Episode 10- Hopper Road


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Tell you can take a virtual tour online and get directions to the store at home. Sense dot com welcome to the pike and massacre returned to county a production of iheartradio and katie studios. You've got all these scenarios in your head. I think this may have happened her navy. They did this. Every family of a murder victim does that you lay in bed and you think what happened. Why did they do this to did this. There's someone out there roaming around that killed two people that you could be standing beside in the grocery store and scary is the pike massacre returned to pay county season two episode ten hopper road. I'm courtney armstrong a television producer at katy studios stephanie. Lie decker and jeff shane over the course of producing this series. We've spoken to several members of the road and family because of a gag order and impending trials for the wagner family. They have been unable to go on record but earlier this year. One member of the family told us that her friend a pie. Tin resident named angie montgomery wanted to share a story about her own family and a loss they had suffered some years back. Coincidentally that same week a listener wrote in asking about that exact case so for this bonus episode as gear up to the season finale. Next week we decided to look into it. Angie perhaps more than most people can empathize with with. The roads are going through when we spoke to angie. She had just heard about jake. Wagner's plea deal in the road murder case. This news hit angie especially hard. She told us that she immediately reached out to her. Rodent family friend. I remember texting her just telling her. I was sorry that had to hurt so bad knowing that you sat down to eat christmas dinner with these people. You went to church with these people. So i can't imagine finding that out. Angie reflected back on the day. The bodies of eight members of the rodent family were found. I think we lost our innocence. That day we lost our wholesomeness our trust. We lost everything it was like you weren't a days this is happening. Your like where am i living. What's going on here. it's crazy angie's bewilderment is no doubt informed by her own tragic loss ten years before the road and family was gunned down. Her cousin curtis francis and his fiancee. Jennifer forget were also murdered and pike county. Angie spoke with producer. Chris graves about it. I know this probably hard. But can you describe for me. What happened to curtis jennifer on december. Ninth two thousand. Six curtis at his friend's house visiting he had been drinking that day and having a little bit of fun and jennie had came down and told him that he needed to get home and he laughed about ten thirty that night and went home and his mother talked to him before he went to bed. Belt midnight. I think in jenny had talked to a friend. I think about eleven thirty so they were going to bed and the next day. Nine one one call came in that genie's mother had found curtis jenny they had been shot in their bed was horrible. Curtis jenny were good. People you heartbreaking. It was just a shop. it's unsolved correct. Yes fourteen years unthought. It's a roller coaster. You go down every day you go up and down you know. Today's going to be the day something's going to happen and nothing just before their murders thirty four year old curtis francis and thirty year old jennifer. Forget where recently engaged. Couple living in piped-in ohio cousin. Curtis can you tell me a little bit about him and what he was like. Curtis was a good guy. He had a good heart. What help anybody he was. A hard worker loved family. He was very loyal and he was a a very good person. He was a little bit older than and we would see each other. You know when we were younger but we really hung out or when we got older teenagers in her early twenties. During that time we were pretty close. He was like more like a big brother to me. What about jennifer his fiancee. I like to call her a caretaker. She liked to take care of everybody. She loved in a move. She liked to fish. She was a good soul shannon goodhart. And what were they like together. They were a cute couple. They were neighbors. Always joke around. Curtis like joke a lot and laughing and they were just a normal couple. I guess hard working couple their murders just before christmas in two thousand six. Where a shock to everyone. Who knew the couple. Curtis jennifer were shot while they lie asleep in their home. On harper road in piped-in it was later determined that the bullets that killed them were fired from a lever action. Rifle i assume you guys try to work with the police on this right. How did that work at first. The family as being told jeannie and curtis's family. You know we don't know who did this. We don't know what's gonna win. You know law enforcement you. Trust them if they tell you. Hey we're working on this we're gonna get him. You know you gotta be patient which Everybody understands that you can't solve a murder in a day. Sometimes it takes a long time but after fourteen years of being told going from working on it to not contacting at all too well. We've we've went as far as we can go with this case. There's not really anything else we can do unless someone confesses or you know something. Drastic happens that hurts. I think there was one article on it when it happened a few days after it happened in the local paper and and a few other media outlets picked it up and did a couple of articles but after that there was nothing. You feel. like you're never gonna get justice and then you worry about. Hey you know. There's someone on the loose that could do this to other families. And then that turns into kind of aggravation. Why isn't anything being done. Why isn't this case important. Why the mafia important but authorities had no answers eventually the case that became known as the hopper road double when cold then twenty twelve there was suddenly some movement as part of his ohio unsolved homicides initiative then-attorney attorney general mike dewine revived the case urging anyone. With information to come forward he caught wind and he went on channel ten news station on columbus and Beach urge road. Murders talked about it. They had a deputy from the sheriff's department. Talk about acting tips. You know anybody. If they have any information we believe there are person or people out there who have information who would enable us to solve the case me had gotten a new sheriff and he wanted to reopen the case. And try to get some help with it. How did that make you feel feel like someone was actually paying attention. You guys. yeah we were excited. Do you know this is it. Somebody's gonna do something. We've got the attorney general on this and something's going to happen. Dave followed a few leads and a few tips but nothing came about in two thousand fourteen. The investigation was handed back over to the pike. County sheriff's office and it just went cold again. Two years later in two thousand sixteen jody bar than an investigative reporter at fox nineteen in cincinnati received an email from a woman named paula horn. Saying something to the effect of my son who was wrongfully convicted of murder. It and she says. I've got information and another cold case. So of course that got my attention. I go and meet with this woman and what ended up happening. Was paula horns son. Eric was convicted of a separate murder in pike county. A few years before curtain ginny were murdered. He was convicted of murdering paul. Show shouting kilby. He was convicted of that. But i'll a horn was on a mission to have her son. Eric horn set free from prison. Paula horn was convince. Her son did not do the murder so she pulls this huge box out of a closet and it stacked full of papers and files. Paul horn head collected massive amount of documentation tied to her sons murder conviction. But it was documents within this archive pertaining to a different case. That caught. jody's. I the murderers of curtis francis and jennifer get on hopper road as it turns out. Erakor new curtis francis and was with him hours before he was murdered in this box of documents. That paul a horn had or email communications between the prosecution. It eric horns zone attorney. In their plotting hell eric corned would plead guilty in one case in the state would use him as a witness in the double murder on harper road. This was essentially. Eric hordes saying i will trade information about this double murder for a plea deal in this paul show murder so eric. Corn had written out a statement. It's called a proper where he's getting. Investigators information in one case to essentially help him in another. Erica horn gave this to investigators somewhere around september of two thousand and eight so over the next month. Or so eric. From prison writes his mother a letter and he tells her about what happened the night that kurt francis and jennifer forget when murdered according to his letter. Eric corn told authorities that he was at a house on winn road. Piked in ninth two thousand and six that night. A group including curtis francis had gathered at the home for a party horn claimed that he left the wind road home at around ten thirty pm and never saw curtis francis again but horn said that just weeks later he ran into a man who was at the party. The man told horn that he was forced to go to curtis and jennifer's house that night his housemate who shot the couple over money dispute. Eric corn never admits to having direct involvement with the actual murders and sales. But eric horn wrote in that letter that there was a lever action rifle that hung on the wall of the house home on winn road in that after these murders happened. That gun was no longer on the wall. We're going to take a quick break here. We'll be back in a moment. It's crazy how much we have to pay for outdated impersonal healthcare and even crazier that we all just accept it. It's time to face facts. Healthcare is backwards. Luckily there's forward a new approach to primary care that surprisingly personal and refreshingly straightforward never makes you feel like just another patient backed by top rated doctors and the latest tech forward gives you access to personalized care whenever you need it using in-depth genetic analysis in realtime bloodwork forward top top-rated doctors provide you with in-depth insights to better understand your genetics mental and physical health. 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No one can prevent all identity theft or monitor all transactions at all businesses but when identity thieves. Try to take what she wears. You don't have to take it lying down. Save up to twenty five percent off your first year by going to lifelock dot com slash piped-in. That's lifelock dot com slash payton for twenty five percent off The files collected by paula horn contained not only air corn statements but accounts from other witnesses about the native curtis francis and jennifer gets murders. What i was reading on them was unbelievable. There were witness statements out of an investigative files in the pike. County sheriff's office contained in this box of records to this box records contained every document. That somebody like me could only dream of having when you start investigating a murder. That's ten years old at that point in time and what she had in her possession documents that ultimately provided a whole lot of answers for jimmy's family. We win every shred of paper in this case file. I made sure. I understood who every person was who these players are how they were connected. Next job was then to go talk to the victims families. So i went to judy conley. Who is kurt francis. His mother jody bar revealed some of the other statements taken by police in their investigation into kurt. Jennifer's murderer to the family. These accounts however seemed to contradict what era corn initially told authorities. Here again. angie. Montgomery one statement is from a gentleman whose house courtesy was at the night that he got murdered. He stated that his brother and his friend eric corn had left after curtis had left about ten thirty or eleven and took a rifle off the wall and went in killed curtis jenny and that they came back with bloody clothes in the shower took a shower. Got the blood. Often them took their clothes out in the yard and put them in a black trash bag in burnt them all at the command of his mother. Because apparently curtis owed the mother's fiance. Three hundred dollars is what i was told. And then there's another statement and they told the same story that they took a rifle off. The wall came back. Bloody took a shower bird. Close eric. corn denies any and all involvement in curtis and jennifer's murders. Jody bar knew that the information he had could help track down curtis and jennifer killers. But there was one problem. Jody couldn't get any more information from investigators. We can't pull the records in this case. They're all under seal. This is still considered although it's cold it's attending open investigation regardless of whether investigators are actively working or not. These are not records. You can get a hold of under the open records. Act so what you have at that point. The only thing you have are the witnesses and family members who may have been in contact or who may have remembered something from from back when this began. But i knew there was something here. I just had to get somebody from the family to work with us to help us. Then all the sudden this guy was huge. Winter jacket walks in from the backyard and greasy. He's been working on a car. And it's paul francis. His brother is kerr trances and judy. Introduces us and i tell him why why i am there. In his whole demeanor changed he looked angry. And i'm thinking okay. This is this going to be one of those where i get hauled out of the by collar belt loops and paul tells me is. Let's get your car. i've got something to show you. So get the car and we drive from his home over to win road and he walks me out to the edge of the property and he says this is a well and then he starts telling me the story about the story that this well told that he just happened to find. Paul jody that in july of twenty sixteen. He was doing the plumbing job at the same house on winn road that curtis was last seen at the night of his murder in two thousand six. By this point the previous owners had moved out doing plumbing work. So he sees a waterline running outside with an electrical wire running out alongside the pipe. So he's trying to pull this water lineup and it gets to a point where he he can't pull it up out of the ground any longer so then starts pulling this electrical wire and it snakes across the yard and it goes down a hill under a pile of junk in the yard as you described it and he digs down in. He finds this well. Shaft paul told me in the back of his mind and suspicion was that this could hold some sort of answer to his brothers. It sister-in-law's murder. You told me. He had a gut feeling about it. So paul francis called the pike county sheriff's office into investigate by two thousand sixteen. The department was headed up by charlie reader who as we know would later be jailed on charges related to corruption in office at the moment when an twenty six. What were you guys feelings about. Charlie reader were you hopeful. Yeah you're hopeful with every new. Sheriff he also had his hands full because the road and massacre had just happened. We knew that resources were probably stretched. But we also thought the bci the fbi. They're already down here in our county that gave us a little bit of hope of maybe The sheriff will say something and and pick up on this too. We were very hopeful that he would do something and something would happen. So the sheriff. Charlie reader paid a local plumbing company to run on plumbers camera down the well they were able to capture images of a handgun ant then this lever action rifle been that is very similar to the gun that air corn described in his two thousand eight letter that he sent his mom from prison. Let's stop here for another quick break. We'll be back in a moment. Okay so i gotta tell you about shopping at home sense. Oh yeah. I need to check that out. Is it good. It's better than good. trust me. it's a whole new way to shop. 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America's number one meal kit a authorities also found burnt clothing a detail relaid in eric corn statement. This could have been the break in the case the only physical evidence that we know of was down a well shaft and the sheriff's office just feet away for being able to get their hands on it baggage process if potentially prosecute somebody in the hopper road double-murder so then they were faced with the task of. How do we get these guns out of this. Well it's it's an eight inch pipe. You know that goes down into a well so they tried with a magnet. I was told and when that failed. They called in a fire truck. The idea was used the fire. Hose to fill the well with water which wouldn't turn live the guns back up to the surface authorities to retrieve but things did not go as expected. Nate place the fire hose and the pipe and turned the water on it. Blew the bottom of the well out and knocked like an eighty foot pole in allow. Took the guns with yourself. This ultimately ends up getting a welder out there. The welder wells a plate over top of this well. And that's where it's at july two thousand sixteen and here. We are years later. The likelihood that it's ever recovered. It's not looking very good right now. How did that feel horrible. Muscial and don't horrible anger. You know this is that was probably the biggest break will ever getting in this case ever. Despite potential evidence being lost jodi buyer pressed on with his investigation in two thousand seventeen. He went forward with a series of reports on the hopper double murder case the pike county sheriff at the time charlie reader when i was looking into this case me that he developed a cold case unit within a sheriff's office and he had some season law enforcement officials investigators criminal profiler 's on this team and they were looking into the hopper road cold case. So i got an interview with those four men. And i wanted to know more about the well. I wanted to him about this evidence in the bottom of this. Well i wanted to know a named all the names that were contained in these witness statements had all four members of this cold case unit sitting in front of me interview inside the sheriff's office in all i got from this cold case. Unit was no comment. Every question was no comment. Have you been able to develop any type of motive Profile of the suspects no comment. So you know we were. At the end of the road jody's reporting on curtis and jennifer's murder also received some pushback from the pike county community do to his interactions with sheriff charlie reader at the time the people in pike county that scene jody's airing of the hopper room murders had a different perspective on mr bar because of the investigation. He did at the road warehouse. With mr reader. Mr reader had got on facebook in had a huge rant aimed at mr bar and i like to say they drink mr readers. Kool-aid people were saying. This guy's just down here to make the pike county sheriff's office in charlie reader look horrible and so i had a lot of people message unique saying i can't believe that your family would let that guy do a report on this case. And he's just a troublemaker. He isn't even from around here. And i would always buy back and say at least he cares. You know he's the only one that cares. He jody. I mean as with all my heart and i hope i can get it out without crying. It's he really does care about my family. He is in constant contact with me. He has helped me. He has listened to me cry. He's just it's aggravated as we are. He's a very caring person in he and he was he the gods. Jody bars reporting helped raise awareness about curtis and jennifer's murders. The police were seemingly unable to make any progress still today. No one's been arrested. Kirk james family have no more answers today than they had. When we rolled out of pike county for the last time and aired the the final broadcast into this case from your extensive investigation seems as though investigators know what might have happened to curtis and jennifer and who may have done it. Why do you think there has been an arrest. That's my question. I don't know why there hasn't been an arrest. I don't know the investigators just didn't have enough. I don't know what else was needed to finish investigation. You've got people in these statements telling stories that you fill out what happened when you know the people who were adelphi in these statements as having gone to this murder seeing committed these crimes. It came back home. So i don't know why. Or what or where. Investigators art at this point in time. This is where fifteen years down the road. No arrests so as far as families concern and i talked to them regularly still today i mean they they feel like this is a miscarriage of not even justice. They didn't get that far. It's just an incomplete investigation. You just hope one day you'll be able to finish the story because at this point two people are dead in. It appears that whoever did this is you know gotten away with murder but that won't be the case fangio. Montgomerie has anything to do with it. You're still on this mission to get answers to get justice and also to make sure that it doesn't happen to another family right. I got my kids up. Were they were a little bit. I had a little bit of time on my hands. So i started going full force with getting hopper case out into the public. Speaking i went to the prosecutor spoke with him a few times. I went to the sheriff's we had an interim sheriff. When mr reader got suspended we're told just helps coming and it never does and i noticed that it's always when i get really rowdy. Squeaky wheel gets the most grief. When i start squeaking. I'll get a phone call. Hey just hang on. I'm going to figure out and nothing happens in. We're tired of it. That's like the most emotional about is just feeling like nobody cares. And i can't imagine what curtains anyth- mom their mothers feel like. That's another thing that puts the fire under by ass. It's never it's not going to bring them back. You'll always have a hole in your heart from that. But i would love to see someone get arrested for curtis in jennifer's murder and get prosecuted and that we get justice more information and the case relevant photos. Follow us on instagram at. Kt underscores studios next week will be bringing you the season finale where full panel of contributors will answer listener questions. So please write us with anything you wanna know this week. Is your last chance to get the questions. In the piped-in massacre returned by county is executive produced by stephanie. Lie decker and me. Courtney armstrong editing and sound design by executive producer. Jared aston additional producing by jeff. Shane andrew becker and chris graves. 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