Frustrations…

I apologize in advance if it feels as though I have taken on the mantle of witch hunter. I have not. I am merely frustrated by the difficulties of my research. So many files unavailable, or in my ignorance of due process—out of my reach. I continue to hone skill sets of investigation, yet irony finds that sometimes it matters not how I approach this situation- but how unable I am to affect its outcome. Sometimes articles and documents simply no longer exist. Still I go back to the fact that this man was employed by our Federal Treasury Department and that, in and of itself should have warranted some kind of immemorial paper trail. While I beat my chest and caterwaul about the inconsistencies of due process of law in this case… I am reminded that this was another time and another place from my own experience. People there and then suffered under watchful eyes that held both power of life and death. Players who held all the cards and dealt from the bottom of the deck, because there was no one more powerful to tell them they couldn’t. It is a caricature of a world that I have little natural bearings to navigate in. I am a Midwestern gal… land of practicality, corn, pigs and black dirt. I did not understand even the most colloquial of sayings when I first ventured south of the Mason Dixon over 30 years ago. Terminologies such as; ‘frog stranglers’ and ‘gully washers’ figured not in my limited repertoire. ‘Jerk a knot in your tail’, ‘just being ugly’ or ‘down the road a fair piece’ were things of uncommon literature and not one’s daily vernacular. Further, I fully confess to be stymied by the thought that indoor furniture eventually suffices as outdoor furniture once completely devoid of all practical use… or that sweet iced tea could become a preferred breakfast drink. While these and other such southern idiosyncrasies plagued my early arrival, I always tried to understand the people who shared them. In that vein, it makes more sense that Charley has asked me to be point guard on this project. That and my sheer ignorance of any dangers involved in reopening this local wound.

As I told his daughter,” Maybe I’m not smart enough to know I shouldn’t be asking these questions…” So I am hopefully then, that those I press for answers are tolerant of my ignorance and share with me whatever they can in my desire to help solve the mystery of the coffee pot conspiracy and Charley Covington’s murder.

To those of you who have helped me thus far I give great, good thanks and return to my task. Pounding the metaphorical streets like a cop, going over and over my interview(s) notes there is a pattern that has emerged. Something mentioned that corroborated information from the journal and several interviews. There was a reference in the journal to “other work” Charley had been working on that would have placed him in danger. I talked with another former law enforcement officer last week who told me he had seen Charley at the courthouse late one night while he was covering the desk for someone. When he asked Charley what he was doing out so late at night… Charley told him he was getting ready to go meet a guy in Lake Park to get some information. When the Trooper asked him what he was working on, Charley told him he couldn’t tell him yet, but that it was big. When the trooper asked him how big? Charley replied, “Big enough to blow this county wide open!” (According to several others interviewed, he had said that to at least two other individuals.) The Trooper cautioned him to be careful and to let someone know where he was going at all times for safety reasons. And that preferably he should not go alone.

Two weeks later Charley was dead! Dead after getting a phone call from Henderson, the snitch about an alleged “moonshine deal” that went down every Sunday night between 9:30 P.M. and 10:00 P.M. out by the river on Clyattville-Nankin and Rocky Ford Roads respectively.

Everyone from the funeral home ambulance attendants to the State Troopers who worked the scene that night saw the body and said it wasn’t suicide. One individual (a first responder) said Charley’s body was laid out like he was already at the funeral home; legs straight, left arm across his chest and his right out to his side holding the gun. (Which of course does not jive with print reports that say he was face down, with the gun under his belly.) First responders agreed Charley could not have killed himself and the physical evidence at the scene that night bore that out. (This is why crime scene photos would be so important to have.)

Two interviewed, told me the Deputy Sheriff arrived on the scene hours later that night, drunk as a skunk. So drunk that he could not stand straight and fell against the car, while announcing in slurred voice he’d be taking over the investigation. (Incidentally, certain witness information given by other first responders never sees the light of day again once the Deputy Sheriff has it in his hands. Information that does not get disseminated before or after the inquest. But more importantly… questions that never got asked because certain people were not notified of the inquest hearing until after it had happened.)

So that begs the question? Why were these people kept out of the loop? Why would their testimony and/or presence have been so threatening if the local law was so convinced that it was suicide? What were they afraid of? And why didn’t the other Federal investigators follow the clear leads from the crime scene itself? How many shells actually were spent from Charley’s gun that night as opposed to how many bullets were pulled from his body? And why didn’t other agencies question the mere impracticality presented by the logistics of the crime scene?

The obvious questions are the easy ones.
For example:
How many bullets were taken from the victim’s head?
Answer: Two.

The less than obvious questions that should have been asked.
How many shots were fired? How many shells were spent?
Answer: More than two!

WHY?

And there are others not quite so obvious that must be asked too. Questions like; if this road was such a hot bed of moonshine action… how many more times did the local law and ATTD work that specific stretch of road after Charley was killed. Who took Henderson’s (the snitch’s) calls after that? Or… is that where the calls ended? Local scuttlebutt places two men and one woman at the crime scene? Who were they and why was there no follow up on such rumblings? Rumors generally have a small speck of truth in them somewhere, so… why did they spend only three weeks investigating? Why the rush to inquest and why not re-open the case after reclassification? I have other questions as a matter of curiosity. Questions like; when did Charley’s partner arrive on scene that night? Did he know about the “big” project Charley was working on? And why was he later transferred out of state? Who was it Charley was meeting out in Lake Park late at night that was giving him regular information? And was this “big something” Charley was working on, the huge illegal gambling ring that involved the Valdosta Amusement Company and the Fraternal Order of Eagles? The very same crime ring that Edward Wray Crockett Jr. and Jewell Futch were indicted and sentenced to prison for almost ten years later?

Those would be interesting questions to find answers for, don’t you think? My misfortune is that there does not seem to be much of a paper trail on this and that so many of those involved are now dead. A Federal Agent was killed… where’s the file? I can see the loss locally for reasons I shall expose later. But I should think there would be standard protocol to keep files on any events that lead to the subsequent death of an agent in the employ of the Federal government. It seems odd to me that we can track the path John Wilkes Booth took after jumping from the box seats in Ford’s Theatre, but we can’t track down a file on a Federal Agent killed in the line of duty in 1966?

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