillispie, gettin’, Gillispie, and Gordon, you’ve got acquired that quantity 6. 

East says numbers can inform a narrative of their very own. “Numbers don’t lie.”

East says numbers can inform a narrative of their very own, pointing to this zip code written by Paul … there’s an ambiguous quantity “3” that may even be a “2.” 

Beverley East: Numbers do not lie. Numbers do not lie. 

Beverley East: It’s like he is unsure if it is 4-2-1-1 2 or 4-3-1-1-3. …In the nameless letters on the zip code …I discovered the identical mistake. 

While East admits there are writing patterns within the nameless letters that do not appear like Paul Freshour’s, after displaying “48 Hours” nearly 100 examples of his distinct quirks that she was capable of determine, she is satisfied one individual was accountable. 

Beverley East: I’d go into court docket and swear on the Bible on the proof that I discovered. 

Erin Moriarty: And once you say you’d swear on the Bible, what would you say? 

Beverley East: I’d say one individual wrote all of those. And the one individual is that this individual. 

Erin Moriarty: Paul Freshour. 

Beverley East: Paul Freshour. 

Erin Moriarty: And in the event you noticed {that a} doc examiner as we speak thought, in reality, he did write these letters, would that change your thoughts? 

Pam Stanton: No. 

And there’s a historic foundation for skepticism. 

Erin Moriarty: You know that some doc examiners have been mistaken previously. 

Beverley East: I can not … converse for others … there are all the time gonna be instances the place individuals are inaccurate. And it is not as a result of the science isn’t correct. It’s as a result of … that specific examiner has not carried out due diligence to reach on the opinion that they need to do. 

Beverley East: You cannot be mistaken [laughs]. You — ‘trigger … someone’s life and livelihood is on the finish of your opinion. So, I’m not mistaken.

While finding out the 1000’s of pages of the case file, Marie Mayhew made a discovery that helps East’s findings. Investigators had discovered Paul Freshour’s fingerprints on a few dozen letters postmarked whereas he was incarcerated. 

Marie Mayhew: Those fingerprints are there they usually’re his. 

Erin Moriarty: Do you assume that Paul Freshour is the Circleville letter author? 

Marie Mayhew: Yes, I actually do. 

Former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole says she can not clarify these letters. But she additionally can not ignore that in Freshour’s decade in jail, the phantom author mailed lots of of letters. 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: If against the law continues on and you’ve got somebody … in custody for a protracted time period … you must say, “Somebody else is sending these letters. … they’re not happening by magic. Somebody else is writing the letters.” 

Erin Moriarty: If in reality Paul Freshour was the letter author, is it doable that he mass-produced letters, went to jail, after which had someone else ship them whereas he was in? 

Mary Ellen O’Toole: Anything is feasible. … That must be investigated and dominated out. 

Paul Freshour died June 28, 2012, at age 70, nonetheless preventing to show his innocence. Instead, what’s left behind is an unfinished portrait. Was Paul Freshour the profitable, loving household man he seemed to be? Or was he a merciless, even harmful, prison mastermind? 

Whatever your conclusion, Paul Freshour predicted — when interviewed by author Robin Yocum 36 years in the past — that his notoriety because the Circleville letter author would lengthy outlive him. 

ROBIN YOCUM [Reading]: “When I’m dead and in my grave, people are going to believe I’m sending those letters.” Unfortunately, Paul died. … and we’ll by no means know. We’ll by no means know. 

No one has ever been charged with writing the Circleville letters, however the Pickaway County Sheriff’s workplace says the case is closed.

Produced by Lisa Freed and Richard Fetzer. Mead Stone is the producer-editor. David Dow and Tamara Weitzman are the event producers. Jud Johnston, Ken Blum and Diana Modica are the editors. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the chief story editor. Judy Tygard is the chief producer. 


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