!One mention of rape!
Debbie Wolfe, a nurse and native of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Described as caring and wonderful at her job by coworkers and patients. Described as happy go lucky, very neat/clean/organized , and extremely loving towards her dogs by her family and friends.
She lived in a serene little cabin a few miles outside of Fayetteville and was always very independent so no one saw it as a problem. She also had two dogs, as said above, and no known enemies which I am sure aided in her feeling safe there.
December 25, 1985
Debbie was done with her shift and took the drive home to her cabin, just like she did after every shift. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to her coworkers, friends, or family this Christmas night.
December 26, 1985
Debbie failed to show up for her shift at the veterans hospital. As stated by those who knew her Debbie was always very well organized and responsible therefore this was cause for worry. Although the hospital and others tried to call her there was never an answer and there had been no sign of her yet.
Still not expecting the worst her mother, Jenny Edwards, and a family friend, Kevin Gorton decided to go check up on the cabin/ see if she was around there. The land was a mess when they drove up which draws the attention back to worry since she was always organized and clean.
Beer cans were scattered around the yard, her work uniform was strewn on the kitchen floor, and her purse was shoved under her bed, although nothing was missing. At the least this is an odd way to find things. Those who care about neatness do not leave beer cans all about, don’t change in the kitchen and leave their clothes there, and most importantly…why was her purse shoved under the bed?
Jenny and Kevin decided that they would listen to the voice mail messages to find any clues they could. One sparked their interest. If you would like to listen to the recording click here. Otherwise read the transcript below.
Hey Deb, missed ya here at work today. I just wondered how ya doing. Uh…if you’re able to give me a call here at the ward ####### or give me a call at home tonite, uh…(here is where it gets harder to understand what he is saying) you been having a lot of days, got worried when you missed the other one. Just wanna make sure you’re okay. Bye.
At first read or listen this may just seem like a concerned friend or co worker and nothing more. The thing is that at this time Debbie had only been unaccounted for for a few hours, she had not missed a few days of work.
Now we could speculate that maybe Debbie and this man normally worked the same hours but one of them had switched thus making him think that she had been gone a few days. But it seems like something a close co worker would have known so it is hard to have no doubts about that scenario.
Another problem that Jenny and Kevin found was that her dogs were let loose on the land with empty stomachs, something Debbie never would have let happen.
At this time they ended up calling the Cumberland County Sheriff Department. Jack Watts a captain at the department was put on the case and went out there with dogs who ended up picking up no scent of Debbie. There was a large pond on her land that he failed to search because he apparently assumed the Jenny and Kevin had already searched the pond even though they had no way of doing so.
This was a very poor investigation done by Captain Watts.
January 1, 1986
Jenny and Kevin ended up privately hiring divers to search the pond since it was apparent that the sheriffs department was not going to be much help with that.
Kevin and a friend of his found Debbie’s body stuffed into an oil barrel and submerged in 6ft of water. with footprints and drag lines carved into the mud leading to the barrel.
Upon further inspection Jenny saw that this barrel was the one normally kept next to Debbie’s cabin to hold fire wood.
January 2, 1986
An autopsy shown that Debbie died from drowning and the sheriff suggested that it was accidental…but there are few problems with that.
- Multiple abrasions on several of her fingers that would point to a struggle
- Her body was in a relaxed state but most drowning victims have their hands and arms in clawing positions
- Her eyes and mouth were closed but most drowning victims have both wide open
- There was only half a teaspoon of water in her lungs whereas a normal drowning victim have more
- There was no froth or foam found in her airways whereas normal drowning victims have at least some (a vital tool to diagnose death by drowning)
- Not to mention she was found IN A BARREL
The Sheriff’s department proposed this scenario:
“Possibly, Mrs. Wolfe was playing with her two dogs and she fell in the pond, or maybe she was trying to save one of her dogs that walked in the pond and became frightened and disoriented in the water.”
The thing is, it wasn’t a very deep pond. Debbie was found 30ft from the shoreline and it only got to 5 1/2 or 6 ft there so it would be very odd for a healthy adult woman to drown in a few inches of water, or fall in at all.
They claimed: ‘County detectives proposed that Debbie may have succumbed to immersion syndrome. Immersion syndrome (also referred to as “immersion foot” or “trench foot”) is a nonfreezing peripheral cold injury caused by prolonged or repetitive exposure to damp, cold temperatures (cool or cold water or mud) (Davis, 2005). The extremity first becomes cold, numb, pale, edematous, and clammy. This is followed by blistering.’ However, there was no symptoms of this found in or on Debbie.
Another weird aspect of this case is the clothes she was wearing when they found her.
- Bra that was far too large
- Pittsburg Steelers Shirt that no one recalled her owning
- Brown Cords that were way too big for her, also that no one recalled her owning
- Army Issue jacket that could not be traced
- Mens Nike sneakers that were two sizes too big and had no mud from the banks of the pond on them
Police Neglect or Sabotage
It has long been speculated that the police knew who did this and were trying to help them out or had some other connection to the case because of their neglect towards the case and denial of the evidence.
As I stated above, the captain deployed to the scene did not do a thorough search by any means and seemingly did not ask many questions which raises some flags.
The police also negated all the evidence pointing towards her death being not an accidental drowning. There was autopsy evidence as well as suspicious circumstances and evidence pointing towards a struggle.
The barrel is the main piece I look at for the theory of police neglect or sabotage. Jenny, Kevin, and the other friend all saw a barrel taken out of the lake, they all saw Debbie’s body taken out of the barrel. They all saw where the barrel had been sitting next to Debbie’s home. The barrel was factually there and Debbie’s body was found inside of it. However, the day after Debbie’s body was taken the barrel was no where to be found, it just disappeared. The Sheriffs Department then denied that the barrel was ever really there. They suggested that the coat Debbie was wearing had just ballooned around her and made a barrel like shape despite being a different color and not at all true. Eventually Don Smith, who worked for the Sheriffs department admitted to there being a barrel but it was still never found.
Other Things That Don’t Add Up
- The Nurse uniform found on the kitchen floor was not the one that Debbie had worn the day before
- The Voice Message that police say was left by a patient at the hospital and he had nothing to do with the murder (But after being questioned he ended up leaving the state)
- There is evidence that supports the idea there was semen found within the victim but that was not noted at the beginning of the case
Suspect lists mostly consist of mentally ill patients at the VA Hospital and two volunteers at the hospital that seemed to have a thing for Debbie. However the police say that they checked all of this out and not one of these people was the one to do this.
My theory is that the man who left the voice mail was the one who killed her. The voice mail seems very odd to me. It seems like the message of someone who was trying to cover their tracks but didn’t fact check before doing so. In connection with that the jacket Debbie was found wearing was an army jacket and this man was a patient at a veterans hospital. There was also some evidence in interviews that suggest this man was somewhat stalking Debbie.
It seems to me that he should’ve been looked at more closely.
I believe that Debbie was either followed home or he was there before she got home and when she got inside she discovered someone was there so she stashed her purse under her bed in order to try and hide it. Then after doing so this man killed her, in what way I do not know but she seemed to fight back some from the cuts on her fingers. He then discarded her uniform and dressed her in some extra clothes he had.
At some point throughout this he most likely raped her based on the vaginal swabs but we cannot be sure.
He then went through her stuff, thus drinking beers and discarding them around the land and pulling out one of her nursing uniforms and forgetting about it in the kitchen.
And at some point he saw the barrel and decided it was a good place to hide a body and made it easier to submerge her in the lake. After which he drove away and left that voice mail to try and send people off his trail.
AGAIN, THIS IS JUST A THEORY. I am not sure if we will ever know what happened to Debbie Wolfe that day. But let me know any of your theories in the comments. Also suggest other cases I should take a look at.