Sunday, January 5, 2020

What Happened to Christopher Thompkins?



Missing persons and abduction cases are quite perplexing, and they often confound authorities, terrorize families, and mystify sleuths. In Georgia, one of the strangest missing persons cases is that of Christopher Thompkins.  Chris disappeared from Ellerslie, Georgia-a small community in Harris County not far from Columbus on Hwy 27. Thompkins, who had gotten a job with a surveying company owned by a friend of his mother Ann, was working on Hwy 85 with a four man crew on Friday, January 25, 2002. The site on Hwy 85 where his crew was working was a wooded area. He left home that morning around 8:10 AM and rode to the site with the owner of the survey business. The morning went along without incident, and the four man team broke for lunch. After lunch, around 1:30, the four workers were walking along Hwy 85 near County Line Road and Warm Springs Road. The men were about fifty feet apart, and Chris was at the rear of the group close to the road. According to the men who were on the crew with Chris, this was the last time they saw him and in the last location. The next thing they knew, he was gone.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Chris was wearing a pair of navy blue pants, a plaid jacket with a hood, and a black skull cap. On his right arm there appears a tattoo of an ice cream cone with his name written vertically inside the cone. The top of the cone where the ice cream scoop would normally be is not an ice cream scoop but rather the head of a joker wearing a hat.

The spot where Chris was last seen was wooded, but there was a barbed wire fence between the road and private property that bordered the road itself. According to David Paulides (2011) in his book, Missing 411: Eastern United States, Chris' coworkers returned to the area to search and there they found one of the boots he had been wearing when he disappeared. It was lying next to the fence that bordered the road and the private property nearby, and strangely enough, there were coins lying near the boot. Also scattered about on the grass nearby were the tools that Chris had been using when he was last seen. The man who owned the business called Chris' mother, Ann, not long afterwards, and around 4:15 PM, they reported Chris' disappearance to the local sheriff's office; however, as is customary, local authorities do not classify a person as missing until s/he has been gone for over 24 hours. Once this time had passed, the local sheriff's department started conducting an official investigation where they found part of the cloth from Chris' blue pants on the barbed wire fence near the area where his coworkers had found his boot. In July, nearly five months after he disappeared, someone said to be the owner of the property on the other side of the barbed wire fence, found the other boot that Chris was wearing the day he disappeared. Interestingly enough, the owner of the survey company for whom Chris worked mentioned that he had been acting odd in the days leading up to the disappearance. On the other hand, Chris' mother said she has no recollection of him acting any differently or strange, and in fact, she mentioned that he was acting quite normal.

This disappearance has some baffling elements. Beyond the big question of what happened to Christopher Thompkins, there are a few things that should be asked.
1. Why were Chris' shoes removed from his feet?
2. If Chris had been determined to run away and disappear, why did he remove one shoe at the fence and one in the field a short ways off? In fact, why did he remove his shoes anyway if he fled on foot or even in a car?
3. Why were coins and tools that had been in his pockets or in his person found in the grass and near the area where he was last seen? If he decided to empty his pockets, why did he dispense with the coins? One would think he would keep money he had on him if he were going to disappear on his own, and one would definitely think if he were being robbed or abducted, the captor robber/captor would keep what money s/he found on Chris.
4. Since items that were in his pockets and on his person were found scattered at the scene of his disappearance, if someone had rifled through his pockets during an abduction, how could his coworkers, who were only about fifty feet away by their own admission not hear that, or more so, if someone snatched him where he stood and then riffled through his pockets, why was the scuffle and ordeal not heard by those coworkers? If someone took the time to accost Chris and then rifle through his pockets, wouldn't they have risked being seen by those coworkers or even someone passing by in a car? It is strange that someone would take that kind of risk. So if he were accosted and abducted on site and the abductors did not rifle through his pockets, why were his belongings on the ground nearby? Did he throw them down? If so, why?
5. Was Chris attacked by an animal? If so, why was there no blood found at the scene commensurate with what we know accompanies an animal attack? Also, why would his coworkers not have heard any screams or cries for help in the midst of an animal attack?

This case is quite strange! It was as if Chris Thompkins was snatched up without anyone noticing or hearing a thing. I say that it was as if he were snatched up because of the way part of the fabric from his pants was found in the barbed wire fence, as well as the fact that one of his shoes was found at the scene of the disappearance. When one takes in to consideration that his coworkers heard nor saw anything, it makes the disappearance even more mystifying. One of the saddest elements of this story is that his mother has been left with no answers whatsoever. A murder at least has some sense of closure in that the families know that their loved one is gone and cannot come back. A disappearance such as Chris Thompkins brings no sense of closure. His mother and loved ones are left to wonder where he is, if he is ever coming back or can, and what happened on that roadside that January day. Perhaps one day soon, we will have answers to these questions, and Chris' mother can have some sense of closure.

References
The Charley Project (2004). Christopher Carlton Thompkins. The Charley Project. Retrieved from:
http://charleyproject.org/case/christopher-carlton-thompkins.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations. (n.d.). Missing Persons: Christopher Thompkins. Georgia Bureau of Investigations. Retrieved from: https://gbi.georgia.gov/cases/missing-persons/christopher-thompkins.

Paulides, D. (2011). Missing 411: Eastern United States, Charleston, South Carolina: CreateSpace.

Happy New Year!

Greetings readers and fellow bloggers!
It has been almost two years since I have posted on this blog, but I plan to reengage and give a great deal more attention to it this coming year and beyond. Frankly, it has been about three years since I have been able to turn my attention to much else besides working my way through a doctoral program, and as of now, I am in the final term and about to defend my dissertation. What better time to reignite the fire that burns within when it comes to mysteries, true crime, and the 'just plain weird?' I hope that all of you are having a great start to the New Year. There are some interesting things happening now in terms of my book-The Atlanta Ripper. I may have neglected to post this, but a few years ago a production company from California purchased the rights to the book, and for the past year or so the owner has been working to get the book turned in to a mini-series or full-length film. While there has been some movement in that direction, Hollywood is its own universe, and like things in Washington D.C., progress is a slow moving giant there. I am quite patient, and if I receive updates from the production company, I will post them.
On another front, back in October 2019, The Atlanta History Center featured my book,and ME, at the first ever author event at The Georgia Beer Garden. This was a great venue, and we had about 50 people who turned out to hear me talk about the book and my thoughts on the murders. I am so grateful to The History Press, The Atlanta History Center, and The Georgia Beer Garden for collaborating on this and inviting me. The coolest part of the entire thing was that The Georgia Beer Garden sits right in the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta-the ward where most of the Atlanta Ripper murders took place.
Keeping that momentum going, over the Christmas holidays, I was contacted by the creators of the Fall Line Podcast to participate in a series about The Atlanta Ripper that they are planning for April. In January, I will be doing an interview with Laura and Brooke-the hosts and producers-about the book and the murders. I had a great conversation with Laura on New Year's Eve, and I can say that I have found kindred spirits when it comes to mysteries and true crime. She and Brooke are as interested as I am in missing person cases, abductions, and other mysteries that baffle the minds of investigators in the Peach State. If you have not listened to their podcast, check them out at their website: www.thefalllinepodcast.com.

I do hope all of you are having a Happy 2020 so far, and I am actually going to be posting my first post of 2020 (other than this one, I suppose) right away. Please continue to follow, and if you have ideas or items you want to pass along, please feel free. My email is georgiaspooks@yahoo.com.

Jeff

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Missing Georgia Teen-Aubrey Carroll-Found Alive and Well. This Georgia Mystery is Solved!

Usually, my posts are about unsolved mysteries in Georgia-ones that we would love to solve but cannot seem to do so. This one is different, and it is perhaps the first post I have made here about one that was solved.
In May 2016, in Spaulding County (Griffin), about 45 minutes south of Atlanta, 15 year old Aubrey Carroll seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. On May 24, 2016, fifteen year old Aubrey left school early and did not show up at home when he was supposed to do so. He lived with his father in Griffin. There were rumors that he decided to leave and go to Jones County, Georgia where he has family, but no one had seen him there either. After being missing for a few days, a huge search that involved the Griffin County Sheriff's Department and the FBI began. There were some rumors that surfaced of where he might have gone, and there were family members who searched for him all over the areas they thought he might have gone, but no word. Finally, in April of this year, authorities made contact with his family to report that he was indeed alive and well. He apparently left and was living "off the grid" in the western part of the United States. The authorities had been tracking him for the last little while, and they had even found a Facebook page he had set up under an alias name. He was alive, well, in no danger, and seemed to be happy.
Photo courtesy of SCSD. Aubrey is pictured above with Lt. Mike Morris (Left) and Spaulding County Sheriff Darrell Dix (right).
   Aubrey has since made contact with his family, even visiting some of them in Georgia. The GRIP, a local news outlet in the Griffin area carried the full story of Aubrey's return home. Lt. Morris and Sheriff Dix said that their jaws dropped at hearing some of the stories Aubrey told about his travels and what all he experienced. However, nothing they report indicates that Aubrey was in any danger nor was in any trouble. The link to the story is here:
 https://the-grip.net/2018/04/17/missing-spalding-teen-aubrey-carroll-returns-home/

We are glad you are safe, Aubrey, and we hope you get to spend time with your family to make up for lost days. Stay safe and happy, young man. This was a true happy ending to a Georgia Mystery!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Body of Creature Washes Ashore at Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge-Hoax, Mistaken Identity, or Altamaha-Ha?

For those that have read my blog before, you know that I have posted about a Georgia legend known as Altamaha-ha. Also called, Altie, the alleged creature is said to be Georgia's Loch Ness Monster, which, is itself a tribute to one of the most well-known cryptids in history. As of recent, the press has been abuzz with a recent report involving the carcass of an unidentified creature that washed ashore at Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia Coast.
Media outlets such as USA Today carried the story. National Geographic also offered up a story about the carcass and presented speculations as to what it might be. Some experts claimed that the whole thing was nothing more than a not so complex hoax. Others claimed that the carcass belonged to a frilled shark, albeit the absence of gills causes some problems with that interpretation. Other marine scientists express concern with lack of a body to examine, and the fact that the legend of Altamaha-ha pervades in the area, and that it is too coincidental.

There are some issues with this report. For one, there is no body left to examine-only photos. Second, the carcass does seem quite similar to models made of Altie, and third, the first two issues combined with the fact that this washed up in an area not too far from the birthplace of the Altie legend, make it somewhat unbelievable.

Here is the National Geographic report and photos submitted. You decide!
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/mysterious-sea-creature-washes-ashore-georgia-monster-spd/


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Author Appeared on Destination America's Haunted Towns-Episode 8-McDonough, Georgia

So the guys from Tennessee Wraith Chasers, better known for their show Ghost Asylum did another show for Destination America called Haunted Towns. The premise of the show is that these guys, who constitute a paranormal research group, visit towns in America that have a haunted past and are supposed to be haunted and have lots of paranormal activity. Among the towns visited were Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Vicksburg, Mississippi; Cape May, New Jersey; River Falls, Massachusetts; Salem, Massachusetts; Brisbee, Arizona, and two locations in Georgia-Savannah and McDonough. In visiting McDonough, the producers and cast hoped to learn more about The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900 and its impact on the area, particularly if the hauntings in McDonough might be caused by the crash. Back in May, the team contacted me and asked if I would be willing to be interviewed as part of the show. Naturally, I agreed, and we did the interview on the banks of Camp Creek.  It was hot, muggy, and a lot of fun.


The show aired on October 3, 2017. The show included my interview, a visit to someone named Jill's house to talk about a doll and hauntings at her home. I have NEVER met Jill, do not recognize the home, and have never heard anything about a doll that might be possessed or have connections with the crash. Historically speaking, there is no record of any child on board the #7 train that crashed at Camp Creek, so I can say with certainty that that doll is not associated with the train crash, and it would be the better part of wisdom to assume had the doll been on board the train, it would have been destroyed. The youngest survivor on the train was a young lady in her teens who was traveling with her teacher. The other young person on the train was a young boy; I am pretty sure he would not have had a doll.  So I am sort of puzzled as to what this was all about.  Nevertheless, the episode aired, and can be seen at the Destination America website. I have provided the link below.


https://www.destinationamerica.com/tv-shows/haunted-towns/full-episodes/inside-the-haunt-mcdonough-ga



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bigfoot in Macon County Watches Men BBQ a Hog; Owner of Property Says the Bigfoot is a Common Presence on the Property

BFRO researcher David Bakara, and owner of Expedition Bigfoot: Sasquatch Museum, investigated a Bigfoot sighting in Macon County, Georgia recently.  The sighting, which took place in early 2017, happened as the witness and his father were grilling a hog.  Standing there attending to their grill, the men looked up and saw a large, dark and hairy figure looking back at them. The witness who reported the incident to David Bakara said that he immediately grabbed his cell phone to take a picture, and as soon as he snapped the photo, the figure was gone.  The link to the report has the cell phone photo.
The figure is indeed dark and hairy. Afterwards, the men went to the area where the figure was standing and investigated. Per their recollection of where the figures head paralleled the tree it was standing near, the figure was around 8 feet tall. Perhaps more interesting than anything else concerning this sighting was the remark of the property owner who, when asked about the incident by the witnesses and showed the photo, remarked that he sees this figure on the property all the time.

Check out the report and the picture.  It appears that there is something weird in the photo.

https://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=56567https://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=56567

Friday, January 17, 2014

Spook Bridge-What Kind of Crossings Happen Here?


Not far from Valdosta, Georgia there is a location that not many know about outside the area, but is quite legendary in the Lowndes County and Brooks County communities.  The locals began to call it Spook Bridge, a simple enough name, and it stuck.  As the internet and social media become a larger part of our everyday lives, the bridge and its "spooky" legends are getting more attention.  I first read about this legend in Jim Miles' book Weird Georgia. However, as our college has a campus in Valdosta, I began to ask folks from that campus about it and some of them had interesting stories to tell. I felt that it would be worth my time looking in to and possibly posting to the Georgia Mysteries Blog, so here it goes.

The Youtube video above is one of the most visited links relating to Spook Bridge, and it is posted there for you to view. There are others posted on Youtube. As a matter of fact, there seems to be several uploaded by a user named Pat Clendenning.  I would check all of those out.

The bridge has quite an interesting history.  Built somewhere around 1920 near land owned by the Walter Cunningham family, the bridge led to a well-known resort named Blue Springs. It attracted visitors from all over the state to its natural spring called the Blue Hole.  It appears that there were a few drownings at the Blue Springs Resort during the years of its operation, and the wreck of a gas truck back on the bridge in the 1940s took out several dozen feet of railing that were not immediately repaired.  Natural disaster took its toll on the resort when in the late 1940s, a flood washed out the roads leading to the bridge, which made the passage unsafe for travel.  Later, the state built another route and bridge nearby that diminished traffic through the area to the resort, and by the 1970s Blue Springs was no more.  Later in the 1970s, vandals began  to venture out to the abandoned bridge and spray paint graffiti and satanic messages on its sides and railings. Others report that cult activity occurred in the area, particularly at night.  The legend of Spook Bridge, as it began to be called in the late 70s, was born.

Of course, with the bridge abandoned, having a very colorful history, and surrounded by dark woods and a rushing river below, legends and stories did crop up.  A few of the legends that have surfaced and become part of the fabric of Spook Bridge include the deaths of a few people.  One, there is a story that includes a couple who lived in a nearby house.  The legend states that the couple walked along the bridge one day, and the husband pushed the wife off the bridge, leading to her death. I sort of wonder what led him to do such a thing, but the legend does not include that pertinent piece of information. Perhaps the couple quarreled, or one of them was pugnacious in nature, but whatever the case, the wife died. Legend has it that she haunts the bridge and her ghost can be seen trying to climb from the murky waters below to get back on the bridge with her husband. Another legend includes this same couple, albeit the husband kills the wife in their house nearby and then commits suicide.  Their ghosts, as you can imagine, took up residence near the bridge.

Another legend focuses on a high school couple who visited the bridge and wrecked when they ran in to the railing on the side of the bridge, broke through, and their car was swept away by the river below.  A third legend focuses on a school bus full of children that ran off the side of the bridge in to the river below. I have seen very little to substantiate either legend, but I did not look that hard either.  Perhaps you can find it, or the proof that dismisses the legend.  It is also said that people who visit the bridge have experienced what they think are fists and hands pounding on the hood of their cars as they approach the bridge.

Of course, this area is dangerous, and wrecks most certainly could occur on or near the bridge, as it has been washed out in part and is structurally unsound in other places.  The road leading to the bridge has been ripped apart in places, there are rips in the asphalt in the road and bridge, broken glass is everywhere, and there are signs of gang and cult activity in the form of graffiti and paraphernalia left in the area. The local sheriff's department does its best to patrol the area and keep visitors and legend seekers away, or at least in areas where they will not get hurt.  The bridge is known to flood when it rains, as there is a river beneath. If you decide to visit, I would clear it with local authorities first.  As with all legend trips, there is danger involved.