Invisible Ships podcast
Invisible Ships podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Circleville Letters 3

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In our final episode about the Circleville Letters, we travel to Circleville Ohio and interview a local historian who received a strange letter around the time Paul Freshour was up for parole. Could this be the work of the Circleville Letter writer?

We also have Michael Prelee on he is the author of the mystery novel Murder In The Heart Of It All which was based on the events of the Circleville Letters.

You can get a copy of his book by clicking the link below

 Murder in the Heart of It All (Tim Abernathy): Prelee, Michael: 9781682010631: Amazon.com: Books

also visit his author page MichaelPrelee.com

and don't forget to visit our homepage Invisible Ships Podcast – From true crime to the truly weird. You will find case documents and photographs. 

It's time for the invisible ship's podcast, where we talked about everything from true crime did truly weird ready for recall? We are back. It's invisible ship's podcast. I'm lead podcast collaborator, where a cousin, and this is my brother Dan back in the bunker. Yes, you know that little reference I just gave there was I'm not going to get too much into it because our lawyers will allow us to, but there's haters out there and there's a hater on social media that publicly docks me and in the way that he did. It was he said this is lead podcast collaborator, so I kind of like that as a title. Sounds like the UN is going to invade you or something. Oh No, but collaborator, lead podcast collaborator. I might get that on a business card. Okay, Dan, you know, this is going to be our last episode about the Circleville letters, but we had a lot of good stuff coming up. I talked to Michael Preeley, who is an author that wrote a really good mystery novel that is based off of the Circleville letters, and I'm excited to talk to him because there's nothing out there really fokwise about the circle of letters, which is strange that nobody wrote, you know, right, some kind of true crime book about it or in Martin, Martin Yette should, yes, but Michael Preley's book are really it's murder in the heart of it all right, right, so it's a mystery. It is strongly influenced by the actual events of the sortable letters up. We went down to Circleville. We got really cool mappen from the Nice people the historical society and you know, we just kind of went in there and started talking to them and one of the ladies there had an experience it. She kind of brushed it off, but she got some strange letters that were angry and hateful and anonymous and postmark Columbus. She just thought it was like a crack pot. You know. After talking to her we started thinking that this could have to do with a circle of a letter writer, especially the time frame, because her letters arrived sometime in the late S, which would be one of the Times that Paul would have been up for parole. And I think when you look at what was going on with the case, the letters were mainly happening around the time that Paul was coming up for parole. So we're going to play that interview in just a second. And then, you know, I was going through and remail the letters and one thing that we didn't get to with Martin Yant or have a chance to really talk about yet, it's just how crazy the letters got in the end. Did you see the one where Paul's in prison now and I think he's been in prison for almost like seven years or something, and he's let us start, coming to the prosecutor, saying that if you don't admit to sleeping with the school teacher and killing her and her unborn baby, I'm going to dig up the baby's bones and mail them to the police department. Yeah, I mean, that's not your run. The little letter that their coach, I think her name was, that one missing. So there is another unsolved mystery that is kind of tied to it. So the circle bill, a letter writer, is officially part of that case file because he is talking about this murder. But I don't think there's any evidence that she was actually paying that the time, because they did find her body, I believe. So it's kind of interesting that the letter writer would have made that mistake. Something creepy about, you know, just baby bones. Now it's just the letter writer like he's sometimes he's dead on and sometimes it seems like he was a little bit off or yeah, or way off. Well, like I said before, our kind of pictured I liked. I was intrigued by looking at the case, without looking at too closely, just growing up in how we've heard about it and it seemed like a town that had this narrator that he was vindictive but he knew everything was going on and he just pointed somebody and out all their stuff and and now, having a more mature outlook and doing a lot of digging and talking to people, it seems more of like this person was on a crusade. It was like a personal vendetta against certain people and everything always ties to the school. Even the this other letter it's about a murder teacher...

...and she worked in the school district there in pickaway county. So everything always goes back to the school. Yeah, at least in nearby. But yeah, it was definitely, no matter how you slice it, just a stick of mind because there's never like a real true grievance there, like even the stated grievance in the letters like stop having an affair like you're like a third party to this effect, like if you happen to see someone at work, I'm an Afair with someone else at work, like with that destroy your life and make you have to write a hundred letters, like no, weird, right. And you know, I mean, I guess I could see we've talked about David longberry possibly, if he's like in love with her whatever. Right. And you know David Longberry was a bus driver and mechanic and it was around the garage and he reportedly had head on Mary or try to get it to go out with him and she turned him down. I mean she was married, right, but I guess he could be really angry if he's like, well, she's married but she still has affairs. How come not with me? You know, they could have seen its sobsessed, almost like that David Chatman whoever shot Ron Reagan because he was obsessed with Jodie foster like that. The wires are a little bit cross there, but it's comes from some type of like just obsession with somebody. Yeah, and I think the wires were definitely cross with David Longberry because I think later on he ends up on America's most wanted legedly he raped a twelve year old girl and then was that in that are in the area. I don't know where this rape had so I've had a hard time finding a whole lot of independent verification. But it has been discussed. It's it's in a lot of the different online literature that you read and I think Martin Yance is on the record talking about it as well. But he I don't know where he us what state this happened, but he ran away to Texas. He was somebody asked them to babysit and he ended up like rape in the kid and then, you know, ran off to Texas and killed himself. So I don't know, there's some unhinged people doing some crazy stuff in Circleville, at least at that time. That time. Yeah, we went down there and it seemed like a pretty normal tality. Happens any problems? Everyone that we interacted with was super cool. Yeah, he had the historical society in the library and just in as a cool in the town was built on the ancient kind of Indian circle mounds or whatever, or around it too, and then, I don't the downtown, what would you say, sort of Victorian Al Yeah, it's definitely has like a historical core downtown and I'm just intrigued by the whole native American mysteries behind it. And then you know we're not just true crime. Would like to do truly weirds like you thinking like could this place be cursed? You know, all this talk about the native American history of the area and stuff. It reminds me of our visit to the Circleville historical society because they had a really good collection of native American artifacts. When Rick and I were in Circleville be stopped by the historical society and talk to some of the ladies there. Day's elements. Not at the ORC a meter right me, you're right, a band found in a backyard, but he was digging a foot. So they said where did it come from? So they thought maybe the mound builders found it, loved it, had it in the man. When they just shut the man down, it could have just went across the street. Don't make sense. Julie Shaw from the Pickawa County Historical Society was nice enough to show us around the museum and honestly he was fascinating. We could have stayed all day but we really wanted to talk to her about the Circleville letters and I think you know, at first a lot of people in Circleville they don't seem like they really want to discuss it too much, do they? They moved on. It's not yeah, I mean a lot of people don't even know about it right, but we're you surprised when she started talking about personal experience. Surprised, but it almost just felt like serendipity, like, you know, this is who we were supposed to talk to. We were...

...in the right place at the right time. The people in town, did they pay attention to these letters or is it something that you know, kind of hushed it up when it was happening? Because when I was in a case that they had testify of something, they said something about letters. Did you ever get and I said I would get these old things in the nil and it would be put together with newspaper and stuff, and it was like, Oh my God, this is awful. Never believe a liary. Of there tell the truth, and I thought, Whoo, do this, who would hate me? You got the letters, but I don't think it was the letters. I don't know. I just said, well, that's what I had. That would you do with that throught away. I was so upset, I was, you know, humiliated, and then then I got one more and I can't tell you dam you know, I know people listening to this. They're going to be like cut out a newspaper circle of the letter writer had a distinctive block handwriting style. And first of all we don't know. We know that there has been over thousands of a thousand letters at least sent out. Only thirty nine for preserve because their record exhibits in the AL fresh our case. And that's not even we can't say that only we only know thirty nine because they were preserved for the court case. Right. I have heard rumors that there's there in safety deposit boxes. They're just out there and the place. We have been hunting for them and if anyone listening has one and wants to talk to us, we'd love to hear from you. But the larger point is that this ties in, first of all, geographically it's Circleville. Secondly, Julie Shaw goes on more about this case and these letters and it's right about the same time that Paul fresh hour is up for parole and that's when we see these spikes of the letters. Yeah, and I mean maybe the newspaper doesn't fit the pattern from before. But again we don't know. We haven't seen them all and you know, maybe this guy isn't super rigid with rules. You know, there May, if you're an insane letter writer and time he's been doing, have your own rules like don't swear, it's already a flame by the seat of his pants with the movie trip. Yeah, and the signs. That's unorthodox approach for sure. Right. You know, we pressed Julie Shaw offer some more details and she goes on some more. So let's play that part. So in the S he received one of the letters I received to but I threw them. The one I remembered the most because I thought, what did I say that? I say something to somebody. But you know, this was beef. That was a trial in ninety, ninety nine two. This would have been maybe three to four years before that. So later would have been a freshman in high school. Yeah, so he graduated ninety two. So I'm saying eighty eight. Yeah, well, I mean fresh our well still in for Macharsine, hundred and eighty three for the booby trap sign. So he probably would have just been in prisoner for like a ut it's that's right in the middle of it. That could have been part of the campaign to keep him in prison. It was that letter. That was newspaper cut out. It was newspaper cut out and then a cartoon. Never believe a liar, even if they're telling the true. So I could say, and I mean I didn't even show I didn't even show it to my husband because I thought, what have I done that make somebody really upset? I was, yeah, I was the baseball mom of the count of everything, you know, just really got me. Yeah, I mean, and then everyone I looked at it, I thought did I thank you, mad that's something and sorry everything. So the second one I said pay I got to. She said what did say and I don't remember. I have no idea what it said. I just know I just did there ripped them up with their away. I'm so upset and it's she got one, but I can't tell you. Or she knew someone who did, and we all decide it was this girl that didn't like us. That was said some kind of exercise class, and I said,...

...why would she do it? You know. So we just we never knew. And then when all these letters came out of that was seven days when we reached out to the friend that Jane mentioned and she was able to confirm that she received a letter in a postcard. One was handwritten and the other was newspaper cut out. Both were derogatory and kind of hostile letters and she did not hang on to any of them. All right, Dan, so well, you were busy working and doing your fulltime. Nine hundred and twenty five, I called Michael Preeley, who's an author. He wrote a really good mystery novel called murder in the heart of it all. It's based off of the circle of letters, and we started talking and, you know, I told him just how I'm still amazed at this to this day how famous this case is and how there's no real works that are written about it. And I found Michael Preeley. It's a happy accident. was searching for books because one of the things I like to do if we're going to take a case or talk about a case, I like to read about it and read everything I can. And there were no books, but his novel came up and so I ordered it kindle version right through in like a day or two and I really liked it and I was happy when I contacted him and he agreed to be on the show. So I started just kind of by asking him how he got interested in the case. It always seems like a very interesting case to me and it was. It was something that I just when I started to look for a topic to write about, when I wanted to write a mystery, it was right there and I that's what I used. The action in Michael Preley's book takes place in a fictional town called Hogan, Ohio. It is a very good stand in for Circleville and really it's just the town seems alive with the characters that he puts in there, and I almost felt like I already been there, you know. They made like a head that ring of truth to it. So it's interesting how a writer comes up with a place that feels lived in and alive. Yeah, I grew up in a lot of small towns in northeast Ohio, you know, around Youngstown, so it was very easy to create a fictional place like Hogan and base it on all the places that I lived. Recently I was in Soulville and it had been after I'd read your book, so already had these kind of visions from Hogan in my head and walking around the town. You know, there's a lot of stuff that you got right, like the newspaper in Circleville is a store front newspaper just like in your book. I was wondering if you had been to Circleville to actually research the book. I have not been the CIRCLEVILLE. I've been around Columbus. You know, when I when I created Hogan, though. You know, every small town, you know in northeast Ohio has like that Freeby newspaper that you hand out at the the grocery store, of the man, you know, the post office. So when I you know when I created that, I just I use that image of all those newspapers. You know, the town I live in has, still has, a main street literally called Main Street, you know, with with shops and with, you know, a little small town newspapers. So it was very easy to get that image and to build that up. You know, I don't know if you're familiar with Martin yet, but you know your book it's almost late life imitates art, because your character, Tim Abern at the works for a newspaper. He's tasked with figuring out who the letter writer is and steps into this detective role. We just talked to Martin Yant and he's kind of like the real life Tim Abernathy because he was a journalist and he got involved in the letter writer case and today he is the president of Ace investigations, which is a highly renowned private eye firms. Oh, that is interesting. That's a that's an interesting parallel. Yeah, Tim is just based on, you know, the way I grew up here in...

...the people that I've known, you know, who work, you know, a couple of jobs, go to school. So you know, in the in the book, Tim Basically Works One job at a store, you know, where he meets his love interest and he that pays the bills and then he has a second job, which is journalism, which is what he wants to do. And, like you said, his editor gives finally gives him a break and says, Hey, I've got a story here. At like some way to look into it and and really tim is the only person they can do it. So, you know, that's how the book begins. I don't know if it is something that you were purposely or consciously doing, or or if you're just good at reflecting how life actually is. But the editor for the shopper I think he kind of realized that the world and moved on and that his paper wasn't really going to be much more than just a place where you can make a few bucks advertising things. But then this story happens and Tim and him get together and and they start writing real journalism and having an effect. And I just think about that today when most of our papers they're outsourcing a lot of the journalism and you need that. You need to have local, hard hitting news to really to be a check and balance on, you know, what the police are doing or not doing on a case. Absolutely you know. You know one of the said things about the rise of the Internet is that we do lose a lot of local journalism and you know, people are more affected by what happens on a local level. We know their local politics, state politics x and without local newspapers around to you know, pick up on those stories and the report what's going on it, you know council meetings and and you know mayor's offices. You know, we do tend to lose something and even here our regional paper was the Youngstown vindicator, and it shut down I think year or year and a half ago and that was a tremendous loss to the you know, to the area. Yeah, yeah, so, you know, you know, even in you know this story Tim Tim might move on from, you know, like a small newspaper to a more regional one. And now, though, even those are disappearing. Yeah, like in our Cleveland plane dealer, half of the stories are just wire stories or taken from the New York Times. There's very, very little local journalism. That's true. I actually you know, when you're when you're a writer and when we were with the small press, you know, you do everything you can to you know, to promote your book and I was I was very sad to see that, you know, the plane dealer, which had a Great Book Review Column, You know section and you know on the Sunday paper, and it was gone. You know, that was that's terrible. And I didn't realize this till years later, but I like to go to like the use book stores and just fill up a bag of paperbacks and a lot of the biggest lock bums for or bestsellers or whatever you call them. You know, when you open up the blurb, they're always had a Cleveland plane dealer blurb in there like that was one of the papers that was known for giving the book reviews. Yeah, you know, as far as big newspapers are out here, I was successful, like the Akron Beacon Journal. You know, they gave me a great review. You know, they like the book and get me right up and it was fantastic. And Yeah, I really wish there was more of that. You know that that, that local journalism is something we're going to miss this time goes by. Yeah, yeah, we are. I noticed that you have a lot of reviews on I think it's called good reads. I don't know if you ever stop and read your reviews or not, but quite a few people on there have read your book. In almost everything I see is you know, they're praising you. It is it is a really interesting story and I love a good mystery and you did a great job just weaving it all together with the characters. I wish that the CIRCLEVILLE letters the actual case, could be wrapped up as nicely as your book did. But sometimes I think you know, this may be unsolvable. You may never really know everything that...

...happened here. I think you know the Circleville letter writer case is only going to be resolved when somebody comes forward who knows what happened and decides that they're going to talk about it, you know, and that can be true, but a lot of unsolved mysteries and in this case, you know you you have. It's in interesting. There's a lot of interest in it, you know, especially regionally, and it's hard to believe that so many years have gone by but nobody has come forward to say I've got a story to tell, you know, because they would find a willing audience. Yeah, so it's very strange. And you know just how many letters were sent out. So in the circle of the letters case it was thousands. I think in your book, you know the the writer that you have. We called the letter writer the villain, and your story is Bob and I love that character. Just doing this and thinking about the circle of a letter writer, you know, I think I maybe had some kind of cardboard cutout image in my head, but you made this guy flesh and blood and, most importantly, I think that you made him kind of sympathetic. When you, when you read him and you read his life, kind of know where he's coming from and why he feels powerless and chooses to lash out at the community in the way that he did it. Just wonder what was your thought process and creating this character? Well, you know, and and protagonist is only as good as they is antagonist, and I didn't want Bob to be, you know, kind of a just run of the mill bad guy who does things. I wanted people maybe not to sympathize with them, but maybe to empathize like they understand where he's coming from. They understand why he's angry. You know, he's somebody who's you know, he's later in life, he's lost his job, he loss is, he's a widower and he's he's lost, you know, even as pension, so he's had to go back to work and those, those characteristics are all kind of Mash together from people I know here in situations that we've dealt with here, you know, around here especially. You know, dey'Lli fin went bankrupt and a lot of people lost their pensions that they'd worked their whole life for and it's not fair. It's not fair what happened to them. And it's been ten years of people trying to get what they know, what they deserve, and it was very easy to imagine what would make somebody angry enough to lash out the way the CIRCLEVILLE letter writer did. So I just used what was here and when I developed that character. So you have another book out that was actually nominated to be part of a festival. Lots little sister that follows up with martyrt murder in the heart of it all, was selected for the Ohio and a book festival, which is actually located in Columbus, Oh gratulations first of all. And so this is going to be something that people will be able to like physically attend to, or is this going to be online? That normally, normally it's a like a two day event that you would go to in person, but unfortunately, you know, due to covid restrictions and it's taking place in April, it's going to be online. So we're going to do panel. So if if anybody's interested, I'll be recording a panel this coming Saturday actually, and then it'll be, you know, available on the Ohio and a library website. For the first of all, do you have like a link for the piano or anything that we could put out to people ahead? Questions or anything about the book? Yeah, I can send you a link for the book festival and then once we have the panel done, I can go ahead and provide your link for that too. Okay, I guess what I'm saying is like, are you going to be taking questions just from people there, or...

...are people, like just a random readers, going to be able to go online and submit questions? I think it's going to be there's a moderator and then there's four or five of us that all write mysteries. Oh cool, yeah, so they'll have that kind of discussion set up. That sounds like fun. Too Bad you can't physically be there because that, you know, that would have to be fun, just hanging out with a bunch of other mystery writers. I know that that would be fantastic, you know, but you know, we'll get back to it. You know, maybe the year after. You know, I'm sure after we get all this craziness behind us. It's got to be fun for you. You got to be looking forward to it, getting together with a bunch of different mystery writers and just, you know, whatever it is that you guys all get to talking about, which is got to be something kind of weird. I think there's a a hundred, hundred, forty of US something like that. So I was got a good author scene scene. Well, that was a weird play. We rank high with serial killers. We rank high who with you will fox sightings, like all kinds of weird stuff happened in Ohio. It's a goofy place sometimes. Yeah, yeah, I'm always surprised when I'm listening to like a true crime podcast and of course something happened in Ohio. So see how Michael Preeley is from the Warren, youngstown part of the state. I want to let him know that our next story that we're going to be talking about is in his neck of the woods. It's the one thousand nine hundred and ninety four UFO sighting that happened. That's right. How do you heard of it? Yeah, he knows about it. You have fo thing. That was in trouble county. That was probably like twenty years ago. It was like one thousand nine hundred and ninety four. I remember that going to school. Yeah, and you know college that like the police dispatch. I have the recordings from the whole night of the police dispatch and so you know she starts out the dispatch, you are getting bunch of these phone calls and she's annoyed by it or wondering if they're a joke. And then they send police cars out and the cops are seeing it. So something happened there and there's a lot of credible witnesses. One of the police cars got powered down. I mean it's a it's a wild story. It is. We have a we have a we have an air force base here. If I see S and I I don't know, maybe was something from the base, they're it's like right, it's it's rare in trouble county it well, so the dispatch called the air base twice and called FAA once and they said that there's nothing on the radar. Who knows? If the military is doing something experimental? They may not tell you, but according to the recording the guy from the military base said they don't have anything in the guy experimental or otherwise. Well, I can tell you that was big news for you know, about a week around here. You know, everybody talked about it. So so you remember that? You were you said you were in school at the time when that happened. Yeah, I was going to the x tent state and I remember driving a school the next morning and it was it was all they could talk about on the like the local talk news. Ye know, yeah, so crazy. Oh, let me ask you this too. Are you going to do any more books with Tim Abernathy? Is it you're going to keep following him? Yeah, I have a sci Fi series that I kind of wanted to tie up with a third book. So I'm almost done with that, with the first draft of that, and I've been plotting out the new Tim avern athy books. So I know you know what's I know what's going to happen. I have I'm working the plot out right now. So as soon as I'm done with one I'll jump right into the other. That's very cool. All right, Michael, Hey, thank you best of luck and be looking forward to seeing what you put out in the future. Okay, well, thanks a lot and I look forward to the episode. All right, cool, I'll talk to you later. By Yeah, I definitely recommend Michael Preley's work to anyone that's listening. Definitely you have to read murder in the heart of it all and also check out lost little sister. These books are available on Amazon, I know. Like I said, I got the kindle...

...deal and I think it was a bundle, so I got murder in the heart of it all and lost little sister. For like crazy low price. Read both of them. He's definitely well worth your time and I think it's important to support local authors anyway. Yeah, and I was going to say, you know, just support someone independent doing some interesting stuff, you know, not just your same old kind of unusual book. Yeah, I think it's so cool what he's doing and you guys should just check it out. I mean, surprisingly not a lot of people are talking about the events of the circleville letters and I know that we're about to get into the summer season, so you're going to need something to read when you're at the pool or you go to the beach or whatever, and I this is this purple book. I thought it was cool that he was aware of the UFO story that we're going to be looking into. So excited about that. So we are going to be talking to the president of movef on, Ohio, cheap chapter. Move On. Yeah, Hio chapter, move on, and we got the dispatch recordings from the UFO, and is fund stand for mutual UFO network. Sweet. So yeah, and they're serious. I you know, I think a lot of people kind of have this preconceived notion that anything that you see in the sky that you can't immediately identify, they're going to come and they're going to pat you on the back and say, congratulations, you saw alien. But they're not like that. They come in, I don't want to say there's coming into de Bunk, but they definitely look for yet obviously grace. They have parameters and stuff that they have to check off and because they have I don't know if they also do big foot or if they have like a sister company that's big, bring up big play. No, I'm not ashamed of my weirdness, but what I like about these people is that they really filter out a lot of the just a crazy and they crack pots and people that saw an airplane flight over their house and you left with like the they come like Class A and class being stuff like that. Like they take like a scientific, as much as you can approach. You know, you can tell that my brother is excited to get into this and and so am I. I think it is going to be fine. We have we have a lot of cool stuff playing for the summer, but in the meantime, if you don't subscribe to the show, why? Let me like it's free, so subscribe. Were on spotify, itunes and anywhere you get your podcast. This show maybe we produced anyway, without permission the right invisible ships productions, and I'll see. Until next time, SHIT MAKES.

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