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Whispers in the Mailbox: Circleville Letters.

A Small Town's Dark Secret Unfolds Through Anonymous Threats and Hidden Agendas.

By ShelbyPublished about a month ago 8 min read

After the American Revolutionary war came to an end, many settlers would move out west to a town called Circleville, named for its circular layout of the original settlement. It was known as a quiet and peaceful town for much of its history, those who lived in Circleville felt safe and content.

Each year it held a pumpkin show, one of Ohio's largest and oldest festivals dating back to 1903. But, soon the pumpkin show would be forgotten and instead, a dark and decades-long mystery would veil the town.

Anonymous letters would start to appear in 1976. Mary Gillispie, a bus driver for the Westfall School District, was the first recipient of these letters. Written on these papers, in distinctive block letters, was a note accusing her of having an affair with Gordon Massie, the superintendent of the school, a married father of one.

The envelope was postmarked from Columbus, 25 miles south of Circleville, and there was no return address. It was signed "The Circleville Writer."

The letter 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."

Mary was married and had two children, she was shaken when she read the letter. Thoughts raced through her brain, who was this person and why were they harassing her?

Letters would continue to arrive at the Gillispe home, Mary would choose to ignore them. Mary would deny the allegations of the affair, however, she kept the notes secret from her husband. That was until he started to receive letters addressed to him.

The writer told Ron Gillipse that his wife was cheating on him with Gordon Massie and that he needed to take care of it. When Ron didn't take action, the threats escalated.

"Gillipse: you have had two weeks and done nothing: you are a pig: make her admit the truth and inform the school board: If not, I will broadcast it on CB: posters: signs: billboards: until the truth comes out: only pigs ride motorcycles: good hunting in your red and white truck on your way to work: I followed him for weeks since last summer, and have seen her meet with him several times.

The writer would then start to send similar letters to the school's vice principal about this alleged affair.

"I shall send you proof about driver number 62917. She has a child in school there now, I shall prove this shortly. I expect him to be discharged. You'll see that I am telling the truth."

However, there was no proof coming forward. But, it is notable that the writer knew Mary's driver number, this suggested that this person was somehow connected to the school. But who it was remained a mystery.

At this point, Gordon Massie was also receiving these letters. In them, the writer threatened to slash his tires and cut the brake lines if he didn't end this affair.

Things took a distrubing turn when the writer of these letters included Mary and Ron's 12-year-old daughter, Tracy. He alleged that Gordon was sexually abusing the girl, and now the letters included death threats.

"It's your daughters turn to pay for what you've done... I shall come out there and put a bullet in that little girl's head.

The Gillispies were desperate for help, so they turned in the letters to the sheriff's office. Law enforcement started to wiretap phones, watch homes, and worked along side the postal service to intercept these letters, but this was all to no avail. They were not getting any closer to finding out the identity of the Circleville Writer.

The letters started out targeted specifically at the Gillispies and Gordon Massie, but it soon grew to include many other Circleville residents.

Law enforcement was stressed out, all their efforts at discovering who the mystery writer was, failed. The Gillispies turned to Ron's sister and brother-in-law, Karen and Paul Freshour. They showed the two the letters they received and asked them for help in figuring out who was behind them.

Paul and Karen felt the answer was obvious, David Longberry, a fellow bus driver of Mary's that had made passes at her multiple times. She would brush him off each time and the Freshours thought it was plausible that he was bitter and wished for revenge. This would also answer why the writer knew Mary's driver number, since he was in the position to have access to it.

Paul and Karen wrote a letter to David, stating they knew he was responsible for the hate mail and warned him to stop. Intrestingly enough, the letters did come to a stop for a time after this confrontation. Mary and Ron finally felt as if they could let out a sigh of relief, they thought the ordeal was finally over.

But it was just the beginning.

While the letters stopped for a time, they were replaced with inflammatory signs that appeared along Mary's bus route. The signs contained the same content and allegations as the letters, but now they were out there for the public to see. The Gillispies were now worried about their daughter, she was frequently referred to in the hateful messages.

The Gillispies were determined to minimize Tracy's embarrassment and discomfort, so Ron worked to take down the signs as soon as he came across them.

His brother-in-law described the stress:

" Ron was devastated and distraught, he didn't get much sleep during that period of time in his life. He was frantic, and would drive around an hour or two in the morning before his shift began looking for any obscene posted signs. Ron worked very hard to figure out what it was really all about, and to have the problem solved.

Mary went to Florida with her sister in 1977, it was meant to be a getaway from the stress and worries that haunted her. It is also noted that it was rumored she was meeting Gordon Massie in Florida, but this was never confirmed.

Ron was left to deal with the stress of the terror campaign on his own and on the evening of August 19th, the Gillispie home recieved a phone call. Tracy would hear her father shouting at the unidentified caller in a room over, Ron was convinced it was the Circleville letter writer.

Ron had the intention to confront the person, so he grabbed his .22 caliber revolver and hastily left in his Ford pickup truck. 50 minutes later, a shocking discovery was made: Ron's wrecked truck that was crashed into a tree just at the end of the road. Ron, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, was sadly found deceased.

It was also discovered that a shot was fired from Ron's revolver, but neither a bullet hole or bullet was found, only the casing.

A toxicology report done on Ron found that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.16, twice the legal limit. The family argued that this was impossible, Ron was never a heavy drinker, they also were certain that foul play was to blame.

Was Ron ran off the road?

Paul Freshour was always vocal about the belief his brother-in-law had been murdered:

"The sheriff agreed with me that there was foul play and then when I contacted him again, he'd changed his attitude completely."

That leaves the question, what or whom had he fired his gun at before crashing? There was nothing to indicate that foul play was involved. The sheriff, Dwight Radcliff concluded that his death was simply a tragic accident.

After Ron's death, the signs and letters continued. The would make shocking accusations, alleging corruption by the sheriff and it calimed that the town's physician and coroner, Ray Carroll, was sexually abusing minors. 10 years later, the claim was proven true: Ray Carroll was exposed as a serial sexual abuser.

Mary Gillispie confessed to her affair with Gordon Massie, but she claimed it didn't start until after her husband had died. The timeline was questionable, but she hoped this transparency and honesty might end the harassment.

She was wrong.

Mary came across a particularly disturbing sign along her bus route on February 7th, 1983. This one graphically detailed the alleged affair between Massie and Mary's daughter. She stopped the bus and was determined to take down this sign. but she noticed a string attached to the sign that led to a box nearby.

There was a small wooden box that contained a handgun held by styrofoam blocks. The string was connected to the trigger. This was presumably meant to be a lethal trap for anyone who dared take down the sign.

There was an obvious attempt at scratching off the gun's serial number, however, firearm examiners at BCI, Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, recovered it.

The serial number traced back to a man named Wesley, a man working at the local Columbus Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Wesley claimed he sold the gun to his supervisor and hadn't been in possession of it for some time. His supervisor was none other than Paul Freshour, Mary and Ron's brother-in-law.

Paul's wife confessed to police that he wrote the letters. The couple were in the middle of a contentious divorce, but Karen had evidence. She discovered these letters hidden throughout their home.

Yet, Paul denied writing the letters, claiming the gun was stolen weeks earlier. But, the polygraph test Paul took declared he was a liar. Law enforcement arrested Freshour, and in 1984, a jury convicted him of murder. During the trail, a witness testified that Paul had written the Circleville letters.

Residents hoped that with Paul behind bars that the letters would stop, but they didn't.

Hundreds of letters flooded Circleville after Freshour was convicted. The warden at the prison declared that Freshour could not possibly have sent them - he wasn't allowed access to pens or paper.

Paul had even received an anonymous letter from the writer while was behind bars.

Now a new question came to light: "Who hated Paul enough to try to get him in trouble?" This was the question that his lawyer asked the jury during his trail. "If you read the divorce decree, who stands to profit financially, if Paul is convicted [and] goes to prison?"

Fingers started to point at Paul's ex-wife Karen. She was the one who reported her husband to the police. Did Karen and her now boyfriend, who matched a witness description from the booby trap crime scene, set up Freshour?

A decade passed and the mystery only grew, in December 1993, when Unsolved Mysteries came to Circleville to conduct an investigation, the show also received a letter.

"Forget Circleville, Ohio... If you come to Ohio, you el sickos will pay."

It was signed "The Circleville writer."

Paul begged Unsolved Mysteries to dig deeper:

"I'd really like to see someone really look into this case, on the letters. Reopen the letter part of it and get in and find out who wrote the letters."

The question remains, who wrote the Circleville letters? Paul Freshour went to his grave claiming his innocence. But recent forensic examinations revealed similarities between his writing and that of the Circleville writer's.

Years after the final letters, the writer's identity has never been conclusively proven. The sheriff's office closed the case and the mystery of the letters may never be solved.


About the Creator


Just a girl who loves to write about paranormal and life stuff. Please enjoy

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