Who knew what was happening behind the closed doors of Circleville?
The anonymous letter arrived out of nowhere. And Ron’s wife Mary denied the accusations in it. She wasn’t having an affair. But the letter demanded Ron take action against his cheating wife.
It was 1976, and Mary had been getting similar letters for months, but had told no-one.
I know where you live, read the first. I’ve been observing your house and know you have children. This is no joke.
Quiet, respected Mary drove the local school bus in Circleville, Ohio.
The letters, accusing her of having an affair with the school superintendent, were all written in black ink, with a postmark of Columbus, 28 miles from Circleville.
Mary had hidden the letters initially. But now her
husband Ron had received one. Then another…
You have had two weeks and done nothing. Admit the truth and inform the school board. If not, I will broadcast it on posters and billboards until the truth comes out.
More letters arrived for Mary and Ron Gillespie. Some full of vulgar language, others with crude diagrams of sex acts.
Then, on 19 August 1977, Ron Gillespie answered a phone call at the house.
Something was said that angered Ron so much, he stormed off… gun in hand.
Later that day, his car was found crashed into a tree, his dead body inside.
The authorities found Ron had been drinking – except he was normally teetotal. And his gun had been fired once…
The death was ruled a drunken accident. But whoever had written those letters to Ron and Mary disagreed.
Now, people all over Circleville started getting letters, all claiming Ron’s death wasn’t an accident…
Mary decided to come clean and admitted the affair. But the letters didn’t stop. Finally, in 1983, the writer carried out that promise to shame Mary Gillespie in public.
A billboard appeared along her bus route, detailing her affair, threatening her children.
Seeing it, Mary went to tear it down.
But, attached to the billboard she found a string, attached to a post, attached to a box… in it, a pistol rigged to fire in her face.
Luckily, it hadn’t gone off. Now, though, police had a clue.
The gun’s serial number led investigators to Paul Freshour, Ron’s brother-in-law.
Paul was arrested. He claimed the gun had gone missing years earlier, denied being the letter writer. But Paul was close enough to the family to know their secrets...
He was given a handwriting test. But experts couldn’t agree if he’d written the letters. The evidence against him was circumstantial.
Yet he was convicted of the attempted murder of Mary Gillespie and sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison.
Paul denied any involvement and the letters continued, even though he was behind bars.
Two years on, Paul received a letter… Now when are you
More letters arrived, some with diagrams of sex acts
going to believe you aren’t going to get out of there?
The letter writer was wrong. Finally, 10 years later, Paul Freshour was released and maintained his innocence until his death in 2012.
To this day, no-one knows who sent those letters or why.
Or what really happened to Ron Gillespie.
The last known letter was sent to Ohio’s local TV station on 11 November 1994, 17 years after Ron’s death.
Forget Circleville, Ohio, the letter said. If you come you el sickos will pay. And it was signed… The Circleville Letter Writer.