Ohio: The Circleville letters
For years Circleville was a stable work-a-day community, then in 1976, the letters started taunting and threatening the residents with tidbits about their personal lives. The letters were written in block form and postmarked from Columbus Ohio. One of the recipients was Mary Gillispie, a school bus driver. The first letter she received contained an accusation that she had been having an affair with the school superintendent. The letters kept coming and it became more menacing and threatening. The succeeding letters read ” I know where you live. I’ve been observing your house and know you have children. This is no joke. Please take it serious.”
Soon enough Mary’s husband Ron also started receiving his own letters as rumors of the affair began to spread around town. This one read “Gillispie, you have had 2 weeks and done nothing. Make her admit the truth and inform the school board. If not, I will broadcast it on CBS, posters, signs, and billboards until the truth comes out.” There were no letters for some time but on August 19, 1977, Ron received a phone call that infuriated him so much that he stormed out of the house armed with a gun. Had he been told the identity of the letter writer and was heading out for revenge? We’ll never know because later that day Ron was found dead. He had been run off the road and died as a result. His gun was with him and it had been fired once. Initially, the Sherriff agreed there was foul play involved but later on changed his mind. After Ron’s death, both Mary and the Superintendent admitted to the affair although they claimed it began after the letter started. Mary continued being a bus driver and one time on a route she saw a sign harassing her. Upset, she stopped her bus and tried to tear down the sign but it was booby-trapped meant to fire a gun. Luckily for her, it didn’t fire.
Although the serial number was scratched off the gun, the police managed to obtain it and traced it back to its owner. To their surprise, it was registered to Paul Freshour, Mary’s former brother-in-law. Paul denied being the Centerville writer but he was sentenced to 7 to 25 years in prison. Everyone was happy that the letters would stop with Paul in solitary confinement, the problem is, they didn’t. Everyone still kept receiving letters and even Paul himself got his own Circleville letter that read “Now when are you going to believe you aren’t getting out of there? I told you 2 years ago. When we set them up, they stay set up. Don’t you listen at all?” When it was clear that Paul wasn’t sending the letters, he was paroled in May 1994. He continued to maintain his innocence until his death in 2012 an even now no one knows the real identity of the Circleville writer.