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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    WV - Catherine Ford, 19, Gormania, Feb 1988 *P. Ferrell guilty*

    I am searching for help finding a photo of Kathy Ford. Her case was shown on Unsolved Mysteries. I don't know what to think. Part of me says the man they caught is guilty, another part of me wonders if it is possible that this woman ran away on her own, and still another part of me wonders if there is a killer that was never caught running around.

    Here is the story.

    Paul William Ferrell, a rookie sheriff's deputy, was convicted of the murder of Cathy Ford, a 19-year-old waitress from nearby Maryland. Her body has never been found and no one had ever seen her with Ferrell. Some time after Ford's disappearance, her boyfriend, Darvin Moon, discovered her badly burned truck 75 yards from Ford's trailer home. Some believed that the truck was burned elsewhere because there was no scorching on the vegetation surrounding the vehicle.

    Kathy worked as a waitress at her parent's restraunt. She recieved a phone call and told her parents she needed to go. She said that someone was going to help them because supposedly there was a crack down on underage drinking and their buisness could be closed. He said he would help her and to meet her. She got changed into nice clothing and against her mother's worries she went to meet this person.

    She never returned.

    Ferrell would later say that the night she disappeared, he went bowling and when he got there he was given several messages from Kathy, telling them he needed to call her right away. He called and she sounded strange scared according to him. She told him he had to meet her at his trailer. He declined and told her to meet him in the parking lot of a nearby school. He says he waited for 20 minutes and she never showed, so he left.

    The next day Kathy's parents called the police. Her boyfriend was helping put posters up. Now one thing you need to know. Kathy was having an affair with Ferrell. But she also had a boyfriend and Ferrell had a girlfriend so they were BOTH having an affair.

    Ferrell is told by Kathy's boyfriend that he thinks he saw smoke coming from Ferrell's trailer, so Ferrell goes out there and finds Kathy's car charred and burned. So he makes a mistake. He gets scared and doesn't say anything. Than he makes an even bigger mistake. He says he was so scared that he writes a note trying to forge Kathy's handwriting and sends it to the parents. It says she is fine, she ran away, and here is $200 for help with the vehicle.

    Handwriting experts say it is not Kathy's writing. The car is found on the property and Ferrell admits to writing the note, not telling anyone about the car, etc.

    FBI agents found traces of blood under a newly laid carpet in Ferrell's trailer as well as on the walls and ceiling. Laboratory tests showed the blood to be that of a woman, but DNA tests could not match the blood to Ford. Ferrell said the trailer was eight years old, had been occupied by others, and might be stained by blood from a variety of sources. At trial, the prosecution purportedly engaged in “mathematical wizardry” which made the found blood look like that of Ford's.

    An FBI agent testified that while giving Ferrell a “hypothetical scenario about Cathy Ford's murder,” he had “observed signs of guilt” in Ferrell's “body language.” According to Ferrell's appellate attorney, “this is the first time, ever, in the history of American criminal jurisprudence, that this kind of evidence has… been allowed to go to a jury.”

    On the grounds that Ferrell might have committed the alleged crime for sexual reasons, his trial included circumstantial evidence that he had telephoned bookstores and libraries throughout the country posing as a physician and asking clerks who answered to read explicit passages from books on sex.

    A witness, Tamela Kitzmiller, testified to having received an obscene phone call from a man she took to be Ferrell. She later recanted her testimony, claiming that the prosecution convinced her to testify by telling her that Ferrell had been involved in a series of murders in Yellowstone Park. “They told me that he was a sicko, and that he needed to be put away.” After giving her testimony, Kitzmiller says she waited for prosecutors to produce proof of Ferrell's involvement in the Yellowstone murders, as they had promised. This proof never arrived.

    Kim Nelson, a neighbor of Ferrell, testified that on the day of Ford's disappearance she heard “banging, a gunshot, and a woman's scream” coming from Ferrell's trailer. Later, however, she stated she “didn't know nothin' about Paul Ferrell killin' anybody,” and that she had not heard anything out of the ordinary on the day in question.

    She later said that the prosecution told her that this man would come back and kill her children if she didn't lie and say she heard the shots on that day. She later recanted after he was in jail and said that gunshots were very common in the area, so was yelling, and that she didn't hear ANYTHING on the specific day of the supposed murder.

    Private investigator and author Martin Yant helped expose the case by publishing a story about it in a magazine. He also got the case exposure on Montel Williams and Unsolved Mysteries. Ferrell was released pending an evidentiary hearing, but he was reincarcerated for the crime in 1997. West Virginia Governor Underwood commuted Ferrell's sentence in Jan. 2001. He wrote that Ferrell's convictions “are not supported by the presence of the alleged victim's body, weapon, eyewitnesses, or physical evidence such as fingerprints, hair and fibers.” The commutation made Ferrell eligible for parole which he was granted in May 2004.

    ******What you also need to know is that a few months after Kathy was supposedly killed, an elderly couple traveling through a town a few towns away stopped at a truck stop diner. There they saw a woman they could not believe how much she looked like Kathy. The woman was working as a waitress. When she saw them, she ran behind the counter and spoke to another waitress. The other woman went over and said, "You aren't from around here, where are you from?" The couple thought that was strange and told her, she rushed away to the waitress who looked so much like Kathy, told her the town, at which point this waitress ran into the kitchen and did not come out for as long as the couple was there.****

    Anyway hoping someone can find a photo of this girl. Even if we are just searching for a body, if there is some reconstruction done of a body found, it will help. If we are looking potentially for a live human being we really need to know what she looked like when she disappeared at the age of 19 in February of 1988.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Hi Laura,

    I am glad that I saw your post. I have family in the area where this happened, and I have access to several newspaper clippings as well as an extensive 40 page report (by Martin Yant) concerning the case. I have photographed the first page of the report, as it has a picture of Cathy. This is the only picture I've ever seen of her: http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/3206/dscn0364e.jpg

    And a closer view: http://img683.imageshack.us/img683/3174/dscn0365a.jpg

    I could scan the report and send it to you, if you are interested in reading it. Let me know!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    I understand this man was released from prison after doing 18 years for the kidnapping, arson, and murder. But I don't believe Cathy or her body has ever been found.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    NAMPN profile for Catherine: http://www.nampn.org/cases/ford_catherine.html

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Any new news on this case? I am getting the impression that it has new information?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Catherine Denise Ford

    Date last seen - February 17, 1988
    Age last seen - 19 to 19 years old
    Race - White
    Height (inches) - 69.0
    Weight (pounds) - 140.0

    Hair color - Brown
    Head hair - Shoulder length
    Eye color - Brown
    Scars and marks - Discolored right arm, birthmark under armpit

    Clothing - Black leather coat, black sweater, stone-washed blue jeans
    Jewelry - ring, size 5 1/2 14 kt gold - 3 diamond rings, half kt pear, 8 kt one fourth kt surrounded by chips

    City - Gorman
    County - Garrett
    State - Maryland


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