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The Access Road

By

Bonnie M. Wells

www.starlightinnerprizes.com

 

 

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The Old Jeep Road

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I'd never given the term "road" much thought until the McCrady case. Then I decided it could be a misleading term.

I remember growing up on the farm here in Little Hocking. We had about a hundred and sixty acres of land on which we raised various vegetable and fruit crops. The potato patch alone was about an acre of ground, and the corn and hay fields took up several acres. Of course everything was located "miles" from the house .... well, it seemed like miles when you had to walk it!

Dad had an old Jeep, and over the years, he'd managed to beat out a trail back and forth to the garden and livestock crop areas. We called it the "Jeep road." It wound its way from our house, across the open pasture fields and past the barn before continuing on past the pig pens and down over the hill toward the "back forty" as Dad always called the lower garden areas.

I never thought much about it back when I was a kid, but now I wonder if our "city slicker" relatives weren't amused when they came to visit and heard us talking about the "Jeep road." They probably figured we lived so far out in the sticks that we didn't really know what a road was! Well, they may have been right, after all, it was 3 miles to the nearest 'paved' road.

Today, I wonder what the average person thought when they read articles in their newspaper about Jenifer McCrady and the "access road," where her body was found. Did they think it was a "paved road," like you could drive any vehicle on ... or did they realize it was much closer to our old "Jeep road," than any modern street or road they had ever traveled?

The prosecution made a big issue of the fact that a police cruiser was seen coming down the hill from the old access road, and witness Mary Dye gave a positive identification on Jackie McCrady as the driver of that cruiser.

There were ruts deep enough to lose a passenger car {or a cruiser} in, and the gravel that formed the entrance off from Township Road 298 thinned out considerably about a hundred feet {not yards, but feet} from 298. The rest of the trail was just that, a trail. Oh there was some gravel here and there as the trail wound its way around the base of the hill and back up the other side, to eventually emerge at the top of the hill near the house that stood across the road from the Watson farm. But it was deeply rutted and in pretty bad condition.

I figured the guy who tended the oil and gas wells on the property drove a four-wheel drive vehicle of some type. Probably a truck, I guessed from the tracks that were left in the dried dirt that had obviously been mud when the vehicle that left the tracks had came through.

One neighbor rode horses on the trail almost every day. I could easily track his horses. You can't track horses on concrete! There was lots of bare areas where there was no gravel, no grass, and certainly no paved road on which to drive.

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The Difficulty

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The state seemed to have difficulty making up its mind as to which vehicle McCrady used to transport his dead wife. First it was her red Chevy Blazer, then, when people said they had seen a cruiser leaving the access road, which by the way, was also on two different dates and times, the state laid off the "blazer" issue for awhile and went after the cruiser. He had stuffed his wife into the trunk of his cruiser and hauled her down there, they contended.

Personally, I wondered why he hadn't driven his own Toyota truck! It would have been more suited for the terrain, not to mention much easier to hose any evidence from the bed of rather than inside either the cruiser trunk or Jenifer's vehicle.

If I wanted to hide a dead body ....well, I'd probably take it out to some old abandoned building ....like Mary Dye said she saw in her dream. And if I owned a pick-up truck, I'd probably toss the body in the back of it so I could head for the nearest car wash and hose out any left-over evidence when I was finished! No one in this area thought it strange to see a man hosing his truck out even in the dead of winter, so I'm sure they would have thought nothing of seeing someone washing his truck in mid-September!

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My Tests

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While McCrady's lawyers were doing their best to show the jury that none of McCrady's vehicles had any evidence of being on the access road, I was doing my own tests. My T-Bird could climb the entrance hill of the access road with ease, but that was as far as she went. There was no way I would attempt the rest of that road. This meant that whoever brought Jenifer to the remote location must have carried her from their vehicle to the burial site. We heard nothing in the trial that indicated this, but by the time Lifetime TV did their re-enactment - "The Trooper's Wife" - in October of 2000 this is exactly what was portrayed. I just wondered whose charcoal gray Pontiac was pictured in the show!

It seemed a little strange that by the time the show was aired, I'd traded off the T-Bird and was driving a charcoal gray Pontiac, Bonneville!

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Lookout Point

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While the rest of the world was debating whether Jackie McCrady murdered his wife or not, I was interested in whether it was unusual to see a cruiser coming or going from that access road.

The prosecution made it sound as if Jackie McCrady had only been on the road three or four times and got caught each time. I thought that was strange, since the road was pretty well hidden from sight.

I did the one thing that I've done since I was a little kid. I went out into the Little Hocking area, and I talked to people. But especially those who lived near the access road.

People there had to be more knowledgeable than others that lived further away.

Sure enough. I quickly located three people who were eager to tell me...{and would have been glad to testify, but no one asked them!} that it was pretty common to see a state patrol cruiser sitting on top of the little rise that came off of Twp. 298.

There was about 75 feet of gradual upgrade from 298 to the top of the rise. Then, the area had been graded out and was fairly level. It was an excellent vantage point from which to watch the highway. Traffic could be seen coming and going.

From the evidence I saw, the area appeared to be a regular parking place for someone, or several someone's, as beer cans and empty beer cartons, along with other less mentionable items littered the area.

And as I walked around the area, I wondered if this is where the "dump" portion of Mary Dye's dream came from! It wasn't exactly a dump though, and I'm certain the man who owns the property didn't appreciate people coming up in there and leaving their trash when they left.

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The Witnesses

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There was even some testimony in the court room that it was not unusual for troopers - highway patrol officers - to pull their cars up into the level area of the oil/gas well access road and to sit there while watching the highway. It was also a spot where the officers could get out of the cars for a few minutes at a time and stretch their legs. It sounded logical to me.

Several individuals informed me that they had seen highway patrol cruisers sitting up on the hill that overlooked the four-lane many, many times.

One man, who lived nearby, told me that the troopers sometimes used his driveway to watch the road, because it too was situated back from the highway enough that they could park there and not be detected by speeders. He said on more than one occasion he had gotten out of his semi and asked the trooper to move his cruiser so he could get into his driveway!

He said they were always nice about it.

I laughed and said ..."Well, it probably wasn't the same officer each time, so it took a while for all of them to figure out there was someone that lived down that driveway." He agreed. And in the meantime, I realized that there had been several different cops who used these "out of the way" parking areas.

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All Would Have Testified

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By the time Jackie McCrady's trial was held - August 1997 - I'd talked to a lot of people and located a few people that could have testified to several things that I thought were real important but, I realized as soon as the trial started that no one gave a hoot in hell what I'd discovered, or what I thought was important.

The prosecution wasn't interested; the cops weren't interested, and defense wasn't interested, and I just couldn't figure that one out.

Personally I thought each and every person who had seen cruisers parked there should have been in that court room.

I also thought the guy who told his wife he heard two gun shots, down in the area where Jenifer McCrady was found, during the time she was missing, should have been in that court room. But there again, no one asked what I thought, so none of them testified.

The state got a conviction on Jackie McCrady. Many people continue to think he's an innocent man. I hope they are wrong because if they are right, and McCrady is innocent, then the killer of his wife, in all likelihood continues to live among us.

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This story clip comes to you from the Pure Coincidence Book Series; book number 18a:

The Trials And Tribulations

Of A Trooper / Part One - The Early Warnings

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Pure Coincidence / Homepage

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This page updated: 10-01-03 / 9-03-04 / 5-04-2005 / 9-06 / 6-07 / Feb. 2013 / BMW

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