Transcript from Missing Pieces (radio)
November 7, 2006
Guest: Elizabeth Pendergrass
“Where is Leoma Patterson”
ERIC MEADOWS (WCAN Co-host): Glad you could join us this evening, for Missing Pieces. Another episode, which is hosted by Todd Matthews, founder of the www.LFGRC.org.
I want to welcome Todd to the studio tonight, how are you Todd?
TODD MATTHEWS (Host – Livingston, TN): I’m doing really good Eric.
ERIC: This program is designed to raise public awareness of the numbers of unidentified, missing and murdered individuals. Missing Pieces is not entertainment, but a tool to help bring closure to the lives of people who care and are still searching. I’ll turn it over to Todd at this time.
TODD: Tonight we have Elizabeth Pendergrass. Her grandmother went missing on October 20th of 1978, from Anderson County, Tennessee. I have known Elizabeth now for a little more than a year. I know that she has grown up with this story. Her grandmother is gone…wiped completely from their lives, but they have a very usual story.
Leoma Patterson was murdered, the body was found, they buried the body and now it turns out that this is not Leoma. I think Elizabeth has a very unique point of view on this case. What can you tell us Elizabeth? How has it been growing up with this? We are going to ease into this a little bit at a time. How has it been growing up with this murder case in your family?
ELIZABETH PENDERGRASS (Guest – Jamestown, Tennessee): It’s been really hard because of the way I have seen my mother (Barbara Adkins) have to deal with these things. She has always thought that it isn’t her. It (the body) was presented to them as if it was; but for 28 years, my mother though it wasn’t. (Her mother, Leoma). We (the grandchildren) would always hear stories of this person that “supposedly” committed the murder. Details about how he supposedly did it, and it just didn’t make sense. So once my mother got all 5 of her children graduated out of school, one of her other goals in life was to find out if this was actually her mother.
TODD: Recently we got to word on some of that. To recap a little; Leoma Patterson, and you can see more information on www.LeomaPatterson.com, she actually went missing form Anderson County, Tennessee. Then a body was found (a short time later) in nearby Campbell County, Tennessee.
Near and quickly related to being Leoma Patterson. But these remains were kept for several years under review. Ultimately , they were determined to be Leoma, given to the family and then buried. But the fun was only beginning. Why did your mother think this was not (her mother) Leoma?
ELIZABETH: There were several reasons, one because the man that was actually charged with doing this was kin to my grandmother. And the way that it was described as happening; his testimony, just didn’t add up. My grandmother was a friendly person, she didn’t leave with anyone that she did not know and her children always knew where she was.
TODD: Jimmy Maggard, the man who is actually in prison in Georgia right now for another murder. He was charged with the murder of Leoma Patterson, he admitted to it. He actually admitted to killing her and we are still not really sure why. He had claimed to have hit her in the head with a tire iron. We actually exhumed this body last summer. There were no markings on the skull to indicate some type of blunt force trauma to the skull. And now the DNA tests say that it is not her (Leoma Patterson).
And Jimmy certainly knew her (Leoma), this is a relative of his. Not someone that was around her immediate family on a day to day basis, but certainly he would have known if he had of killed Leoma. This is only part of the puzzle. There were some questions about the clothing found near the body. Can you tell us a little more about that?
ELIZABETH: Yes, where the body of my “grandmother” was found. There was a long shirt like; often worn in the 1970’s, made kind of like a dress actually found on a fence post not far from the body. The type of clothing found there, my grandmother never wore things like that. When he actually confessed to the police, he told them where the clothes were, but when they went back, there were no clothes there.
TODD: I have seen the court documents on this case. When the family hired Attorney Lynda Simmons (in 2005) here in Livingston, Tennessee (here in my home town), they took action to exhume the body, do a DNA test and attempted to determine once and for all if this was the body of Leoma Patterson. Lynda asked me to help her as a consultant in this case, so I know the direction in which the case is going now. We are pursuing it with district Attorney’s, working for some closure on this case. For the show, we’ll have to be a little careful what we say tonight, but I think we can get through things pretty easy.
So, the body was exhumed last summer (2005), DNA was taken at that time. The first DNA test came in early in 2006. What were the results of that first test?
ELIZABETH: The first DNA test came back as not a match, to one of Leoma’s daughters.
TODD: This daughter was Frankie Davis. So, the DNA of the body in the grave, did not match the DNA of Leoma’s daughter Frankie. How did you feel at that point?
ELIZABETH: My feeling at that time, it was kind of hard because of what I had seen my own mother go through. Some part of me wanted it to be her, so that it would give closure to my mother. But another part of me didn’t want this to be her, so that my mother could continue to find out what had happened, and where her own mother was. Some of the other grandchildren probably had the same point of view that I did, because they have had to sit and actually go through all of this throughout their lives, for the past 28 years. But some considered the lady buried in the grave to be their grandmother.
TODD: Probably because this is the only way they ever knew her.
ELIZABETH: Yes…it is the only way they ever knew her. The oldest daughter (Pearl Smith) would always go and put flowers on the grave. Now when we get the test results back and find this is not your mother, it’s a shock. But you know my mother always felt this wasn’t her mother, so for her this was not a shock, she said, “I told you that it wasn’t her!”
TODD: Proof though a small but painful victory!
TODD: I was actually in Campbell County, returning the reconstructed head of another Jane Doe to law enforcement when I got the call from Lynda Simmons. She asked me to come back to Livingston and I met with her and Leoma’s family right away after that. The first DNA test had come back with evidence that this was not Leoma, and of course I was a little skeptical. We were just so sure that this was going to turn out to be Leoma. Was anyone in your family actually surprised when this DNA test come back saying this was not her?
ELIZABETH: Yes, the oldest daughter was, because she had made peace with it, when they had initially given the remains to her. She had gotten on with her life and actually thought this was her mother.
TODD: Even after the first DNA offered proof, and I have been with the family when they have gone to the grave, they decorate the grave anyway. Just as if nothing had changed. Why do you think this is important to this family, why would your mother and her siblings go to this grave and decorate it as if nothing had changed? Even though something very significant has changed.
ELIZABETH: Like I said, we had gone up there for so many years and most thought that it was her, so they treated this as their mother.
TODD: The gravestone bearing her name is pretty much all some of the family have known.
ELIZABETH: They still go partly because this women is part of their life. They feel that it (an identification) might help lead them to their mother. And this women needs to be loved too, just like their mother. So they have and will continue to tend this grave.
TODD: I ask the family to do something after the first DNA test, I don’t think it was a popular request with the family at first. But I think later on you came to understand why I asked you guys to do this. I asked for a 2nd DNA test, because it was still so hard to believe, and I knew we were going to need more evidence as final proof. So, in Linda Simmons office, we took DNA from another daughter, and we compared it to the DNA of this Jane Doe. But at the same time we also compared the two sisters DNA, to make sure there were no errors. The sisters DNA indeed did match, and neither matched the remains once thought to be Leoma; their mother. Then I knew for sure things were very much more serious in this case. So you had to go through this 2nd DNA, and I know this was a very difficult time for your mother.
ELIZABETH: Well, it did seem to help the other siblings. My mother, like I said “always knew”. But the others (family members), it kind helped them to fully realize that this was not a mistake and that this was truly not their mother. And that’s something that needed to be done. Now they are all willing to work to find out who this person is and at the same time try to find out where their mother is, and hopefully put this women to peace with her own family.
TODD: It’s still difficult even at this point in time. Now when the body was exhumed in 2005, Dr. Bass, founder of the Body Farm, a part of the University of Tennessee’s anthropology department, a well know forensic research facility.
He actually did the exhumation for the family and I think he was actually a little surprised too (to find this was not her). He took the DNA sample from the remains and then we actually reburied the body. I did get photos of the skull and Project EDAN did do a sketch from the photo. We tried to reconstruct what we thought this person looked like. I know the family did not see a lot of resemblance between the sketch and Leoma. But I did see a resemblance in some of the bony features, they did kind of look like Leoma. That’s why the DNA test gave me such a surprise, I was really hoping that this was her. And I think it would have been in your best interest if this had been Leoma. You could have just shut that door in your life. In reality; we might never know what happened to Leoma, but the point is that we have to try. So it has been a really long year.
ELIZABETH: Yes it has, it has been really hard on my mom because this something she has always wanted to find out. Now that she has the chance, she won’t stop. She wants to know and deserves to know…everyone of us deserve to know. If that was my own mother; I’d be just like my mother, I would fight until the end to find out what happened to her. Leoma’s children all deserve to know because she was a very caring woman, she took care of her nieces and nephews. Jimmy Maggard himself was her nephew. She had fed and clothed him. She even once gave him a place to live, when his daddy threw him out on the street. So, it is hard to believe that someone like her own nephew would do something like that.
TODD: She cared for him in his younger years?
ELIZABETH: Yeah, when he was younger. So, the story that he told was hard to believe. When you have something in your mind that you’re on a mission, and you know this person is not who they say it is, and they say they can answer all these questions that have never been answered, and you set back all these years and wait for that day that you go and find out so no one is in harm’s way, and that’s your mission. That’s the only other goal you have in your life, you are going to make sure that is completed before you pass away. I can see how this has put a toll on my mother throughout these years, because I can tell by the way she tries to hang on; and she’s a very strong woman, but I just hope and pray that something is revealed to her. Either what happened to her, or where her body is so she can put her to rest, so my mother can get on with her life, and put this in peace so she doesn’t have to worry anymore.
TODD: Well the last conversation I had with the district attorney, actually the new district attorney in Anderson County – General David Clark, he wanted it to be really clear to the family that if there is an identification of this person that will not necessarily reveal the whereabouts of Leoma. I know that the family is well aware of that. We’ve been through so many stories and looked at other cases, so I think the family are indeed all really aware of this. You do understand that?
ELIZABETH: Yes, we understand that. It’s just something hard for the children to deal with because I think some of us hope that there is some link, something that will answer a few questions. But they all do understand that there are no guarantees that they will get the answers that they really want.
TODD: Now…what do YOU think happened to your grandmother?
ELIZABETH: I think that Jimmy Maggard knows what really happened to my grandmother. I honestly don’t think that he killed her. I think that she was maybe at the wrong place at the wrong time. Because why would somebody; like him, do this? What reason would he have to do this to my grandmother? After all of the things that she had done for him.
TODD: Well I am not seeing much of a reason for doing this…in anything that I am looking at.
CALLER: I do have a question for both Todd & Elizabeth. Do you think that your case will be resolved in the near future with DNA? And with a new District Attorney in place, do you think that you will be able to pursue more aggressively?
ELIZABETH: Well the DNA test did come in handy, because it did offer proof that this is not my grandmother. With the technology, what we hope will happen is that they will put the Jane Doe’s DNA into the National DNA Database. Hopefully making match somehow to her family. We also hope that in the near future that the DNA or whoever takes action in this case will work with the family to try and find the answers. We hope. But, what I fear will happen is that my mother will never find out all the answers. I feel like I will have to pursue the ongoing investigation for her.
TODD: And you are willing to do that?
ELIZABETH: Yes I am willing to do that. It is the one promise that I have made to my mother. When she started on this, she came to me and asked me to promise her that if she never finds the truth in her lifetime, that I would continue to look. I am the oldest daughter and my siblings are behind my mother with me. All 5 of us will pursue my mother’s goal.
TODD: We have also asked for the DNA of the family to be submitted to the FBI National DNA database (CODIS) as well, just in case Leoma happened to be Jane Doe herself out there somewhere. For the possibility that it could be matched back to the family. Your mother is now nearing the age of your grandmother when she went missing.
CALLER: Is there any legislation that can force the submission of DNA into the database?
TODD: They are working on that, it’s not really spelled out clearly and a lot of local agency are not really sure how to apply their cases. We are having a little difficulty now trying top get this data into the databases, and it seems to be that the local officials are not fully understanding why we want to get the DNA into the database. This is a new system, and yes the legislative requirements are coming, it’s going to take a while though. I am hoping that a case just like Leoma’s will be one of the landmark cases that expresses why there is such a need for that type of database. And it is something that the family can be doing and focusing on in the mean time.
CALLER: Thank’s very much for taking my call.
TODD: Thank you.
CALLER: And I just want to say to your guest that I am glad to see you’re pursuing and I hope that you will see justice served.
ELIZABETH: Thank you.
TODD: Eric, I’ll bet this has been a little confusing for you, and I’ll bet you have more questions!
ERIC: Yes…one question was; Jimmy Maggard, the man convicted with this crime, has he confessed to any other homicides?
ELIZABETH: Actually the state of Georgia has him because of a woman he murdered in Georgia. He had committed that crime at about the same time he “confessed” to killing my grandmother. He had committed other crimes, federal crimes like robbing a post office in Georgia. So, Georgia had a stronger plea on him, they had more crimes charged against him. So when he actually went to trial, Tennessee ran things congruent with Georgia. So, actually he has not yet served any time for the murder of my grandmother.
ERIC: How long after Leoma was missing was the body found?
ELIZABETH: She went missing in October of 1978 and this body was found in March of 1979.
TODD: Just a short time later.
ELIZABETH: The body was found near Norris like, up in a cove. Initially they thought the body might have washed up, but actually the body was way up from the water. There was only a small dirt road near this area and it was more accessible by boat. There was the small road the he supposedly took her into this area. A dog actually found the remains. A dog belonging to the guy who owned the nearby marina.
ERIC: So the method used to identify her at that time was circumstantial evidence?
ELIZABETH: Right, they went on color of hair, she had dipped snuff and Dr. Bake determined during autopsy that the teeth were stained probably by tobacco. They called it bleached blonde hair, but the family have said that my grandmother never wore her hair blonde. All photo’s that I have seen show darker hair, turning gray but not bleached blonde.
In the crime scene photos you can see where a huge lock of hair had come off and was in between a mass a trees near body. They only found part of the body and we were told that animals likely carried off much of the remains.
TODD: There is the possibility that the hair could have lightened from the elements. Mostly visual and circumstantial identification. Sealed with a confession. – – Dr. Cleland Blake is still there, he is a pathologist who initially looked at the body, and held the body for a number of years. Blake is still today at his former post.
ERIC: One final question, has anyone in the family gone to talk to Jimmy Maggard?
ELIZABETH: No, I think there is a law that prevents victim’s family members from talking to convicted killers. And you would have to be added to his visitation list and he himself has to approve this list. So no one in the family has actually talked to him since the murder and conviction. He has actually tried to change his confession.
TODD: He has tried that a number of times.
ELIZABETH: Yes, but it wouldn’t matter as much for time he’s currently serving in Georgia for other crimes. But I have heard that he has tried several times to change the exact confession.
ERIC: So, he was your grandmother’s great nephew. Has he not been available to any of the family?
ELIZABETH: He has not been available to any of us. My aunt had called the prison at one point to find out if a visit or conversation was possible. But he himself has to authorize people put on the visitation list. There’s no way that he would do that.
TODD: This is interesting as Eric is now asking some of the same questions I ask when I began to help work on this case.
I’d very much like to see a reconstruction of the remains, and I have offered this service to the state once she is re-exhumed. I think they were a little worried at just why we were so anxious to re-exhume because the DNA was already taken. I assured them that we really wanted to work on the identification not the investigation. I hope that if we can give her a full clay facial reconstruction, it would give the family something to hang on to in the mean time. With the full understanding that the result might never yield info as to the whereabouts of Leoma. It’s something for the family to hang into and a degree of hope.
But now growing up with this case it was difficult, and this is sensitive for Elizabeth and certainly is for her mother. Why have some of these people not spoken very nicely of your grandmother? Some of the officials that were supposed to be taking care of this case.
ELIZABETH: My grandmother had raised all of her children. She would go out with her friends, the family knew her whereabouts most all the time. The newspapers had quoted people basically calling her a whore, a bar hopping whore. That was not the case, she wasn’t that way. She was a nice person, many women go out and have fun with their friends, nothing wrong with that. It’s not like she was sleeping with men coming here and there, that’s not what this is about. She went out to just relax and have a good time. Mostly where she had went; the people with her, were actually of kin to her.
TODD: So often she was with and around friends and relatives. Why do you feel like they were trying to demean her by saying these things in the newspapers? Do you think it was to prevent investigation?
ELIZABETH: I think they didn’t want the family to worry or even wonder where she was or what happened. Because to them she was nobody, not a well known name, no money, just an average mother.
TODD: Then why would somebody want to kill her?
ELIZABETH: That’s what I don’t understand. Why? She never bothered or harmed anyone. I have heard my mother talk about her giving clothes to people if they needed them, or feed them if they needed to be fed. So looked over her children and grandchildren, made sure they had what they needed.
TODD: And I have reminded you to take care when speaking to media, because at times only half of what you are trying to say comes through. But here you have full opportunity to explain in full detail.
Why do you think that Jimmy said that he killed Leoma?
ELIZABETH: He claims to have accused her of stealing money from him. I don’t think my grandmother would ever do that. She had actually given him money in times. So that just did not make any sense that he said it was over money.
TODD: Never a chance for the family to confront and have discussion to get to the bottom of things.
ELIZABETH: No, they just don’t know and it is in the back of all of our minds. Why would something like this be said?
TODD: We won’t name the official; but even today, one of the officials involved in this case years ago still has nothing good to say about her, and he never knew Leoma at all. I have spoken to other media that have noted this reaction from this official, and it seems to puzzle them as well. It’s more like he doesn’t want to talk about the problems with the case itself , but more like he is offering an excuse or good reason for her to have ended up with like this. But there’s no excuse for someone to be murdered and you depend on officials to follow up no matter what the reasons. I think there have even been mention of drugs in Anderson County at that point in time (with some law enforcement involved in the drug trade). Do you think that it is possible that your grandmother ran into something going on, maybe saw something that she should not have seen?
ELIZABETH: That is what I think. I think she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. And she knew everybody, she grew up there. She knew some of the town officials and I honestly think she saw something that they were afraid she would tell. That is why I say that I do not think that Maggard did this, but I do think he knows who did this, and that he was afraid to tell the truth at the time.
TODD: But why confess himself?
ELIZABETH: I think the reason he confessed himself was maybe because he was covering for someone.
TODD: A scapegoat?
ELIZABETH: Yes because he was already in trouble, and they knew that. Why not pin it on somebody that was already in trouble? Maybe he was scared into confessing?
TODD: Even today working on this, we are encountering some degree of resistance. We are not hearing the type of talk like in the past from most people today. They do show a bit more sympathy for the family, but there have been so many delays. Myself and Dr. Bass have written letters to the District Attorneys involved. Both Campbell and Anderson County DA’s are involved. (She was missing from Anderson, the body found in Campbell and now buried in Anderson). We have expressed a strong need to exhume this body again before cold weather sets in. She is buried on a mountain and you will not easily get up there in colder weather. It will be almost impossible to exhume this body. In conversation with the DA I think I have made it clear to him WHY we wants to re-exhume the body. If only for nothing more than to give the family something to work toward over the winter rather than wonder when the investigation will move forward.
TODD: I do think there is some work being done, at least talks. A lot of the family keep telling me that it is the same now as it was before. How did it happen before that all could just be closed out, put aside and case closed?
ELIZABETH: When my family first wanted to file the missing persons report in 1978, they were told that she was probably out on some drunk and they should look for her themselves. So her children actually got out and looked for her themselves, not the police.
TODD: Had she ever vanished before on some drunken binge? Was that common for her?
ELIZABETH: No it was not common for her. My aunt (Leoma’s daughter) was living with her at the time and it was not normal for her not to show up. She came home every night. Think of how devastating it would be to go in and tell police that your (52 year old) mother is missing and be told that, and to look for her yourself. Imagine how that would make you feel knowing it wasn’t like your mother to do that, stay out all night. No calls, not show up in the morning. There were 2 weeks that they were out looking for her. I don’t think an actual missing person’s report was ever really filed until the remains were found.
TODD: They found jewelry with this body.
ELIZABETH: Yes, and that was one way that they supposedly identified my grandmother. There were several pieces including some of the turquoise Native American rings that you can pick up just anywhere. There was only one ring that I can remember my mother speaking of her mother wearing. It was a silver ring that her uncle had made out of a spoon. This ring was not found at the scene with these remains. Where she would tap her hands on the table, the ring had dents in the bottom. But that was the only ring my mother can recall her mother ever wearing, that one ring.
ERIC: We have a caller. Go ahead caller.
CALLER: Hi, I am one of Leoma’s grandchildren, my name is Nancy (Frankie’s daughter). I too feel like we have gotten the run around form the DA’s office’s in Campbell County and Anderson County. It’s like they are not communicating with each other. It’s like no one knows what is going on. I have been in touch with Dr. Bass, and he has offered to re-exhume the body to try to find out who this person is as well. It’s important to us to find out who this woman is, because she too has a family out there that has been looking for her for 20 some odd years. I’d just like to see something happen, some interest.
ERIC: Thank you caller…please go ahead Elizabeth.
ElIZABETH: Just the fact this ring was not found there, and it would have been the most significant.
TODD: Do you think someone might have removed that one because they knew it was special?
ELIZABETH: If they knew her well; than yes, they probably could or would have. Especially if they were around her a lot and knew that she wore it all of the time. And possibly knew it would be recognized and help identify her. Then yes, they probably would have removed it. It would not have been easy to remove. She once had a gall bladder surgery and they had to just tape it for surgery as they could not get it off from her finger.
TODD: And going back to Nancy’s call. There does; indeed, seem to be some sort of breakdown in communication between the DA’s. Unless there’s activity behind the scenes. It just seems to take days and days to relate just a tiny piece of information. Terrible to get info and having to re-explain the case and express what it is you are wanting to relate. The family simply want to see this case re-opened, the DNA entered in to the national DNA database. That’s the main thing and I don’t think it is a lot to ask. We have asked several times to visibly see something go forward.
ELIZABETH: No, it isn’t a lot to ask. They presented this body to my mother and her siblings, saying: “Here this is her, go bury her.” Then to find out it isn’t her…that isn’t justice. You have to see it from the family members’ point of view. This was just dropped in their laps as their mother, a press release issued to make officials look good. Knowing that some of the people working on the case; even then, were not behind them 100% in saying this was Leoma. (Some of the officers that worked the case did not agree, even in 1979.) Justice is making sure the ID of this person before signing your John Henry on any documents.
TODD: Seems that when DNA did finally arrive….seems that any case in which there was any doubts (that DNA might resolve) seems they might have done that to confirm, as a follow up. But I know you guys had to push this through a private attorney, and the family has paid for all of the activity. The DNA testing, exhumation…everything.
ELIZABETH: My mother, her brother and her sister , the one who lives in Texas, worked hard to come up with this money because that was their goal. They wanted to see if this was actually their mother because they knew in their minds, that was not their mother. Because whenever you grow up with someone and live with them until you’re eighteen years old, you have a connection with that person. And when something like this happens, other family members that have passed away in your family, you have that connection with them and you know it’s them and you’re at peace with that. When something is tugging and pulling at you like there’s something not right here; in your heart, you know you have that bond. When that bond is not there, you know that you need to dig a little deeper, and you need to find out what happened. So, they had talked about this. And the three siblings had come together and pursued this. The gathering of information was a huge task alone, just to start this process.
TODD: Now the DA in Campbell County; Paul Phillips, what did he tell your mother he would do if she proved this was not Leoma in this grave?
ELIZABETH: He told her that if she could prove that this was not her mother, he said he would re-open the case.
TODD: Do you think he has already done that?
ELIZABETH: Do I think he has done that, reopened the case?
TODD: On paper?
ELIZABETH: Maybe on paper. But when a family has gone through something like this and they have proven their point, then it is time to see action taken. Re-open the case and get answers. Find out and dig, because in the past they did not dig too deep.
TODD: What do you think will happen when the grave is re-opened and we are able to do a reconstruction on this body?
ELIZABETH: I think that we will find out who this woman is, and maybe be able to meet with her family. Make peace with them. Will we ever find my grandmother? Who knows for sure if we will lever know.
TODD: Do you think it will help you to find and meet this other family? To return this body to them?
ELIZABETH: I really think that it would help my mother and her siblings because this person is like a foster mother. They took care of this woman’s grave and sort of adopted her as their own. So, if they could meet her family, as more than likely they have gone through something similar. They will be able to share a lot of the same feelings.
TODD: I think they might find a family within that family.
ELIZABETH: Sure, they have tended to her for 28 years.
TODD: I hope they appreciate what your family has done, as she has been well taken care of and her grave decorated. I have seen ornaments and flowers they have placed. The graveyard is a beautiful place on a mountainside. I am just not sure how much more your mother can take.
ELIZABETH: She wants so much to see something done, now. As when it actually happened, there seemed to be nothing done. Knowing the technology is out there, new laws, new people that you hope and pray will help get you the answers.
TODD: This is not a completely cold case, we have a case file 3 inches thick.
ELIZABETH: All the changes in confession (Maggard) , a lot of that paperwork as it was filed. We have a lot of good records in this file.
TODD: It took me 2 weeks on my first read through on this case. It was one of the most bizarre, twisted cases I’d ever seen in my life and I have seen a lot. But this one seems to be one dead end after another. How many children did Leoma have?
ELIZABETH: Seven children, several grandchildren and great grandchildren. And we listened to our parents talk as we grew up and by listening. We heard the story and now seeing the case file. You put all of this together and see that something just is not right. We knows this and we just want to get to the bottom of things and help our parents find closure.
TODD: We certainly want to get you back as I have a feeling it will take several interviews to get all the way through this story. I feel sure that some activity will take place in the very near future on this case. I know there is some type of activity at law enforcement level; not sure exactly what it is they are doing, but I do know there have been conversations and meetings taking place in regard to this case. And we certainly have some options to ponder on this end, thoughts on actions that we can take to try and move things forward a little. This has been a very difficult case to deal with. I’m not sure if I want to deal with another one like this one. There will be updates available on this case here at www.MissingPieces.info and www.LeomaPatterson.com Eric any other questions?
ERIC: You were saying this is taking place between Anderson County and Campbell County, what part of Tennessee is that?
TODD: The northern part of the edge of Middle and East Tennessee.
ERIC: Looks like it all comes down to dollars and cents and everyone wants to pass the buck. Neither county seems to want to foot the cost of trying to develop a solution for this case. Do either of you get the feeling that it might be a money issue?
TODD: The state itself is actually involved now that the FBI has stepped in. I think the cost in a large part will fall back on the state itself. Even saying that I think there still might be some reluctance, this is quick complicated. In my opinion, the state owes this family the cost they incurred in exhuming and DNA testing, all that they have spent trying to prove this was not their mother. I think they owe the family back that amount at the very least.
ERIC: That is the feeling I get, there are dollars involved.
TODD: But now the family have never asked to be reimbursed.
ERIC: I understand that indeed, and I am just speculating that it is possible that no one is wanting to foot the costs to do whatever it will take to do whatever it takes to bring closure to this family.
TODD: A lot of the same officials that were there originally were still there until very recently. And I think some were more than willing to pass it along to others. So we have a lot of hope and faith in the new DA, which has no former involvement at all, will be able to do the right thing without us having to force the issue.
ERIC: Todd, how long have you been working on this case?
TODD: It was last summer when I heard about this. The family and myself actually have the same attorney, Lynda Simmons. When this case came up, she ask me to consult on the case. She told me a very wild sounding story and I went to her office and she showed me more data. So of course I was willing to consult with her on this case. I was to help work with and advise family, guide media relations, help explain processes to the family. Now, as usual, the family of Leoma have become very much like family to me. I actually went up to their family reunion, they have become part of my and life and I think they always will be a part of my life.
ERIC: What was it that caused you to turn to Todd Matthews?
ELIZABETH: Of course the attorney had recommended him. When we spoke to her early on discussing the process, she said I know someone who works on things like this…just in case this DNA comes back and this is not your mother. Todd and my mother began talking on the phone exchanging questions, and that is how we got to know Todd.
ERIC: Well Todd, one more question. For those who might not live in Tennessee, but are going though the same thing Elizabeth has gone through, are there web-site or outlets they can use to pursue resolution to their lives?
TODD: Persistence in the face of resistance is one thing, and this family has met a lot of resistance obviously. Even in your efforts and your being told “no”…if you know that something is wrong, you need to pursue things. Law Enforcement are always having to deal with people who can accept the reality of things like a suicide etc. So some resistance is natural, and that not necessarily a sign of evil or evasion. Natural resistance from Law Enforcement to re-open old cases and old wounds just because you are not comfortable with the reality of what might have happened. If you know your facts, gather your data. There are web-sites www.LFGRC.org, www.DoeNetwork.us, and I am one of the administrators of the Doe Network. But in Leoma’s case we can’t use that tool yet, because we don’t know what this person looked like (stature etc) We don’t have enough information to use a resource like Doe Network…yet. We soon hope that we can get this case to the point where I can put the information on this Jane Doe into the Doe Network, and take it forward for global cross reference.
ERIC: Thanks to the both of you for taking your time for this show. Again I want to remind our listeners that Missing Pieces is not entertainment, it is meant to help someone. I don’t know who is listening, but someone out there might be able to do what it takes to help bring resolution to somebody’s life.
Thank you, Elizabeth, we wish you the very most in your efforts. Todd…keep on doing what you are doing.
ELIZABETH: Thanks you.
TODD: Talk to you guys next week. Good night.