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May 22, 2019

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Several pieces of new information have been discovered as Susan & Evan's family and I attend a dedication for Evan at Holtville High School.

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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 8 of a serial podcast with each episode building upon the previous.  If you have not listened to Episodes 1 through 7, 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 does not contain foul language and the subject matter may involve violence, sexual content, murder and adult themes.  It’s not suitable for younger listeners.  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.


We are going to discuss Jerry Osborne quite a bit in this episode.  I want to reiterate that Jerry Osborne has maintained his innocence.  To my knowledge, he still claims that Susan and Evan left their home with another man. 

On Monday May 13th, Holtville High School, the school Evan attended, dedicated a koi pond to Evan.  You will hear more about this later in the podcast.  My husband graciously agreed to accompany me for this trip.  We left early on Monday to make the drive from our home to the Wetumpka area to meet Susan and Evan’s family for breakfast at Waffle House.  Susan’s brother, Brian, his wife, Melissa and Susan’s mom, Linda were all in town for the dedication.  For the months I’ve been preparing and making this podcast, Melissa, Hollie and I talk and message each other numerous times on a daily basis.  I was happy to finally meet Missy in person.  We spent breakfast discussing the case and despite the countless hours we’ve spent going over and over and over this case, I still learned some new things.   Linda described a neighborhood meeting that was held in Jerry and Susan’s neighborhood after they were reported missing.  At least one of the investigators from the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office attended the meeting and spoke with the neighbors.  Susan and Evan’s family were told that in this meeting, at least one neighbor reported hearing gunshots in the middle of the night on Memorial Day or in the wee hours the following day.  Holtville is a rural area.  I also live in a rural area where people have chickens and other farm animals.  Gunshots in the middle of the night in areas like this are not that unusual and wouldn’t necessarily cause alarm.  It could be something as simple as a possum or raccoon invading someone’s henhouse.  Regardless, it’s still another interesting piece of information.  


The last bit of information took me by surprise.  After Susan and Evan were reported missing, I’m told that Jerry and his parents distributed missing persons fliers.  They didn’t distribute the fliers reviewed and approved by the sheriff’s office.  They created their very own fliers.  I’ve obtained a photo of one of the fliers.  I’ll be sharing the photo of this flier on the Secrets True Crime facebook page.  If you’ve never visited the page, you will want to this time.  I believe you will all be just as stunned by this flier as I am.  It has both Susan and Evan’s photos on it.  Under each photo, it has their name listed.  Evan’s last name was spelled incorrectly and then an attempt was made to correct it with a black sharpie.  On the left bottom half of the flier, in red ink there is a graphic added that says “If found, CASH reward.”  Under that graphic, it has $5,000 in black ink in a bold font.  Just below that, it again says “REWARD OFFERED.”  Just below that, at the bottom left side of the flier, there is a Christian fish symbol with a cross in it.  On the bottom half of the right side of the flier, in a black box it notes that pictures of the vehicle, license plate, addresses, etc.  Below that, it says “if you have information leading to the finding of THESE people, call or text and it gives 2 phone numbers.  These numbers must be for the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office, right?  Well not exactly.  I’m told the numbers on the flier are Jerry’s parents phone numbers.  At the top of the flier, handwritten with what appears to me to be the same black sharpie, it says white/silver lexus SUV.  Wait...I thought Jerry said they left with a man in a pickup truck.  Well, it seems his story had changed yet again.  Now they are in a white or silver lexus SUV.  Just in case your memory has gotten fuzzy on the details of what Jerry told the investigators, here is a refresher.


Troy:  he just said it was just a pickup truck but he gave a fairly descriptive um well a description of the subject.  Said he was about 6 ft tall, had a beard, glasses, uh sunglasses on.  White male um and he was able to tell us all this based on a um surveillance camera he has surrounding his house.  He said he did not go outside and confront the gentleman that uh he knew himself better than that.  There would have been a problem.  That he stayed inside the vehicle er the residence um while her and Evan got into this pickup truck and drove way. Um  Which we thought was odd that he was able to give height description and that sort of thing on a guy that never got out of a truck on a very small not very good surveillance system that he had at his house.  


TE:  He just said she’d gotten into a vehicle with an unknown male uh and left, he believed to the Birmingham area which we couldn’t understand why he assumed she gone to Birmingham 


So Jerry stayed in the house, the 6 foot tall mysterious man with a beard and sunglasses stayed in his pickup truck and Jerry somehow knew how tall the man was and that they were headed to Birmingham.  And I’m told that’s the only place they distributed these fliers that they made….in Birmingham.


After our breakfast meeting, I wanted to try to obtain some court records related to Susan’s custody disputes while Susan and Evan’s family attended to some other scheduled meetings.  I’d been looking into these records and thought my chances of obtaining them were very slim.  If they were classified as juvenile records, which it was explained to me that most custody type documents are these days, then these records wouldn’t be public and they wouldn’t be available to me. I was contacted by someone who told me quite a few stories that contradicted all other information I’ve received.  When I questioned the stories, I was told that these specific court documents existed and the would contain evidence to support these stories. My husband and I made the drive to the courthouse in neighboring Autauga County where Susan lived before meeting Jerry.  To my surprise, the records in question were public record. I did find some intriguing things but nothing that supported this person’s claims.  As a matter of fact, much of what I found proved some of these claims to be false.  I did find something that surprised me.  Jerry and Susan are divorced.  Jerry filed for divorce on July 5, 2017, just 37 days after Susan and Evan went missing.  The address he provided for service to her was his home address.  On August 29, 2017, his attorney filed a motion to serve Susan via publication.  His attorney attached an affidavit to this motion stating reasonable and diligent efforts to locate Susan but they’d been unsuccessful.  The next day, the judge denied the motion and that Jerry’s attorney state in the affidavit the specific steps and actions taken by her to serve Susan.  I consulted a couple people with these court documents regarding the divorce and both gave big kudos to the judge for denying the first, vague motion. That same day, Jerry’s attorney refiled the motion and added 3 additional statements to the affidavit.  The 1st one stated that no one including Susan’s family has reportedly had any contact with her since approx Memorial Day weekend.  This strikes me as somewhat interesting.  Jerry Osborne has refused to speak to any of Susan and Evan’s family members since their disappearance.  I guess he and his attorney could’ve been watching and reading news reports that stated this but it’s not like he or his attorney had this knowledge firsthand.

Next she noted that she employed a PI to conduct a public records search and it was unsuccessful. Lastly, she noted that Elmore County Sheriff’s Office has also been tasked with locating Susan and they had also been unsuccessful.  On August 31, 2017, the judge granted the motion.  On September 13th, 20th, 27th and October 4th 2017, a Notice of Divorce Action appeared in the Wetumpka Herald.  On November 15, 2017, Jerry’s attorney filed a motion for default judgement and final decree.  Attached to this motion was an Affidavit of the Husband.  It contained numerous statements from the husband.  One said “I am entitled to a divorce from my wife because there exists a complete incompatibility of temperament between us such that we can no longer live together as husband and wife.  There has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage to the extent that any further attempts at reconciliation would be futile and not in the best interest of the parties.  He also states:  I own a home at 60 Waterview Ln.  I owned the home prior to the marriage.  I am asking the court to confirm my sole name sole possession and ownership of the residence and all of the household furnishings which were acquired during the marriage.   I am asking the court to award the wife all of her personal items and property which she owned prior to our marriage...Wait a minute...what?? Let’s go back and review the circumstances around the furnishings in the residence and Susan and her children’s personal belongings.  


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.  


Why was Jerry asking for furnishings he told the investigators Susan took the day after Memorial Day while he was away from his home?  Did Susan really do this?  Here is what a neighbor, Nicki had to say.


Nicki: (27:53)

well I can promise you this, I never saw any moving trucks in that neighborhood. And if she was going to take all of her stuff, like he said, you would have seen a moving truck, somebody would've seen it and no one in the neighborhood ever saw it. That's something we're very aware of. And that was a pretty tight knit community as far as being aware of big things like the hat and we had a Facebook page, so if somebody was moving in or leaving, there were several nosy neighbors that made sure that they informed everybody of things and that was never something any of us saw. And you had to see it. You are driving in and out, you know, that's the first house in the neighborhood. You can't not see it. So we never saw that. 


Let’s not forget he also claimed this is when Susan spray painted vulgarities all over the walls and the floors.  This was the excuse given for the need to immediately remodel his home.  Now let’s listen to what else Lieutenant Evans and Captain Ogden told me later on in our interview.


AS:  Do you know how quickly after the 29th, after Memorial Day, that he began the remodel?


CO:  It was…


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 ot 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.


AS:  I was going to ask about that.  So 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 that what he told us.  There again we didn’t have the benefit of clarifying any of this with Mr. Osborne so…


It sounds like Jerry’s claim of being away from his home all day on May 30th was disputed by his parents.  It seems pretty well established that the remodeling project was well underway on that day.  I believe the average person would deduce from this that Susan never came back to the home to remove furnishings or even her and Evan’s clothing and other personal belongings.  We know he burned a lot of things and others he disposed of in the dumpsters on Maxwell Air Force Base.  Knowing all this, it was irksome to read the affidavit from Jerry asking that he and Susan be granted things that appear to have been already destroyed. In the end, Jerry got exactly what he was asking for.  The judge awarded him the default judgement he wanted.  That’s what happens when one party to a suit doesn’t respond.  Unfortunately, it’s obvious at least to me that Susan Osborne is unable to respond.   I did find something I thought was unusual. There is no mention of money in these documents.  No mention of bank accounts. The final decree does state that Jerry is responsible for his debts and Susan is responsible for her debts but that is the only mention of anything I’d consider to be about money.  I consulted with a divorce attorney and she too found this to be out of the norm.  She suggested that it’s possible that the judge inquired about bank accounts in a hearing and that Jerry could have responded with an answer such as “there’s next to no money in our joint account” or we maintained separate bank accounts or some other answer the judge found to be satisfactory and that this information never found its way into any of the motions.  Through these documents we also learned some details that were previously unknown to us.  Susan married Jerry on January 25, 2014 in Mentone, AL.  Also, I was told awhile back that Susan’s daughter was still on Jerry’s health insurance plan more than a year after Susan and Evan’s disappearance.  I haven’t mentioned it previously because I wanted more corroborating information.  Since then someone else has provided information that confirmed it and they suggested that Susan’s daughter could still be on this health insurance plan today.  I found this surprising when I first learned of it but now that we know Jerry and Susan were divorced less than 6 months after her disappearance, it seems even more unusual to me.


After we left the courthouse, we made our way back to Slapout.  We had a little free time on our hands before the dedication at the high school.  We stopped at various businesses around town to put up updated missing persons fliers.  We went to the Girls store, the ice machine in the parking lot of the boy’s store, the appliance store, the local farmer’s market stand where they sell fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers and then finally to the local Subway.  We bumped into Susan’s family again.  We sat down to eat lunch with them and then made the short trip to Holtville High School.  The original structure at the high school was built in the 1920’s.  It’s a very unique and beautiful building.  The exterior is white stucco with spanish tile accents.  We signed in at the main office and then were directed to walk through the school to a courtyard behind the main building where the koi pond is located.  Fishing was Evan’s favorite thing to do and this tribute to him couldn’t have been more fitting.   The koi pond is constructed out of stone and has a waterfall.  It is surrounded by flowers and other plants.   The finishing touch is the wooden and iron bench at the edge of the courtyard overlooking the pond.  It really is lovely. The areas surrounding the courtyard were filled with students and some local media, all there for the dedication but before the dedication began, Susan & Evan’s family had an announcement to make.  Sarah Stephens, with the Elmore/Autauga News, made the announcement for the family.  There is now a $10,000 reward available to the person that provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the disappearance of Susan and Evan.  


Next, the principal of the high school, Mr. Frutal, spoke.  He thanked the Holtville High School Community Club for the work they did on the pond and garden and the Holtville High SGA for providing the plaque and bench.  The plaque reads HHS dedicates this garden in honor of Evan Chartrand.  Gone from our sight but never from our hearts.  Est. May 2019.  My heart was aching and overflowing all at the same time.  Sometimes I think young, sweet Evan gets lost in this story because so much of it centers on Susan.  While Susan is an innocent victim, Evan is the most innocent victim of all.  A child who should’ve had the best parts of his life still ahead of him.


Mr. Frutal noted they decided to dedicate the pond to Evan for 2 reasons.  One is to let his memory be carried on at the school because they miss him.  The 2nd reason he noted is to continue to bring awareness that he is still missing.  When the dedication was complete, several members of the press spoke to Mr. Frutal.  I heard him tell someone that he believes Susan is the 1st person he met after accepting the position as principal at Holtville High.  He described her as an advocate for her son.  He used the words genuine and sweet when speaking of Evan.  The dedication service was emotional and bittersweet but when it was over, combined with the events from earlier in the day, I suddenly felt hope.  You see, over the last few weeks, I felt I was nearing the end of Susan and Evan’s story.  Without new information, I was approaching the end of regular episodes and it didn’t leave me with a good feeling. I’ve been steadily receiving tips and information but nothing I felt could change the current status of their case.  However, in the last week, since the day of the dedication, things have changed significantly.  The person responsible for their disappearance hasn’t escaped justice.  A lot of new information has come to light.  You’ve heard some of it today and other things are still being investigated further.  This isn’t a cold case.  It’s still being actively investigated by the police and others.  The person responsible for this isn’t free.  This person may be free physically and going about a somewhat normal, daily life but he’s not free mentally.  He’s living with the constant fear and anxiety that he’s going to be arrested.  And he should be.  Justice is coming.


In the days following the dedication, even more details and information has come to light. I can’t fully share how this information came to me.  2 days ago, I received a message that contained information that again took me by surprise.  It was an Autauga County 9-1-1 Communications Call Detail Report.  Autauga County is a neighboring county of Elmore and it is just a short distance from the home where Susan and Evan disappeared.  Susan and Evan lived in Autauga County prior to her marriage to Jerry.  The subject of the report is a 9-1-1 call that was received in Elmore County on July 29, 2017 at 2:28 pm and Elmore County was transferring the call and information from the call to Autauga County.  The document gives an address which I have confirmed to be the address of Jay’s mom.  To refresh your memory, Jay is the name we are using for Susan’s daughter’s father.  Further down in the report, there is a place for the complainant or contact information.  The name listed here is the name of the person at Elmore County 9-1-1.  In the address line, it states Suzanne Osborne welfare check/ Jay’s real name labeled as father.  The phone number listed appears to be for Elmore County 9-1-1.  Below that is the dispatch information.  The report indicates that a patrol unit was dispatched to Jay’s mom’s home and that the unit spent 17 minutes there.  Below that section is a section for comments.  I’m going to read those comments to you.


Elmore trying to do a welfare check on the mother of his child/wanting to know if he can get in contact with her.  Male is and it has Jay’s full name and notes he lives at this x20.  X20 is referring to location.

Female is suzanne osborne unknown x20.  They have susan’s first name wrong on this report.  The last thing it says is male has custody of their child and keeps in contact with him.


That last sentence really jumped out at me.  I had been told that Jay and Jerry didn’t really know each other and had little to no contact until after Susan and Evan disappeared when Jerry continued to pay Jay child support.  Maybe that’s the contact Jerry was referencing.  I don’t know.  Again, this call to 9-1-1 was made on July 29, 2017, the day that Elmore County Sheriff’s Office conducted the welfare check on Jerry’s home and also the day that they executed the search warrant.  So in the midst of all that was going on at Jerry’s home, he makes a 9-1-1 call wanting a patrol unit to go to the residence where Susan’s daughter lives?  The call was made at 2:28 pm.  I don’t know the exact time the investigators conducted the welfare check but I have confirmed it was in the morning hours.  This call was made after the investigators conducted the welfare check.  I know the investigators served the search warrant in the afternoon on the same day but I have not been able to confirm the exact time.  It’s possible this call could have been made by Jerry as he stood at the street in front of his home while the investigators were executing the search warrant.  What was the purpose of this call?  I have some theories but I’m going to wait to discuss them.  I’m expecting the receive further information on this call that could shed further light on it.  We will revisit this in a future episode.


As I’ve spent time in Elmore County, I’ve learned Susan Osborne isn’t the only missing woman in town.  I googled the other cases to familiarize myself with them.  As I was reading about one of these women, something jumped out at me.  While I was in town on Monday, I met with the investigator in charge of her case.  I will be sharing the information about this missing woman and discussing the common threads I found.  You are also going to hear never before released information regarding the circumstances of her disappearance. 


Thank you for listening to Secrets True Crime.  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 want to say thank you to those who have contacted me with information and those who’ve reached out to encourage me.  Each of you has provided a tremendous amount of help and you are making a difference in this case.  Not only am I appreciative but Susan and Evan’s families are so thankful as well.  To those of you listening that have information and fear or something else is keeping you from reaching out, please just do it.  Many like you already have and any information they’ve requested be kept private is and will continue to be kept that way.  If you are enjoying this podcast, please let us know by giving us a 5-star rating and review in Apple Podcasts.   I’m active on social media and often share photos of Susan and Evan.  Follow Secrets True Crime on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  @secretscrime.