Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tough Night ...

I'm just numb this morning. While the discovery and arrest was not a major surprise, the location of the crime scene caught all of us off guard. Hampton Hills? In Summit County? Never crossed any of our minds to say the least.

Here's a few random observations from yesterday:

The initial reports of Bobby Cutts' confession and the discovery of the body reached me just after 3 p.m. Later, police said they didn't find Jessie until 3:30 p.m. The discrepancy highlights how quickly the information was getting out. WAKR was the first to report the confession at 4:08 p.m. and others followed suit over the next hour. The tough part for all of us was how many sources we needed to feel confident to make the statement public. When 5 p.m. came and went and no one from the Sheriff's Office was calling to correct us, we knew we were right.

I'm told the Canton Repository posted a web story around 5 p.m. that placed Jessie at Meyers Lake in Stark County. At that same time, a source called me to say the body was on Firestone Road, near Middle Branch. While we dispatched our crews there, something inside said that didn't add up. The search crews had spent so much time there that day that some of the local folks would have had to have seen the discovery, and none did. At 5:30 p.m., my source called me back and said, "I've got it 100 percent this time. It's the metro parks near Bath." My jaw dropped. I made the call to the TV3 producers and we started our chopper and other crews that way and ended up finding the crime scene.

If you watched the afternoon press conference live, you may have heard a reporter ask investigators if we could call Cutts a "suspect" now. It drew some laughs. I thought it was completely inappropriate considering we were just now learning of the murder of a mother and her unborn child. While the "suspect" label had been debated all week long, the levity of it should have been saved for outside the sheriff's office amongst smaller groups. I felt bad for the Davis and Cutts family members who may have been watching at that moment.

I had a chance to speak off-camera to one of the officers who worked with Cutts on the days after Jessie disappeared. He said most officers were floored by the confession. That while they had their suspicions, Bobby was just "too much like himself" during those two days to make anyone suspect that he'd actually done this.

Investigators are ABSOLUTELY looking for an accomplice. There are reports that it's a woman, but none of my sources tell me that definitively. One Canton officer asked me if I'd heard that the suspected accomplice was ALSO a Canton Police officer. I asked him if that were true, would it be a surprise. He said .. not really. None of my sources tell me that another CPD officer is under suspicion, but it says a lot that members of the department might believe there is.

In the early evening, my cell phone was going nuts. FoxNews called (don't know how they got my phone #) wondering if I could help them find co-workers of Jessie's at Allstate in Hudson. I told them to use the Yellow Pages. Then the Today Show called wondering if I could help set up a few of the key players for the Sunday morning show. They also wanted me to meet with one of their producers on Sunday in Canton to work on a few longer pieces for Dateline NBC. Not sure I can be of as much help as they think I'll be, but the national media is doing all it can to get an "in." CNN called me at 9:30 p.m. to see if I could do a talk-back interview with Rick Sanchez at 10:15 p.m. I was able to get my evening story cut early so I agreed. I was struck by how off-the-cuff his questions were. Almost like he was over tired and punchy. The interview went fine, but I got the feeling he was trying to convince the audience that he knew more about the case than he actually did.

Monday's court appearance for Cutts will be a circus for the media. The arraignment court doesn't have the room to accommodate all of us. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail when push comes to shove.

I met a family from Westlake this week. Really nice woman and her two daughters. I met them in front of Bobby Cutts house. They had driven down from Westlake just to "take a tour" of all the places they were seeing on the news. They thoughts it was "pretty cool" to see the real houses of a kidnapping and where a suspected kidnapper might be holed up. Dozens of other on-lookers drove by Cutts' and Davis' homes repeatedly on Thursday and Friday. I just find it odd that folks will drive two counties away for a peep show, but won't take the time to drive one more mile to join the search.

I keep thinking about little Blake Davis. He's lost both his mommy and now his daddy two. Maybe he'll be able to meet the daughters of the Hudson teacher , Marcia Gorospe, who was murdered by her husband earlier this year. An unfortunate similarity puts the little kids in a special situation of having lost mom to violence by dad. I pray that he gains peace and quiet with his family as they grieve.

2 comments:

amy said...

Eric,
I can't think about little Blake, and what he saw (if anything). I don't know if it's even appropriate, but I keep thinking "maybe he will block it all out". I am impressed with his Aunt-she is a class act (as are you)-and I am sure she has shielded him from the circus! As for the West Lake family--it's amazing how much people get caught up in the sensationalism and forget that a good mommy and little sweet innocent baby died. Got to go and hug my kid...

Anonymous said...

I am the woman from Westlake. We tried to join the search but couldn't because my granddaughter was under 18. When we couldn't do the search we offered to bring food or water for the search teams but they said they had already too much.
The only "peep show" that we saw was how foolish and desperate the news reporters looked while camped outside Bobby Cutts house. Especially when everyone was chasing Ted Williams down the street.

I don't think anyone will forget that a loving mom and her baby have died. It is a tragedy. We our praying for her family... especially her little son who always had a smile.

Make sure you have the whole story before you print something.