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Feb. 28, 2019

The Welfare Check

The Welfare Check

The investigators with the Elmore County Sheriff's Office arrive at Susan & Evan's home for a welfare check. You will hear from the investigators and Susan’s & Evan’s family and friends about what was found when the police made their initial visit to their home.  The stories that Susan's husband, Jerry, told investigators had some pretty major inconsistencies. We will reveal some of those inconsistencies and also some of the secrets Jerry had been keeping from his wife.

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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 2 of a serial podcast with each episode building upon the previous.  If you have not listened to Episode 1, 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 Episode 1, I want to note it 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.  


As Episode 1 concluded, Susan & Evan had been missing for 2 months and a missing persons report had just been filed.  The investigators went to the home where Susan and Evan lived with Susan’s husband, Jerry Osborne.  When investigators arrived they found Jerry cleaning.  You are going to hear a lot of details from the investigators, Captain Ogden and Lieutenant Evans, Susan’s best friend Hollie and her sister in law Melissa.   Here are the investigators.  CO:  The family did the report July 29, 2017.  Requesting a welfare check.  If I recall, it had been approximately 2 months since they had spoke with Susan Osborne.  The report was done over the weekend so when we came in the following Monday is when we received the report to Investigations. Um, based on the initial report, it wasn’t overly concerning because there were a few things that were misconstrued as far as we were under the impression that she had left in the vehicle.  Myself and lieutenant Evans went to the residence where she resided.  When we pulled up her vehicle that we were under the impression she had left in was in the driveway.  Once we made contact with Jerry and realized she wasn’t there but the vehicle was, it kinda snowballed from there and we realized that it was probably more in depth than we imagined because you have to realize we get missing persons report...what do you think Troy?  2 or 3 a week probably?  TE:  If not more.  At least 2 to 3.  AS:  What was he doing when you arrived?  TE:  Cleaning  


Hollie told me she thought this was odd.  


[01:45:51] for one thing, he never cleans.  Susie did all the cleaning.  He never cleans. 


The investigators asked where Susan and Evan were and Jerry told them that they had left with an unknown man driving a pickup truck.  He said the man had a beard, sunglasses on and was about 6 feet tall.  Jerry said he never left the house.  He watched them and the man leave through a small, low quality monitor for his home surveillance system.  The investigators weren’t sure how he was able to give such a good description of the man since he also said the man never got out of his truck. Susan’s family and friends are unshakeable in their belief that Susan would have never left her daughter behind.  Also, Hollie had spoken on the phone to Susan the day before their disappearance and had texted with her until late in the afternoon on the day of their disappearance.  


Hollie [02:05:08] she didn't take her car, she didn't take any money out of their joint bank account. So she had no job. I mean, so she had no means to have a car or anything and she just up and left like that. And she never would've left (Her daughter). I mean she lived for those kids and she never would have left her. So she would've told me.


Remember in episode 1, Lieutenant Evans also told us that Jerry was burning incense and the smell was so overpowering that it was hard for them to even remain inside the home but while he was there, something unusual caught his eye.


TE:  13:56 when we were there on the initial contact uh Chief Ogden had taken him out back and I happened to notice um that um that the bottom of the walls was not very...it wasn’t painted very well.  It looked just shoddy and it was a fairly new residence and I kinda thought that was odd and I looked around a little bit and I could see inside of a pantry.  Um the door was open there um and from standing where I was at in the den and kitchen area you could see inside there and there were several large like 5 gallon paint buckets in the pantry.  And it began to register then that he had painted the residence. Um and we had talked to, the mother had been there Mrs. Anklam, on Mother’s Day weekend, so just a few weeks earlier, and she informed us that it was all hardwoods..  There were hardwoods in the house and when we got there it was carpeted.  


CO:  He took the hardwoods out.


TE:  Right.  He took the hardwoods out and replaced the hardwoods with carpeting.  


AS:  Which is uh pretty unusual.


TE:  It’s very odd.


AS:  Were the hardwoods throughout or was there already carpet in the bedrooms?  Do you remember?


CO:  There were carpets in the bedrooms and there were still carpets in the bedrooms.  I don’t think that was replaced.  The whole house, the entire house was not redone.  I think it was mainly just the living area.  


Sometime in the 2 months following Susan and Evan’s disappearance, Jerry had completed a pretty big remodeling project.  Lieutenant Evans told me Jerry had done an extensive amount of work.  It’s not often that you hear someone removes hardwood flooring to replace it with carpet.  I have a background in real estate and I know this is a quick way to decrease your property value.  Most people complete home improvement projects to increase the value of their home.  When the investigators asked Jerry for the reason behind all the remodelling he’d done, he told them that before she and Evan left, Susan had spray painted vulgar graffiti on both the walls and floors.  One of my first thoughts when I heard this was if it was true, why hadn’t he taken photos of the damage.  I sure would have.  If his wife had just left him for another man, you’d have to think he was at least considering that a divorce was on the horizon.  Photos of that alleged damage would have been helpful in court.  But as Captain Ogden and Lieutenant Evans began to investigate they found that this claim of Jerry’s had a couple inconsistencies.


TE:  26:18 He’d told several neighbors that, he’d told other people in the community but it was always, the, you know, the paint color would be different when he would tell the story to one person um I’m not sure if the wording was ever different but I know for sure at some point the paint colors were different.  We specifically asked him, the day we were, uh the first contact, we asked well when she took all the property did she do any damage to the residence, did she tear up anything and he said no and then he came back and said she had spray painted on the walls and floors.


CO:  Through the course of interviewing neighbors and family they informed, conveyed to us that she had done damage according to him.  Which as he said is a direct contradiction to what he told us upon first contact.

Hollie and Melissa have been adamant that this is not something Susan would have done.  They’ve both said it just wasn’t her personality.  


[02:05:49] And I don't believe that for one second either. she's not a vindictive type.  She would have been the type, I want nothing from you, you know, get our clothes and get out of here, you know. I said plus she likes everything clean and she is not the type that wants stuff messed up. No, that's not her. As I was also informed that he changed the story of the spray painting so he can even keep that story straight. He told one person it was one color spray paint, another person who was another color. 


The investigators continued to ask Jerry for more details regarding Susan and Evan supposedly leaving with another man.


AS:  6:12 Ok and did he say she left with nothing or did she take any belongings with her at that time? TE:  No she at that time she basically had just left with clothes on her back.  Her and her son both.  AS:  Did he ever see her again?  TE:  I think he said, I think he did say he went to his parents that on Memorial day and then um then he came back home that night.  Then according to him, he left again the next morning, went back to his parents house, and pretty much stayed there all day and came home that night and at some point she must’ve returned and completely cleaned the house out.  Took all the furniture, all her belongings all evan’s belongings, everything that was in the residence supposedly they took within a day.  AS:  So did he have any reason for why she didn’t take her car with her?  CO:  I believe he said it was his car.  It was his car.  He actually, it was in his name.  


AS: he said he went to his parents on Memorial Day after she left and that he went back the next day.  Have the parents confirmed that?


TE:  No


CO:  There was some, I believe there was some time discrepancies


AS:  Between what they said and what he said?


CO:  Apparently he was there.  The parents did say he was there but the times he left I believe were different than what he told us. 


Hollie took exception to Jerry’s claims about the furniture. 


[01:46:38] I told the detective, No, she didn't. I said, I know you don't know Susie, but I do.  I said I’m going to tell you now, I said, if she took any furniture out of that house, the only furniture she would have took would have been the kids furniture. Everything else. She would have said I want nothing from you.  That’s the type of person she was.  [01:47:26] She had no house to go to it. Her cars still there, where is all of her stuff? I said, he's like, I know you're right. 

If Susan took all the furniture as Jerry claimed, I wondered what the house looked like when the investigators arrived so I asked them about it.


TE:  20:26 There was very limited furniture in the house.  There was some new furniture that had been purchased um not a lot.  There was not a lot of furniture in the house at all.  Um just like piece milled together type.  


AS:  Were there beds?


TE:  I don’t even think there was a bed.  I think he was sleeping in that recliner in the back room I believe.  


CO:  I don’t recall.


TE:  I don’t think there was a bed.


CO:  I know Evan’s room was pretty much empty.


TE:  Right.


CO:  And the other room was empty.


TE:  We that back bedroom he had kind of turned into a video game room.  There was a recliner, a tv and some video games hooked up in there.  Which that was the daughter’s room. Um, he had kinda set that up like I said to play video games in.  And he had purchased a couch and a television and an entertainment stand for the den.  And I think there was a dresser in the master bedroom and that was about it.


Then they found Jerry had at least a couple burn sites in his backyard.  One was a 55 gallon drum he used as a burn barrel and the other was a spot on the ground.  This discovery uncovered a pretty significant lie.


AS:  21:46  tell me about the burn pile.  Were you able to find anything remaining in the burn pile?


CO:  There was actually more than one site where he had been burning.  In the backyard in the fenced in area there was a burn barrel.  Off to the, if you are facing the property off to the right, it appeared, wouldn’t you say that was a burn pile over there? 


TE:  Oh absolutely.  Yes sir.


CO:  There were multiple spots where it was obvious he’d been burning.


TE:  The only thing still visible was like box springs the little springs.  Everything else had been consumed.  Completely consumed.


TE:  The neighbors had commented about you know him burning for a significant period of time in the heat and the um extent of the fire he had going over there.  At some point, the neighbor said it was so hot in their yard they could feel the heat um from next door.


Other neighbors described extremely thick and heavy smoke in the neighborhood for days and said it kept many of them from being able to go outside.  Both Hollie and Susan’s sister in law Melissa offered me some additional details on the burn piles.   


Missy [01:12:27] When they discovered his burn pile and they found the springs and the inner components of a mattress in the burn pile, he then admitted that he burned it evans bed and then they found some more stuff like the drawers, the drawers and stuff. Some metal pieces from other furniture in the pile also and then he admitted he had burned a lot of the furniture.

[01:12:58] If he had told them directly that he burned Evan's mattress, but I don't know for sure if they found other mattresses because that's what. Does it make sense? If you or your wife just left you for another man and you're mad at her, you're going to burn your own mattress. Not the child's mattress. 


Hollie 1:47:38  None of that adds up. So then evidently, you know, they later on started finding out and I guess doing more, more detective work that they started seeing after this original story, he told him that she took the furniture then they started, they found the burn piles and they found the remains of pieces of furniture that he had burned, including Evans mattress. And they said that they found some drawer slides that looked like that was possibly from a dresser. Um, so, so you need to tell me your original story was that your wife left you for another man in Birmingham, so an hour and a half, two hours away, however far from where they lived and then drove back the next day supposedly. And supposedly took all this furniture out of the house, but yet didn't take her car, didn't take any money out a joint bank account, you know took nothing else whatsoever. Yes, I find it very hard to believe. And then the, but then yet you find that Evan's mattresses burned in the backyard or in the side yard, wherever it was found. And other furniture pieces were burnt, well I thought he said originally they took it so it's like he can't even keep his story straight on that.


In their initial visit to Susan & Jerry’s home, investigators had made quite a few suspicious discoveries.  You’ve heard that Jerry was able to give a fairly detailed description of the man he claimed Susan and Evan left with including his height, even though Jerry said the man never exited his vehicle and Jerry only saw him through a small, low quality monitor for his home surveillance system.  In the last episode you also heard that Jerry provided investigators with a dentist bill for Evan as proof that Susan and Evan were ok.  Investigators verified the same day that the bill was actually for not showing up for Evan’s scheduled appointment 2 days after their disappearance.  Jerry originally stated that Susan did not damage anything when she left but a short time later, he changed this story to claim she had spray painted vulgarities on the walls and hardwood floors.  He said this is why he needed to renovate their home.  He reportedly told this story to numerous people but changed the color paint she used several times.  He stated she returned to take all the furnishings but none of the neighbors have ever reported seeing a moving truck.  A short time later during this initial visit, when the investigators discovered burned remains of mattresses and such, he changed his story and admitted he’d burned the mattresses and furniture.  Jerry told the investigators he’d spent a lot of time at his parents house on Memorial Day and the following day.  When the investigators spoke with his parents they found the timelines didn’t match up.  That’s at least 6 discrepancies in Jerry’s story and when added to the fact that Jerry remodeled his home that was only 5 years old immediately following the disappearance of Susan and Evan, investigators were hopeful they’d be able to obtain a search warrant.  Then they received a call from Hollie and Hollie had shocking information that would change everything.  


Susan had discovered that Jerry was keeping some pretty big secrets and she’d confided in her best friend.  


 Hollie [01:43:58] So that next day, the next morning at work, that's when I called the detective and talked to them.  [01:44:16] I started explaining to him about the emails and just even some of the information you know. And I was at work so I couldn't stay on the phone very long so I said, let me just give you a little brief synopsis right now and I'll tell you more when I get off work. I said but something's happened to them. He said what makes you think that? And I'm trying to explain to him why I think that. and I said you know, she wouldn't just up and disappear like this.  [01:44:38] She would have told me she would've called me. I said she wouldn't have left Hannah grace.  


Hollie [33:32] January of 2016, me and her were texting one day because we text or talk on the phone most every day. There was not very often we did not talk and she sent me a text and said, what's your email address or my email address, and she said, I'm about to send you an email. Don't talk about it through text.  [33:52] Said, okay. Didn't think anything of it. The first email she sent me screenshots of emails, messages between him and other men that she found in his email and it was kind of unclear what I was looking at because it was just kind of a screenshot of the subject lines and things like that. So I messaged her back and said, okay, what am I supposed to be looking at? What is, is she. I'm sorry? She said, let me send you the link and loving explain to you a little more. So she sends me this other email and she said, my husband's cheating on me with men. I said, excuse me? She said, um,


Hollie [34:36] and I said, do you know? She said the first message I sent you are screenshots of messages between him and other men. I said, do you know for a fact that is what you think it is? She said yes, 100 percent and that's when she sent me the link, this link, I click on this link and it is a gay escort page called boyscort.com And it pulled up a picture of him and he is, it's a picture from behind and he is sitting up on his knees. It looks like probably a hotel room and you can see his tattoos on his back. He's got a gift bow on his right butt cheek and it's has a paragraph describing what he would do for, for whatever man he meets in detail and very disgusting detail and has his phone number in there. That was his phone number that he currently at the time [35:39] and


Hollie [35:40] and did that. This gate escort page that she was dating back from August of 2011 when he lived in Colorado. I was still in the military at that time, so that's the comment she made me. She said as embarrassing as it as it is and shocking and hurtful and everything that it is, she's at least I know I didn't make him gay. At least I know it was going on before I made, as she said, I just still can't believe it. And I said, does he know that, you know? She said No. She said, right. I should say I've got to play our cards right. I've got to find a job with the kids. I can't wedding. No, she's, I don't know what he might do. And she said I'm allowed to get everything lined up and get a job before I can get out of here.


Amber & Hollie 36:25  So the messages back and forth between him and a man...was it one man or multiple men?

Hollie:  Oh no.  The screenshot she sent me was about 5 or 6 different men.

Amber:  Were those from 2011 or were those recent?

Hollie:  Those were 2015 and 16 while they were married.  Those were current.  [38:33] she had even told when she sent me the first emails, she said, there's a lot more than that. She said, I have so much information already. She said, I've been doing research for a few months.


Hollie was stunned when Susan shared Jerry’s secrets with her.  She asked her what had made her suspicious enough of him to begin that research.  Susan told her Jerry had started working a lot and taking on double shifts. Jerry is an air force veteran and at that time, he still worked on the air force base as a civilian employee.  Susan told Hollie that they didn’t need the extra money so she didn’t understand why Jerry was suddenly working all these extra shifts.  Then one day, Susan needed to reach Jerry while he was working one of these extra shifts but when she called, she was told that he wasn’t working that day.  She tried calling his mobile phone and he didn’t answer.  Now she was suspicious.  As Jerry continued to claim he was working extra shifts, Susan would call his work and ask for him and found that time after time, Jerry wasn’t working as he’d claimed.


[39:32] So she started becoming very frequently. So she said that's when I started, you know, looking, searching the emails and things like that and finding these emails that he had gone on and as she was very good with computers so she could find a lot of things on computers.  [40:00] And, and she said, you know, somehow she had. I just started googling his name and you know, I'm searching emails and everything and she had found somehow like this other emails. I guess other email account heat he had and that's how she found these other, these email strings he had gone on through craigslist. I think he was making a lot of these men and these dating sites or something. And then she started finding out that he was giving the burner phones.  [40:58] He would hide them in his truck and things like that. And so she sort of finding these packages for these burner phones and his truck was, she started hiding them or throw them away. She would have responses. She said, of course he couldn't ask me, hey baby, did I get a package today? Even like that, because he's like, you know, he's able to tell me, hey, I ordered a burner phone. There's so she said, she said, I'm just going to run them away. She said, I just keep throwing away or I'm hiding them or whatever. So he has, he buys me with just some fine these phones left and right, but he keeps buying these burner phones and this was after she found that emails and kind of what was going on so she knew where he was doing it.


[41:36] She said, I'm just going to keep spending money, I guess she said because he keeps buying them and so and she could see on their bank account she could go online and still have a bank account. All these stuff he was ordering. 


According to Hollie, Susan immediately went to her doctor to be tested for STDs.  At least by mid 2016, Hollie knows she’d stopped sleeping in the bed with Jerry.  Susan and Evan were taking a trip to Texas to visit Susan’s mom, Linda Anklam in July 2016.  Susan told Hollie Jerry asked Susan why she would no longer sleep in the bed with him.  


[37:54] she started getting worse. She would sleep in the bed with him. She was like mama couch and everything and, and so, and it was actually later that summer she went to visit her mom in Texas, her in


[38:08] and


[38:11] she, he questioned her before she left for her trip to Texas. He questioned her as to why she went to sleep in the bed with him and she says, do you really need to ask that? She say, I think you already know. And he goes, no, no, what are you talking about? And he was just playing dumb and she started naming off a few of the guys names.


[42:42] she said, you know, there was no time what you would do if he knew how much and she's just so I have to be very careful. But I asked her, I said, what did he say when you told him there's names and everything? She said, I didn't go into detail. I didn't say anything specific other than the names and dates. So she said he just enough for him to know that I knew something. She said. So he handed me $500 and told me to go shopping. I was in Texas and we've kept saying, I love you baby.


[43:14] I love you. I don't know baby. No, I'll love you. I love you. She said so it was like he didn't want to be found out and it's like he had two separate lives. He was leading, he had his, his wife with her that, you know, and out in public. I mean they just seemed like the perfect loving, you know, loving relationship, loving perfectly. You would have never suspected that. He was like, yes, which is typical in those situations, you know, behind closed doors, it's completely different 

Hollie shared all of this information with the investigators.  She had kept all the emails Susan sent her and she forwarded them to the Lieutenant Evans.  Maybe Jerry didn’t realize Susan has revealed his secret to Hollie.


With this information from Hollie and what they discovered at Jerry’s house, investigators were able to obtain a search warrant.  What would they find when they returned to Jerry’s home?  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.