The Flippin' Fish #4c

Even More Flippo News

Presented By

Bonnie M. Wells


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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

West Virginia Officials

Pull Site Of Murder From Web Listing

The Associated Press


West Virginia tourism officials have pulled an item from their Web site that promoted a park cabin as being haunted by the ghost of a woman who was murdered there.

The item detailed the April 30, 1996, beating death of Cheryl Flippo and asked, "Would you dare stay a night in Cabin 13?" It was included in a "West Virginia Hauntings" list that also mentioned strange happenings at the old West Virginia Penitentiary in Mounds-ville and in Harpers Ferry.

"We believed it to be inappropriate. It definitely is not haunted. It was the site of a very big tragedy. We immediately took it off when we noticed it was on," Tourism Commissioner Alisa Bailey said. "It was just a mistake. We apologize."

The list was compiled by division staff. Bailey said she did not know who wrote the Cabin 13 item.

"We had a lot of young people and somebody came up with the idea," she said.

Flippo's husband, the Rev. James Michael Flippo, was convicted in 1997 of using a piece of firewood to beat her to death at the cabin.

James Flippo. a former pastor of the Landmark Church of God in Nitro, W.Va., was sentenced to life without parole but is appealing his conviction.

The state's Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Nov. 6.

Workers at Babcock will not talk about Cabin 13. They say that Flippo's death was a tragedy and they do not discuss the case out of concern for her family.

Although Cabin 13 gained notoriety after the murder, there is little difference between it and Babcock State Park's other log cabins.

All were built in the late 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps with alternating layers of brown logs and white chinking that give them a fairy-tale look. {break}

{** My dad joined the CCC camp / mentioned above / when he was 15 years old. I remember him talking about trees that the group planted on Blennerhassett Island and log cabins that they built in southern West Virginia. Dad spent 3 years in the 3C camp, where he earned 30 dollars per month. 25 dollars was sent back to the family (it was depression time) and the boys got to keep 5.00! Later he joined the U.S. Army and spent 2 tours of duty in WWII. After the war, he and my mother married and he became employed by the B&O Railroad, where he worked until he retired in the mid 1980's.

Until I ran across this article, I did not connect the "cabin in my dream to my dad. I thought of dad because of the train, but not because of the cabin. And I have to admit .... even I am impressed with this new information.}

Cabin 13 is the last in a string of cabins along a narrow, one-lane asphalt road that winds through the woods from the park's feature attraction, a reproduction of an 1890s' grist mill.

At least two Web sites dedicated to ghosts in West Virginia mention Cabin 13. West Virginia Ghosthunters - www.ghosthunterwv.tripod.com - displays photos of the cabin and recounts the group's investigation of the site, while www.wvghosts.com contains a one-sentence item about the cabin.

Bailey said that the tourism divisions hauntings list - www.callwva.com/hauntings/ - was intended to promote "spooky places in West Virginia."

"We wanted the haunting sites that were either haunted or had notoriety, like from the 1800s," she said.

The Cabin 13 item was removed a couple of days after the list was posted on the Web site, she said.

"They included that inappropriately. It was to be reviewed by supervisors. It was unfortunately put up on the Web prematurely," Bailey said.

"It was a mistake and was an unfortunate mistake."

Flippo v West Virginia

US Supreme Court

October 18, 1999

(The big court tells us that they told us in 1978 and they told us in 1984, but they'll tell us again. There is no "homicide scene exception" to the fourth amendment's search warrant requirement. Any extended search of a homicide seen, without consent or exigent circumstances, requires a search warrant. Here, where police searched a cabin in a state park for sixteen hours, taking photographs, collecting evidence, etc., without a warrant, the court says the evidence should have been suppressed.)

Reverend James Flippo, pastor of a West Virginia church, took his wife, Cheryl, one April day (to avoid summer crowds and rates, no doubt) to a cabin in beautiful Babcock State Park, Fayette County, West Virginia. Before he took her to the cabin, he took out a $100,000.00 life insurance policy on Cheryl. (Tithing was down in the congregation.

Very early the next morning, the Reverend called police, claiming a masked man had barged into the cabin, cutting him with a knife and knocking him unconscious. When he awoke, he told the police, he found his wife beaten to death.

The police arrived, were not impressed with the pastors injuries, but took him to the hospital for treatment.

And, for sixteen hours, they searched the cabin, collected evidence and took photographs, without a warrant.

On the table near the wife's body, the police found a closed briefcase and, therein, they found photographs and negatives indicating the pastor was involved in an intimate relationship with a male member of the congregation. (There goes the new organ).

Turns out that the investigation confirms that Cheryl was aware of, and displeased about, the pastor's extramarital relationship. (We have motive! And $100,000.00)

The defense (Res Ipsa Guilty) claimed the photographs and negatives must be suppressed, because the police didn't have a search warrant.

The trial court said heck, it was a homicide crime scene, obviously an exception to the 4th Amendment warrant requirement. The state appellate court was comfortable with that view and denied review.

The pastor got life, without parole, and the joint got a new chaplain, the hard way.

However, here, on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction, ruling the photographs and negatives from the warrantless search must be suppressed.

The Supreme Court pointed out that in Mincey v Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978) and then again in Thompson v Louisiana, 469 U.S. 17 (1984) they told the American law enforcement community, in no uncertain terms, that there was no homicide scene exception in search and seizure. Even at a homicide scene, a warrant is required. New trial ordered.

(Bottom line? This is a "per curiam" opinion. That means there is no argument and no vote. The court does that whatever they think the law is simple and settled and there is no need for discussion or to waste time. They really, really meant to get a warrant.)

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

Motion Docket

Wednesday, May 1, 2002

State of W. Va. v. James Michael Flippo - 012417

{How many in my reading audience remembers the date of my Flippin' Fish dream?}

- Life Without Mercy -

This appeal concerns the denial by the Circuit Court of Fayette County of petitioner James Michael Flippo's motion to suppress, following the remand of the case to the Circuit Court by the United States Supreme Court in Flippo v. West Virginia, 528 U.S. 11 (1999).

In the underlying case, the petitioner was convicted by a jury of murder of the first degree, without mercy, based upon circumstances wherein the petitioner's wife was found dead in a cabin at Babcock State Park.

The petitioner contends, inter alia, that the Circuit Court, upon remand, committed error in denying the petitioner's motion to suppress photographs seized, without a warrant, from the petitioner's closed briefcase at the crime scene.

- Grant 3 - 2, Maynard, McGraw.

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