The Circleville Writer

I am always revisiting old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. Since it was one of my main shows I watched as a child there was always a curiosity as to whether a bulk of those unsolved mysteries were in fact solved. And in episode 6, season seven (debut date of this episode was on November 11,1994), they discussed the case of the Circleville Writer:

The some of the residents of a small town called Circleville, Ohio started receiving threatening creepy letters. Some of the letters contained super harassing statements and sexual lewd things but all the of the letters had no return address but were postmarked in Columbus, Ohio. Most of the letters were sent to a women named Mary Gillispie who was a school bus driver for the Westfall School District. The first one she received was in the summer of 1976. She opened the letter and it contained gossip of an alleged affair with the superintendent of school she worked at. The letter also stated that Mary’s house and the movement of her children were being monitored and if this affair did not stop then something bad would happen.

Mary kept the letter to herself thinking it was some kind of weird prank. However over a week later she received more threatening letters and also her husband Ron Gillespie was now getting them. At that point Mary had to be honest with Ron and tell her about the same harassing letters she was getting too. Ron’s letter contained the same information as the letters Mary was getting but with the ultimatum that the writer will go to the media outlets with information of the affair. Also that Ron had to stop the affair or he would be killed because the writer was frustrated that nothing was being done.

The couple decided to fight back by Mary’s inkling of who might be writing those threatening letters and they decided to write to them stating that they knew who was writing the letters and to halt threatening them. It was claimed that the letters that was sent to that person was non threatening but confrontational to a point of telling them to stop harassing them. There was a brief pause of weeks of the letters being sent to the Gillespie. So naturally they thought everything was back to their normal life. However they were beyond wrong!

Almost a full year from the first letter that Mary Gillespie received on August 19, 1977 Ron got an anonymous phone call. It was suspected that Ron was talking to the person who was behind the threatening letter campaign. No one but Ron knew what was discuss between him and the caller. However Ron took his gun, quickly told his kids where and why he was going then got in his pickup truck (a vehicle that was noted from the anonymous writer that that vehicle was being watched) to confront the person who was harassing him and his wife. Later that day Ron was found only a short length from his house. He was shot dead and his truck had crashed in a tree but the authorities were not sure if Ron was shot at (there was no bullet casing found at the crime scene) or if Ron shot himself and crashing into the tree due to him drinking earlier that day. The sheriff that was on the scene was contradictory on his findings (the anonymous writer made sure to write to the townspeople of Circleville to say that the sheriff was covering up the actual cause of death) and results of the cause of Ron’s death. First the sheriff said that there was “foul play” in the cause of death but later he said that Ron’s alcohol blood level was double the legal limit. The only thing that was confirmed was the Ron’s gun was fired from.

The letters didn’t stop and in February 1983 (yes, the letter harassing campaign had been going on for six years at this point). Mary and that particular superintendent did come clean and admitted they had a relationship but it was after the letters started.

She also still had her job as a bus driver and she was going on her regular route when she noticed that there were signs that were threatening her and her kids. She was so annoyed that this person was doing this that she stopped to remove one of the signs and there was some kind of device that held a gun. To try and kill her if it was removed in a particular way. The police took the gun and notice that whoever set up the device try to remove the serial number on the gun. However the gun went through lab tests and they were able to obtain the serial number. From there they were able to find the owner of the gun and it was Mary’s former brother-in-law (who was recently divorced from Mary’s sister) Paul Freshour.

In late February of 1983, Paul was taken into police custody to be questioned about the gun. Paul said that the gun was stolen. The police also asked Paul to submit a handwriting test to be compare to the letters. The evidence was stacking against Paul and he was arrested but later released on a $50,000 bond.

Paul’s next step was to check himself into a mental health center (possibly to plea insanity) but that plea was let go. In October of 1983 Paul Freshour went to trial for attempting to kill his former sister in law: Mary Gillispie. There was witnesses from Paul’s work that that gun was bought from a co-worker and that the date of the attempted murder of Mary. Paul took a personal day. Also writing samples from Paul’s files were taken from his work and writing experts said it was a match. Paul’s defense was that he did purchase the gun but he kept it in the garage and it was stolen from there. Always claiming that he had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the gun once he stored it in the garage and that he also did not write those harassing letters to the townspeople of Circleville.

Paul was found guilty of the attempted murder of Mary Gillispie but not charged with writing the letters. He was sentenced to 25 years.

Some interesting facts of the case:

A harassing letter was sent to the show Unsolved Mysteries:

Even though Paul was arrested and was sent to jail the harassing letters did not stop. There were still being sent to the townspeople of Circleville. Also Paul received some of the letters while he was serving his sentence. He was paroled in 1994 and still claims he did not do anything.

There was nearly a thousand lettered mailed in total. The bulk of the letters contained information about political corruption in the state of Ohio and some even had arsenic in them.

There was one theory about a man that was near the vicinity of where Mary found the device in a bright color El camino. Although that man was never identified or questioned.

What are your thoughts about the case? Comment below!

Source: mentalfloss.com, Unsolved Mysterious Wiki, Youtube.

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