TV SHOW OFFERS FRESH INSIGHTS INTO 1966 SLAYINGS
By Jennie Jones Giles
The team of investigators was unconventional, but the insights offered by a Court TV crew on the county’s 40-year-old unsolved murders could help law officers (March 2007).
A psychic, medium and paranormal investigator from the Court TV series “Haunting Evidence” filmed Main Street, spent hours at a victim’s home, followed the mountain roads where the victims were spotted with an unknown third man, stopped along Little River Road as a witness underwent hypnosis and then, in a final irony, were blocked by a brush fire at the crime scene.
In the end, the medium gave a description of a suspect, already named by law enforcement, and the team also gave previously unknown details about the crime and victims to law enforcement.
Hendersonville Police Capt. John Nicholson is attempting to verify the information.
“There was some information, through their eyes, that would tend to corroborate the identification of one of the suspects,” Nicholson said. “Based on that information, I’ve asked the state to pull the fingerprints of that individual to compare against the evidence re-submitted last fall. This also gives us an area to look into further in an effort to find someone this person may have made an admission to while in prison.
“In 30 years in law enforcement, I’ve never worked with a psychic, medium or paranormal investigator,” Nicholson said. “I found it very interesting. There were points they made that were very good and relevant.”
On July 22, 1966, the bodies of Vernon Shipman, 43, and Charles Glass, 36, of Hendersonville and Louise Davis Shumate, 62, of Asheville were found lying in the knee-high grass between a brush and garbage dump and a gully in a clearing near the Green River dam at Lake Summit.
The badly decomposed bodies were lying in a crude semi-circle with objects placed on the bodies. Each of the victims suffered massive blows to the head, most likely by a part of an automobile bumper jack. There were puncture wounds on the bodies of the woman and Glass.
The case remains unsolved despite years of investigation by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Hendersonville Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation. Several suspects were named, but none charged. All of the named suspects are deceased.
The degradation of the crime scene, inexperienced investigators, lack of technology and training and the reluctance of residents in the county to come forward with information hampered the investigation.
The Times-News published an eight-part series on the worst homicide in the county’s history in July. Several weeks ago, the newspaper was contacted by producers of the Court TV show “Haunting Evidence.”
Filming of the show
Filming did not occur at the actual site where the bodies were found. To add fodder for the conspiracy theorists, a brush fire had spread to the site within a few hours of the crew’s arrival. Firefighters referred to the dirt trail off North Lake Summit Road as Triple Murder Road.
The three stars of the show, psychic profiler Carla Baron, paranormal investigator Patrick Burns, and medium John J. Oliver did not step foot on the actual site.
According to producers, this only affected the investigation of the paranormal investigator. Burns could not set up his computer equipment to test for “paranormal activity.” He did set up the equipment at the home of victim Shipman on Maple Street in Hendersonville.
An alternative crime site, similar to and near the actual location near Green River, was used Tuesday for the night filming of the final scene. This site was also used for the interview with Sheriff Rick Davis.
The fire was not the only strange event, according to the film crew. A street light in front of Tempo Music remained on during the two to three hours the crew shot scenes Tuesday on Main Street. The crew walked the street checking other street lights. All were off, except the light in front of Tempo.
In filming the show, the television crew worked with the Hendersonville Police Department, victims’ family members, the Times-News and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.
The team, which received no information on the case other than the victims’ names, according to the show’s producers, attempted to visualize and describe the details of the crime.
Times-News reporter Jennie Jones Giles was teamed with psychic Baron. The filming with Baron was conducted Tuesday afternoon at the former Shipman house.
Nicholson was teamed with Oliver. Scenes were filmed Tuesday along the route taken by the victims the last day they were seen alive.
Both were on target with descriptions of the victims’ personalities and described emotions and fears during the actual kidnapping and murder. Baron portrayed with animation vignettes of Shumate’s life and described a male figure in her life, previously unknown to authorities.
Details and conclusions cannot be released until the show airs on television, but law enforcement will receive transcripts, along with a sketch of the suspect from Oliver’s description.
Calvert Hunt Jr., the last known person to see the victims and the unknown third man, was flown by the show’s producers from his home in New England to Henderson County.
Hunt underwent hypnosis at the location on Little River Road in Flat Rock where he saw Shipman’s car.
“I want to be certain that my memory is correct after 40 years,” Hunt said.
Hunt stated in earlier interviews that the late Frank Myers was the third man in the car that Sunday afternoon in July.
Nicholson, Giles, Shumate’s niece Linda Shirlin and Shipman’s cousin Eddie Shipman were filmed during interviews Wednesday.
“I really want to see every avenue used to try to solve this case, and psychics have become a standard tool in trying to solve cold cases,” said Rand Cheadle, who helped with research and wrote the stories on the voodoo and Klan aspects of the crime for the Times-News series. Cheadle was an observer during the filming for the Court TV show.
“However Baron and Oliver came up with their information, what they had to say gave me many, many new perspectives on how to think about this case,” he said. “Some of their statements confirmed my own conclusions. Other statements made perfect sense based on what we knew about the case and the victims. Oliver and Baron also hit on some facts and aspects of the victims’ personalities that were never highly circulated. As far as I can tell, there is no explanation as to how they could have come up with this information.”
Currently, re-runs of the series are being shown at 3 and 3:30 p.m. Saturdays on Court TV. The new season for the series begins in June in prime time. The triple murder in Henderson County will be on the schedule for the new season.
HENDERSON COUNTY 1966 TRIPLE MURDER ON COURT TV
By Jennie Jones Giles
The unsolved 1966 triple murder, the worst case of homicide in Henderson County history, will gain national attention today for the first time in 41 years. The Court TV series “Haunting Evidence” is highlighting the homicides at 10 p.m. (Aug. 21, 2007).
A description of a suspect, already named by law enforcement, and previously unknown details about the crime and victims were given to law enforcement during and following the filming of the show.
A transcript of the show was sent to the Hendersonville Police Department last week, along with an artist’s rendering of a suspect. The description of the suspect was given to the artist by John J. Oliver, psychic intuitive and medium.
In July 2006, the Times-News published an eight-day series, “Small Town, Big Crime,” on the unsolved murders. Producers with Court TV chose to feature the crime after reading the series.
The show’s stars are Oliver, psychic profiler Carla Baron and Patrick Burns, a paranormal researcher.
In each episode of the series, according to information from Court TV, the stars receive no information on the case other than the victims’ names. The team provides law enforcement with clues, details and leads, even describing the suspect in some instances, as will be done in this show.
‘North Carolina Burning’
The title of the show, “North Carolina Burning” has no meaning, Robbins said.
“For each episode a name is used internally,” he said.
North Carolina was the site of the crime and Robbins was relating the time in history to the movie Mississippi Burning.
“It was 1960s in the South,” Robbins said. “There was a little irony there. It was interesting to have the crime scene on fire.”
Robbins is referring to the fact that a brush fire occurred at the actual site where the bodies were discovered the day the crew was scheduled to film.
“The title is only used on the Web site,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
The promotion for the show states:
“Vernon Shipman and his lover, Charles Glass, were well known and liked in the small mountain community of Hendersonville, North Carolina. The year was 1966 and the two owned and managed Tempo Music, a popular record store. But neither Vernon nor Charles opened the store one Monday morning, and it seemed the two had vanished. Adding to the mystery, a record-store employee told police he’d seen Vernon and Charles the night before driving away from town with a suspicious looking man in the backseat. Five days later, their bodies were found bludgeoned to death next to the corpse of an unidentified woman. The three had been arranged as if part of a ritualistic display. Wild rumors abounded about the occult, voodoo, mobsters and Klansmen. Now, can our unconventional team travel and find answers in North Carolina that have eluded authorities for over 40 years? TV-14”
According to friends of Glass and Shipman interviewed for the Small Town, Big Crime series, the two were not lovers. They were gay friends.
Filming of the final scene in the show to be aired today did not occur at the actual site where the bodies were found. A brush fire spread to the site the afternoon of the filming. N.C. Forest Service officials would not allow the filming to take place at the site.
The three stars of the show did not visit the site.
“For psychics, it doesn’t make a huge difference,” Robbins said.
According to producers, this only affected the investigation of the paranormal investigator. Burns could not set his computer equipment up at the site. That does not mean that a paranormal presence could not appear, Robbins said.
“The psychics’ presence may bring another presence,” he said. “Patrick is monitoring them (psychics) for what they bring down on themselves.”
Burns set the equipment up at the home of victim Shipman on Maple Street in Hendersonville.
“He found the house more interesting,” Robbins said.
An alternative site, similar to and near the actual crime site, was used for the night filming of the final scene. The scene was filmed in a direct line from the actual crime scene across U.S. 176 off Pot Shoals Road. The site was under the same power lines and directly across the ridge.
Filming of show
The television crew worked with the Hendersonville Police Department, victims’ family members, the Times-News and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.
The first scenes were filmed along Main Street in downtown Hendersonville. Baron and Oliver walked the sidewalks between the current site of today’s Tempo Music Shop and the former site of the shop, where the Purple Sage was located.
Times-News reporter Jennie Jones Giles was teamed with psychic Baron. The filming with Baron was conducted at the former Shipman house. Giles and Baron were scheduled to visit the site where Shumate’s car was found abandoned along the French Broad River in the Rugby community. So much time was spent at the Shipman house that the location next to the river was not visited.
Baron did give accurate insights into the personalities of Glass and Shipman. She mainly focused on Shumate. Baron asked questions of Giles, mainly to confirm insights the psychic had on the victims.
Some of her insights on Shumate and Shumate’s involvement with Glass and Shipman will be seen on the show today.
Hendersonville Police Chief John Nicholson was teamed with Oliver. At the time of the filming, Nicholson was a captain and assistant police chief with the Police Department.
“John Oliver had no prior knowledge of the crime from the Police Department,” Nicholson said. “He didn’t get any information from us and only asked one question and it was not something that would give him any clues.”
Scenes were filmed along the route taken by the victims the last day they were seen alive.
Calvert Hunt Jr., the last known person to see the victims and a third man in Shipman’s car before the murders, was flown by the show’s producers from his home in New England to Henderson County for the filming.
Hunt underwent hypnosis by Oliver at the location on Little River Road in Flat Rock where he saw Shipman’s car.
“I want to be certain that my memory is correct after 40 years,” Hunt said.
Hunt stated in earlier interviews that the late Frank Myers was the third man in the car that Sunday afternoon in July 1966.
Baron, Oliver, Burns, the film crew for the show, Nicholson, Giles and Henderson County Sheriff Rick Davis gathered late the afternoon of the filming at the alternative site for the night filming.
A grisly, horrifying description of the crime will be given on the show tonight by Baron and Oliver as they envision the murders.
The stars of the show were only in Henderson County about 24 hours. The film crew remained another day for additional filming.
Interviews were conducted with Nicholson, Giles, Shumate’s niece Linda Shirlin and Shipman’s cousin Eddie Shipman.
SHOW EXPLORES PSYCHIC EVIDENCE
By Jennie Jones Giles
The Court TV series “Haunting Evidence” offered several insights into the 41-year-old unsolved murder of Vernon Shipman, Charles Glass and Louise Davis Shumate (Aug. 22, 2007).
The show featured psychic Carla Baron, John Oliver, a psychic intuitive and medium, and paranormal investigator Patrick Burns.
How much weight a viewer places on the details and insights from the television show depends on whether one thinks paranormal activity exists and if some people have psychic powers.
The producers of the show say the three stars had no prior knowledge of the crime, victims or investigation. There is no proof of this one way or the other.
Baron and Oliver did offer clues and insights into the crime that confirm several investigators’ belief that Edward Thompson Jr. committed the murders.
“I was very skeptical, but being open minded,” said Hendersonville Police Chief John Nicholson. “They may say things to point investigators in a certain direction, to ask questions and look at things in a different light.”
In the television show, the reports provided by Baron and Oliver about the brutal murders were merged.
But, during the actual filming, the pair each gave different motives and described the events of the kidnapping differently, especially as related to Shumate’s relationship with Shipman and Glass and her movements that Sunday on July 17, 1966.
To give the differing versions is too complicated in the amount of time allotted for the show, said producer Tim Robbins.
“On our show, we pick one theory to work with and use the most notes of commonality,” Robbins said. “We bring the theories together and make the points of commonality, the points found in common, and thread them together into a narrative.”
The theory the show worked with was given by Oliver.
Baron and Oliver were both on target in their insight into the personalities of the victims.
Burns said his equipment registered paranormal activity in the Shipman house and in the night filming.
“There is a very strong possibility that there is paranormal activity in this room right now,” Burns said inside Shipman’s house.
“Certainly sounds like an affirmation that someone was trying to indicate that they were with me,” he said during night filming at the house.
Baron and Oliver’s descriptions of the horrific murder itself were similar. They agreed that one person committed the crime.
They describe the vicious murder in graphic detail.
“I see him with a rod of some sort and it looks like he grabs it from the car,” Baron said.
Investigators say the victims were most likely killed with a part of a bumper jack from Shipman’s car.
Baron envisions Glass killed first. Oliver has Shipman killed first, which fits with most investigators theory of the crime.
“This man is maniacally swinging something,” Oliver said.
“It’s just an assault like I haven’t seen before,” Baron said. “It’s very vicious.”
Baron and Oliver are on target in descriptions of the placement of the bodies in a semi-circle and objects placed on the bodies.
“I get no more significance to that semi-circle other than it was deliberate and he did it so that it would befuddle the authorities,” Baron said.
Oliver and Burns did not work together during the filming. They were filmed simultaneously and separately in the night scene when they described the murders.
Baron and Oliver differed on Shumate’s abduction.
Baron offered hints into a possible drug connection involving Shumate, which fits with several investigators’ theories.
Whether Shumate’s involvement with drugs had anything to do with the murders is a matter of debate among investigators.
Oliver places Shipman and Glass alone in the house when the murderer arrives. His theory matches that of some investigators who believe Shumate was in the wrong place at the wrong time, picking blackberries along the French Broad River when the murderer happened upon her, with Shipman and Glass already under his control.
In the television show Wednesday, Oliver’s version of Shumate being abducted later at the river is not addressed.
Baron envisioned Shumate purposely driving to the Shipman house. The murderer was with Shumate and became enraged because Glass owed him drug-related money and couldn’t pay.
The television show portrayed Baron’s scenario at the Shipman house, with Shumate at the house.
Both Baron and Oliver agreed that the murderer was menacing and came into the house suddenly and unexpectedly.
Baron suggested that investigators should concentrate on Shumate and her involvement in illegal prescription drugs. The murderer had a relationship with Shumate, she said.
In addition to Oliver’s detailed description of the killer and the killer’s personality, he offered new information.
“I see a gun,” he said. “Someone has got a rifle. A short rifle pointed at them.”
The victims were not shot, they were bludgeoned. Oliver describes the bludgeoning with a metal object in gory details.
But, he also says the murderer used the rifle to abduct the victims. A rifle was not found at the scene of the murders.
“This man has a gun, but I’m wondering if it’s loaded,” Oliver said later when describing the murders.
Suspect Edward Thompson Jr. had rifles when he abducted and raped his victims during his 1968 crime spree. Several weapons were found in his car when he was captured outside Greensboro.
There were two errors in the show that aired Wednesday. The narrator said Oliver’s vision of Shumate in the rear seat behind the driver as the Shipman car traveled along Little River Road was a new clue. Not true. Several witnesses that Sunday in 1966 placed Shumate in the car sitting in the rear seat behind Shipman.
A statement made by Nicholson in an interview the day after the filming was used in the show. The statement described a witness who passed the Shipman car in the Big Willow community.
“As a car approached, they looked straight ahead, they would not make eye contact with him at all, and that the male in the back seat actually sat up in the seat so that way you couldn’t see his facial features very clearly,” Nicholson said.
This witness was Ronnie Hollifield, not Calvert Hunt as stated in the television show.