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March 28, 2019

Red Flags

Red Flags

Susan and Evan’s family and friends tell about some strange and controlling behavior in the Osborne family.

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Welcome to Secrets True Crime.  I am your host, Amber Sitton.  What is done in darkness will eventually come to light.  That is the purpose of this podcast...to shine light on the story of Susan Osborne and her 14 year old son Evan Chartrand. They vanished from their home in the tiny Alabama community of Holtville on Memorial Day in 2017.  They haven't been seen or heard from since and their bodies have not been found. This is episode 4 of a serial podcast with each episode building upon the previous.  If you have not listened to Episodes 1 through 3, please stop and listen to it first or you probably won’t understand what’s happening in this episode.  Listener discretion is advised.  This episode contains one instance of mildly foul language and the subject matter may involve violence, sexual content, murder and adult themes.  It’s not suitable for younger listeners.  While this was mentioned in previous episodes, I want to note again.  Susan Osborne also has a 10 year old daughter.  Because of her age, I will not be naming her and she will come up in this episode.  Both she and her father  will come up in this episode.  The daughter’s name will be bleeped out.  I’ll be referring to her dad as Jay but whenever his name is mentioned by someone else, it too will be bleeped out.  If you know or have known Jerry or knew Susan after she was married to Jerry, I want to hear from you.  Someone knows something.  Information you may think is small or insignificant could make a difference in this case and you can remain anonymous.  secretstruecrime@gmail.com or the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office at 334-567-5546.


We now know that immediately following the disappearance of Evan and Susan, Susan’s husband, Jerry Osborne, began a remodeling project on their home.  Investigators also discovered that he had multiple burn barrels and piles in his backyard and he burned at least some of the furniture including Evan’s mattress.  While the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office has not named a suspect, they have stated that their only person of interest in the dissappearance is Jerry.   

For the remainder of the story to make sense, we have to go back to the time in Susan’s life before she met Jerry.  These events played a big part in Susan’s story with Jerry.  Also, the family wants to clear up some things they feel have been misrepresented in other news coverage.  There are 2 things that everyone I’ve spoken to that knew Susan well agreed upon.  The first is that her kids were her life and she’d never have left her daughter.  The second is that her biggest flaw is that she had terrible taste in men.  This is her brother Brian:


Brian: (10:27)

Susie was, Susie was not a weak person. I mean, she always stood her ground on what she thought was right, but she just had the worst, worst judgment on guys, you know, she was a magnet for losers and you know, boyfriends, well, she'd had a couple of, you know, growing up, she had us, you know, a couple of decent boyfriends. I don't know how she ended up with the, you know, the last three of them that she had


Brian: (11:03)

or just seemed to get worse or worse.


Susan & Evan moved to Alabama when Susan was married to Evan’s dad, Eric Chartrand.  Eric was transferred to Alabama for his job.  Melissa described Susan and Eric’s relationship to me.


Missy: (04:33)

They went to Texas. That was before Evan was born, um, that he got a job. She followed him down there, got her really. She had a really good job with a makeup company down there, really liked it. But then he got sent back up here for work and she came back up here to be back by family and stuff. Um, and then later after, that's when she got pregnant with Evan and they got married and then his job again was sending him to family and she went back and forth or whether or not to follow him because their marriage was on the racks, but she is even said she wanted to do anything she could. So there, as, in had mom and dad and a complete family and stuff. But I guess she didn't look at, maybe you should look at the quality of what's going on in the family is more important than it just being untapped, you know, if it's a bad relationship then you need to get ahead of it. But um, but yeah, she, she followed him for both of those and that was the first thing,


Missy: (09:12)

I think some of her, it was the marriage not working out with dad because of her coming from a divorce situation. She really wanted Evan to have that stable life and so I think she struggled with when to leave that relationship because she wanted that so bad for him because she didn't have it. Um, I think she just, she, although she was one of those people that the weirdest things in the world would always happen to her if it was something that you couldn't believe what happened, what happened to her, which even makes us even weirder because this is something you would never think would happen. 

Melissa told me that Susan & Eric had troubles throughout their relationship and they finally divorced.


At some point, Susan began a relationship with the man we are calling Jay.  While they were never married, Susan and Jay did have a daughter.  Susan and Jay were at the end of their relationship when Hollie moved across the street from Susan and she told me that Jay moved out soon afterward.  


A pretty vague statement saying that Susan had disappeared before has made its way into several news stories since their disappearance.  Susan’s family and friends take issue with this and they want to give the full story to clear this misconception up once and for all.  Here is Melissa:

Missy: (12:20)

So at that time we were making monthly trips to Nashville for my oldest daughter. And so Brian told her, he goes, I will drive to Alabama. I will pick you in the kids up, I will bring you back to Michigan and you can spend a week here with us. Then at the end of that week we were supposed to be making a trip back to Nashville. So then when we would make the trip back to Nashville, we would drive to another, I think it's like four hours back down and drop her back off to home. So she'd get a week up here. One of our trips was already being made. It would be an extra trip and plus the extra time, so my husband drove down there, picked her up, brought her back up here. She spent the week while she was here. We found out her water was being shut off.


Missy: (13:11)

She finally confessed how bad of a situation she was in. Her water was shut off, her electricity was about to be shut off and she didn't have money to pay her rent. She wanted back to Michigan with her family so bad, but she felt trapped in the state of Alabama because of the custody things, so she couldn't get the kids away and she was to that point. Well my husband where he worked could get her a job. They said they'd hired a second and she'd have a job. She could live here with us. I would babysit the kids for free. It would work out perfect for when she enrolled back into school. He would be starting into the middle school where they merged the three elementary, so he wouldn't be like the new kid because everybody be knew. It'd be like a perfect time for that to happen.


Missy: (13:58)

We called lawyers and we researched it and we researched it and during the time she was here and she was looking and in that they said, you can leave the state of Alabama without given the 45 day notice to the fathers if there's insinuating circumstances, well if you have no water and your electricity is being shut off and you're going to be homeless before the 45 days is up. I would say that's insinuate and circumstances. As long as she notified them that she was leaving and down there, she said it's like the good old boy system and Hannah's grandmother works in the clerk's office at the courthouse that she has to go through for custody, so that's. That was causing her issues because she would never have let it go through to get approved to come to Michigan because of that. So we followed up with everything. Went and went down there, loaded all of her stuff up and moved her back up here with us. While we were there. She mailed them certified letters with our address, phone numbers, everything. Explaining the whole situation explained to you at a job, a place for them to live, free, babysitting the whole nine yards, everything in the letter as to why and that she really desperately needed to be back with her family whole nine yards.


Missy: (15:26)

Sometime that letter. What we did is we went and picked her up, loaded her stuff up. We took people with us to help. We stepped back in Nashville, her and the people we had to help continue on back home. At least stayed in Nashville for the couple of days to do what we needed to do and so we were there, not quite a. We were there less than a week and stuff and while she was here for the week before when she's babysitting, Hannah's spoke to her dad every night. Evan spoke to his dad every night. She made a point. They both talked to their dad's every night when they called, they knew exactly where she was at. They knew exactly who she was visiting the whole nine yards. She went and did this to move up here. We went. Download your stuff. The day we were headed back. We get a phone call that the sheriff's department showed up at our door and took the kids. We had told her go up and stay somewhere else besides this address when we get home. So you're not alone with the kids, you know, just in case because she had had issues with both of those guys before. Safety issues. Um, so. But she stayed here anyway because she wasn't worried about it and staff. Well they showed up here less than a week later and took both of the kids from.


Missy: (16:42)

The thing is, is that later we discovered the sheriff who showed up didn't have the paperwork that she needed to take them away from her. And then when we went up there, we got home. We booked at home as fast so he could like get home, went to the sheriff's department, the letter or the paperwork stating that they were getting emergency custody from her. Also was the extra 10 from Kentucky the day after they took them.


Missy: (17:15)

I believe that the sheriff that he got when she went to school with in the same high school, I believe that Evan's dad knew her. That's how we get her to step in without the paperwork, but at that point Susie, like I don't care about going against the genesee county sheriff's department. I just want my kids back, you know, and stuff. So then since then, every date that she had, so she, she got her stuff together and got some help from up here. My parents gave her money to pay for a lawyer down there. They loaned her money for that. Me and her actually turned around that day. We got home from Nashville, man her and took off back to Alabama and got to the courthouse to get those paperwork to see what they had against her to say that they could get custody. They tried saying that they. It was the stupidest paperwork and highlight reel because one sentence said that she never allowed them to see the kids. The next sentence stated that she dumped the kids out of every day and never took care of them. Then the next statement would say that she withheld them and then it was like, you're contradicting yourself in one paragraph four times.


Missy: (18:27)

It was the stupidest. If if that sheriff woman had looked at it and then for her to come to rip two kids out of her screaming and crying and take them down the road and drop them off to a parking lot to to strange guys because an evidence data in Hannah's dad hated each other, but they work together because Evan's dad had money to pay for the liar. Hannah's dad didn't. They became buddy buddy and lived together after that. 


I spoke to Evan’s dad, Eric.  His and Melissa’s recollection of these events doesn’t match 100% but as we walked through the conflicts, he agreed that some of the differences are likely due to poor communication between him and Susan.  There are some things that Eric and Melissa are in perfect agreement on.  1 is that Evan and Susan’s disappearance from the home they shared with Jerry Osborne is not at all like the event Melissa described to me when Susan attempted to move back to Michigan.  He told me he wished he believed they were still alive but he knows they aren’t.  The 2nd thing is that Susan would have never left her daughter.

Eric:  No because, no because number 1 she hadn’t contacted her daughter at all and if she was going to do it, she’d have taken both of them.


Amber:  Ok.  So this situation isn’t anything like what…


Eric:  No, not at all.  I know her father left her money when he passed and she hasn’t gotten it 


Amber:  do you think that Susie would have left without Hannah Grace?


Eric:  No, not at all.  Not at all.  Like I said, if she was going to do it, she’d have left with both of them.


As I mentioned in the previous episode, I did reach out to Jay but he declined to speak with me and blocked me on Facebook.  


Susan was able to obtain full custody of Evan again within a few months or so.   Getting primary custody back for her daughter was not as easy but it was top priority for Susan.  Hollie told me Jerry knew this and that he used it to keep Susan in the marriage.  


Hollie: (56:30)

And that was one of the things that he kept telling her to try and I guess keep her is I'm going to help you get full custody. If Hannah grace back, uh, I'm helping you, I'm going to pay for everything, you know, I'm going to take care of it. I'll help you get her back. And, and it was always like, you know, he would always put up this big act. Like he was actually doing something to help when he wasn't.


By this time, Susan & Jerry are married but we aren’t sure exactly when they got married.  I found where they purchased their marriage license in October 2013 so it was obviously sometime after that and Susan’s family believes they had been married for about 4 years at the time of her disappearance. Hollie told me they married approximately a year after they met but Susan didn’t tell Hollie that she and Jerry got married until afterwards. 


Hollie: (29:06)

They literally, and that was another thing that kind worried me because she was so secretive about it. He proposed to her at Christmas in front of his family and she had not right after Christmas that year. She had told me that he proposed to her, but it really, she said she's a private person around people she doesn't know and she's not the type that wants a big scene or you know, wants, wants to be the center of attention. She, that was not her. And she said, you know, it really bothered her and it really made him nervous and he proposed to her in front of his entire family. People she didn't know. And all these people there, she's, it just made me so nervous. She said, and he knows how private I am. She said, I wish he'd just done it different and you know, as she was just.


Hollie: (30:00)

And literally after her dad died, they, um, how I even found out that they even got married. She called me up one day at my house and it showed up Susan Osborne and I saw her name instead of Susan Chartrand and I saw the name pop up on the caller ID. I said, Susie, is there something you want to tell me? She's like, what do you mean? I said, your name, your name showed up on my caller id as Osborne, not Chartrand. I said is there anything you need to tell me and you know, this was not long after they got engaged, they had a very short engagement and she goes, Oh yeah, we got married and I said you were going to tell me when. And she said, oh, we got married about a week ago. And I was like, and why don't you tell me this? She goes, she's like, she said, it wasn't really any big deal, so she was just very nonchalant about it and I said, why don't you tell me?


Hollie: (30:59)

She's like, well, it's just because I knew that you would want to be there. She said, would you be there but I know you couldn't get off of work and I didn't feel obligated that you had to take off of work. So she said, that's why she's like, because I knew that you would be there, and she said I'm wanting to be there, but she's like, I know what your job is too. So she said, we just literally, she said he found this, this little elopement church out in the middle of nowhere. I remember it was somewhere in Alabama and I think there's some work in North Alabama, but I don't remember the exact town. It was literally a town out in the middle of nowhere. Some have little country church where literally she said somehow jerry found it online and it was just, you go, it is literally an elopement, just the two of you on people's.


Hollie: (31:45)

There's a preacher and his wife I think was the witness, the preacher's wife, and it was literally just them there and she said, I just watched this and it was in January, I think. I can't remember the exact month I got married. But, um, but she said, I've worked purple dress. She said, she said it was, you know, nothing fancy whatsoever. It's just a little. There's just the two of us. I do. I do. That was it. She said so she said it wasn't anything big. She said, but I said, you know, you don't sound real excited though. She goes, you know, she was just very nonchalant about it and that's what sort of worrying me too because I was like, okay, well she's starting to see some red flags then, but starting to get scared then I wasn't saying anything that her dad had died. Not long before that. She made the comment she made to me several times. She said he was there for me when my dad died. She said that's why I went ahead and did it. He already had the house before she met him.


Early on in Susan and Jerry’s relationship, Hollie thought he seemed like a down to earth nice guy but Hollie and Susan’s family quickly started to see some concerning behavior.  Melissa & Brian told me that Susan and Jerry introduced Jerry as her husband when they visited in January 2015.  


Missy: (25:47)

so she went and talked to us a lot. She sort of stayed back. I'm she had a little bit of a rift with her dad before her dad died because she wouldn't let her dad talk to the kids. and he would say, why can't I talk to my grandkids? You know, he's in bad health. Thirteen hours away. He just wants to touch his kids in the fall. Later we discovered Jerry was listened to all their phone. Evidently Jerry had an issue with him listening to. So because we were taking care of the dad, we sort of got roped into not really being in the middle but of like, I think Jerry didn't want to talk to us either because of he just, I don't know why he had an issue. It's talking to him.


Missy: (26:41)

it was really weird for her to like that.


Missy: (26:44)

I mean I know my father in law sent your money down to help her and stuff and he's like, well you won't even let me talk to the kids. You don't do this. Should I continue to send you money in this or that and stuff. And I think that when he said that, I think Jerry got mad and probably so we'll send your money. It gets half the kids in this or that. And so. But then when her dad passed away, she did come up and see him. That was the last time we got to see them in person was when, um, when he passed away and that was January 2015. And that was really weird too. And you could take the situation is two different ways. But looking at it now, it's a whole lot different than you way you took it at the time, you know what I mean?


Missy: (27:29)

No one was going on or what's happened because Jerry had never met her dad and they got to the hospital and he's in the intensive care unit so they don't allow a lot of extra people. But because he was so close to the end and they were being a little bit more lenient. And Jerry, if she went back there to see her dad, Jerry had to be there with her because I know one of my husband's aunts was like, what does he need to be back there? He doesn't even knowing. And I says, yeah, but she wants her husband probably there for support because this is hard for her, you know, you would want your husband there too, so you gotta understand that, you know and stuff. But Jerry never left her side and he was really bad and it was only going to be a couple days. So they were gone. I don't think she'd made it back to Alabama before he had passed honestly. And I'm so she was there and stuff. And um, she kept saying we have to go back to your ass to get to work. We have to go back because Darius had work and Jerry would stand there and say, no, it's fine. I can just call them and get the next day off.


Missy: (28:35)

That's fine. Well, we'll just stay. And then a little bit later she'd be like, no, he's got to get back to work. And it's like, well, is she wanting to get out of here faster or why? Because he's saying he can get it off. And then before they left that night for the hospital, they came to one day to the hospital. Evidence is obsessed with fishing. So my husband was going to take him out ice fishing. He'd never got to voice fishing because he hadn't been up in the winter and stuff. So he was so excited. So they said, well, we're going to go back to the hotel, check on the dogs, get warmer stuff and change and we'll meet you at the house and we'll go. I switched. My husband was so excited he had hardly even left the hospital and everything else, but him and my son were both taking my sufficient, even if it was dark and it was like they were. When I switch it and we get a text message shortly after they left and said, oh sorry, we can't go. We're headed back to Alabama. So we didn't even get to give them a proper goodbye or anything because we were expecting to see them like half an hour back at the house to go ice fishing and stuff. And they up and left. Now later, no one was happening. Jerry was playing Mr. Nice Guy. But probably in her ear the whole time that they had to be back.


Missy: (30:08)

Yeah. And that's what I said to. I suppose it wasn't that she, he was just being there to support her. He didn't want her alone with anybody. He was on top of her that whole time and I says it wasn't loving husband who was being there for support. It was controlling husband who was controlling the situation. And after when you find out exactly how controlling he was, then you see it. But um, but after her dad died, we didn't really talk to her a lot. We told her when the funeral was and stuff and we had issues getting the answers back and we didn't really talk to her lap. I'm like I said Linda would talk to her and stuff, so we get updates that way. We didn't, you know,


Missy: (30:52)

really get a chance to talk to her very much.


Melissa said Jerry was on top of her Susan the whole time.  At the time she wasn’t sure if Jerry was trying to be a supportive husband or if it was a possessive, controlling action.  I have spoken to so many people while creating this podcast.  Some you’ve heard from, some you’ll hear from in the future and some you may never hear speak.  Some of them know each other and many of them don’t.  I have lost count of how many people I’ve spoken with that have related this to me almost verbatim.  Jerry was on top of Susan the whole time.  I have heard this over and over and over again.  


Susan’s brother Brian had this to say about the one and only time he met Jerry.


Brian: (03:26)

I only met him one time, Susie and very come up when my father was getting ready to pass away in the hospital and he would just seem like a really odd character.

Brian: (03:47)

He would never, he never left her side. He knows like he always be and have his ear on every conversation. Just a real strange person.


Brian: (04:08)

He's one of those people. He would, he would talk if you said something to him or if I asked Susie something he would butt in and say something.


Brian: (04:24)

I got the impression right off the bat and he seemed pretty controlling of her. Yup. Yeah. Yeah. He never left. He would never leave her, so I could talk to her. 


Susan’s father passed away shortly after Jerry & Susan left Michigan.  In his will, he left money to both Evan and Susan’s daughter but Jerry wouldn’t let Susan accept this money for her kids.  Jerry told her that he could take care of their family and the kids didn’t need that money.  The money was set aside and set up where both Evan and his sister would receive it once they reached age 18.


Also, Hollie and Susan’s family all noticed another alarming situation.  If Jerry was home, the only way Susan could talk on the phone to anyone was if she kept her phone on speaker so that Jerry could listen to both sides of the conversation.  


Hollie told it me had gotten to where she wasn’t seeing Susan & Evan that much and that Susan would often cancel their plans.  I asked Hollie if she was aware of any physical abuse in Susan and Jerry’s relationship.


Hollie: (43:55)

I said, well, that I truthfully can't say. I say because I know susie and I know she wouldn't have told me if he was because she knew I would have worried and as she is the type of person, she wouldn't have wanted me to worry. So I know she wouldn't have told me. she would have tried to hide that from me and which did worry me with a lot of times like me and her made plans to go shopping or get her nails done or something. And then she canceled, which made me think, okay, so did she have bruises on her that she didn't want me to see? So she never couldn't meet up with Nita.

By this time, Susan is aware of Jerry’s secret life and his many lies and the life she was living with Jerry began to show signs of a downward spiral.  

Hollie: (01:50:19)

And this was another red flag with Jerry to about, I want to say about a year before their disappearance. Susie called me up one day and said that she had found something interesting. She had found her boots, wisdom on craigslist for sale.


Hollie: (01:50:43)

Jerry have listed her both personnel and when they bought it needed work, she put a lot of time and effort into this boat that she, she just loved doing it and she's like actually take out of water now and, and she put the new coding inside the boat. I mean she redid the entire thing now looking really nice and, and um, well with this ad that she found on craigslist where Jerry had evidently listed her boat for so without Hernando much. Not only did it have my boat listed personnel, but in the description she was reading me, it was telling on Craig's list when he would be at work and when his wife would be home alone and then had a google map with directions to their house. Okay. So almost. And I told her specifically, I said, that's weird. So they're almost like a sounds like a setup, like he's having you killed or something. She said that's what I was thinking. So I told him, I said he better either take that at all or said if he sells my boat and I'm selling his motorcycle. She just said he. He removed the listing after that. I said, that sounds like a setup. I as why would he have a map with directions to your house and then be telling people when you're home alone and when he's at work. Is it. That's weird.


You may remember Evan and his sister’s dogs being mentioned a few times now.  They had 2 small dogs, Sugar and Schnook.  One was Evan’s and one was his sister’s.  Something that stuck out to me as I spoke to their family and friends is that everytime they took a trip, it was mentioned that the dogs went with them.  They took the 2 dogs with them when they went to visit Linda in Texas in 2016.  They also took them with them when Susan’s dad was dying and they made the trip to Michigan.  Within a few weeks of Susan and Evan disappearing, both Sugar and Schnook were dropped off at the humane society.  


Hollie: (01:58:13)

so she had sugar and schnook. She'd had for, I want to say around two years was I didn't find out until, you know, after all this was going on that they had been took to the pound, so they had actually been took to the pound from what we found out from the humane shelter by Jerry's dad and even more interesting. They had those dogs for awhile. Jerry's parents lived just not far away from them and Jerry's parents were at their house quite frequently. I find it really hard to believe that Jerry's dad know what there's dogs names were. They have sugar water than they had the other one, but the humane shelter said that when he dropped the dogs off of the shelter, he told them that sugar's name was Susan. That's the name that they had listed for sugar also. Yes. Susan is the name that they have listed for sugar, so. And they said that's the name of they were given by Jerry, his dad when he dropped them off and gave them a story about his son, couldn't take care of him anymore because he worked on some story like that. And um,


Hollie: (01:59:42)

and so by the time I found out that they then took a look at it already been adopted and I'm sugar was still there. Well, I have three dogs already. And I told my husband, I said to her there, and he was like, we can't have more dogs. I was like, I don't care. I'm not making her there. I said I'm going to drive that to Alabama and go get her and this is from 15 hours away. So I was like, I'm not leaving her there. So, um,


Hollie: (02:00:15)

so I'm obviously going to him because I've gotten to go get her. And this was a kid, so when they weren't open yet. So I was literally printing no take care of her work together. So my parents still live in Montgomery, so I was talking to my mom and everything. She's on, do you want me to go get her? And this was on a Sunday and I suggest this to you. She said yes. She said, I'll come get her, come get her tomorrow morning. I said, hurry up. I said, don't let anybody else get. Or was it eating go getter. So my mom went into my parents, right. So they had her since ever since then. So she's at their house now

Jerry’s behavior as it’s been described by family, friends and even people who just had brief encounters with them is abusive.  Susan & Evan were living in an unpredictable, crazy and miserable environment and unfortunately, there are more alarming stories to come.  Why didn’t she leave?  We will be exploring that and more.  We have a very special guest for our next episode on April 12th.   Mark Gillespie will be giving us some insight into some of the forensic questions I know I have and I’m sure you have too.  Mark has his masters degree in forensics and has been a professor of forensics and the director of a forensics division of a police department.  He was a special agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations for 13 years and he has been the owner of Gillespie Security & Investigations for the last 15 years.  


Join us next time on Secrets True Crime.  Thank you for listening.  If you are enjoying this podcast, please let us know by giving us a great rating and review in Apple Podcasts.  If you have any information that could help in solving the disappearance of Susan Osborne and Evan Chartrand, please call the Elmore County Sheriffs Office at 334-567-5546.  You may also email me at secretstruecrime@gmail.com.  I’m active on social media and often share photos of Susan and Evan.  Follow Secrets True Crime on facebook, instagram and twitter.  @secretscrime.