The death of a woman found in a barrel at the bottom of a pond is ruled an accident, but her family believes she was murdered.

Smiling Debbie Wolfe in nurse uniform

Debbie Wolfe

Debbies foot floating in a pond

They searched and found her in the pond

CASE DETAILS

On Wednesday, December 25, 1985, after completing her shift at the hospital, Debbie Wolfe of Fayetteville, North Carolina, left work, presumably heading home. According to Debbie’s mother, Jenny Edwards:

“The next morning, Debbie should have been at work. She had to be at work at eight. Debbie did not go to work. Debbie did not answer her telephone. It wasn’t like Debbie at all. She never missed work.”

Folliage and ripples in a pond

The barrel disappeared

Debbie’s parents and a family friend named Kevin Gorton hurried over to her house, an isolated cabin, four miles outside Fayetteville. Knowing that Debbie took good care of her home and her pets, Debbie’s mother was surprised by what they found:

“We looked around and we saw beer cans laying in the yard. Her dogs had not been fed. There was a uniform laying on the floor, in the kitchen, and other things thrown on the floor, like maybe she took them off.”

Debbie’s purse was not in its usual place. Kevin found it shoved under her bed. There was also an odd message on Debbie’s answering machine recorded earlier that day. A man from the hospital was calling to see how Debbie was doing. He mentioned that she had missed many days of work. This made no sense to Debbie’s mother:

“What concerned me about his message was that he said that she had missed a lot of days at work, and she hadn’t. In fact, she had only missed a few hours at work at the time that he put the message on the answering machine.”

A woman standing over and turning the dial on the machine

Was the man on the machine the killer?

The search continued outside the cabin and around a nearby pond. There were no signs of Debbie. Debbie’s mother called the Sheriff’s office and was told they would investigate only after Debbie had been missing for three days. But five days passed before authorities began a full-scale search:

“They searched the cabin. Later that afternoon they brought the bloodhounds out and they could find nothing at all. They then walked around the edge of the pond. I was there for that.”

Captain Jack Watts of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department:

“I think it was mentioned that they had already looked in the pond…there was no use for us to look in the pond, so I don’t think we did a dive of the pond or a complete search of the pond on that day. No, we did not.”

Jenny Edwards decided to hire her own divers. On January 1, 1986, Kevin Gorton and another friend, Gordon Childress, returned to the pond. Both men were familiar with rescue work. Childress dragged the pond looking for evidence. According to Kevin Gorton:

“He was in the water approximately two minutes when he called out to me and told me that he had found what looked like a set of footprints and a drag mark.”

In fact, according to Gordon Childress, he found two sets of footprints pressed into the thick mud, along with the drag marks. Once he went under the murky water, it wasn’t long before Childress came across a body:

“It was inside of what looked like a burn barrel. That’s a rusty, 55-gallon oil drum type thing with holes in it.”

The police were called to the scene. The dead woman was identified as Debbie Wolfe.
The coroner concluded that she had drowned. An autopsy revealed no trace of drugs, no alcohol in her system, and no signs of foul play. Kevin Gorton does not believe Debbie’s death was as a result of drowning:

“A typical coroner drowning would be eyes open, mouth open, hands and arms in a very clawed state, you know, just a fight for life. Which was quite on the contrary to what Debbie was. The eyes were closed, the mouth was closed, arms were in a relaxed state, just her whole body was relaxed. She looked like she was asleep.”

Capt. Jack Watts proposed a theory:

“Her dogs were running loose when the family members and the Sheriff’s Department first met over there. Possibly, she was playing with the dogs and fell in.”

As the investigation continued, Debbie’s mother said, police began to deny that Debbie’s body had been found inside of a barrel:

“I asked one of our friends who was there, I said, ‘What happened? Do they have the barrel?” And they said, ‘No, they decided to leave it there. They’ll get it in the morning.’ The next day, they went back to get the barrel, and they said that the barrel was gone. All of a sudden it didn’t exist. The same barrel that had been there the night before.”

Capt. Jack Watts denies there ever was a barrel:

“In my opinion, and the opinions of some of the investigators, what appeared to be a barrel to some of the divers could have been Debbie’s jacket which may have ballooned out as she was laying at that angle in the bottom of the pond.”

Gordon Childress is certain of what he saw:

“There was no doubt in my mind, I’m a hundred percent positive that it was an old burn barrel or something of that nature. You know, metal, rusted, 55-gallon type drum, that the body was in.”

Jenny Edwards then recalled a barrel she had seen near Debbie’s cabin:

“I went over to the spot where the barrel was and the barrel was gone. The indentation of the barrel was still there, on the ground, but the barrel was no longer there.”

A few months later, Jenny discovered another inconsistency:

“When I got a chance to examine the clothes that were on Debbie’s body, I looked at them very carefully and realized that those were not Debbie’s clothes. The pants were very, very much too long for Debbie. The bra cup-size was three sizes too large for her and around-size, it would be two sizes too large for her. The shoes, Debbie wore a ladies size seven, and these were a men’s size six, which winds up being about three sizes larger.”

Debbie’s family became convinced that she had been murdered. One of Debbie’s responsibilities at work was coordinating the hospital’s volunteers. According to Jenny Edwards:

“There was a volunteer at the hospital that wanted to become romantically involved with Debbie. Debbie discussed this with everyone, including him, and told him that she would be his friend but nothing else.”

Jenny is convinced that this was the man who called Debbie the day after she disappeared, expressing concern that she’d been missing from work. Capt. Watts says the man was investigated:

“Anyone that the family requested that we talk to or interview, we tried to interview. Of course, through the information we received through these interviews, there was nothing there that we could use in any criminal prosecution, or there was nothing there that would indicate to us that this was a homicide.”

Jenny Edwards said the volunteer had since left the area:

“He was investigated by the Sheriff’s department the night that the body was brought to the surface. However, he provided an alibi and refused to take a polygraph. So he wasn’t questioned any longer. He left several days after that to go out of state.”

What really happened to Debbie Wolfe? Her mother believes she was taken hostage and then murdered. She believes that, later, someone returned to the pond to remove the barrel, so that the death would seem accidental:

“There are people out there who know what happened to Debbie. And I’m hoping that they will come forward and finally say something. She was loved by very, very many people. And I think that she has a right to be put to rest, finally. And I’d like to do that.”


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

SUBMIT A TIP

 

63 Comments

  1. Farmhand

    The girl in the barrel. The cautionary tale. Debbie was special. She was a registered nurse working at the VA hospital. I’ve only been to a VA hospital twice as a “visitor”. I was a strong, healthy, self confident young paratrooper. The longest stay was an hour. It left me totally drained. That was 1981 I haven’t been able to set foot in one since. Debbie worked full shifts all week every week. Someone wrote that VA hospitals were warehouses of human suffering. They were right. The vast majority of patients will never get better. It was really bad in the 1980s. The idea that veterans were defrauding the government took hold. Veterans had to justify their status or lose their disability. Thousands of the most vulnerable did. Quadriplegics couldn’t check their mail much less respond. None of WWII, Korea, or Vietnam veterans had regrown limbs. Martha Raye comedienne, villainess of a children’s TV show, “Big Mouth” Hawking dental hygiene products fought tooth and nail to correct this injustice. Aunt Maggie, Colonel Army Nursing Corps was a courageous, combat veteran of Vietnam. Debbie worked faithfully, in this nightmare. She deserves our best effort.

    Reply

  2. Farmhand

    Debbie was special. The system failed her. Fayetteville is large bustling city with a diverse population. Residential areas out of City limits are an unbroken continuation of the city. Her cabin was tucked away, not isolated, it was 5 minutes from a major shopping center. Original North Carolina law is crown law with reference to the crown deleted. This gave law enforcement and prosecutors a distinct advantage. Law enforcement capabilities were comparable to the rest of the nation. There were local differences some advantageous. Every one was on Holiday schedule. The military had half-days. Limited resources were available. Prosecutors and LEO never admit to mistakes. Culture, ego and liability issues make it the norm. I don’t know Captain Watts. I have seen instances where people had to defend the official party line. There were other cases where people with verifiable alibi’s were incarcerated for over a week because no one would admit they were wrong. They were not resolved in a strictly legal manner. The innocent were released but the guilty went unpunished. So I also emphasize with people who were suspects in this case. There are probably people who didn’t cooperate in the initial investigation because they didn’t want to become suspects. I would not recommend anyone speak to law enforcement without consul. Gordon found Debbie quickly using common sense and proper equipment. I believe if I had been with him the first day we could have found her with just a safety rope. It’s selfish but I’m glad I wasn’t there. Debbie deserves our best effort.

    Reply

  3. Farm hand

    Debbie was special. There are a lot of comments and criticism of the local law enforcement. Some are deserved. The Edwards family business was an Irish pub. It wasn’t unusual for a soldier running from the cops to duck in there. I never saw the Edwards obstruct the police. Their suspect blended in and no one would give him up. “Irish” Ronald Reagan” authorized a witch hunt of all Irish establishments to please Margaret Thatcher. There was a collection box for the Irish Red Cross. All of the collection boxes were removed lions club, red kettle ect. Some time in 1980 a soldier who had become close to the family was too drunk to drive. Debbie volunteered to drive him home. They stopped at a pancake House where he drunkenly professed his undying love. She dragged him out amid chants “south of the border”. (An all night wedding chapel was there) They lost their follow up driver. Panic ensued. It was reported as an abduction. Debbie couldn’t get through on the phone. Couldn’t get a cab. Wouldn’t drive a borrowed vehicle through the massive police presence. She spent the night in the guest bedroom with it’s own bathroom. Maybe that’s why she had some physical distance from her family. Maybe that’s why law enforcement wasn’t alarmed when she actually went missing. Debbie’s dogs the best resource for finding her were never used. The statement that deputies on the scene could see the bottom of the pond and thought the family had searched seems honest. Unless you have experience you don’t know how much water surface, layers, depth, suspended particulate matter and bottom color and composition can hide things from view. One of the comments on this site is accurate the gradient/slope into the water is gentle, very gradual, you would have to be tiny or seriously incapacitated to fall in and not be able to get up. Stroking out or heart attack and winding up in the barrel the way she was found is also extremely unlikely. A stranger/stalker abduction/murder is highly unlikely her dogs were there. Did anyone check hospitals for dog bite victims? Whoever placed her there had to know her and her dogs. The condition of her body is not unusual weather conditions were favorable for preservation. Many if not all bodies of water around Fayetteville were drained in 1986. Other bodies were found. One was a suicide, one was an accidental drowning. There were rumors of a serial killer. Remember this was Christmas 1985-New years 1986. DNA had been discredited by the Reagan administration, LSD was making a comeback because it was almost impossible to detect, new date rape drugs were undetectable yet. CSI technology common today was very expensive or hadn’t been developed. A friend of mine had a photo of herself and Vanna White taken in the Cross Creek Mall. Debbie was in the background. If you have any photos of Debbie please contribute them to her memorial at findagrave.com. Debbie deserves our best effort.

    Reply

  4. Farmhand

    Debbie was special. This cold case is an elephant. Here’s one more bite. I have seen only one photo of the mystery clothes. The underwater one on this site. The men’s 6 are only slightly larger than ladies 7. Mystery Radish provided an excellent detailed comment on the Reddit site. They could have been Debbie’s. She usually wore a flat soled Billie Jean King type tennis shoes a canvas deck style. She usually wore white or light color women’s cotton crew socks or fluffy synthetic. If the description of pants she was found in is correct they probably weren’t hers. If they actually couldn’t be fastened or zipped it indicates she was redressed probably by a man. A woman usually has a longer inseam and much wider hips than a man her same height. There is a name deleted comment on Reddit that describes the field jacket as a new regulation field jacket size small no name tape. That would have been a BDU woodland camouflage in 1985. The field jacket that had been her brother’s was missing. If it’s the one I remember it was an olive color, medium regular to large long. This is suspicious because if it belonged to her dead brother it was a sentimental keepsake. Her wool cap at the wrong end of the pond. Her dogs could have done that. Debbie was found in a 38c bra. Her mother stated she wore a 34b. The last time I saw her spring-summer 1982 she had a slight weight gain. It was in all the right places. It softened her bonyness and she filled out a 34c. And she was still slender. The 38c could have been hers. The nurse photo shows significant weight gain and/or facial swelling. The missing longsleeve uniform. Did anyone check for a receipt from the cleaners? Was it actually long sleeved? It was common for hospital personnel to wear a short sleeve uniform with a long sleeve white top underneath. I had seen her wear that type of combination bar tending. There is a photo of Debbie in big bib overalls with a bead necklace that matches the description of the “evil eye” necklace. That and other photos are posted on findagrave.com Deborah Ann Wolfe Birth year 1957 death 1985 will get you in. Please visit that memorial site. Debbie deserves our best effort.

    Reply

  5. Farm hand

    The barrel. Burn barrel may not be proper English but it is the generally used term for an improvised wood burning stove made from a 55 gallon metal oil drum. Holes at the base and/or the bottom serve as air intake while in use. The open top is the chimney. Kindling and firewood are put in the barrel to burn. Not stored in it. Lighter Knot is commonly used in that area as accelerant. It radiates a lot of heat and it’s reasonably safe. Much safer and more efficient than an open fire. There was a community fire/party barrel in use in a residential area that backs on a lake off Ramsey Rd. It was found on the road by a couple in the general area between the cabin and Ramsey Rd in that timeframe. It matches the description of the mystery barrel complete with bullet holes. I saw this barrel in late 1986. I think it may have been the mystery barrel. These barrels are common so it’s only a possibility. I tried to find this residential area and the cabin on a map program. It was incredibly confusing and I didn’t get any useable results. I am not sure if I went back I could find them easily. After 36 years the odds of the barrel remaining are slim to none. Based on articles and verbal reports several agencies and private group we’re involved in an uncoordinated effort. Someone may actually have done their job and loaded the barrel on a vehicle and it was never properly secured. Someone may have placed the barrel at the driveway/road junction in plain sight so it would be picked up. Sometimes this backfires because everyone assume the other guys will get it. It could easily have wound up on the road. If anyone knows anything about this please comment. Debbie deserves our best effort.

    Reply

  6. Farmhand

    This is a corrected post. My previous post with this information was removed at my request. First Jerry Ferrell Wolfe and Virginia Ruth Vernon Wolfe were Debbie and her 3 brothers biological parents. In 1970 John Britton Edwards Married Virginia Ruth Vernon Wolfe Edwards. I knew them as Sarge and Jenny. Sarge Debbie’s stepfather passed away 1999, her parents 2002. Sarge has also been misidentified as Debbie’s father in-law. I always thought he was her father. The rumors about Debbie dying during a party mainly came from Nurses I met working security at Cape Fear Hospital. I may have worked security at another Hospital but not the VA. This was Early 1988. My part time job was to escort female staff to their cars after their shift. This was in direct response to Debbie’s death. The Nurses actually hated the escort. They more afraid of the escort than of the bogieman. A young nurse or volunteer started walking with me. She said her grandmother told her she would be safe with me. I didn’t know them but she had observed me. After that they all walked with me. The stories were that Debbie had willingly spent her evening off with someone new and never made it back. All involved choking. She choked on an ice cube and no one noticed. Some involved chokeholds as horse play with law enforcement types. Salicious versions involved the bedroom. A particularly creepy version is that she demand to leave, she was subdued placed on a bed forgotten and discovered by the home owner in the morning. I worked the same part-time job in the late 1990s an older nurse? staffer told me the guards were an unnecessary expense that a young nurse couldn’t handle the stress and went looking for Mr Goodbar. She had been warned about a charming creep and left with him anyway. When I asked questions she shut down. I was transferred to a construction site. I heard a story from a friend I trusted that he had seen Debbie the afternoon she died. She was with a big clean cut guy who was very possessive. The subject of sleep holds came up. A martial arts instructor we both knew had the women pair off and do it properly and the men pair and do the same. He warned them it was not a game. The couple’s went off to a party. This was the first time I found out that Debbie had died in the Fayetteville area. This was overseas between 1992-1995. He gave me a run down of the Unsolved Mysteries episode. I was livid. We agreed to meet in Fayetteville and poke around. We were last minute replacements on a peace time exercise. One of the officers involved hated me and shipped me stateside. I never saw him again. Someone made a bad decision, their aircraft went down no survivors. One of the dangers of carotid sleep holds is some people die afterwards as a result. I don’t know if it has any bearing but it could explain some things. A variant of one of the. Nurse stories is that life-saving measures were attempted without success. The clothing had been cut off and when the cover up began she was redressed with what was available. Maybe someone will grow a conscience.

    Reply

  7. Farmhand

    Debbie Wolfe was a healer long before she became an RN. She was attentive, intelligent, kind, constantly aware of her surroundings and physically strong. She could punch like George Foreman. She was 5’3″ a solid 110 lbs shapely with a slender build. She dressed like Pru on Charmed, modest, practical, attractive. She had a mane of natural loose curls, her gray hazel eyes were incredible. She had this quiet almost regal beauty. She also had this ” mom” vibe she was our big sister whether we needed one or not. Protective without being over bearing. She was also fun loving and occasionally engaged in horseplay. I really admired her. I was exceptionally fond of her. It never became romantic and after we discussed our Irish heritage we knew it couldn’t. We shared the SAME IRISH Heritage. We were related. The only bad thing I can say about Debbie is she trusted the wrong people and wound up dead. findagrave.com has a site with photos of her. Deborah Ann Wolfe birth year 1957 will get you in. If you have any photos of her please contribute them. I recommend anyone interested in the case view the photos, She looks different than the nurse portrait.

    Reply

  8. Farmhand

    This case needs an objective reexamination. All remaining visual evidence should be photographed and posted. Photos of Debbie from the time she moved back to Fayetteville, NC and any one associated with her. Should be posted to a site. Any remaining evidence in private or law enforcement custody should be reexamined using the best currently available techniques. Anyone with actual knowledge of Debbie, her behavior and any associations/interactions should be interviewed. Is there any person or organization willing to do this? How can the effort be funded? Findagrave.com has a handful of photos of Debbie. Name: Deborah Ann Wolfe, birth year 1957, death 1995. I recommend viewing the photos. The one of her kicked back in bib overalls and baseball cap shows she wore loose oversized clothing at times. She is wearing a necklace of large wooden or plastic beads with what appears to be a beaded (seed) amulet. Is this the “evil eye” necklace? My favorite is the Panama hat or white fedora. It’s how I remember her best. Blue or gray-hazel eyes, dark circles from overwork, fine defined features, a headfull of dark hair. Gaze at her quiet beauty. She deserves our best effort.

    Reply

  9. JonTron&UMsFan

    The whole theory(s) that the one police officer gave was pretty weak…first, she was playing w/ her dogs & they managed to knock her into the pond & then what?…she wasn’t able to recover & get out by swimming or something? & just fell to the bottom of the pond & magically found herself in a burning barrel that was allegedly never in the pond in the first place where the cop claimed that the diver saw her field jacket & assumed it was instead a barrel?…I don’t know about you all, but even if I was a diver that was in cold water…I’m pretty sure I’d still be able to notice a big difference between her jacket & a 55-gallon barrel ffs…Something’s certainly off about this case & the fact that they would get Debbie’s body out of the water & just leave the barrel in the water like *Oh, we”ll just get that out tomorrow* sounds either really lazy or really incompetent on their part

    Reply

    • Farmhand

      To JonTron&UMsFan, time frame: this occurred during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday season 1985-1986. This case has been clouded with misinterpreted facts and tunnel vision from the beginning. Your comments and questions are reasonable based on the information available. GIGO, garage in, garbage out and CYA, cover your ass in my opinion are applicable here. I knew Debbie and her family. I am familiar with the area. Due to faulty information I thought she had been murdered by an exhusband and hidden in a 55 gallon drum in a Louisiana bayou. It’s hard to reach a proper conclusion based on incorrect information. I am going to submit some posts based on information I stumbled across and some background. I only saw parts of this UMs episode in 2020. Thanks for your intelligent and respectful posts.

      Reply

  10. Anonymous

    Physician cases are the hardest to solve. They are experts that have access to medical examinations and autopsies. And in a southern town where everyone knows everyone it is so easy for a doctor to do something that will never be noticed. The couple suspected in this case are a good example. Most women would have broke up with a suspected killer. But the two suspects acted as if they were bonded for life by a murder. To break up involved possible prison. The clothes probably belonged to the suspects future wife.

    Reply

  11. John Smith

    After so many years and with so much attention drawn to this case, it is beyond disheartening that it appears some corrupt local pigs got away with covering up this killing.

    The scenario I imagine is this: The guy who was hitting on her was a paramedic who ran into Debbie a number of times during the course of his work. Paramedics and firemen oftentimes have friends on the police force. This Debbie woman also had an ex-boyfriend who hated her on the police force.

    The paramedic suggested to his contact in the police that they rape and murder Debbie and he agreed.

    It may not be too late to identify one or more of the perpetrators, however this should go to show everyone exactly how evil the police are. I would not trust anyone that is associated with “first responders” as they have exhibited a lust for power and mob mentality time and again.

    Reply

  12. ACAB

    With the amount of ineptitude shown on behalf of the police force in this case and the total disregard they had for the victim and family members, one can only hope one of their loved ones ends up a victim, just to let them know how it feels. Waited five days to even bother investigating? It took two private investigators less than five minutes to find a body that a whole police department could not? They straight up lied about the barrel? Insist someone “accidentally slips” all the way into a pond and drowns? One’s head begins to spin from all the banality. Police officers wonder why more and more of public opinion is turning against them. Cases like this is why. ACAB

    Reply

  13. Vaporlass

    Could it be a woman? The only reason I can think that someone put her in a barrel in the first place was to move her – roll her into the pond – which is also why she didn’t float to top – why she appeared halfway out to diver. It really sucks that we have so many LEO who don’t want to do detective work – and don’t want to spend their tax dollars on investigations. I bet they manage to pocket that money, however.

    Reply

  14. DragonWolfe

    there are several things that stand out to me about this.
    1. the one diver saw 2 sets of footprints in the mud and drag marks which indicates that at least 2 individuals moved that barrel into the pond. The barrel itself when empty would be 60lbs add a 120lb body and you have a barrel weighing aprox 180lbs.
    2. empty beer cans that were never tested for DNA.
    3. her car seat being too far back for her to have driven it last.
    4. the barrel disappearing never to be seen again.
    5. a suspect refusing to take a polygraph and then not being further investigated.
    6. Clothes that were obviously not hers but she was found wearing them.
    7. a man leaves a incorrect message and that was never looked into.
    8. another article i just read stated that a recent look into her autopsy revealed sperm was present in her body. Begs the question was she a rape victim?

    seems that the police were either lazy, inept or covering up a homicide.

    Reply

    • Bill Blaski

      Good point. I would love to know who the two men were. The one who left the message, and the one who was pursuing her at work. This should have been solved by now!

      Reply

    • JonTron&UMsFan

      DragonWolfe…Do you know if this article is still around? *I’d really like to read it* …Also, how would sperm still be present on the body if her body was in the water that long & how could it still be on her body while they can still tell it was sperm when they examed her body? (However, If this is true about the sperm…then she clearly didn’t simply just fall into the pond & drowned…but of course, It wouldn’t take an idiot to figure that out) Rip Debbie, I’m sorry your life ended the way it did & there aren’t any clear answers for your loved ones

      Reply

  15. Jason

    If we had the science then, that we have now, it could’ve been solved pretty quickly. The fact there’s absolutely no update after all these yrs is crazy. The police questioned two suspects and didn’t have the evidence to convict anyone. They couldn’t prove her death was a murder.
    Despite other comments on most UM forums, the police can’t just arrest people they suspect of crimes. They must enough proof in order to detain anyone.

    Reply

  16. Paladin13

    I just saw the story of Debbie on YouTube. The sheriff department and other law enforcement were either lazy and uncaring or knew who did it. She was murdered. The sheriff knows he covered up a murder so when he faces the Judge of all of us, he will have to make an accounting.

    Reply

  17. Emily

    @Melissa, in the second turquoise quotation, it talks about the beer cans and her dogs not being fed. Also, while you’re correct that the detail about her car seat was not in this particular story, it was specifically mentioned in the episode itself. These aren’t exact transcripts of the segments, but paraphrases.

    Reply

  18. Where's the Justice?

    I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that whoever left the message is who killed her. The message was left as an “alibi” saying she missed days of work yet the person leaving the message slipped up and forgot that the message was time recorded, letting everyone know when the message was left, so it shows the message was left after her only missing a couple hours of work yet the person says she hasn’t been there in days. If you want to find the killer, match the voice on the machine to this person who supposedly went out of state right after being questioned. What is alarming to me is the number of police departments that dont seem to give a damn anymore. They want to do as little work as possible so they can just make a ruling and go home. Why get in that line of work if you aren’t going to be sincere about it? People depend on you for their safety and justice yet you treat people like they dont matter.

    Reply

  19. Charles

    This case baffles me. It is apparent that there is more to this than just “accidental drowning”. She had no alcohol or drugs in her system, so how else can they explain how she ended up dead in the middle of a pond? It was the day after Christmas, so I highly doubt she decided to go for a swim. Plus the guy her mother mentioned refused the lie detector and then fled the state. I think this investigation could have been handled better. Foul play was likely involved.

    Reply

  20. N

    All my Prayers gose out too the Family’s around the World who Loved Ones where killed Kidnapped too. It will end very soon.

    Reply

  21. N

    This was a Butaful Young Nurse who cares for Baby’s Young Children & People the Man who killed Her will pay at Armageddon comes . Bad People will shurly die.

    Reply

  22. N

    All these People who kidd apes Baby’s Children & in ascent People will get the death pentry from God himself .

    Reply

  23. Anonymous

    Personally, I would never take a lie detector test. As in individual with a great deal of experience in the field criminal justice, I see it much differently. The test is very subjective-meaning if the person reading the test believes you did it-it becomes extremely likely that you fail. It is extremely inaccurate and that’s why its not allowed in court. The easiest way to explain it, a person reads certain reactions involving pulse, perspiration etc. When a person reads it, they will often see readings that are borderline. If the reader thinks they did it, they can err on the side of deception while if they personally believe the person is honest, they can err on the other side. Police will use a failed test to coerce a confession. I think if someone does not want to take it, its often because they know how inaccurate it can be. The biggest question is what happened during the autopsy? I assume one was done.

    Reply

    • Anonymous2

      It is suspicious that the person who denied the lie detector test also left the area after being contacted.

      Reply

    • Laura V

      Absolutely I agree. Lie detector tests record your reaction to lying. If it doesn’t bother you to lie then you can pass one. On the other hand if you are extremely stressed out you may show deception.

      Reply

  24. Anonymous

    Rest in peace Debbie,so sad that the main suspect that worked with Debbie skipped town and the cops never hunted him down to question him more.The police sound like they are covering up.They never saved the empty beer cans guess found at the scene.or took finger prints on the car since the seat was pushed back

    Reply

    • Melissa

      What beer cans? And who said anything about her car? Neither of those items were mentioned in this story.

      Reply

      • DragonWolfe

        her parents found beer cans on the ground and when her car was checked the seat was too far back for her to have been driving it. this article mentioned the beer cans but other articles mention her car.

        Reply

  25. Anonymous

    The police do what they can, but they cannot make anyone take a lie detector test or arrest someone for not taking one. Another problem, if a relative goes to a victims home and touches anything, it makes it nearly impossible to get prints. But most cases are solved by a witness coming forward with information. Hopefully that will still happen.

    Reply

  26. Elizabeth Ellerbe

    If this woman was found at the bottom of a pond inside a barrel and dead, there is no way it was an accident.

    Reply

  27. Johnny

    I would think somebody could solve this case with the DNA capabilities in 2017. Maybe, the perpetrator left prints on the beer cans or on her uniform. Could be something near the pond as well. The isolated cabin became a tomb for Debbie as probably nobody could hear her screams and nobody to help her. If she lived in a city apartment or was attacked in a parking garage, maybe someone could have saved her. I believe the diver Gordon when he stated that the barrel was in the pond. Why would he lie?
    I think a new look at the case would start interviewing the hospital volunteers from 1985-1986. Some probably moved or died but it is a good start. Debbie was young and attractive. There was the one obsessive hospital volunteer. Start with that guy. Move to the hospital staff next.
    The re-dressing of Debbie, the movement of the burn barrel, the purse’s position under the bed, the beer cansetc… This suggests homicide rather than Debbie falling into the pond. Some similarities to the Ethel Kidd case where the killer returned to the scene after the crime. She was posed in a tree from what I remember and Debbie placed in the barrel but the barrel disappeared. That was in VA and Debbie was in NC not far apart. Hope a Cold Case team can solve this one.

    Reply

    • Melissa

      What beer cans? There weren’t any mentioned in this story.

      Reply

      • Rebecca

        The second quote (fourth paragraph):

        “We looked around and we saw beer cans laying in the yard. Her dogs had not been fed. There was a uniform laying on the floor, in the kitchen, and other things thrown on the floor, like maybe she took them off.”

        Reply

  28. Mary grice

    My sixteen year old grandson has been wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and is being held without any proof or evidence that he committed this crime in the state of nc.

    Reply

  29. anon

    The nurses uniform found at the home could indicate that debbie was on her way to work when she was abducted/murdered.
    Whoever it was could then have taken her and waited for the right time to take her back.
    Also the drag marks that gordon found also indicate that whoever took her back there literally hours before they arrived.

    Thats just my theory of what has been said.
    I have no doubt in my mind that the guy that refused the polygraph is guilty.
    PD were really crap on this one.

    Reply

  30. Anonymous

    Does anyone know what the autopsy said?

    Reply

    • Kat

      The autopsy results stated an undetermined cause of death. There were abrasions on her fingers that could be signs of defense. There was also about half a teaspoon of water in her upper bronchial area. Her body was also very relaxed, eyes and mouth closed which is usually quite the opposite in cases of drowning. I found this information on Reddit.

      Reply

  31. Dana Loyd

    I was a neighbor and co-work of Debbie’s in Arkansas. Such a sad situation and surely no justice for her murder….. Loved her and her sweet dogs.

    Reply

  32. Anna

    I just watched the UM segment and I have no words for the way the police behaved in this case, the disrespect shown made me so mad. And they´re either the dumbest police squad in the history of the world or they had something to gain themselves by bungling the investigation so terribly. Such a sad case.

    Reply

  33. Adrian

    I visited this location twice recently and immediately noticed how shallow the bank of that pond is. Anyone over the age of five would be hard pressed to drown themselves. It is ludicrous to believe that anyone involved in this case ever sold and bought that theory. I must say though, it’s a really sad place overall, and I wish this case could be solved.

    Reply

    • Kenneth

      Do you have an address?

      Reply

    • JonTron&UMsFan

      To be fair this happened in like what…1990?…Chances are that the pond could have been somewhat deeper than he was when you came across it…however, regardless, I still have to assume something bad happened to Debbie, a lot of things don’t add up here, her mom saying that Debbie had on clothes that didn’t belong to her like she was found to be wearing men’s shoes, the bra she had on was 3 cup sizes too large, where do these clothes come from, or better yet, if they weren’t Debbie’s, where did they come from? …she isn’t going to just decide, *well, I’m going to be different today & put on clothes that nobody’s ever seen me in that don’t even fit me right*…Also, the beer cans that were a brand that she didn’t drink were in the driveway…this barrel just vanished into thin air…all of this should be a red flag

      Reply

  34. Eric W Bohannon

    The death of a woman found in a barrel at the bottom of a pond is ruled an accident. because it is ruled a accident it is a cover up.

    Reply

  35. Owen Gerard O'Kane

    During the screening of program about Debbie wolf I had a vision of a man in
    Law enforcement uniform(American police) pulling a 45 gallon drum into a body of water then carrying a body into the water

    This is a true statement

    Reply

    • Owen Gerard O'Kane Jr

      Oh thank God that was a true statement Owen, I was oh so worried that you were just making up some ridiculous story about having a vision. Somebody get this guy a police uniform, he’s the modern day Sherlock Holmes!

      Reply

  36. Randy Bailey

    seems like the police will do anything to make them look good.They will pend a murder on anyone to make them look good or they will say a murder was a accident.But even if they would have arrested the guy at the hospital he would have went to a clean hospital still no justice for Debbie r.i.p angel!

    Reply

  37. texasrain

    I’m so sorry for the family’s loss. I went to school with a girl named Debbie Wolfe in the early 80’s. I pray this isn’t my friend. We lost touch after I moved to Texas. God bless her and her family.

    Reply

  38. Jen

    My deepest condolences for your family, Bonnie. How awful that Jenny died with no justice for her child.

    Reply

  39. Bonnie K. Davis-Robertson

    The lady murdered was my cousin. It’s hard to imagine someone refusing a lie-detector test and the police not taking action. I never knew my cousin Debbie, and Her Mother Jenny mentioned in this article has since passed away. She remained convinced it was the hospital volunteer that murdered her daughter Debbie. I thought this case was settled, but after reading about it on this site, it sounds as though Debbie’s killer was never brought to justice. The police department in her town sure let her down. Rest In Peace Debbie with your Mother Jenny now.

    Reply

    • Chris Booth

      I was shocked to find out about this sad occurrence, I am the same age as Debbie and lived next door to her family when their father was based in England (High Wycombe) up to 1966 when they relocated back to the States. My sister and I used to play with Jerry Jnr, John, Debbie and Joe. I believe Joe, Debbie’s youngest brother is the only surviving family member and I would love to hear from him. I have some old pictures from those happy days.

      Reply

      • Farmhand

        Chris I knew Debbie from 1977-1982. She was very special and very beautiful. Some photos of her can be found at findagrave.com Deborah Ann Wolfe birth year 1957 death 1985 will get you to the memorial page. Unfortunately her youngest brother passed away February 2015 prior to your post. He was cremated and location of his remains are unknown. You can contribute photos but I don’t know the procedure. I couldn’t find any spouses or children to contact. The close up of Debbie in a straw fedora is my favorite. Please take care. Oct 2023

        Reply

    • Nick

      I would refuse a polygraph even though I’m innocent. They are junk science.

      Reply

    • Farmhand

      Bonnie, I knew Debbie. If you have any photos of her maybe you could post them. gravefinder.com has few. Deborah Ann Wolfe birth year 1957- death 1985. She was a wonderful person. Maybe if people see pictures as she really was it might lead to tips. Jeanne was close friends with Debbie. Jeanne would be 68-74 years old now 2023. If you know her she might have some old photos. Take care

      Reply

  40. Dodie Rippentrop

    How could they just let him leave and not keep track of him?? He refused a polygraph. Most innocent people JUMP at the chance to clear themselves. Then he left the state? Wow. Way to drop the ball on that, PD.

    Reply

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