The investigators execute a search warrant on Jerry's home. They have more questions for Jerry but he stopped the interview and hired an attorney. Find out what the investigators discovered in the home.
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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 3 of a serial podcast with each episode building upon the previous. If you have not listened to Episodes 1 and 2, please stop and listen to it first or you probably won’t understand what’s happening in this episode. Listener discretion is advised. While you won’t find foul language in this podcast, 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. I will refer to her as Susan’s daughter whenever possible but when someone uses her name in the audio, it will be bleeped out. Also, if you know or have know 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. firstname.lastname@example.org or the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office at 334-567-5546
At the conclusion of the last episode, the investigators had conducted a welfare check at the home where Susan and Evan lived with Susan’s husband, Jerry Osborne. They spoke with Jerry and he told investigators that on Memorial Day, Susan and Evan had left with another man who drove a pickup truck. As they briefly spoke with Jerry and walked around his home, they discovered numerous inconsistencies in his story.
The investigators were able take the information they found at the welfare check along with the emails and information about Jerry’s secret life provided to them by Hollie to obtain a search warrant. They received and executed the search warrant on the same day they conducted the welfare check. The investigators told me that Jerry wasn’t home when they returned with the search warrant but he came back to let them in. I asked them if they would’ve made entry on their own if they’d been unable to reach Jerry.
CO: I think he actually came and opened the door for us but I mean we would’ve. With a search warrant, yeah we are allowed to go in. And given the severity of the case, we realized we needed to do it then. There again, we are working on a case that occurred 2 months prior. I don’t think the general public understands how big of a disadvantage that puts us at when we have to...you give this guy 60 days to do whatever he’s going to do.
TE: And he did an extensive amount of work in that 60 day period
AS: what were you able to find when you did execute the search warrant?
CO: To the naked eye, there wasn’t anything definite but we did collect areas we thought were blood and took samples of those. And we were assisted by the state bureau of investigations on the search warrant just because they have a little bit more expertise on the blood part of it. And like Lieutenant Evans said, we collected the hard drive off the surveillance system.
AS: When you say you collected blood, was it visible to the naked eye?
AS: You had to use luminol?
CO: Right or something similar to luminol
AS: Where was the blood found?
TE: Mostly the kitchen. Uh it looked like it went through the kitchen to a back door. Um and the interesting part about the back door was there’s these there was these nice plantation shutters on every door and window in the residence except for that door. And when we luminoled it, you could see pretty much a straight line where the blinds had been and there was reaction below that line and there was no reaction above the line uh to which it would appear that um those blinds were in place and at some point were taken down and thrown away also. And like I said that was the only area in the whole house that did not have the blinds up any longer was the back door.
AS: Could you get an idea of how much blood?
TE: No. I don’t think there’s any way to quantify it.
CO: Not like that.
I asked the investigators a few more questions trying to get an idea of how much blood they found. I never received a specific answer but Captain Ogden did say this.
CO: I mean it was enough to pick up, enough to observe so but like he said we can’t quantify it.
CO: I don’t know if its so much..like we said quantifying it is one thing. I think we were more concerned with the locations that we observed the...where the reactions were with the chemicals used. Like he said, on the base of the door is just odd.
In regards to the amount of blood found, Sheriff Bill Franklin has publicly stated in other news interviews that it was along the violent lines and not a finger cut. Sheriff Franklin has been the sheriff of Elmore County since 1991. He comes from a family with a long history in law enforcement that includes his mother, father and grandfather. I have spoken to a lot of people while making this podcast and almost everyone I’ve asked about him has spoken very fondly of him. He appears to be a popular and well loved sheriff. This last election, he ran unopposed but when he ran in 2014, he defeated his opponent with 94% of the vote. I scheduled an appointment to meet with him and drove to Wetumpka to the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office for that meeting. It’s located inside the Elmore County Jail inside a judicial complex that includes the circuit court and DHR. The sheriff’s office and jail are housed in a large 2 story brown brick building with a green metal roof. The parking lot was pretty full and the sign on the building just read Elmore County Jail. I wasn’t sure I was at the right entrance so I asked a younger police officer that was parked on the curb for directions. He told me to walk in and go directly up the stairs to the 2nd floor. I stood in a small line for pistol permits for my turn to speak with the lady behind a window. She asked me to wait for a few minutes and before long, a locked door was opened by the sheriff’s administrative assistant. She led me to the sheriff’s private office where I was greeted by the tall man with a booming voice. I spent some time with him discussing this case at length and found him to be engaging and charismatic. I found the detail he knew about the case to be reassuring and I don’t mean things he could’ve read out of the case file before I arrived. I was left with the impression that he knew and remembered the smallest details even about Susan and Evan’s family and things that are really peripheral to the case. We will discuss more about this later.
I also spoke with Susan’s brother, Brian and he shared some more information about the blood with me which we’ll get to in a few minutes. You’ve heard from his wife, Melissa. Brian & Susan were very close growing up and continued to be even after she moved to Alabama. He told me that over time, they would go for longer periods of time without talking. They both had families and each just got caught up in their own daily lives. When Susan and Evan lived in Michigan, Melissa kept Evan while Susan worked. She and Brian were married when Susan was a teenager and she and Susan were also close. Brian and Melissa loved having Evan stay with them. Just like friends and family describe Susan and Evan, Brian is quite the jokester. It seems to be a family trait. Like many uncles, Brian loved to teach Evan to do things that would aggravate Susan. When I interviewed Brian, I could hear the pain in his voice as he spoke about his sister and nephew. If you remember from the 1st episode, Brian went to Texas to visit his and Susan’s mother and when he arrived, Linda told him that Susan and Evan were missing. They stayed at Linda’s while the missing persons reports were filed and while the investigators conducted the welfare check and served the search warrant. On their way back home to Michigan, they drove to Alabama to meet with the investigators.
Brian [09:04] They showed us pictures of a I think it was the dining room and the bathroom with the luminol that shows the blood. Then there was a lot, a lot of spots, you know, I mean, it was just, it was, it was, it looked like somebody painted the floor, you know, that luminol stuff where it reacts with the blood, I mean, it was on the wall, on the floor, on a bathtub in the bathroom. It was just a, just a heart. It just tore my heart out, you know? I was like, how could somebody do something like that to my little sister, my nephew. You know? It's like, it's like I'm living in a soap opera. This stuff ain't supposed to happen to people, you know
I want to clarify that the dining room Brian is referencing is the same room as the kitchen that the investigators mentioned. I found photos of the home from when it was for sale prior to Jerry purchasing it and it looks like a large breakfast room/dining area that is a part of the kitchen. The photos I found show both areas had tile flooring and the investigators told me both these areas were still tiled at the time of the search warrant. The Alabama Bureau of Investigations, ABI, tested the blood samples they collected and the family was told that while they could confirm that the samples are human blood, they were too degraded by cleaning products for DNA matches. I’m told that the kitchen and breakfast room are pretty open to the living room. Keep in mind that Jerry replaced the hardwood floors that had been in the living room with carpet after Susan and Evan’s disappearance. Susan’s mom, Linda Anklam had just visited with Susan a couple weeks before. She’d told the investigators that the living room had hardwood floors when she was there and that they were in good condition. Linda took family photos with Susan and the kids and you can see the hardwoods in some of the photos and they do appear to look nice. Hollie also told me Susan had just painted the interior of the home approximately 6 months prior to their disappearance. I wondered if Jerry replaced the flooring himself or if he hired a professional so I asked the investigators.
AS: So he removed the flooring himself?
CO: That was our understanding.
TE: Yes. He did tell us that the company he purchased the carpeting from told him there would be a discount if he took the flooring up himself. We contacted that business and they said that is not the case that they, their fee is a flat fee and it doesn’t matter what you do, their fee is their fee and it includes removal of the flooring but that the flooring had already been removed prior to their arrival.
This brings the total to 7 inconsistencies I’ve been able to identify in Jerry’s claims to investigators….well at least the inconsistencies they disclosed to me in our interview. Melissa did share some other disparities she’d learned of in Jerry’s story.
Missy [01:10:49] But at one point he says that she left with this other man. He had told her. She told him she was leaving at one point, I think it was a truck at one point it was a silver lexus. At one point he never saw the guy. And another point he tried to make it sound like her brother, my husband, to make it sound like she, he came and picked her up. Um, so they
Missy [01:11:14] actually, the sheriff's department showed up at our house in Michigan to just make sure that, you know, that it wasn't us
To recap, the investigators conducted a welfare check on July 29, 2017 and spoke to Jerry. They left and obtained a search warrant and went back to conduct the search on the same day. Jerry came back to his home and let them in. Investigators told me that they attempted to interview Jerry at that time to clarify some of these variations in his story.
I believe we only had one, the opportunity to interview him that first night. After that he lawyered up.
TE: Well he lawyered up in the middle of that interview.
CO: That’s right.
CO: Well part of the problem is as far as what answers he did and didn’t, he obviously retained council and this investigation kinda morphed fairly quick by the time we are getting questions we needed answered, he’s not talking to us anymore. We got shut down pretty quick on that end.
The investigators expressed to me that they would love to speak with Jerry to get answers to all these unanswered questions about what happened to Susan and Evan but Jerry hasn’t been willing to speak with them again. I also know that Susan’s family has made repeated attempts to speak with Jerry since they were reported missing. Melissa has mailed letters to his attorney, Trey Norman, and I’ve been told that Linda has sent letters to Jerry. Jerry and his attorney have both been unresponsive to all attempts. In the spring of 2018, Susan’s mom, Linda drove by Jerry’s house. She stopped in front to take a photo of it. While she was parked on the street, Jerry came out of the house towards her car and asked if he could help her. Melissa told me at this point Jerry realized who she was. He turned around, walked back inside his home and shut the door. Jerry claims he innocent and that Susan and Evan left with another man. Why would he refuse to speak with her family? Why would he not speak with Hollie? They were certainly friendly with each other prior to the disappearance of Susan and Evan. For the record, I did reach out to Jerry’s attorney and he did return my call. I offered Jerry the opportunity to tell his story to all of us through this podcast. Mr. Norman stated this to me:
I don’t think with everything that Jerry’s been through and continues to go through in this that he is willing to ,well as a matter of fact I know he’s not. I’ve talked with him. And I apologize that I haven’t called you back a little sooner but I wanted to make sure that he had every opportunity to decide for himself. He’s had, he’s endured a lot in the last bit and I know, you know it’s easy to get lost on the grief and worry about what’s happened to mom and child, no doubt about that but he’s been through a lot too and the nightmare keeps going and I don’t think at this point in time that he’s up to that.
I asked Mr. Norman if Jerry would like to release a statement to be included in the podcast or even answer some questions in writing as opposed to an interview. He said he’d discuss it with Jerry and asked that I go ahead and send the questions to him. I’ve sent some questions to him and we’ll update you in future episodes if Jerry chooses to respond.
The investigators also brought in 2 cadaver dogs to help detect for additional signs of human remains at the residence.
AS: so the cadaver dogs...tell me what you can about that.
CO: At the residence they basically hit in one spot over by the shed
TE: Both dogs independently of each other. Kinda the double blind process. There’s 2 dogs, 2 handlers and they don’t watch each other operate. They don’t see what each other do or what each other or how each other perform or what they do so the 1st dog hit in a location right beside the storage shed that would be just outside of the backyard fenced in area um in the same direction as the back door that we spoke of earlier. And then the 2nd dog, the 2nd handler also hit in the exact same location.
AS: So the dogs hit outside but not inside?
CO: I think they might have indicated a little bit in the house but the only spot they both hit and it was a very strong indication is the spot he is referring to.
Melissa told me that when Linda visited Susan just a couple weeks before their disappearance, she noticed there were security cameras outside every door to the residence.
Missy [03:38:46] I know that Linda said when she was there, they had a camera at each door and she asked them, she goes, why'd you have so many cameras? What's the need for it? Um, and stuff because she's like, you know, it's a quiet little neighborhood right there when you need it. You that worried about it cannot for the life of me remember exactly how they answered but are so about it. But she said they had a TV screen and the TV screen I think had like my siblings maybe four cameras. And it was like for you could see all four of them on it because she said she remembers looking at it the night that Jerry supposed to be coming home with pizza and watched him in instead of, oh, he's held in stuff from these cameras.
Investigators also took note of the cameras and took them along with other computers and electronic devices as part of the search warrant.
Sheriff: we took the surveillance system as part of the search warrant and when we analyzed it, it did not go back and I believe that’s how we discovered he had...he at that point told us he’d had a previous system that he’d had to replace.
Melissa told me the investigators found a receipt dated June 1, 2017 for the new surveillance cameras so Jerry had replaced the cameras just 3 days after Susan and Evan vanished. The investigators sent the electronic devices to the analyzed by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. They weren’t specific with me about what might have been found but the Sheriff Bill Franklin has stated in other news interviews that they found internet search history for things that any other person would not be searching for. Based on Hollie’s text history with Susan on Memorial Day which was May 29th, we know Susan and Evan had to have disappeared later in the afternoon or night. Now we know that he replaced the surveillance cameras pretty quickly afterwards. I wondered just how quickly after their disappearance that Jerry began to remodel. Note that in the following audio the Lieutenant Evan’s is referencing Susan’s daughter.
TE: Evan was supposed to have oral surgery on the 31st. Um. The paternal grandmother of the daughter brought the daughter to the residence on the morning of the 31st because she wanted to give Evan something before he had his surgery, the daughter did and um they pull up and they said Jerry was running around sweating like he’d been doing a bunch of work um the daughter tried to go into the house because the dog had come to the window and he stopped them and said hey hey its a mess in there. Yall don’t need to go in there. She’s left me and I’m having to redo the house so at least by the 31st he was well involved in cleaning the residence
TE: Didn’t his father tell yall he’d come over there and started…..
CO: I was under the impression that it was basically the day after Memorial Day.
TE: Immediately. The 30th.
I still have a lot of questions regarding this visit to the home by Susan’s daughter and her grandmother. I did reach out to the father of Susan’s daughter through Facebook messenger. For now, we will call him J. I’ve been told that J has said he thinks Susan and Evan are still alive and I wanted to know what made him think this. He did tell me that he didn’t recall telling anyone that he thought they were still alive and he doesn’t know where that information would’ve come from. While he didn’t want to answer any questions, he messaged me several times over the course of a few hours questioning me about my interest in the case and wanting to know who’d been talking to me about him. At one point, he even told me I must have the wrong person. Once he finished with all his questions, he blocked me. J had primary custody of Susan’s daughter and this is something we will talk more about it in a future episode. Susan paid child support to J every month. After Susan and Evan disappeared, Jerry continued to pay child support to J. I don’t know how many months he continued to do this but the investigators told me they’d confirmed this with both Jerry and J. Jerry told the investigators that he met up with J to pay the child support because he wanted to do the right thing and pay him the child support he was due. Maybe that was his motivation but I can certainly think of some other reasons why he might’ve done this.
I asked the investigators if they’d retrieved phone records for Susan & Evan’s phones. They told me they do have the phone records but there was no activity on them after May 29, 2017.
As mentioned in earlier episodes, Susan and Evan both loved to fish. According to an instagram post that Evan made almost exactly 2 years prior to their disappearance, they bought a fishing boat. The investigators discovered Jerry got rid of the boat after Susan and Evan vanished.
AS: I understand Jerry gave the boat away? That was Susie’s boat I believe, really.
CO: He did but we recovered it. And that was searched as well and scanned for blood evidence as well. And the boat wasn’t even running so obviously as much water as was around Elmore County...I don’t know if you are familiar with Elmore County but there’s a lot...a lot of water. Obviously that was a theory, maybe he did something and used the boat but we don’t have anything to indicate that. But that was definitely thought...unintelligible
AS: So it wasn’t in very good condition when he gave it away.
CO: It didn’t appear to be able to be ran but of course I’m a laymen when it comes to boat mechanics but it appeared it would take quite a bit to get it running. I don’t know what kind of mechanical skills Lieutenant Evans has but he might be more swooft than I am.
Hollie had an interesting story about the boat.
Speaker 4: (01:55:01)
me and my husband were talking about buying about. So recently I had an idea. I was like, it would be great if we could buy that would just mean so much to just have something that meant so much to her. So I called the detective and asked him if he knew who jerry gave the boat to, and this was all just happened right before Christmas, just last month. And um, and he told me that yes he did. And I said, well, I said if they would be willing to sell it as because if they're willing to sell it as an alcoholic and we'll come pick it up, you know, whatever we needed to do. And um, he used to, you know, I'll, I'll call them and, and let them know and see. So I got a phone call like the week before Christmas from the detective at work and he told me that he just spoke to the guy that was given to.
Speaker 4: (01:55:55)
And yes, they're willing to sell it. And he told me the price and he has said it, you know, and the detective even told me I don't know if it's worth that, but I know it means sentimental value to you, but we'll coordinate this however you want. He said, you know, I can, I can give you their number, give them your number or we can coordinate it through me if you don't know what to do all that is, because I don't know if they're related to Jerry or friends or I don't know how they're connected, so um not Five minutes later I get a phone call back from a detective saying that um,
Speaker 4: (01:56:35)
well, he said, I just got a phone call back from that person saying that they don't want to sell it now. I said, really? So in another words, they must have spoke to Jerry.
I researched the boat registration number and was able to confirm the boat is still registered to Jerry and Susan Osborne.
We’ve talked some about the fires Jerry had going in the backyard. If you haven’t already recognized it, these fires may play a crucial part in the disappearance of Susan and Evan. This is Nicki. She lived in the same neighborhood as Jerry, Susan and Evan. She’s one of the only neighbors that have spoken publicly since their disappearance.
Nicki [12:40] None of the people that live there really want to speak out. It's like they're scared because they still live there.
Nicki [15:22] it was a substantial fire. I mean the times that we would ride by, and I don't recall if it was two days, three days or what, but it was like a large, what I would consider a brush fire, but we could not see behind the fence. So all the smoke we could see was just in his backyard. It wasn't that you could see any big piles of anything, but due to the amount of this smoke it, it was more than, you know, just a fire in a barrel.
Nicki describes it as a large brush fire. Another neighbor told the investigators that the fire was so hot, they could feel the heat off it from their yard. Others reported the smoke being so heavy they were unable to be outdoors for days. What was Jerry burning? Obviously at least one mattress and some furniture but would that take days in a fire that’s described as a brush fire? Maybe he burned clothing and other items from their personal belongings. I asked the investigators if he could’ve burned the hardwood flooring he removed.
TE: I’m not sure if he burned it. Uh I know we had some witnesses that told us he was throwing away items in the dumpster on Maxwell Air Force Base. Um and we know he did use that dumpster um because the night we interviewed him he had some items in his truck that we later recovered out of that same dumpster that they saw him throwing away things into the dumpster. So we know that was a dumpster he was utilizing on base but you know again, he burned a lot of items, threw a lot of the items away and that sort of thing.
AS: you would call Jerry a person of interest?
AS: Is there more than one person of interest?
TE: Not at this time.
The investigators obviously believe Jerry Osborne is the person responsible for the disappearance of Susan and Evan and their family and friends strongly believe they are no longer alive. I asked Sheriff Franklin, Captain Ogden and Lieutenant Evans each what they thought happened to Susan and Evan.
Here are Captain Ogden and Lieutenant Evans.
AS: Do you believe he could’ve burned her, burned the bodies?
TE: I mean anything is possible at this point. I’m not sure if the bodies were burned or taken to another location or you know we don’t know.
AS: Do you think it would be possible for a body to be burned in a backyard in the environment he has in the backyard, do you think it would be possible to burn a body and there be no trace?
CO: This is just my opinion and it might not be worth, and his might be different than mine. I think most people are under the impression that you can’t burn a body, that there will always be something left. I disagree with that. I think if the fire is hot enough and for long enough, I think it would be very hard to recover any identifying evidence, given enough time and enough heat. That goes back to 2 months. That’s a long, long time.
AS: He had a lot of time to work on it. To TE: Do you agree with that?
TE: I go back and forth. I would...I think like the chief said certainly given enough time and effort and enough fuel and various different items being burned along side the body um that it certainly it could probably be consumed. Then you think, consuming 2 whole entire bodies...what’s the likelihood of consuming the whole thing and I just um I kinda go back and forth between the two.
CO: And we did uh the areas where the dogs indicated near the burn piles we did sift the area and we collected samples and that was sent to forensics and it wasn’t fruitful for any type of….
TE: Well the area the dogs hit on, we dug until we hit roots. And obviously once you hit roots that are intact then that land has not been disturbed previously. So the areas that the dog hit on, they explained it to us, he could’ve just brought them out there and layed them down for a period of time no matter how short and the bodys would begin to decay and that’s actually what they were picking up on was the decay scent
I had discussed this same thing with the sheriff before I sat down with Lieutenant Evans and Captain Ogden. Sheriff Franklin told me that he too suspects Jerry burned the bodies. Even after hearing what each had to say about it, it leaves me with a lot of questions. Can you really burn two bodies in a residential area with neighbors so very close and there not be odors that would cause alarm? Can an average person with average supplies burn 2 bodies to the point that there’s no trace or evidence left behind? We will explore this and more in the next episode. We are also going to hear another hair raising story from Hollie that you don’t want to miss. 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 email@example.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.