PDA

View Full Version : The Obscene Phone Calls


pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 12:32 PM
I am starting a thread to capture what we know, and what we have said, about the three obscene phone calls (one erased by Janelle and Mike, two more reported by them?) made to Sherrill's home between Friday and Monday. I am keeping the comments in order and grouping them primarily for readability so no one post grows too long (not intending to highlight any one post or anyone point of view. including my own.)

Tangledweb began the conversation at post #634:

An obscene telephone call was left on Levitt's answering machine on
June 5. However, before police cold hear it the message was erased,
apparently by accident, by someone who came looking for the women
before officers were called. - News-Leader, August 3, 1992.

Was anyone able to recall the content of this obscene phone call and was it ever determined to have any link to the case? Was it a random call or specifically directed at someone who lived in the house?

Hurricane in reply to tangledweb, post #637:

It was a random call directed at no one in the Levitt household; an elderly gentleman was arrested that late summer/fall (August perhaps?) for making such calls all over Springfield.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 12:34 PM
Hurricane in response to my question about his source, post #649:

The News-Leader. People all over Springfield had been receiving obscene phone calls all spring and summer. An older man was arrested by SPD either in the late summer or early fall. If my memory serves me I believe it was August. I have the article and will look it up later when I have more time.

The phone call to 1717 was made on June 5th. We know that Janelle had made several calls on the morning of June 7th to the Leavitt home leaving messages concerning their planned trip to Whitewater in Branson. Later when they were all inside the home and trying to figure out where the women had went and where they could be it seems to me that it would only be natural to check the answering machine. If Janelle's messages had been eraced then it would help establish a time line as to when the women left the house. Had they been there when Janelle called, perhaps still asleep and received the messages when they woke up and erased them? Had they received the first message and erased it before leaving, and the later messages Janelle left still on the machine? Such questions could be answered by the messages left on the machine and give them a timeline as to when the women might have left the house, and possibly offer an answer to where they went. Remember that at this point in time no one suspected any foul play to be involved. So I find no fault with anyone listening to the phone messages under the circumstances. There is nothing sinister here; they were all friends anyway.

Upon hearing the obscene, vulgar phone message someone took it upon themselves to erase it. Their thoughts in doing so were probably along the lines that Sherrill or Suzie didn't need to hear something like that. Again, no idea that a crime had been committed; their friends had just stepped out; but where did they go was the question. And I think that women would probably be more inclined to erase the message than men would. Most of the people who were in and out of the house that day were women friends.

Tangledweb, in response to Hurricane, post #650:

Considering the call was made on Friday, June 5, Sherrill and/or Suzie most likely listened to the message since they didn't disappear until early Sunday morning on the 7th and had been home on the 6th. Interesting that they themselves didn't erase it.

Troogrit, about the source for the arrest of an obscene phone caller, post #661:

Now as far as the obscene calls there is an article about a local man who was the source of these calls being caught. I do not have the article but it is titled "City man suspect in obscene phone calls." NL Dec. 03, 1992.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 12:45 PM
Hurricane, explaining why the obscene phone calls aren't relevant, post #663:

It was reported by the N-L that an obscene message was recorded and left on Sherrill’s answering machine on Friday, June 5th. We don’t know what time it was recorded and we don’t know if either Sherrill or Suzie ever heard it. The call could have come in late that Friday night and for whatever reason (example: Sherrill in shower, Suzie not home) no one was available to answer and did not hear the message as it was being recorded. Saturday, June 6th was a busy day with graduation that afternoon. Perhaps no one thought to check the answering machine and therefore the message was still on the machine on Sunday, June 7th when Janelle or someone checked to see if Janelle’s messages were still there in an effort to establish when the women might have left the house. How do we know that it was recorded on June 5th? It stuck in the minds of those who heard it because it was a vulgar, obscene message. At this point during that day Janelle was probably still in the stage of being curious as to where her friends were or perhaps to the stage of being mad, thinking that her friends went to Whitewater without her, as she has said. Regardless, someone made the decision that Suzie or Sherrill didn’t need to hear the obscene message and erased it. Unknown to the public at that time such calls were being received all over Springfield that spring and summer; an arrest was made and all such calls stopped. Why is it such a stretch to believe that this was just another obscene call like those being received all over town?

pittsburghgirl, in response to Hurricane's question, post #664:

Because 24-48 hours later, the women who lived in that house disappeared. The caller may well have been the person who was caught making calls "all over Springfield." Or not.

Hurricane, in response to pittsburghgirl, post #665

No one who was in the house that day who heard the recorded message has ever said that it was directed at either Sherrill or Suzie; no names were used. No one has described the message as threatening in nature. It has only been described as obscene.

pittsburghgirl, obsessing about sources, post #667:

Source? Who are these people? Who heard the message? To whom did they describe it? Where's the source here? Is this in the public record? Or are you repeating what someone in the house told you?

Trooogrit, post #669:

Its public record at least in the paper, I will look for it over the weekend. There were several little things early on that were reported, but didnt gain momentum, that was one of them.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 01:03 PM
dale417 responds in post 672:

My combination of quotes from Hurricane that follow later than this post. I don't recall anyone mentioning anything that was on the message tape. What's the source of your assumption that the message wasn't [intended] for Sherill, suzie or STACIE?

Your statement of the message not being threatening is typical of this area where women are portrayed as chattel or subjective to what any man cares to pursue. It's the holy thing for the woman to do...

How can you honestly believe that an obscene message would NOT be threatening to a household of a mother and daughter alone, especially having moved into the house two months earlier?

Hurricane, in ironic mode, post #694:

Here's more on the now infamous obscene phone call message and how it came to be erased:

An obscene telephone call was left on Levitt’s answering machine on June 5. However, before police could hear it the message was erased, apparently by accident, by someone who came looking for the women before officers were called. N-L, Aug. 3, 1992.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 01:15 PM
Trooogrit, post #709, clarifying some of the events of Sunday afternoon, but starting a new discussion about more obscene calls on Sunday.

Considering all of the accounts of what happened that day and all of the misconceptions I found a pretty good article that explains the day pretty well.

"At around 8:30 a.m. Janelle made the first of maybe a dozen calls to the Levitt home that day."

"At around 1 p.m. Janelle called Janis and told her that Stacy had spent the night at Suzies mothers house. The phone was new and unlisted and Janelle gave her the number. Janice called and left a message for her daughter."

It was early afternoon when Janelle and boyfriend Mike Henson arrived at 1717 East Delmar St.

Dressed for water Janelle let Mike knock to avoid stepping barefooted on glass that had covered SHerrills still glowing front porch light. Janelle saw through open blinds the pulled back covers of Sherrill's bed. From the carport, Suzie's bedroom blinds stuck in an open eye position as if someone had looked out.

Maybe Suzie had, maybe that is when the volume to her still on TV was turned down.

" I really didnt think anything of it." Janelle says.

She punched a button and listened as her voice replayed on the morning phone messages. She called the mother of another friend.
Should she lock the door? No. THey'd be back soon. It would be embarrasing to lock Sherrill out of her own house."

They cleaned up the glass and left.

They drove the neighborhood asking an elderly couple if there was a swimming pool nearby. Maybe they were there?

There was no pool and the couple went to friends house for a couple hours. They called Levitt's house one more time and then went back again at around 3:30 p.m.

Everything was the same. THe phone rang, an obscene caller---always unsettling but it happens. He quickly called back.

THey drove to get some food, and Janelle was crying in the backseat. Mike assured her nothing was wrong. They went to Hyda-slide in south Springfield for some fun.

Stacy's mom had called a couple more times that day, then "we did our own thing."

It was nice family time Janice and Stu, her mother, there daughter Lisa and her boyfriend John and a little boy who idolized John. The youngest McCall Janis assured herself was at Whitewater.

It closed at 6 p.m. and there was a parental expectation of a timely return. The post graduating timeline alibi had expired. As 7p.m. passed Janice was concerned. SHe called the Levitt house again.

At 7:30 concern fell into panic with the phone call from a mother of a kickapoo classmate "Did you know when Janelle went over to Suzies all the cars and all the purses were there?

Janis had not been told this by Janelle and the others who had been there that day. "They didnt want me to get upset"

Janis found Janelle and Mike at the hydraslide and 10 people converged on the home.

NL June 6, 1993.

(I am not sure if the whole post is quoted, or if some parts not in quotes are Trooogrit commentary. I am sure Trooogrit will clarify. Great article to post for the current discussion, by the way. Colored text is my emphasis--pittsburghgirl)

gaia227
06-10-2009, 01:19 PM
Thank you PittsburghGirl!

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 01:23 PM
There's more to come--I just have to leave for a while!!

gaia227
06-10-2009, 01:26 PM
I am unclear - was there just one call or three? Were the other two messages found on the machine too?

Personally, I think it is weird to go erasing someone's answering machine messages - obscene or not. Actually, I think if it were obscene I would definitely save it so the girls could listen to. If some creep was leaving weird messages on my machine I would want to know about it.

So, Janelle listened to the message but was never able to recall what exactly it said?

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 09:20 PM
I hope I haven't missed anything big. Here are the last two posts:

pittsburghgirl, post #727

Am I reading this correctly? There was another obscene call on Sunday afternoon? The "he" in "he quickly called back" seems to suggest that the obscene caller called BACK--a third call, if we consider the one that we discussed a few days ago that supposedly came on Friday.

Am I crazy? Three women disappear in the wee hours of the morning and that afternoon someone is making obscene calls--and it isn't a clue?

Trooogrit, post #729

Well this is something so glaring that anyone would look at it as a potential clue. That is the problem looking at this 17 years later, people do not know to what extent it was looked at. Some people might even believe that it was not looked at. Similar thinking in the questioning of the 18 people who entered the house. I do not know where to look to verify what was done about these obvious clues and what procedure occurred. What I look at is the events, and to some degree trust that an investigator is gonna do his job, remember there were 30 cops, the FBI and the MHP involved early on. Now within the first 2 weeks the SPD came to the conclusion that this crime was motivated by sexual assault. This tells me that the obvious things were checked out and that some of the clues not known by the public, (which there are clues not known) led them down this path. WHY? What gave them this impression. That is the information we should seek in my opinion.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 10:04 PM
Gaia, I don't have an exact answer to your question. But here is what these posts above seem to indicate:

1. There was an obscene call made to Sherrill's home on Friday, June 5. It was recorded on her answering machine. According to the News-Leader, this call was erased by someone in the house on Sunday after the women were abducted. Evidently, someone at the house who played back Sherrill's messages reported the message and the fact that it was erased to the police. The person who did the erasing is not mentioned in the snippet we have from the article; Hurricane's interpretation of this event also does not identify who played the messages, erased this one, or informed the police about the call and what happened to it.

2. Evidently, someone who was making obscene calls in Springfield was a "suspect" the following December, again according to the N-L, "City Man Suspect in Obscene Phone Calls." NL Dec. 03, 1992. We don't as yet have any information about the disposition of this case--whether the suspect was charged or adjudicated guilty. We also have no verification that this obscene caller (a suspect 6 months after the women disappeared) made the Friday call or the ones that followed on Sunday.

3. Because the message was erased, there is no record of what was said or if the message was directed at anyone in particular.

4. The second obscene call came on Sunday around 3:30, when Janelle and Mike had gone back to Sherrill's. They answered the phone while they were there; it was an obscene call. The N-L had this to say in June 1993:
"Everything was the same. The phone rang, an obscene caller---always unsettling but it happens. He quickly called back."

I am reading this as the obscene caller called back. (Who else would "he" be?)

So we have three obscene calls to a NEW number, one within 24-36 hours before the women disappeared, and one no more than 12-14 hours after they disappeared.

We don't know what was said on any of the three calls, although we can safely assume that LE knew about the calls, as the fact of them appeared in the media; LE may have been the N-L's source, since there was no attribution or identification of the person or persons who heard the first call. We also don't know if more calls came after Sunday, if the police left the machine hooked up.


The calls could be a coincidence, just random calls.
They could have been made by the December 1992 "suspect" and have no connection to this case.
They could have been made by the grave robbers, against whom Suzie was scheduled to testify.
They could have been made by someone else who was "interested" in Sherrill or Suzie, even a high school boy.
They could have been made by someone involved in the abductions.

I haven't seen articles in which LE commented on the obscene calls. And if they did comment and claimed publicly there was no connection, what would THAT tell us? LE might KNOW there is no connection, if they know the source of the calls. Or they might suspect there is a connection, if they know the source of the calls. Or they may not know who made the calls. The gap of 6 months between the calls to Sherrill's and the naming of an obscene caller in Springfield suggest at least the possibility that these three calls could be specific to Sherrill or Suzie; their proximity and number clustered around the abduction suggests at least the possibility that the caller knew about or was involved in the abductions. And let me vent for a moment: if some helpful person hadn't erased the Friday message, this might not even be an issue.

This is exactly the kind of clue that we can investigate, at least to the extent of learning the technical possibilities of tracing obscene calls in 1992.

The next step, it seems to me, is to find out if LE could identify the source of the calls. Any ideas? I'm going to start by asking my FBI sources.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 10:17 PM
One more thing. I think I assumed (bad idea) that Janelle or Mike just picked up the phone when it rang on Sunday. The article doesn't say that; it just says it was an obscene call and the caller (male) called back. So given this article, it is possible that one or both calls were screened and recorded.

Missouri Mule
06-10-2009, 10:20 PM
I count three calls, the first one on June 5, and two more which evidently were not recorded on June 7 at approximately 3:30 PM heard by Jannelle, if I read the narrative correctly.

While we can logically conclude the two calls of June 7 were from the same individual, we can't also conclude the first erased call was from the same person.

If there were two different people, the one from June 5 and the two from June 7, then the erased call could have been critical for voice identification purposes. Obviously the FBI would have been ideally positioned to potentially identify this person with their sophisticated voice analysis technology.

The question I would ask is even if the same person placed all three calls why would the Levitt residence be targeted? If such calls were being placed all over the area, it would appear this individual must have spent most of his time making such calls and is obviously mentally ill and not likely a viable suspect. But because we don't know the identity of the first caller or any way to compare the calls we can't say whether there are one or two individuals.

A thought: We do not know that the suspect who was making these phone calls "all over the area" is the same person who made the two phone calls on June 7. Is it not conceivable that the abductor(s) were placing random telephone calls to the residence to determine if anyone had happened onto the crime scene? While he/they would not have wanted to reveal themselves by revisiting the crime scene that day it would be in their interest to see if some commotion was developing there in order to adjust their activities to evade detection; possibly moving the women if they were still alive. An impersonal phone call tells them that there are people on the scene and the "cat is out of the bag." The vulgar comments might simply have been an afterthought. Obviously, the caller wouldn't have come out and asked if the cops were on the scene yet. It could have been yet another "ruse" to gather information if the receiving party would blurt out that "give us a break, we have three women missing." Do we know what Jannelle may have said to this person?

A subsequent phone call to the McCall residence was of a woman stating the "old woman was dead" and the two girls dead as well. But that was AFTER the news reports had come out. The phone calls to the Levitt home were well before this news item hit the airwaves and newspaper. That person was identified and had nothing to do with the abductions. I don't recall what the outcome of the incident came to.

pittsburghgirl
06-10-2009, 10:43 PM
A thought: We do not know that the suspect who was making these phone calls "all over the area" is the same person who made the two phone calls on June 7. Is it not conceivable that the abductor(s) were placing random telephone calls to the residence to determine if anyone had happened onto the crime scene? While he/they would not have wanted to reveal themselves by revisiting the crime scene that day it would be in their interest to see if some commotion was developing there in order to adjust their activities to evade detection; possibly moving the women if they were still alive. An impersonal phone call tells them that there are people on the scene and the "cat is out of the bag." The vulgar comments might simply have been an afterthought. Obviously, the caller wouldn't have come out and asked if the cops were on the scene yet. It could have been yet another "ruse" to gather information if the receiving party would blurt out that "give us a break, we have three women missing." Do we know what Jannelle may have said to this person?


Wow. What a smart post. Of course, the Friday and Sunday calls might not have been from the same caller. And the Sunday calls could well have been made to check out what is going on at the house. Duh. I've spent two or three days thinking "sex crime!" "obscene calls!" "perverts!" without thinking about WHY the calls might be made.

pittsburghgirl
06-11-2009, 11:22 AM
So what would we like to know about these calls if we could? Here's my starter list:

1. Was it possible for law enforcement to identify who called Sherrill's house in the days before and after the abduction? They are aware of a call between Sherrill and a friend on Saturday night; did that knowledge come from a technological investigation or from interviewing her friends?
2. If LE has the knowledge of who called the house, then: who called, and when? Because what MM said about the obscene call is also true of just regular calls. A perpetrator known to the women might call the house either to find out if anyone was in there, thus hastening the moment when the crime would be discovered, or to embellish an alibi ("I called Sherrill/Suzie on Sunday to say X, Y or Z but no one answered"). Think of how many spouses who kill "call home" and feign surprise that no one answers (case in point, the lowlife who just murdered his wife and sons).
3. Was Sherrill's number listed?? Somewhere in one of the articles, I recall that the number was new, since she had just moved. But was it listed?
4. Did Sherrill or Suzie mention to anyone that they had been receiving obscene calls? The fact that someone called Friday and again Sunday twice and not Saturday (so far as we know) suggests a certain persistance. Had there been calls before? On the other thread, someone speculated that Sherrill might not have listened to her messages from Friday, thus explaining why the obscene call was still on the machine. Saturday was a busy day. On the other hand, there was a teenage girl living in the house. They live and die for messages (now voicemail, email, texts, and facebook/myspace posts). And given the special nature of the day, certainly Sherrill might have expected calls from her father, sister, and other friends in regard to Suzie's big day. We know she took a call Saturday night. So it is probably more likely rather than less likely that she heard the message.
5. How long had the calls been going on?
6. Were there more after Sunday?
7. It seems odd that a caller making obscene calls to a home where three women were abducted wouldn't be identified as an obscene caller suspect for another 6 months. Why the lag? Lack of technology to identify the caller?
8. Is there any evidence of obscene calls on Saturday? Sherrill and Suzie would have been home before and after graduation. They could have picked up the phone and not use the machine to screen their calls. Is their a record of who called Saturday?

Please--add more!

pittsburghgirl
06-11-2009, 11:41 AM
Here's one line of thinking.

Let's postulate that Friday was the first call. It is recorded on the answering machine either because Sherrill or Suzie is screening or they aren't home. The call is saved because:

Suzie heard the call first and is upset and wants her mom to hear the call;
Sherrill wants evidence of the call;
The women have had other calls and have agreed not to erase one if it is recorded;
They suspect the call is related to the grave robbing case;
They think they know who the caller is;
A combination of the above.


Let's postulate that the calls either started Friday or not long before Friday. What are the possibilities? If no other obscene calls came in on Saturday--or no other calls from that same number--why Friday and Sunday? Saturday would have been an ideal time for such calls, for the average pervert, with the women predictably home getting ready for graduation or for Saturday night activities. Why would the day of the abduction be the day there is no call? If the calls are related to the abduction, perhaps the perpetrator(s) use the Friday obscene call to scope out when the women are home or not and to create fear. The Sunday calls could be to figure out if anyone is in the house; the second call to figure out WHO is in the house. A woman's voice with a certain kind of reaction would probably be friend, neighbor, etc. Male voice of a certain tone: police.

Missouri Mule
06-11-2009, 03:04 PM
Here's one line of thinking.

Let's postulate that Friday was the first call. It is recorded on the answering machine either because Sherrill or Suzie is screening or they aren't home. The call is saved because:

Suzie heard the call first and is upset and wants her mom to hear the call;
Sherrill wants evidence of the call;
The women have had other calls and have agreed not to erase one if it is recorded;
They suspect the call is related to the grave robbing case;
They think they know who the caller is;
A combination of the above.


Let's postulate that the calls either started Friday or not long before Friday. What are the possibilities? If no other obscene calls came in on Saturday--or no other calls from that same number--why Friday and Sunday? Saturday would have been an ideal time for such calls, for the average pervert, with the women predictably home getting ready for graduation or for Saturday night activities. Why would the day of the abduction be the day there is no call? If the calls are related to the abduction, perhaps the perpetrator(s) use the Friday obscene call to scope out when the women are home or not and to create fear. The Sunday calls could be to figure out if anyone is in the house; the second call to figure out WHO is in the house. A woman's voice with a certain kind of reaction would probably be friend, neighbor, etc. Male voice of a certain tone: police.

I think you hit the nail squarely on the head. I have highlighted what I think are the most likely explanations. And I also agree with your take on the Sunday calls. When I thought about this I tried to put myself in the criminal's shoes. What would I do if I wanted to know the state of the investigation as he/they had to know something would break on the case. By providing a heads-up on the situation it would provide additional lead time to work out the details of what they would do with the women if they hadn't already murdered them. At that point in time the women were conceivably still alive. If they had already murdered them, they would want to be devising of ways to dispose of the bodies.

Let's assume for the moment that Cox was the chief mastermind of this operation. He has one or two flunkies along with him. With his history, it would ideally be to his advantage to rid himself of all excess baggage including his associates. Had he taken them out east to the farm where this has been known to have happened he could just as easily have thrown another one or two extra bodies on the burn pile and then took all the remains out to the James river, dumped it in and went about his business including sitting in his vehicle across the street as the crime was being investigated, knowing there were no witnesses to finger him. If somehow he left no forensic evidence behind he was home free.

Now the problem with this is that it doesn't dovetail with the phone calls if there was no known association with Cox and any of the women. But it could have been one of his associates who worked with Cox and placed the calls if not him and he might have had some kind of relationship with one of them. Of course it would be natural to imagine that it was related to the grave robbing case and perhaps it was. That is not yet off the table.

Missouri Mule
06-27-2009, 11:49 PM
I thought I would relate an episode of "Solved" I viewed tonight that had to do with a missing college professor in Louisiana. Since it had many similarities to this case I found it especially interesting. Seems the parents went to this young woman's apartment to look for her. She wasn't there and while they are looking there, the phone rings. The caller identifies himself and relates that he was there the night before but doesn't know where she is. This occurred in 2003.

I need not tell you that this caller also murdered her. Very interesting case. Her body was dumped down a sink hole in the middle of a wilderness area in Louisiana. It took quite a search to find it.

The more I think about this case, I am inclined to believe those phone calls were placed in order to find out when the crime scene was discovered just as I believe this case in Louisiana was done. I know of no other reason for the call in Louisiana to have been made, since the perp already knew the woman was dead.

Having said, this, ought not it be possible to trace those phone calls to find out the location of the call and caller from telephone logs? If that is possible it will override the erasures since the time and caller would be identified with the time of the calls.

Just thought I would throw this out for consideration.

kemo
06-28-2009, 02:40 PM
The issue of the obscene phone calls is very interesting but not particularly useful in understanding what happened. We may not have all the "facts" right. The statements of Janelle and her boyfriend would probably answer some of our questions.

I find it a little strange that the obscene call was erased. I find that even listening to the phone messages rather intrusive. One possible explanation is that the message log was "Maxed Out" and they wanted to clear up some space so they could leave their message. This would be an "innocent" lie. (Assuming it was from Friday, it would be useful to know if there were any other messages that old. I would expect the women to CHECK their messages regularly but not necessarily erase them. If it was the only one that old that was "saved", it could mean that they knew who made it. It could also mean that they saved it so that they would have "something" in case the calls became a problem and they decided to make a formal complain.

From Janelle and her BF, SPD would have a pretty good idea what the caller said and should be able to make a pretty good call as to whether or not this was the same guy making calls all over town. If it was him, then they would have an extremely "hinkey" coincidence and he would become a serious suspect. Apparently he was caught 12/92. Was he solidly cleared of the abductions?

If the wording of the message was different than the wording of the Springfield Phone Creep, then is raises serious questions. I would have to assume that it was related to the crime but I'm not sure that, without the recording, it would be helpful in the investigation.

It’s an old trick to call someone up and either hangs up or asks for a non-existent person in order to find out if that person is at home without them knowing you are checking. Somehow, asking for a non-existent person would seem more effective in getting the answering person to "talk" (in order to figure out who it was) than an obscene call. The 2 calls around 3:00 are pretty hard to explain. This may be just another "mystery" like the broken light on the porch.

I believe "obscene phone calls" are made because they sexually arouse the caller. I would expect the content of such calls to follow predicable patterns. I would think that someone in LE who was familiar with these kinds of crimes would be able to distinguish a "real" obscene call from a call designed to threaten or intimidate, even if the content was explicitly sexual. Would that information help solve the case? I doubt it.

Missouri Mule
06-28-2009, 03:32 PM
The issue of the obscene phone calls is very interesting but not particularly useful in understanding what happened. We may not have all the "facts" right. The statements of Janelle and her boyfriend would probably answer some of our questions.

I find it a little strange that the obscene call was erased. I find that even listening to the phone messages rather intrusive. One possible explanation is that the message log was "Maxed Out" and they wanted to clear up some space so they could leave their message. This would be an "innocent" lie. (Assuming it was from Friday, it would be useful to know if there were any other messages that old. I would expect the women to CHECK their messages regularly but not necessarily erase them. If it was the only one that old that was "saved", it could mean that they knew who made it. It could also mean that they saved it so that they would have "something" in case the calls became a problem and they decided to make a formal complain.

From Janelle and her BF, SPD would have a pretty good idea what the caller said and should be able to make a pretty good call as to whether or not this was the same guy making calls all over town. If it was him, then they would have an extremely "hinkey" coincidence and he would become a serious suspect. Apparently he was caught 12/92. Was he solidly cleared of the abductions?

If the wording of the message was different than the wording of the Springfield Phone Creep, then is raises serious questions. I would have to assume that it was related to the crime but I'm not sure that, without the recording, it would be helpful in the investigation.

It’s an old trick to call someone up and either hangs up or asks for a non-existent person in order to find out if that person is at home without them knowing you are checking. Somehow, asking for a non-existent person would seem more effective in getting the answering person to "talk" (in order to figure out who it was) than an obscene call. The 2 calls around 3:00 are pretty hard to explain. This may be just another "mystery" like the broken light on the porch.

I believe "obscene phone calls" are made because they sexually arouse the caller. I would expect the content of such calls to follow predicable patterns. I would think that someone in LE who was familiar with these kinds of crimes would be able to distinguish a "real" obscene call from a call designed to threaten or intimidate, even if the content was explicitly sexual. Would that information help solve the case? I doubt it.


Whether or not it is useful to know who placed these calls is a mystery. They could be important or not important. But if a proper investigation is to be done, no stone must be left unturned. I'm not an expert on phone records and logs, but if I were investigating the case, I would want to know who made those calls and what time they were made. If the calls went through to the answering machine, I should think the calls ought to be logged somewhere, although as I said, I'm not an expert in this subject.

I would say this. I don't happen to believe there is such a thing as an "innocent lie" in a triple homicide. This is to use the famous federal prosecutor's words "throwing sand into the eyes of the investigators." One might even make the case that this would be tantamount to being an accessory after the fact, as it aided and abetted the actual perpetrators. I'm not sure what the law says on this whether it be intentional or accidental but it seems important to my way of thinking to get to the bottom of this mystery.

kemo
06-28-2009, 06:41 PM
From an account of a crime that occured in the last 10 years, I learned that, at least in that city, there was absolutly no record of local to local (no toll) calls. Toll calls are easily tracked from the ORIGINATING phone. It is possible to track toll calls from the Recieving phone but it is more complicated (and more expensive) and may not be practical for many LE situations.

It seems to me that, in 1992. most answering machines had little magnetic tapes that had to be re-wound to either be played or erased and it was always simpeler to play than erase. I find it hard to believe they "accidentally" erased it. How creditable that is would depend on the type of recorder it was and how it worked. I assume we are not privy to this information. It is a fact that witnesses do sometimes lie to LE even when they are not involved in the crime or otherwise attempting to mis-direct the investigation. They do for many reasons; primarily to make themselves look better or to make their story more credible. This can really derail a case. I wonder if this is what happened with Van Lady.

gaia227
06-29-2009, 11:12 AM
We don't know what this caller left on the message eventhough someone listened to it. We don't know what this caller said when he called on Sunday eventhough Janelle actually answered the phone and heard what he said but doesn't remember......I recieved an 'obscene' call once about 15 yrs ago and I still remember exactly what he said and how he said it because it way creepy, out of the ordinary and unexpected.

"Obscene' can mean so many different things.

- I am watching you, I see you, etc.

- saying sexually explicit things to the person on the other end about what they desire to do to them or tell them about what they are doing to themselves

- Violent. I fantasize about raping you, killing you, etc.

- Not saying anything - just heavy breathing, moaning, etc

If LE knew about these calls it is unbelievable they did not trace the phone records -at least to our knowledge, right?

IF it was the perp they were calling on Friday to see if anyone was home. For all we know they could have called back later and Sherrill answered and I think it is very likely that is waht the perp wanted - someone to be home.
Then they call on Sunday. Perhaps it was their way of re-visiting the scene. They got a kick out of the fact that people had discovered the women were gone and were in the house waiting for the them to come back.

Or, of course, it could all be coincidence.

I have considered the possibility that LE actually does know what the message was on the answering machine and they know what was said to Janelle when she answered Sunday but they want to keep that info secret and they want the perp to think they don't have that info either so they lied and they asked Janelle to lie about the calls.

Missouri Mule
06-29-2009, 12:03 PM
We don't know what this caller left on the message eventhough someone listened to it. We don't know what this caller said when he called on Sunday eventhough Janelle actually answered the phone and heard what he said but doesn't remember......I recieved an 'obscene' call once about 15 yrs ago and I still remember exactly what he said and how he said it because it way creepy, out of the ordinary and unexpected.

"Obscene' can mean so many different things.

- I am watching you, I see you, etc.

- saying sexually explicit things to the person on the other end about what they desire to do to them or tell them about what they are doing to themselves

- Violent. I fantasize about raping you, killing you, etc.

- Not saying anything - just heavy breathing, moaning, etc

If LE knew about these calls it is unbelievable they did not trace the phone records -at least to our knowledge, right?

IF it was the perp they were calling on Friday to see if anyone was home. For all we know they could have called back later and Sherrill answered and I think it is very likely that is waht the perp wanted - someone to be home.
Then they call on Sunday. Perhaps it was their way of re-visiting the scene. They got a kick out of the fact that people had discovered the women were gone and were in the house waiting for the them to come back.

Or, of course, it could all be coincidence.

I have considered the possibility that LE actually does know what the message was on the answering machine and they know what was said to Janelle when she answered Sunday but they want to keep that info secret and they want the perp to think they don't have that info either so they lied and they asked Janelle to lie about the calls.

It's possible I suppose but I would doubt that they would want to keep this information to one cooperating witness because ultimately it will leak out. Anytime a secret is shared with more than one person it ceases to become a secret.

What I would be more inclined to believe is that early phone calls to the home were predicated on the basis of what Jannelle was concerned about. She had to be working on about five hours of sleep at the time she first began placing the calls to the home. I would postulate that she had reason to believe they may not have arrived safely. Erasing those calls, using the convenient excuse some calls were "obscene" provides the rationale to erase her numerous calls. Why did she make those calls?

This is why I have been adamant that the time lines of everyone be thoroughly examined in detail for any inconsistencies.

A hallmark of any proper investigation is that the list of suspects be quickly pared and that exact time lines be established to eliminate their access to the crime scene. We can logically assume that Jannelle didn't abduct the women but it is what she may know but hasn't told that I find most promising. There is something not right about this whole deal especially since she was reported to be crying later in the afternoon. She had to know something was wrong but yet the cops didn't get called until 9 PM that night. I'm not getting this apparent concern early on and near panic later in the afternoon. This is not adding up.

She seemed visibly irritated when on camera many years later. Perhaps she had good reason because the cops kept coming back and asking the same questions. Why are they asking those questions?

The obscene phone calls may in the end be nothing but a red herring. We don't even know, to my knowledge, for a certain fact those phone calls were ever placed. But the rest of the calls may have told the tale. It certainly would have firmed up the time lines which are critical to the investigation.

olddog
06-18-2010, 09:55 AM
The obivous question is was the phone picked up or were the calls monitored on Sunday. If monitored, most likely the BF would also have heard the calls and verify what the caller said. If she answered the phone, he could only state what she told him the caller said.

Missouri Mule
06-27-2010, 12:09 AM
The obvious question is was the phone picked up or were the calls monitored on Sunday. If monitored, most likely the BF would also have heard the calls and verify what the caller said. If she answered the phone, he could only state what she told him the caller said.

I'm sorry. What does "BF" stand for? I'm somewhat unclear about your post. If the first responder picked up the phone while the calls were placed it is obvious that the police would have only the word of the person answering. If the call went to the answering machine then it would be on the recording tape. It's late and I'm just not entirely clear with your meaning.

former central time
06-27-2010, 04:07 PM
BF=Boyfriend.

I think what the line of reasoning is here: If the calls went to an answering machine, while being answered by a live person, Jannelle, AND the answering machine continued to run and play over a monitor, then Mike, in this case, would actually hear BOTH sides of the conversation. If not, and there was no monitor with audio out, he would only know what Jannelle SAID and what SHE said, the caller said.

In other words, with the speaker on during the call, we hear the ENTIRE conversation. If the speaker was NOT on, we only hear ONE side of the conversation. Further, if this occurred before other responders got there, we have only two witnesses to this, at best, regardless the monitoring circumstances.

My personal answering machine in 1992, (which was already three years old then), was two standard cassette tapes (they would play on any cassette deck). If I picked up a call after the machine got it, it would continue to run, and audio of the call (both sides) fed out. Some systems, in those days, stopped when you picked up the receiver.

Missouri Mule
06-27-2010, 05:37 PM
BF=Boyfriend.

I think what the line of reasoning is here: If the calls went to an answering machine, while being answered by a live person, Jannelle, AND the answering machine continued to run and play over a monitor, then Mike, in this case, would actually hear BOTH sides of the conversation. If not, and there was no monitor with audio out, he would only know what Jannelle SAID and what SHE said, the caller said.

In other words, with the speaker on during the call, we hear the ENTIRE conversation. If the speaker was NOT on, we only hear ONE side of the conversation. Further, if this occurred before other responders got there, we have only two witnesses to this, at best, regardless the monitoring circumstances.

My personal answering machine in 1992, (which was already three years old then), was two standard cassette tapes (they would play on any cassette deck). If I picked up a call after the machine got it, it would continue to run, and audio of the call (both sides) fed out. Some systems, in those days, stopped when you picked up the receiver.

I appreciate that information. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what it meant. I am now aware of what you are saying. My digital answering machine goes to the recorded message after four rings and if I don't answer it I have to listen to the machine blaring out at me while I am talking on the phone. Very frustrating. I should read the instructions on how to extend the rings.

Since this was an older tape type answering machine I wonder if any effort was ever made to listen to the alleged obscene calls and other calls that were allegedly erased. In the end it might have been useless but it would have cleared up this long lingering question much the same as has been debated endlessly about the broken globe.

Thank you for clearing this up.

olddog
06-29-2010, 06:22 AM
Sorry about using the "Text message" abreviation, I am getting as bad about using them as many of my friends. A sad comment on where our language is headed.
The point was as stated, If Janelle picked up the receiver, most machines will stop feeding audio to the speaker.

If that was the way that particular machine worked (and many of the era did) she could have made up anything about the what the caller said. If however they both listened to the caller over the machines monitor, her boyfriend could accurately tell what the caller said.

So on one hand you would have direct evidence, on the other you would only have hear say evidence

Missouri Mule
06-29-2010, 10:17 AM
Sorry about using the "Text message" abreviation, I am getting as bad about using them as many of my friends. A sad comment on where our language is headed.
The point was as stated, If Janelle picked up the receiver, most machines will stop feeding audio to the speaker.

If that was the way that particular machine worked (and many of the era did) she could have made up anything about the what the caller said. If however they both listened to the caller over the machines monitor, her boyfriend could accurately tell what the caller said.

So on one hand you would have direct evidence, on the other you would only have hear say evidence

Thanks for the info. I wish I could turn off the recording on my machine as it drives me nearly mad at times. (If I don't pick up by the fourth ring.)

But to the substance of the issue, I wonder how closely Jannelle was questioned about what the conversations were. And didn't a number of messages get deleted? Who heard these messages? That would not be hearsay if both heard them. I would think both she and her boyfriend at the time would have heard the exact same messages; some or perhaps all, which were described as obscene. If both heard those messages that would be direct evidence, would it not?

As I understand it there were both recorded messages and actual phone call(s) while they were in the home. But my recollection could be flawed.

anyc
02-17-2011, 10:40 AM
Thanks for the info. I wish I could turn off the recording on my machine as it drives me nearly mad at times. (If I don't pick up by the fourth ring.)

But to the substance of the issue, I wonder how closely Jannelle was questioned about what the conversations were. And didn't a number of messages get deleted? Who heard these messages? That would not be hearsay if both heard them. I would think both she and her boyfriend at the time would have heard the exact same messages; some or perhaps all, which were described as obscene. If both heard those messages that would be direct evidence, would it not?

As I understand it there were both recorded messages and actual phone call(s) while they were in the home. But my recollection could be flawed.

It could still be hearsay if "both heard those messages", b/c, after all, it is only what they would both be SAYING they'd heard; no calls were necessarily proven as having been made, period; and even if they had been, and heard by both, there isn't any proof that what was reported as having been said by the caller is any truer.

Missouri Mule
02-17-2011, 05:26 PM
It could still be hearsay if "both heard those messages", b/c, after all, it is only what they would both be SAYING they'd heard; no calls were necessarily proven as having been made, period; and even if they had been, and heard by both, there isn't any proof that what was reported as having been said by the caller is any truer.

Perhaps I don't understand the definition of "hearsay." It has been my understanding that if a person testifies to something it is from their own recollection of what they said or heard; etc., and not from a third party it would be direct evidence. Hence it wouldn't be hearsay although, as you say there is no way to prove they actually heard the messages. That can be true of any testimony that cannot be proven by other means. It is still direct testimony as it is coming from the mouth of the person giving such testimony from facts they saw or heard themselves and not from another party.

"HEARSAY EVIDENCE

Hearsay testimony is secondhand evidence; it is not what the witness knows personally, but what someone else told him or her. Scuttlebutt is an example of hearsay. In general, hearsay may not be admitted in evidence, but there are exceptions. For instance, if the accused is charged with uttering certain words, a witness is permitted to testify that he or she heard the accused speak them.

The following examples illustrate hearsay that is inadmissible:

1. SN Water, the accused, is being tried for desertion. BMC Boate cannot testify that BM3 Christmas told him that SN Water said he (Water) intended to desert.

2. The accused is being tried for larceny of clothes from a locker. A testifies that B told him that she saw the accused leave the space where the locker was located with a bundle of clothes about the same time the clothes were stolen. This testimony from A would not be admissible to prove the facts stated by B.

Neither BMC Boate nor A would be allowed to testify, but the trial counsel could call BM3 Christmas and B as witnesses...

(Snip)


http://www.tpub.com/maa/38.htm

anyc
02-21-2011, 03:35 PM
Missouri Mule:

I became a bit confused, myself, about the hearsay rule, after reading your post.
I found this while looking up other cases of answering machine messages/hearsay rules:

"...we also express our views that testimony concerning the content of the voice mail message is not barred by the best evidence rule (which does not apply to tape recordings, see Commonwealth v. Duhamel, 391 Mass. 841, 844 [1984]), and that Officer Hodson's testimony as to the content of the message was not hearsay, as the purpose for which it was offered related to the fact that it was made, and to whom, rather than to the truth of any matter asserted in it. See Commonwealth v. Sullivan, 410 Mass. 521, 526 (1991).(13)"

Considering the above, I'm sure you're right in this case. :)

kemo
02-22-2011, 01:47 AM
The principle of the hearsay rule, from what I can tell is that any "utterance" that is not made under oath or in a court sanctioned setting, does not meet the standard of "truthfulness" to be introduced as evidence. In this case, I believe that Jannelle could testify that she heard an obscene message and whether or not she recognized the voice but she could not disclose any details of the obscene message that suggest motive or details of the crime that might be "evidence". Normally, there is no issue of "truthfulness" in a "generic" obscene call, but if that call contained a detail, such as a "hatred of blondes", that might be excluded as hearsay.

anyc
02-22-2011, 10:47 AM
The principle of the hearsay rule, from what I can tell is that any "utterance" that is not made under oath or in a court sanctioned setting, does not meet the standard of "truthfulness" to be introduced as evidence. In this case, I believe that Jannelle could testify that she heard an obscene message and whether or not she recognized the voice but she could not disclose any details of the obscene message that suggest motive or details of the crime that might be "evidence". Normally, there is no issue of "truthfulness" in a "generic" obscene call, but if that call contained a detail, such as a "hatred of blondes", that might be excluded as hearsay.

Thanks, Kemo - you've explained it a lot more succinctly than I could!
:crazy:

pittsburghgirl
03-01-2011, 02:57 PM
It's also pertinent to note that anyone in the house who picked up the phone, listened to or erased messages could state what he or she heard but there would be no objective evidence to support his or her account or testimony. That is no different than any other eye- or ear-witness account. It all depends on how much credibility one can accord the witness. For example, a husband (who has killed his wife) can have an accomplice call his home or cell from the wife's phone and then later make up the content of a call from the "wife." Or in another situation, an innocent witness might embellish or downplay information to keep some other misdeed a secret.

bystander77
03-22-2011, 09:55 AM
I really wrestle with the idea that Janelle and Janis heard a bunch of messages but weren't able to recall the content of them. Were they that poor with detail? I'd have to guess no. They must have been listening intently to whatever the messages said, as they were seeking important information and a critical time. I'd at least expect them to be able to offer some details.. but to go totally blank and have the messages completely disappear is a perfect storm.

pittsburghgirl
03-27-2011, 03:18 PM
If the messages were ordinary, like, don't forget the meeting tomorrow, I can see forgetting details, such as what meeting and where. And in Janis's case, the stress of having a missing child might make big gaps in short-term memory. But it is also worth noting that when listening to someone else's answering machine in someone else's house, one would expect a person to be very careful to list callers, etc., in the event that a message was accidentally erased.

Hurricane
03-28-2011, 07:41 AM
What's there to say that every detail of every phone call is not known to SPD? Perhaps LE has told both Janelle and Janis McCall not to speak about the contents of the calls as I believe they did concerning the broken porch globe. SPD is under no obligation to inform the public. And obviously the information has not led anywhere since it has not helped to close this case in almost 19 yrs. It's just another of many dead ends.

Missouri Mule
03-28-2011, 10:26 AM
What's there to say that every detail of every phone call is not known to SPD? Perhaps LE has told both Janelle and Janis McCall not to speak about the contents of the calls as I believe they did concerning the broken porch globe. SPD is under no obligation to inform the public. And obviously the information has not led anywhere since it has not helped to close this case in almost 19 yrs. It's just another of many dead ends.

What's to say that every detail IS known to the SPD? What's to say that Jannelle and/or Janis were NOT told NOT to speak about the contents of the calls? Why should we assume that whatever was said on the phone has been properly investigated?

I've never understood why the benefit of the doubt should be given the police department. On the other hand I don't give them all the blame but to give them a free pass is overdoing the "trust" thing. When we start believing the public pronouncements of public officials is infallible we are well on the way to a dictatorship.

Hurricane
03-28-2011, 03:28 PM
What's to say that every detail IS known to the SPD? What's to say that Jannelle and/or Janis were NOT told NOT to speak about the contents of the calls? Why should we assume that whatever was said on the phone has been properly investigated?

I've never understood why the benefit of the doubt should be given the police department. On the other hand I don't give them all the blame but to give them a free pass is overdoing the "trust" thing. When we start believing the public pronouncements of public officials is infallible we are well on the way to a dictatorship.

I guess the difference is that unlike you I don't feel that SPD has the obligation to run their case by me. There are hundreds, if not thousands of unsolved cases here on Websleuths alone and because they are unsolved the common theme over and over again is coverup; police corruption, police incompetency, conspiracy, etc. Whether the contents of the phone calls are known or not, or if they have any real evidence or not, they are under no obligation to keep the public informed.

Missouri Mule
03-28-2011, 04:26 PM
I guess the difference is that unlike you I don't feel that SPD has the obligation to run their case by me. There are hundreds, if not thousands of unsolved cases here on Websleuths alone and because they are unsolved the common theme over and over again is coverup; police corruption, police incompetency, conspiracy, etc. Whether the contents of the phone calls are known or not, or if they have any real evidence or not, they are under no obligation to keep the public informed.

That's true enough but it also invites public skepticism. Why SHOULD the public believe they are being well served. I never took allegiance to the Springfield Police Department. So far as I know the department could be run by incompetents and corrupt officials. It wouldn't be the first time in American history. One only has to look at the sordid history of the New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles police departments for gross corruption and police brutality. Come to think of it, isn't that what was the norm in the days of the Soviet Union?

But I never wanted to make this about police corruption. I did want to ask a direct question. Why SHOULD we believe their public pronouncements? I'm not getting that part. Have they earned our trust? Methinks not.

I actually DO believe any decent police department has a duty to keep the public well informed about the progress of unsolved cases. I can think of no logical reason not to do so. I also think it is the smart thing to do. When I worked for the public I always found it to my benefit to keep the customers well up to date on the case. It earned their trust and cooperation. And it is hard to argue how people are going to be encouraged to come forward if they do not have faith in their public officials. The department is only shooting itself in the foot by slamming the lid on a two decade old case. There is just no upside that I can see.

Hurricane
03-28-2011, 07:10 PM
That's true enough but it also invites public skepticism. Why SHOULD the public believe they are being well served. I never took allegiance to the Springfield Police Department. So far as I know the department could be run by incompetents and corrupt officials. It wouldn't be the first time in American history. One only has to look at the sordid history of the New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles police departments for gross corruption and police brutality. Come to think of it, isn't that what was the norm in the days of the Soviet Union?

But I never wanted to make this about police corruption. I did want to ask a direct question. Why SHOULD we believe their public pronouncements? I'm not getting that part. Have they earned our trust? Methinks not.

I actually DO believe any decent police department has a duty to keep the public well informed about the progress of unsolved cases. I can think of no logical reason not to do so. I also think it is the smart thing to do. When I worked for the public I always found it to my benefit to keep the customers well up to date on the case. It earned their trust and cooperation. And it is hard to argue how people are going to be encouraged to come forward if they do not have faith in their public officials. The department is only shooting itself in the foot by slamming the lid on a two decade old case. There is just no upside that I can see.

Well, it doesn't matter if it's someone who is late on their Montgomery Wards payment or fleeced their Grandma somehow, skip tracing work is not police investigation work. Just keep running those SSN numbers and they'll show up somewhere when they go back to work. A whole different set of obligations to the District Attorney's office, the future Defense Attorney, suspect, and the victim come with police investigative work. But nothing is owed to the general public.

Missouri Mule
03-28-2011, 07:49 PM
Well, it doesn't matter if it's someone who is late on their Montgomery Wards payment or fleeced their Grandma somehow, skip tracing work is not police investigation work. Just keep running those SSN numbers and they'll show up somewhere when they go back to work. A whole different set of obligations to the District Attorney's office, the future Defense Attorney, suspect, and the victim come with police investigative work. But nothing is owed to the general public.

I never said it was the "obligation." I'll ask again. What is the upside to stonewalling the investigation and more recently the coring of the garage floor? You should read all the comments on the internet. Apparently half the public who bothers to comment on this case thinks that the police department is corrupt to the core. We have hundreds; perhaps 1000s of people who have signed petitions to have the garage cored. Yet nothing happens. Even Janis McCall now states she would like to see it cored. Bartt Streeter wants it cored. So why isn't it?

How in the world does that obstinance benefit them or advance this case? I just don't see the logic at play here. Even if one believes the police did everything under the sun to solve the case their public relations rates a negative 10 on a scale of 0-10. It's really that bad.

fullmoon
08-05-2012, 09:16 AM
I am having a problem with the June 5 obscene call left on Sherill's and Suzie's answering machine for a few reasons:

1. An obscene caller is aroused by listening to the victim on the other end of the call, NOT by leaving a message. Doesn't make any sense. Now if it was a "threatening" call that had sexual overtones, that's another thing, particularly if Suzie was preparing to testify in the upcoming grave robbers case. However, I doubt it because I think Sherill would have called the police and there would be an incident report on the matter. Also, I doubt Sherill would have allowed Suzie to go partying all night if a threat had been made.

2. I am assuming the alleged call had not been heard yet by Suzie and Sherill, and that the answering machine was flashing, noting that there were calls that had not been listened to yet. I find it hard to believe that a house with a teenager in it - one who was graduating from high school on Saturday and making plans about parties and a trip to Branson - would have ignored a flashing light on an answering machine.from the day before and even early Sunday morning. Also, Sherill would have seen the light flashing when she was on the phone Saturday night. She would be concerned if it was a message from Suzie, maybe her car broke down, etc. I also doubt, with graduation on Saturday, anyone would ignore a call that could be from relatives or friends congratulating Suzie, and talking to Sherill on the big day.

3. An obscene or threatening message would be remembered by anyone listening to it for the first time. I don't understand how Janelle could forget what was said on the message from June 5 or the two subsequent calls on Sunday. I don't think LE told her to keep this info to herself, either.

LE still has the answering machine tape, apparently. Can't remember where I heard Mrs. McCall's messages for Stacy to call her, perhaps the Disappeared segment. In any event, I think technology currently can decipher the erased messages on the tape, or will be able to one day. I do think, without a doubt, there is something unusual about the account of the messages, and I believe, in my opinion, it is related to the women's disappearance.



I would like to know what Janelle said in the messages she left that morning? I think that was the reason the messages were erased. Just my opinion.

Missouri Mule
08-05-2012, 04:10 PM
I am having a problem with the June 5 obscene call left on Sherill's and Suzie's answering machine for a few reasons:

1. An obscene caller is aroused by listening to the victim on the other end of the call, NOT by leaving a message. Doesn't make any sense. Now if it was a "threatening" call that had sexual overtones, that's another thing, particularly if Suzie was preparing to testify in the upcoming grave robbers case. However, I doubt it because I think Sherill would have called the police and there would be an incident report on the matter. Also, I doubt Sherill would have allowed Suzie to go partying all night if a threat had been made.

2. I am assuming the alleged call had not been heard yet by Suzie and Sherill, and that the answering machine was flashing, noting that there were calls that had not been listened to yet. I find it hard to believe that a house with a teenager in it - one who was graduating from high school on Saturday and making plans about parties and a trip to Branson - would have ignored a flashing light on an answering machine.from the day before and even early Sunday morning. Also, Sherill would have seen the light flashing when she was on the phone Saturday night. She would be concerned if it was a message from Suzie, maybe her car broke down, etc. I also doubt, with graduation on Saturday, anyone would ignore a call that could be from relatives or friends congratulating Suzie, and talking to Sherill on the big day.

3. An obscene or threatening message would be remembered by anyone listening to it for the first time. I don't understand how Janelle could forget what was said on the message from June 5 or the two subsequent calls on Sunday. I don't think LE told her to keep this info to herself, either.

LE still has the answering machine tape, apparently. Can't remember where I heard Mrs. McCall's messages for Stacy to call her, perhaps the Disappeared segment. In any event, I think technology currently can decipher the erased messages on the tape, or will be able to one day. I do think, without a doubt, there is something unusual about the account of the messages, and I believe, in my opinion, it is related to the women's disappearance.



I would like to know what Janelle said in the messages she left that morning? I think that was the reason the messages were erased. Just my opinion.

Many people have trouble with these accounts and changing timelines, etc.

From information that I have seen, the police have the tape but evidently the available information on it is relatively useless.

The important thing to remember is that we only have the account by the person answering the phone and listening to the messages. We will never know what was actually said on the other end.

former central time
08-05-2012, 05:45 PM
Many people have trouble with these accounts and changing timelines, etc.

From information that I have seen, the police have the tape but evidently the available information on it is relatively useless.

The important thing to remember is that we only have the account by the person answering the phone and listening to the messages. We will never know what was actually said on the other end.

Yeah...I’m DEFINATELY one of the ones in the skeptical camp, having ‘trouble’ with the stories and timelines.

Mule, when you say LE has the tape and deemed it ‘useless,’ is this the conclusion of local/state LE from 1990‘s technology, or after an analysis from a national contemporary forensic lab ? Even after that, it may be deemed ‘useless’ by LE, but I don’t know if any future defense would agree. At the least, it would be something hard and weighty. I’m sitting in the jury box, I’m far more inclined to place importance on details of that tape and what it tells us by FBI like experts from a national crime lab than the countless accounts reported (well meaning and otherwise) by First Responders.

SmoothOperator
08-05-2012, 05:49 PM
Just thoughts/opinions on several of the different issues up for debate in this thread..

-the erased messages.. I believe that the main reason for the messages to have even been played was for the simple fact that she wanted to hear what she personally stated in those messages, and I can Imagine that ATLEAST one of those messages was something that she said possibly in the heat of the moment.. In continuing to become more irritated and upset, as well as her feelings hurt in the calls going unanswered, not returned, an in her opinion she was basically being ignored, if not even forgotten about.. This is not an unusual reaction to have when looking at the situation from her perspective during the time she was calling and leaving messages..

So, I can see her being in a different frame of mind after cool down period of time, and her then hearing for herself just how stupid, angry, or otherwise that she sounded upon playing those messages back..(is it really that hard to imagine??.. I mean think about how many ppl erase messages just due to the fact that upon their hearing their own voice when playing the message back and as most do hating the way they sounded on an answering machine)..

So, IMO it is this that is at the root of why the messages were actually played back once they were inside the home and is the reason that she chose to erase them..

-Now as far as the actual obscene message goes..IMO for whatever reason it was also among the messages that were played upon her/bf being in the home and listening to the messages.. Some are very leery of this obscene msg being still amongst the messages that day even tho, it had actually come in on Saturday.. My thoughts on this are that the obscene message had in fact already been played.. But whoever played the message(prior to disappearance) they chose not to erase this obscene msg for whatever reason.. Therefor since they chose not to erase the message it was still on the tape and would of course play again when someone was listening to the newest messages that had been left.. So, her/bf arrived at the home to see what was going on and why her calls were going unanswered and not returned.. They play the messages(IMO she was likely embarrassed when hearing her messages she'd left).. And among those messages was the obscene phone message that'd been left on Saturday(tho I believe someone had already listened to it and chose NOT TO ERASE the OBSCENE MSG). Therefor the obscene message was among the messages that were played that included IMO her own that she was now embarrassed about and did not hesitate to erase.. I believe she just hit the erase button which erases ALL OF THE MESSAGES THAT WERE JUST PLAYED.. This inadvertently erased the obscene phone message as well even tho that was not the intention nor motive for her hitting the erase button..

Recall at that time she was not under the impression these women were murdered or in danger, therefor tho I believe she likely did not intentionally choose to erase the obscene message, however it did end up erased when she was erasing her own personal messages she'd left earlier while quite angry/irritated and likely was embarrassed what she'd said in the heat of that moment..

-as far as the content of the obscene message along with the content of the other two supposed obscene phone calls that came in one after the other while her/bf were in the home checking to see what was up and why no one was home..

Regarding LE I believe it is absolutely SOP for LE to guard this exact type of details and evidence in an abduction/homicide case.. The theory stated upthread about keeping secrets and it not being secret when more than one person knows.. I respectfully yet strongly disagree that particular theory of secrets has zero bearing or relevancy to this instance and case in particular..

Meaning that very regularly in these cases, again SOP is that LE/investigators not only will keep these details and information concerning ALL THINGS RE: obscene answering machine msg/obscene phone calls..LE/Investigators ABSOLUTELY will tell the witness(in this case her/bf) that IT IS OF THE UTMOST OF IMPORTANCE to the investigation into what's happened to her BFFS that ALL details/info relating to the obscene msg/calls are to remain extremely guarded and out of public knowledge.. THIS TO BE ASKED OF A WITNESS IS NOT AT ALL UNUSUAL AND I CAN PERSONALLY ATTEST IN MY NEPHEWS MURDER THAT WE KNEW SOME PARTICULAR INFO/DETAILS AND WERE TOLD IT WAS UTMOST IMPORTANCE TO KEEP THAT KNOWLEDGE FROM BEING KNOWN PUBLICLY..

So, it really does happen that way and is even quite possible that the obscene MSG was not ever erased.. That LE have the MSG intact and on tape, for obvious investigative purposes one could see how it could be beneficial for a suspect to NOT KNOW that LE have particular evidence on them(in this case if indeed had the MSG that would mean they actually have the suspects voice on tape).. Some may be of the opinion that LE would never dare lie to the media/public stating that the MSG had been erased, or had a possible witness tell the media the tape was erased.. And that's ones personal prerogative to believe that..*
I can personally state that LE absolutely will/do LIE and/or twist details/info to the media/public about an investigation.. It's not illegal In the very least and is not only legal but is regularly done as need be in abduction/homicide cases..

Therefor I can absolutely see that as the reason behind why some of the known public info seems suspicious or not to fit perfectly(especially once under a websleuthers microscope..lol).. ..am merely saying that there could very well be legit reason/cause for that..

-and lastly regarding LE use of particular techniques, stonewalling, and keeping majority, almost all info from the public.. Yes, they can and will do this.. Tho. IMO time is absolutely telling the tale that these procedures and processes DO NOT WORK, ARE NOT SOLVING CASES, AND IMO ARE NOT USING THEIR BIGGEST ASSET OF INVESTIGATIVE TOOL THAT THEY HAVE AVAILABLE TO THEM.. US, THE PUBLIC!!!!!

All jmo..

Missouri Mule
08-06-2012, 10:26 AM
Yeah...I’m DEFINATELY one of the ones in the skeptical camp, having ‘trouble’ with the stories and timelines.

Mule, when you say LE has the tape and deemed it ‘useless,’ is this the conclusion of local/state LE from 1990‘s technology, or after an analysis from a national contemporary forensic lab ? Even after that, it may be deemed ‘useless’ by LE, but I don’t know if any future defense would agree. At the least, it would be something hard and weighty. I’m sitting in the jury box, I’m far more inclined to place importance on details of that tape and what it tells us by FBI like experts from a national crime lab than the countless accounts reported (well meaning and otherwise) by First Responders.

Just now reading your post as I was out of the loop yesterday when our power went down.

I'd have to check way back into my notes but a source I consider highly reliable ensures me that the tape was gone over with a fine toothed comb and since the FBI was involved in the early going, in my opinion a safe assumption that every method has been tried to recover anything of value was tried and it came back essentially worthless. But I will be happy to inquire again if you believe it is critical.

The tape obviously is very critical if it contained any useful information. The accounts provided later by various individuals could be confirmed or put into question if the tape didn't match up. One could extrapolate that if anything was found that was at odds then that person who gave erroneous information would have some 'splaining to do if you get my drift. Since that apparently didn't materialize we can more or less assume that it didn't have useful information.

Auramyst
08-19-2012, 02:55 PM
Meaning that very regularly in these cases, again SOP is that LE/investigators not only will keep these details and information concerning ALL THINGS RE: obscene answering machine msg/obscene phone calls..LE/Investigators ABSOLUTELY will tell the witness(in this case her/bf) that IT IS OF THE UTMOST OF IMPORTANCE to the investigation into what's happened to her BFFS that ALL details/info relating to the obscene msg/calls are to remain extremely guarded and out of public knowledge.. THIS TO BE ASKED OF A WITNESS IS NOT AT ALL UNUSUAL AND I CAN PERSONALLY ATTEST IN MY NEPHEWS MURDER THAT WE KNEW SOME PARTICULAR INFO/DETAILS AND WERE TOLD IT WAS UTMOST IMPORTANCE TO KEEP THAT KNOWLEDGE FROM BEING KNOWN PUBLICLY..



Yes, the police can and will lie during an investigation. It's part of their techniques.

As far as the messages that were 'erased' on the answering machine. I would say 'yes' the police have recovered all the info on the tape. If we can launch satellites into space, view everything on the Earth down to the smallest detail, land rovers on Mars, etc, then 'yes' I'm sure there is a way to recover audio messages off a tape that has been 'erased'.

And most important of all: I'm so, so sorry to hear about your nephew's murder :( I hope you and your family have been able to gain some semblance of peace and healing.

Hugs to you!

CircuitGuy
08-10-2013, 04:36 AM
A few things come to mind as I read this old thread:

I think answering machines in those days rewound the tape automatically after you listened to the messages, unless you pressed save. If you wanted to save one message, you had to save them all. If you listened to the messages, the light would stop blinking, but you could still listen to those messages days later if no new messages had come in. My point is the residents of the house could have listened to the message, not hit save after listening to an obscene message, and the friends could have still pressed play and heard the obscene message. The friends could have simply neglected to press save, causing the messages to be lost when the next call came in.
Obscene messages and prank calls were more common in those days. I reject the notion that any obscene call made to women living alone was a threat.
I reject the idea that the police almost certainly have recovered overwritten messages from the tape. It's possible, but there's no guarantee the police are that good or that they even took the crank calls as serious evidence related to the crime.


The biggest thing that stands out is how close the friends who listened to the message are. They would have to be very close to enter someone's house, look around, listen to messages, and answer the phone. They had no reason to believe something tragic happened, yet they were going through personal items at the house. Suppose they had decided to go do something that morning and they got back to find friends going through their house and listening to their voice mail.

fullmoon
08-12-2013, 08:56 PM
The biggest thing that stands out is how close the friends who listened to the message are. They would have to be very close to enter someone's house, look around, listen to messages, and answer the phone. They had no reason to believe something tragic happened, yet they were going through personal items at the house. Suppose they had decided to go do something that morning and they got back to find friends going through their house and listening to their voice mail.


I agree. It is odd that someone would enter the home on their own. I wouldn't even do that at my sister's house, and I'm very close to her. I would call police if I'm worried about someone's welfare.

pittsburghgirl
08-26-2013, 07:21 PM
You won't get an argument from me on that point. But Janelle and Mike were teenagers then, and you see similar behavior with Janis McCall and others later in the day. And a lack of regard for the crime scene that would be more unusual in the post-CSI era. Annoyance (in the beginning), concern, then fear and some denial all mixed together leading to stupid decisions. I've always been a critic of Janelle and Mike but have come to think maybe Janelle knew on some level that something was terribly wrong but could not believe it on the conscious level; hence her tears in the afternoon and her willingness to snoop.

pittsburghgirl
08-26-2013, 08:28 PM
We don't know a lot about the Delmar house phone records. First, we know that Sherrill was talking to a friend late Saturday evening; if who initiated that call is in the public record, I am not aware of it. A simple explanation for making that call public is to narrow the time line when police asked the public for information, just as releasing certain timeline details for the movements of Suzie and Stacy would do. We know that Janelle called early the next morning, made subsequent later calls, and that Janis McCall called also. There may be other variations of close friends and family members calling for normal reasons not related to the disappearance that LE had no reason to tell us about, e.g., someone calling to congratulate Suzie, etc. Perhaps we know about Janelle's first call to narrow the time line, also.

We know that there were 3 obscene calls that weekend (if I may stretch the weekend to Friday), one prior to the abduction and two afterwards. We are told that the first call was erased. We do not know based on media reporting whether the subsequent calls were answered live or screened. If we postulate that LE is very careful about what to release and hold back early in an investigation, then we know about them for a reason.

Here is what gaia227 wrote earlier on the thread:
I have considered the possibility that LE actually does know what the message was on the answering machine and they know what was said to Janelle when she answered Sunday but they want to keep that info secret and they want the perp to think they don't have that info either so they lied and they asked Janelle to lie about the calls.

I think it is quite possible that the Sunday obscene calls were to check who was in the house and to find out if LE knew about the women being abducted. I have no idea if the killer(s) knew any of the victims by name, but certainly they knew Stacy did not live there and someone would send up the alarm for her sometime on Sunday.

Missouri Mule
08-26-2013, 09:12 PM
We don't know a lot about the Delmar house phone records. First, we know that Sherrill was talking to a friend late Saturday evening; if who initiated that call is in the public record, I am not aware of it. A simple explanation for making that call public is to narrow the time line when police asked the public for information, just as releasing certain timeline details for the movements of Suzie and Stacy would do. We know that Janelle called early the next morning, made subsequent later calls, and that Janis McCall called also. There may be other variations of close friends and family members calling for normal reasons not related to the disappearance that LE had no reason to tell us about, e.g., someone calling to congratulate Suzie, etc. Perhaps we know about Janelle's first call to narrow the time line, also.

We know that there were 3 obscene calls that weekend (if I may stretch the weekend to Friday), one prior to the abduction and two afterwards. We are told that the first call was erased. We do not know based on media reporting whether the subsequent calls were answered live or screened. If we postulate that LE is very careful about what to release and hold back early in an investigation, then we know about them for a reason.

Here is what gaia227 wrote earlier on the thread:


I think it is quite possible that the Sunday obscene calls were to check who was in the house and to find out if LE knew about the women being abducted. I have no idea if the killer(s) knew any of the victims by name, but certainly they knew Stacy did not live there and someone would send up the alarm for her sometime on Sunday.

I'm not altogether sure if I follow this. If, this was a crime of opportunity it is not impossible that they didn't know she didn't live there wouldn't they? On the other hand, if they knew either Sherrill or Suzie prior to the abductions (and preplanned) they would know that.

former central time
08-27-2013, 07:09 PM
You won't get an argument from me on that point. But Janelle and Mike were teenagers then, and you see similar behavior with Janis McCall and others later in the day. And a lack of regard for the crime scene that would be more unusual in the post-CSI era. Annoyance (in the beginning), concern, then fear and some denial all mixed together leading to stupid decisions. I've always been a critic of Janelle and Mike but have come to think maybe Janelle knew on some level that something was terribly wrong but could not believe it on the conscious level; hence her tears in the afternoon and her willingness to snoop.


You make a good point, about Janelle and Mike, that morning. I’d chalk it up to a ‘youthful indiscretion.’ To reiterate my previous point, I was that age in close to that period and I would not have behaved that way in 1985. But, people handle things differently.

I do think the ‘First Responders’ cannot be taken wholesale. On one end, Janelle and Mike, first on the scene and where much has been reported and written about. In total, I think the count that day was (20 ?), people that were in that house. The other end of the day we have Ms. McCall. She was an adult, however had a child involved. I don’t have children so I can’t empathize, but to sympathize, personally, I don’t find her actions (taking some of Stacy’s stuff, calling LE) odd at all, in fact, the most sane that day.

In the middle, we have a this mass of people, dozen and a half or so, that very little has been reported about. Adults going into somebody’s house and touching things, I think is separate from the first two examples. I presume LE has interviewed and inventory all their accounts.

In the simplest details, this is well known by anyone with even a passing understanding of the case. In recent media reports of this investigation, LE, in front of ‘hot’ mics and cameras (posted on a local TV station webcite) made a point of the delay involved. To the effect, ‘...Let’s remember it was 12/14 hours before law enforcement was called...’

former central time
08-27-2013, 07:11 PM
We don't know a lot about the Delmar house phone records. First, we know that Sherrill was talking to a friend late Saturday evening; if who initiated that call is in the public record, I am not aware of it. A simple explanation for making that call public is to narrow the time line when police asked the public for information, just as releasing certain timeline details for the movements of Suzie and Stacy would do. We know that Janelle called early the next morning, made subsequent later calls, and that Janis McCall called also. There may be other variations of close friends and family members calling for normal reasons not related to the disappearance that LE had no reason to tell us about, e.g., someone calling to congratulate Suzie, etc. Perhaps we know about Janelle's first call to narrow the time line, also.

We know that there were 3 obscene calls that weekend (if I may stretch the weekend to Friday), one prior to the abduction and two afterwards. We are told that the first call was erased. We do not know based on media reporting whether the subsequent calls were answered live or screened. If we postulate that LE is very careful about what to release and hold back early in an investigation, then we know about them for a reason.

Here is what gaia227 wrote earlier on the thread:


I think it is quite possible that the Sunday obscene calls were to check who was in the house and to find out if LE knew about the women being abducted. I have no idea if the killer(s) knew any of the victims by name, but certainly they knew Stacy did not live there and someone would send up the alarm for her sometime on Sunday.

Mule, if you could chime in on the ‘official story’ about the phone calls, or some greater clarity, I’m uncertain.

1. Was it possible for local call traffic to be logged, in those days, and in this circumstance ? Particularly INCOMING calls ?

2. Was any such log kept and sequestered by LE ?

I don’t know what kind of answering machine it was, but I did own one in that era. Frequently, it would stamp all messages on the tape, day (not necessarily date) and time. Even if the internal time and day clock on the machine were wrong, it would continue to mark and count time forward. Message ‘A’ is, say 7 hours and 27 minutes to message ‘B’ which is later 2 hours and 15 minutes to message ‘C’ and so on. This would be good for supporting or questioning the timeline.

Modern forensics have analyzed the tape and I believe you said LE deemed it ‘worthless.’ That may speak to the value of the 'obscene calls’ entirely. Because, they can find things on these recordings that would shock you. Three erases ago, they can find a conversation and determine what was said.

Missouri Mule
08-27-2013, 10:46 PM
Mule, if you could chime in on the ‘official story’ about the phone calls, or some greater clarity, I’m uncertain.

1. Was it possible for local call traffic to be logged, in those days, and in this circumstance ? Particularly INCOMING calls ?

2. Was any such log kept and sequestered by LE ?

I don’t know what kind of answering machine it was, but I did own one in that era. Frequently, it would stamp all messages on the tape, day (not necessarily date) and time. Even if the internal time and day clock on the machine were wrong, it would continue to mark and count time forward. Message ‘A’ is, say 7 hours and 27 minutes to message ‘B’ which is later 2 hours and 15 minutes to message ‘C’ and so on. This would be good for supporting or questioning the timeline.

Modern forensics have analyzed the tape and I believe you said LE deemed it ‘worthless.’ That may speak to the value of the 'obscene calls’ entirely. Because, they can find things on these recordings that would shock you. Three erases ago, they can find a conversation and determine what was said.

I really can't answer your other questions regarding the phone service but a source I consider very solid gave me to believe the tape had been gone over with a fine toothed comb and yielded up little to no information.

My understanding is at that time the technology was rudimentary at best.
My post made last night had to do with how it was determined by someone who had not been there previously would necessarily have known that Stacy did not live there. I would instead be inclined to believe that whoever gained access to the house knew immediately that she didn't live there but continued with the crime although we have no real way to know the sequence of events that morning.

CircuitGuy
12-28-2013, 02:40 AM
I think it is quite possible that the Sunday obscene calls were to check who was in the house and to find out if LE knew about the women being abducted. I have no idea if the killer(s) knew any of the victims by name, but certainly they knew Stacy did not live there and someone would send up the alarm for her sometime on Sunday.

I never thought of this. What would the kidnappers do with the information about who's in the house and/or whether LE is there? Making the calls for that purpose comes at a high price in that it might give LE info on the kidnappers if they traced the call. It would only make sense to do this if info about who was in the house was actionable for the kidnappers.

My guess is the obscene calls were unrelated to the crime. Even the words "obscene phone call" brings up memories of the 80s. It seemed like they were common back then. I can't think of even hearing about a single crank call after the late 90s. Did mobiles, caller ID, and alternate communication devices put a stop to them? The notion of someone calling and panting seems incredibly weird today, but I heard of it a lot in the 80s.