(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I’m Todd Matthews, and tonight we are talking with Cindy Rogers. ‘Tracking Down The Truth…Belinda’s Final Journey.’ Cindy’s the sister of murdered Belinda Cartwright. Welcome Cindy.
CINDY ROGERS (Guest): Thank you very much.
TODD: How are you doing tonight?
CINDY: Pretty good. How about yourself?
TODD: Really good. I’m just really happy to talk to you. It seems like you have a really interesting case, and we’re doing a special weekend episode of Missing Pieces because it’s in the news, and Ray Reyes with the newspaper down there, he really feels really strongly about this case. It seems he wrote some really interesting articles.
CINDY: Oh, yes. He worked very long. He’s had it since December, so he’s worked very hard on this case.
TODD: So, on February 22nd, 2001, Belinda Cartwright was run over by a Freightliner flatbed, semi truck.
TODD: Okay. And witnesses saw Belinda clinging to the side of the running board, begging the truck driver to stop the truck.
TODD: Okay, that’s pretty wild.
CINDY: Oh yes.
TODD: So she actually fell off and got ran over.
CINDY: Well, we don’t know if she just fell off or if the guy actually pushed her off, because we actually found a witness, just last month…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …that states he was working at the TA station at the time…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and he’d actually seen the guy push her off, so we’re not really certain what exactly happened, but we do know that she had somehow fell off that truck, and the trailer tires had ran her over.
TODD: So do you think she was possibly hitchhiking or…?
CINDY: Well, that’s what my sister did. My sister had a mental condition…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and she had schizophrenia, and that runs in our family. Our mother has the same identical thing, and she had gotten it maybe when the children were about 4 years old, I believe the youngest one was.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: And ever since then, that’s why she lost her children, and ever since then, you know you couldn’t keep her anywhere. She had made the statement to my sister, Lorisa, that she would never be tied down, and we…I mean every single one of the family members tried to help in their own way. Either trying to get her to see doctors, or giving her a place to stay, or anything that we could possibly think of that would benefit her, we tried to do; every one of the family members, and she just wouldn’t have it. She thought she didn’t deserve it. So she would start traveling with the truck drivers. She wanted to see the snow. She wanted to see the mountains, because you don’t get that here in Florida. So she wanted to see it all, so that’s what she started doing. She started going with truckers because she trusted them because we have family members that used to be truck drivers, so she trusted every single one of them.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: So that’s what she would do, and she had been doing this for quite a few years before this incident had happened.
TODD: And I’m like you, traditionally I’m kind of trusting with truck drivers, you know, my dad was a truck driver, so it’s not uncommon for you to see a truck driver and know him.
TODD: So where did this take place at? What city and town did this event happen?
CINDY: It’s happened in Lowndes County, Georgia, which is Valdosta, Georgia.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: Actually we live in Live Oak, Florida, well I do, and my brother and my sister live in Branford, which is 24 miles away from me, and our brother, David, lives all the way down in St. Petersburg, Florida. Actually this happened maybe 20 minutes away from where I’m at right now. Mainly, that’s where my sister, and sometimes my brother that lives over in Branford, and myself, we normally go to Valdosta to do our shopping…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …so we had really been there quite a few times back and forth over the years because that’s where we mainly do our shopping at. So to find out that she was just so close to home, it really did hurt.
TODD: So now, I understand that she was buried actually as a Jane Doe, so she was actually out of your lives for a while.
CINDY: She wasn’t buried as a Jane Doe. This is where it’s all funny.
TODD: Okay. It reads like that, you know, I’m almost reading it, ‘Her remains where placed in a cardboard coffin in a pauper’s grave.’
CINDY: Right. That’s how they did it.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: But they knew exactly who she was, a little after 8 hours after she had passed away.
CINDY: They had ran her fingerprints, David Farrell did, had ran her fingerprints and luckily the only thing that did identify her, is because she was arrested before out of Hillsborough County, Florida. She was arrested because of stealing some guns from her boyfriend. From my understanding it was either to feed herself or to feed her children, I can’t remember which one, so I don’t want to say anything that’s untrue; and also of trying to take her children back because her children were out of her custody. And because of her mental state, she said that she had a right to her children, so she tried to interfere with state custody, which they ended up putting her in jail for. And that’s when she started going into group homes, and finally she just left and that’s when she started going on the road. But she turned around, and they found out who she was…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and shortly after that, they went ahead and buried her. They knew exactly who she was so they went ahead and buried her, and as far as notifying the family, we can’t get a straight answer why we were never notified. It’s basically the blame game right now. We were told that some of the paperwork coming from Georgia Highway Patrol, it’s who we were told originally had the case.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: Now Georgia Highway Patrol asked the assistance from Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, in finding the driver, and ever since then it’s been sitting on somebody’s desk or put away in a drawer, I don’t know which one, but nothing has been done. And when we say, “Okay what happened to finding the family, and what’s going on?” no one can give us a straight answer right now. It’s like we’re deadlocked.
TODD: It’s crazy. Now, she was just a Jane Doe for merely 8 hours…
TODD: …and then she was buried. Now, a lot of times, when I’ve been involved with an identification of an unidentified person, the thing of it is, before it goes public, all efforts are made to contact the family members prior to this information being made public, so it’s kind of hard to believe that so much of this has happened and nobody ever contacted you. That is just so unbelievable.
CINDY: That’s how we feel. That’s how the family feels.
TODD: Because you weren’t hidden.
CINDY: No, we weren’t. And, on the death certificate, it states who my mother is, and she has the same mother; we have different fathers, but we have the same mother, and they put my mother’s name on there. And my mother had lived in Plant City, Florida, for over 50-something years and, as a matter of fact, the place that we were living at, at the time, we had moved just away from an apartment building into a home, and those apartment buildings were owned by the same guy that we moved into the house, he just happened to be a Plant City police officer. So it’s not like no one knew us there, I mean, we had plenty of people that knew us. We were told just recently, last month, by the detective down in Plant City, that even he was never notified for someone to try to find the family, or else they would have found us.
TODD: Well, it means just exactly like the article is titled, ‘A Breakdown In Communications.’
TODD: Now, Lowndes County Sheriff Officials say, “Hillsborough authorities should have notified the family.”
CINDY: Well that’s something that I’ve actually I actually spoke to Hillsborough County about.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: From my understanding from them, actually the woman that sent the records for my sister’s fingerprints and all that, still works there today…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and I actually spoke to the lady in charge of the ID department, and she said that this is not uncommon. They get stories like this all the time where law enforcement is asking for a picture and also fingerprints because of a Jane Doe, and that’s not uncommon, and that’s either because you know, yes, it might have been a victim, but also the person might have been arrested and might have used a name that they didn’t think was for real, and they just listed the person as Jane Doe until they can really find out who it is. Now from what I was told from them, is that, if someone would have said, “Look, we have a woman that has been murdered, killed accidentally,” whatever they want to call it, we have no idea what they want to call it anymore, but if they would have been told to, “please assist in helping find the family,” that they would have been more than welcome to do so, because it’s not like the first time that they’ve had to find the family. My brother, James, had shot himself back in the ‘80s, and they found my mother and told my mother, so it’s not like we haven’t been through this whole routine before. We know everything.
TODD: It’s crazy because she’s had the worst of both worlds, as a missing person and as a Jane Doe, so basically she was buried, and even though they knew her name, she was treated as if she was a Jane Doe for all these years…
TODD: ...but on the other hand, she didn’t get the publicity a Jane Doe possibly could have had because they knew who she was.
TODD: Because I work with the Doe Network, and you know, if she had have been a Jane Doe, we probably could have worked on that case. And I’ve actually worked with Hillsborough County before and found them very good to work with on a case, and somehow this just fell through the cracks.
CINDY: It absolutely did, and you know, Hillsborough County said everything that they do, they always document every little thing…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and they even looked into the documents and said that they were never asked. Now, David Farrell, the one that did my sister’s fingerprints, he’s now with the DA, he’s an assistant DA, I believe…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and he’s the investigator there, and he’s not even sure if he asked for the assistance in finding the family; he’s not sure because it has been a while now, but he’s not even sure, but he remembers seeing Jane Doe, but he can’t remember if he asked for the assistance.
TODD: Just a total breakdown in communication.
TODD: And I know they have their hands full and, in their defense, people do have their hands full, but when you’ve got a name, you know, it’s not like a Jane Doe that you’re looking for these loose ends, you have a name.
CINDY: Right. And you know what’s really funny about this whole thing is, my sister, Lorisa, was talking to Captain Arnold there at the sheriff’s department, and Captain Arnold had told my sister, and my sister automatically called me, you know because we’ve been bouncing everything that’s being told to us, we’ve been bouncing it off one another because that’s the only way we can figure out what’s going on. And Captain Arnold had told my sister that, he goes, “Well, I’m sorry but, you know, if someone dies on my highways in my town, I do everything in my power to notify the family,” and my sister said, “Well, you know, I’m not trying to sound really smart here, but you didn’t find us. We weren’t very hard to find. You did not find us.” So I mean, like I said, you know, and I kept telling the detective down in Plant City, I can understand how hard it is to find a live person, because, you know, they might move around and everything, you know we found out on the computer through the Social Security Death Index in 2002…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …that she had passed away. And ever since then, we like, “Well, what in the world happened to her?” and you know, I kept saying, “How hard is it to find a dead person? Come on now. It’s not like she can move around.” And we have this computer that’s telling us, she’s dead, I mean, come one, it’s not that hard.
TODD: Well your news came through the website, through the Internet actually, that’s how you found out about this, but you know, through the news media, we found you for this show because of this article.
TODD: And I’m telling everybody out there that’s got a missing person or is actually working on an unidentified person’s case, there are groups like the Doe Network and all of these organizations, I work with several of them now, we do look at the newspapers. That’s where we’re looking.
TODD: We recently just had, we’re almost on 40 positive IDs in relation to the Doe Network. We do look.
TODD: That is something we do, so if you can actually get your case and information to the news media in any way possible; if you made a legitimate police report, we’re going to be there and we’re going to see it.
CINDY: Right, and you know I had tried so hard. You know I found out…the family had found out December 20, 2006, exactly what had happened, and it was a mishap of how we actually found out. I had actually talked to Detective Jim Shultz down in Plant City, and he had something to the effect that he had contacted Social Security, and Social Security told him a whole bunch of things. I can’t remember the whole exact wording, but it made me really mad, so when I got off the phone, you know we knew that she didn’t die in Florida because we did the search, so I decided since Georgia is right here, I might as well start there, and we had actually contacted Georgia before, and we got nothing. It was always, “Oh, you have to send us money,” and I actually sent a money order to Atlanta, Georgia, and still to this day, we have no clue where it’s at. But we turned around, and I had called my local phone company 411, and luckily, you know they do mess up a lot in giving phone numbers out, they usually give you the wrong number, but actually they did me a favor because they gave me, I asked for Atlanta Georgia Vital Statistics, they actually gave me some kind of Georgia government office.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: I had contacted them. I explained my story. The lady in there said, “I’m sorry, you have the wrong number, but let me give you a different number,” and she gave me either a DeKalb or a Decatur County Vital Statistics. When I called there, I spoke to a woman by the name of Wanda, I explained my story to her of how long I had been searching, and she says, “Bless your heart, let me see if I can help you,” and probably about 5 minutes later, she gets back on the phone and says, “Okay, she did die on February 22nd, 2001, and it was at Lowndes County.” And from there, she told me to call the coroners, and then I just started going down the list of finding out exactly how she died. And when I actually got a hold of the coroner, he wasn’t the one that actually took care of the whole thing with my sister.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: He turned around and everything, and he was new, he’s not the one that…but he did help bury my sister because he was working at the funeral home at the time. So he came in, made sure it was the right case and everything, and he started telling me, you know, about contusions and all kinds of stuff, and I’m thinking my sister got beat up, and finally he told me that she was ran over by a semi tractor-trailer, and I was like, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe this.” So as soon as I hung up, I had the duty of calling my family and informing them because we had looked, and we had a lot of things going on in our lives. My sister ended up getting cancer and, you know, we kind of just slowed down because we had nowhere else to go, and it was like, boom, something just opened up on December 20th. And we went, 2 days later, to Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department; it was my sister, myself, and my 2 brothers, and Belinda’s son, Joey. We had went to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and met with Detective Wanda Edwards there, and right off the get-go we had asked her if we could have the pictures and the paperwork and all that. She says, “No, because it’s an open murder investigation and we’re not allowed to have anything.” So, during the conversation, my brother, David, says, “Well what kind of statute of limitations are we looking at this?” and she says, “There’s none on a homicide.” Now those are her words. And then that’s when she was telling us, you know, that her brother was murdered, but they caught that guy because they knew exactly who had done it; it was someone that he knew. And you know, we figured we had an ally because she went through the same things we’re going through because her brother was murdered, but over the course of the last couple months, it’s gotten down to: it’s not a murder, it’s not a homicide, it’s an accident of what had happened, and that’s how they’re treating it, and that’s how they’re treated it ever since. And the family is…regardless of if it was an accident, yes, okay, she shouldn’t have ran and got on a moving vehicle in the first place, but regardless of what exactly happened, whether she was pushed, whether she slipped, this guy knew she was there because witnesses, multiple witnesses, are saying you could hear it across, with all the trucks down there, you could hear it across the parking lot, her screaming and beating on his window, to let her have her stuff. And then, all of a sudden she falls, and this guy runs over my sister, and from what the trooper is saying from the witnesses, is that he put his foot on the gas and went ahead and sped up, and just went ahead and left. So regardless of if it was an accident of not, it still a punishable crime. He left the scene of an accident resulting in a fatality, but they’re not treating it like this, and that’s the problem. And everybody that we’re running into, keeps telling us it’s an accident, it’s an accident, and it’s not fair. Regardless of what happened, it’s not going to bring my sister back, she’s still laying in the ground, and nothing’s being done to this guy.
TODD: Now, an accident, you have to think that they would have had to have talked to somebody; the person that’s done this.
CINDY: Right. But they haven’t. They don’t even know his name.
TODD: Then how do you know it’s an accident?
CINDY: But they’re not seeing it that way.
TODD: Do they know something you don’t know? Do you get the feeling that, possibly, they have information that they have not released to you?
CINDY: You know what, I really don’t know, and what’s really bad is, I had contacted, you know I’ve contacted a lot of people trying to pick up on this story…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …and Ray Reyes with the ‘Tampa Tribune’ is the only one that really wanted to do anything about this.
TODD: And he still seems very interested. He was really receptive when we looked to him to contact you guys. He really seems to care about what’s going on with this case.
CINDY: Absolutely. I mean, he really spent a lot of time; he spent time talking with us, he spent time, he actually came all the way to Lowndes County, you know, went to the truck stop, went to the grave site, and everything else like that. So, I mean, like I said, he’s had this case since December 22nd, when I first called, and ever since then, he’s been working on it. He actually, I believe, had maybe 2 or 3 deadlines…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …on this, and that’s the date that it was supposed to be running, and he actually had to change it because it was so long. So he wanted to make sure, and we told him from the very beginning, “We don’t want you printing anything that’s not the truth. You print what you have to print, as long as it’s the truth…”
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: “…because we don’t want anybody thinking that we’re lying.” So anything that I’m telling you right now is, things that have been told to us by everyone else…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …so if the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department is sitting there telling us, you know, bits and pieces of everything, this is only what we’re getting. Now, another funny part about this story is, when we had got that incident report, with the paperwork, it also has a witness’s name on it. My sister had called back, well we were almost halfway in Florida, and I said, “Wait a minute, what’s this tag number? What’s this name?” So my sister, Lorisa, had called Detective Wanda, and was talking to her and said, “Oh yeah, by the way, did you find anything out about that tag number? What’s going on with that tag number?” and she says, “What tag number? There’s a tag number on there?” So it’s like she didn’t even know it was on there, and we’re like, “Okay, what is going on? They didn’t even know there was a tag number on there?” Come on, give me a break here.
TODD: Well, the truck was described as a black flatbed Freightliner with sleeping cab. The sign on the truck said ‘Young Brothers Trucking’ with red and yellow lettering.
TODD: Wow, that’s so…I know that you’ve probably done this, you’ve tried to look up ‘Young Brothers Trucking’ on the Internet, no doubt.
CINDY: Right. Absolutely.
TODD: What have you found?
CINDY: We found a couple “Young Brothers’ companies. We found one that’s in Kentucky, and they are a coal company, and they have 3 drivers, is what we found out from the D.O.T., and they wouldn’t really use the regular flatbed trailers.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: We found 2 in Hawaii, which is a barge company, and I don’t think they’re really going to come all the way over here and drive their ship over here.
TODD: That’s a big drive, isn’t it?
CINDY: Right. Also we found one in, I believe, Ohio, but it’s a construction company. And then we found one in Valparaiso, Indiana. Now, we’ve contacted a detective up there, and actually had him go and check into it and everything else like that. Now, in the paper, you will read that, I believe it’s the president of the company of Young Brothers, saying that they had been ruled out. No, they have not been ruled out. It’s just the detective that told us that until we can prove that this driver had some kind of doings with this company, he can no longer investigate. So, we have to show him proof that this driver was working for this company, before he’ll go back out and investigate. So, they have not been ruled out, we just cannot place this driver, at that particular time, with that company. And we’re not saying that it is this company, we’re just saying what we know.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: Witnesses have said, ‘Young Brothers.’ I have talked with the witnesses. I have found the witnesses; I spoke with them. So, I mean, this is what they’re telling us. This is the only thing that we can go on, like I said before, is what people tell us.
TODD: Well, you just want a full explanation. You just want to look into it fully.
TODD: Nobody can blame you for that. Now, our program director for the show actually found somebody that she thinks looks like the sketch of the individual.
TODD: And without revealing too much about that before you actually process that, are you going to be able to do anything with that?
CINDY: We most likely can. Like I said, we asked the sheriff’s department to actually find the witnesses, because when we got a hold of that incident report, those numbers are no longer valid.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: We figured even if we caught the guy, there go our witnesses, and the whole thing is down the drain. Well, I’ve done some research, I actually went through www.peoplefinders.com, actually went ahead and paid for the report; the numbers they gave me on there were no longer valid, but the addresses…I started looking up under the addresses and actually found a phone number, and I actually found both my witnesses. Now, you have to understand, this does not just impact my family, this has impacted the witnesses, also.
TODD: Oh, absolutely.
CINDY: Both witnesses that I have found; one witness was 22 at the time, the other witness was 23 years old. So you can imagine at this particular time, Mr. Dozier, one of the witnesses that I actually spoke with, he had told me plain out that he has nightmares about this; when he closes his eyes, he can still see my sister laying there after the truck had ran over her. And I really don’t want to go into the details of what exactly he told me he saw, but I mean, basically, he said he can’t…he can’t even process what has happened.
TODD: So, after you spoke to both these witness, you have no doubt in your mind that their testimony is true and very clear?
CINDY: Absolutely. Still to this day, it’s like it happened yesterday to them. This is how clear it is.
TODD: So now, you visited the grave?
TODD: Now, how far away is that from your home, did you say?
CINDY: It’s 20 minutes away.
TODD: Did this story never appear in a newspaper when she had…in my town, when somebody gets run over by a tractor-trailer, you know, I’m in a small town, you’re going to hear about.
CINDY: Well, we were told by Detective Wanda, the very first day, on the 22nd of December, when we met with her, we were told that it was big-time news. That it was all in the newspapers, that it was all over the news, they ran the composite sketch drawing and everything. Number one, we never heard anything.
TODD: Well, did it have Belinda’s name in the article?
CINDY: Right. Now, we found a story that was ran in their local newspaper…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …that was done on February 24, 2001; it was a very small article that basically said, “A female had got ran over by a semi-tractor-trailer and police are trying to identity the lady now,” is basically what is said. And that was it.
TODD: And basically left her as a Jane Doe, pretty much, as far as the news media was concerned.
CINDY: Correct. And I had actually asked that day, “What about ‘America’s Most Wanted’?” We’ve actually contacted ‘America’s Most Wanted’ quite a few times, and the last time, we were told that they weren’t going to help us unless someone in law enforcement asks for their help, and we tried to explain, we’re not getting that help.
TODD: That’s why you need their help.
CINDY: That’s why I need their help.
TODD: I hear a lot of that, you know, a lot of people, I think we’ve tried to be their last resort because they don’t have anywhere else to go.
CINDY: Right, and it’s very frustrating. You know, I talked to the Lowndes County newspaper there, their local newspaper, and I was trying to explain everything, and the lady that writes the stories that have to deal with the crime issues there, she plain out told me that she felt that Ray had put everything on the sheriff’s department, that he blamed the sheriff’s department and everything else like that. And she’s getting basically what we got, we were told…my sister and myself had went February 26th, to the DA there because we had gotten nowhere with anybody in the sheriff’s department, so we decided to go to the DA and see if the DA could help us. Well before we actually got in there, David Miller, the DA, had actually spoke with Captain Arnold there, so when we went in, he had just got off the phone. As we were sitting down and after they introduced who they are, he said, “I have just got off the phone with Captain Arnold and as of this morning, this case is closed with them.” And my sister and I looked at one another and said, “Well, how can they close the case like this?” and he was like, “Well, before I go into anything, I want to hear your side of the story, because there are two sides, I want to hear your side.” So we started explaining everything and said, “You know what, how could it…if it’s closed, then why when we asked for the documents and the pictures, why wasn’t it given to us?” And his exact words were, “You can’t have it both ways. It’s either open or it’s closed.” Now he also turned around, and I kept telling him, “Someone didn’t do their job.” I did not blame anybody. I just plainly said, “Someone,” whether it be Georgia Highway Patrol, Hillsborough County, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, someone messed up and they didn’t do their job and many aspects of the whole entire thing.” Well, he turned around and told us straight out, he says, “I’m not going to say anything bad about Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department because I have to work with them very closely, and I depend on them, and they are good” he says, “but I will tell you now, the system has failed you.” And, like he told us when we were leaving, he says, “I’m going to request the paperwork from the sheriff’s department and, if it’s a closed case, they shouldn’t have any problem with giving me the paperwork that I need,” and he says, “I’m not promising you anything, but we are going to look into this and see what we can do.” And that’s basically the last thing that we had heard. Now, the lady at the newspaper is saying, “Well, that’s not what David Miller’s telling me that the case is closed, it’s not closed now because they’re looking into it. The DA had to re-open it up.” I mean, and that’s what we got. We always got a different story from each person that we talked with, including Captain Arnold. Captain Arnold told my sister one day, on the phone, it was a Friday, I don’t remember the date, but I remember it was a Friday because I was really mad the whole entire weekend, and Captain Arnold told my sister that they’re here to assist us. Anything the family finds, any kind of leads the family finds, to please let them know and they will follow up for us. And that made my really mad, and my statement was, “Well, I’m not a detective. How in the world do you think I’m supposed to do this?” So, I mean, it’s just frustration, and we’re not…like I told the lady at the newspaper, “I don’t want to say Lowndes County is the one that screwed up big-time, I’m not saying that, I’m just saying that between the agencies that this case went to, someone, it was somebody’s responsibility to get a hold of family. It was somebody’s responsibility to take care of this case and find that driver, but nothing has been done.” We don’t know…we may never know who actually did it, who kind of messed this case up, but we’re just saying that someone messed up. Now, my brother, David, I don’t know if you’ve seen the footage on TBO.com, but that’s my brother, David, that’s speaking, and he basically said that, you know, what it would take for the family, is for the local authorities there just to apologize to us, and just say, “Look, you know what, I don’t know what happened, yes, there was a communication breakdown back then, you know, things were not as like they are today, but we want to make it up to you. Let’s go after this guy. Let’s find this guy.” And that’s all it would take for the family, because that’s all the family wants is to find this guy.
TODD: Do you feel like they’ve sort of washed their hands of it because of so many errors along the way?
CINDY: I believe so. I believe so.
TODD: I mean, it’s kind of an embarrassing thing I think people don’t to revisit at times.
TODD: And you know, that’s normal, I understand that.
TODD: But there’s no excuse for it.
TODD: So she’s buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery…
TODD: …in a plot reserved for the unclaimed, again with the Jane Does. Did you see any other Jane Doe cases, or any other unidentified persons buried near her?
CINDY: Almost everybody that is there has a placard there with their name on it.
TODD: So what are your plans as far as moving her?
CINDY: Well, we have talked to the family and they actually did a nice job, it is a very nice cemetery.
TODD: And she’s 20 minutes away.
CINDY: Right, and she is 20 minutes away. Now that’s not where we would have buried her at, we would have went ahead and buried her in Plant City, Florida, with her brother and her father, so that’s not the choice that we would have made had we have known, but I mean it is a very nice place.
TODD: Well then fate made the choice for you.
TODD: So now when…back up a little bit, there’s the question of when you actually filed a missing person report, can you tell me a little bit about that? How did this come about? Now I know you had to kind of try to make a missing person report at some time. Where did you go to make this report and how did that happen? How were you treated at that point in time?
CINDY: Well see, basically, with my sister going with truckers…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …I want to make it clear that she wouldn’t sleep with the truckers. As a matter of fact, in one of the pictures that my sister, Lorisa, has seen, you can see her wearing her jogging pants, along with a pair of shorts and her underwear. Now the reason I had asked her before, why does she wear all that, why not just regular underwear and pants and all that, she said that way it would be harder for the truckers to mess with her if they decided to mess with her, and that way it would give her enough time to get away if something like that happened. Now, with her going and traveling with truckers and everything, basically what it was, if she was gone for 2, 3, 4 months at a time, it was no big deal without anybody hearing from her. It wasn’t a concern because she always came home.
TODD: You were used to it.
CINDY: Right. We were very used to it, but every summer she would always contact my sister regardless, she could be in California, Canada, it didn’t matter where she was at, she would always call my sister and say, “Hey, how are my children doing?”
TODD: Was she on medication?
CINDY: She was supposed to be, but she wouldn’t take it.
TODD: So that’s part of the problem then?
CINDY: And she believed in the ‘good book’ the bible. That’s what she was reading, her bible, and she believed everyone had good in them, that no one was evil, so she thought that bible was going to keep her safe, and that’s one of the problems that she ran into that day, is that she thought there was good in everybody so, well we found out, there’s not.
TODD: In some ways, it’s almost like a domestic dispute.
TODD: I mean it might have been an accident when he ran over her; it might not have been his intention.
TODD: But still, you break and run, that’s kind of hard to explain having done that.
CINDY: Absolutely. And, like I said, you know, basically what we did is, we had last seen her the first of the month of February…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …of 2001. She had went and left, I believe just a few days beforehand, she had called my sister, Lorisa, and she was in Macon, Georgia.
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: She asked my sister, Lorisa, to come and get her and my sister, Lorisa, said, “You have to come just a little bit closer; that’s too far for me to drive. If you make it just a little bit closer, I will come and get you. She said, “Okay, no problem.” Well, the next thing we know, we didn’t hear from her, so in July, my sister, Lorisa, calls me up and says, “Have you heard from Belinda?” and I said, “No, and I’m getting worried,” and she said, “So am I. Something’s wrong.” And I said, “If she doesn’t contact either one of us by the end of the month, I’m calling the police and I’m having a missing person report put on her.” So, as you can tell, we didn’t hear anything, so come August, the very first part of August, I called the Plant City Police Department. They came out, went ahead and done a report and, you know, they just basically asked the simple information and everything, you know, does she have any scars or anything else like that. Now they listed her as a runaway…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …because of her mental status, and they plain out told us, you know, she is an adult so if they do find her, the only thing they can say is, “Hey, your family’s worried about you. Could you please call home or go home.”
TODD: So she wasn’t an endangered runaway?
CINDY: No. Lorisa had talked to the detective down there and he was actually supposed to change it as endangered runaway, but…
TODD: And that makes a difference.
CINDY: Right, and he never did. He never changed it. And, after that, we had moved up to North Florida, and we had basically waited for the police to find her, is what we did. And then my brother, Johnny, was looking under the Social Security Death Index and just put in her name, and it came back that she had died February 22nd, and it was a big, big shock. So we had to deal with that death at that time and we were like, “We don’t know where to go.” And then over the course of the year, that’s when we started trying to figure out where to go next and what to do and we got nothing until December 20th, and that’s when we found everything else.
TODD: Now, the rest of the family, what kind of impact…obviously I think it’s pretty obvious the impact it’s been on you, what about her son?
CINDY: Her son…you know she has two children, she’s got Matthew and Joey; Matthew, he has the same condition as our mother and his mother. He has schizophrenia so he doesn’t comprehend what’s going on. He doesn’t know. As a matter of fact, he talked to Lorisa on the phone and said, “Hey, have you heard from Belinda? How is she doing? You know I would love to talk to her.” So he doesn’t understand that she’s dead.
TODD: And he’s on medication?
CINDY: He’s on medication, but he doesn’t understand what’s going on and, at this point, what do we tell him? There’s nothing we can tell him. Now, Joey, he is in college. Like he told Ray (Reyes), you know, at the gravesite, he’s missed out on knowing his mother. He’ll never know exactly who she was and what she was all about because now he’s just totally missed out about it and he can’t get that back. So, I mean, it is a big impact and, you know, this is not the first death that this family has had to deal with…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …you know my mother started out with 7 children and she’s only got 4 left, so this is a big, big impact on our family.
TODD: I know the handicapped, I don’t even know how to classify her, I guess she would be mentally handicapped and needing medication to get by and she’s not taking this medication…this is the second time I mention my mother-in-law on this show on this show, it’s scary, but she takes care of people that have different types of mental conditions, and it’s hard. I’ve seen them flip out and not even know, because these are people that are not really bad enough to be in a hospital situation; they’re in a group home, but they have to be medicated with the proper medication just to function.
CINDY: Right. And you know, like I said, my mother does suffer from the same illness and my mother just recently had a stroke. Now, she’s still bleeding in her head. They can’t stop it, the bleed is too deep, and we haven’t…we told her back in 2002 when we found out over the Internet that she had passed away, my sister, and that’s basically the only thing we’ve told her. We haven’t told her that we found her. We haven’t told her anything; she can’t comprehend it. As a matter of fact, February 22nd, she plain out told us that my sister, Belinda, was sitting on the bed with her…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …that day, and gave her a hug and gave her a kiss and said, “Momma, I love you and I’ll see you soon,” and then she left. And you can ask my mother right now and she will tell you that my sister, Belinda, is down in Tampa, Florida, at school getting an education, because she can’t comprehend it. So now I have the task of trying to figure out exactly when the best time…I’m not going to tell her exactly everything that happened to her, but I need to tell her. I’ve got to figure out a way to tell her, “We know where Belinda’s buried at, would you like to go see it?” because I know she would. So I have the task of figuring out how to do that and breaking it to her without breaking her heart so, I mean, it’s a very bad thing and, you know, we can’t even grieve as a family should for our lost one, because we’re dealing with the police issues.
TODD: And you’ve become Mom, I think, for a lot of the matter in this case. You’re having to take care of so many different people, you and your sister are having to take care of so many different people in this. But, you’re right though, until everybody involved fully understand exactly what’s happened here, it’s hard to put it behind you, and then you’ve still got the case of the homicide to deal with.
TODD: Now, you found that the Internet has been a great help in actually bringing some degree of resolution.
CINDY: A very big help.
TODD: So, have you thought about the possibility of creating a website for her?
CINDY: We thought about it but we’re not exactly sure how to go about doing all that.
TODD: Well, that could be partially solved for you right now. You will have Episode 31 as your permanent archive. We will keep updates so you will have a permanent archive here and your particular page can serve as your website and we’ll do whatever you want to it, so if you want to get a domain name and redirect it directly to that page, you’re more than welcome.
CINDY: Oh, thank you very much.
TODD: And you’ll have all your news articles and anything that we can present, and this is not the end. Usually when we try to work with people on this, you know, on a normal show, you’re on the show and then you’re gone, or you’ve got just a few minutes and you’ve got to spill your guts and then you’re gone, but this is just the beginning. Hopefully we’ll be able to help connect you with other people that are in similar situations, to help you resolve your case, so this is just the beginning. You’ve joined a family now. I hope that if we can’t help you directly, maybe at least point you in the right direction or at least somebody that can be there for you.
CINDY: And we appreciate that because, I mean, we haven’t got it anywhere else so far.
TODD: Well I saw the article and I thought, “Wow, they’re getting exposure but they’re still not getting any answers.”
CINDY: Right, and that’s how the family feels. I mean, everyone is frustrated and, yes, when we talk to people, yes they can tell on the phone that we’re very frustrated because we’re hearing the same thing over and over. It’s the blame game. We don’t care who messed up, we just want someone to say, “Yes, we messed up, but we’re going to help you,” and that’s what we want. That’s all we’ve asked. We want to catch this guy. Now, regardless if he meant to or not, you know, maybe this guy, maybe we can get his picture on national news where it covers the whole United States, and maybe this guy actually sees himself and says, “You know what, I didn’t mean to do that. Oh my gosh, let me turn myself in.” You know that would be absolutely wonderful if he does, you know, no one knows how a mind works. Maybe this guy didn’t mean to do it but you know, then again, he did run over her, regardless, he was stealing from the homeless because he stole her bible, and the reason she wanted that bible was because her identification card was in that bible and the pictures of her children were in the bible. So it was very, very much hers that she wanted it so much, and that’s something that’s hard for us to deal with. But, basically, no one wants to give us a straight answer, no one wants to come forth and say, “Hey, we dropped the ball but we’re going to take care of it now,” and we’re not getting none of that.
TODD: Well, did you have any reaction to this article that was in ‘The Tampa Tribune’?
CINDY: You know what, Ray did an absolutely wonderful job and, like I said before, he printed everything that was the truth and everything that we have been told, everything that he turned around and got from the sheriff’s department, Georgia Highway Patrol, everybody. I told him, “No matter what, do not print any lies just to make us seem like a sweet family or anything else like that. All we want is the truth because this is the only way that we’re going to catch this guy is to have the public know what we’re going through, and basically for them to help us out as much as they possibly can in finding this guy.” And he did an absolutely wonderful job on this.
TODD: Well, and we’re actually going to keep contact information for him, Ray Reyes, on your website, on this particular page so that people can reach him there and we’ll have contact for the involved law enforcement, and for you, if you wish…
TODD: …direct contact for you, because I think you’re definitely involved in this case. It seems like you’ve found out a little more than anybody else has in this case.
CINDY: Well, basically, we’ve been giving paperwork to certain people and everything and, the first thing they tell us is, they can’t believe the story. They actually do think we’re lying, until we send them…you know my sister has been faxing papers to them, and basically, our paperwork is like forty-something pages of what we first started out with within the first month, and she only sent 27 pages to…I’m not sure who the person was that she sent it to, but this guy was like, “I can’t believe that this is going on.” He couldn’t believe it. He thought that we were absolutely lying until we showed all the paperwork, and he is even amazed by this. It was like, “Wow, I can’t believe this is going on.” So I mean, we get that response everywhere we go; they can’t believe it and a lot of people are outraged. And we’ve talked to quite a few truck drivers and they’re outraged because, you know, they’re saying that truck drivers get a bum rap anyway, you know. And I want to clarify, we don’t think that every truck driver is bad because, like I said, we have family members…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …that used to be truck drivers. So we don’t think that every trucker is bad but there’s this one that’s claiming to be a truck driver out there, that showed no respect for anybody else but himself. And that’s basically how we feel.
TODD: Well we’re going to keep his composite on the website so that people can see him and, hopefully, maybe somebody can give us an identity on him, and you’re going to communicate what we’ve found already…
TODD: …to law enforcement to see what they can come up with and I’m hoping that you’ll keep us updated on that.
CINDY: Oh, absolutely.
TODD: And we’ll keep adding stuff to your page, and I’m going to keep communicating with other media outlets in Florida.
TODD: Hopefully they’ll be able to kind of keep passing this information back and forth. I’ve got a lot of media contacts and they’re always looking at these things and you never know how it might tie to another case. You know there might be a composite of this guy that looks just like him in another case.
TODD: We don’t know. I don’t think this is an incidence of a serial killing; it looks more like an accident type situation…
TODD: …where it wasn’t really the intention to kill somebody…
TODD: …but it happened, and you do have to take responsibility for that.
TODD: No doubt about it.
TODD: And, you’re right, you’ve got a good attitude for this. You’re hoping that somebody will see it and just come forward.
CINDY: I mean this case is, like I said, this case is just not for this family. Yes, it’s to find this guy and, you know, probably as long as it’s went and, you know, the family doesn’t feel like that he really meant to murder our sister or kill our sister or whatever anybody wants to call it nowadays, but we don’t feel that way. It was just something that has happened that this guy needs to take responsibility for, and it’s not just for us anymore, it’s for the witnesses because they can’t even live a normal life anymore. So, I mean, whereas everybody that’s involved in this, I mean, we need some kind of closure so we can go on about this now.
TODD: Have you become close to the witnesses?
CINDY: I’ve actually only talked to them once. My brother, David, spoke with one of the witnesses once also. Every one of our family members, you know, is putting in their own efforts in trying to find this guy and trying to find the company and everything, so all our family members are working on this. And my heart…I actually sent a letter to Mr. Dozier, you know, because he was the one that was most affected by this and you could feel, even today you could talk to him, and you could tell how hurt he was. And he actually said he paid attention to my sister because my sister smiled at him, and he was only 22 years old, and of course he’s going to look and she had a beautiful smile. We called her ‘the woman with the perfect teeth’ because she always took care of her teeth, no matter what, and she had that perfect smile. So this guy was really looking after my sister and he’s the one that actually got the tag number off the trailer so, I mean, it’s really hard on him and, after knowing, I called his mother and talked to his mother for the first time and I started crying because I made 30 phone calls that day to find Mr. Dozier and I ran across his mother. And, at first she thought he was in trouble, and I explained to her that he was a witness and that was my sister and, after speaking with her, she was like, “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe you’re just now finding out.” We got that from everybody we talked to. Even the trooper that handled this; even the trooper is affected by this. Even he turned around, and I had called where he was working at, he works up in North Georgia now, and I spoke with dispatch and as soon as I got off the phone, the dispatcher had called his house and explained everything. He said the minute he got off the phone…he’s a very unorganized person; he went straight upstairs, pulled this file and he couldn’t believe what was going on. He did not believe that we were just now finding out, and he apologized to us, he said, “I’m so sorry, I thought you knew.” And I told him, “No sir, we’re just now finding out,” and he goes, “You have no idea; I have pulled this file, and with my wife, I have prayed over this file because it was unbelievable what I had seen.” So even the trooper was impacted with this.
TODD: So it just seems like a situation that everybody assumed that somebody had already told you?
CINDY: Right. Everybody just thought that we knew, and even the witness that I have found was working at that TA station at the time, even he had told me plain out, you know, besides from being pushed, that he was sick after this, he was sick for a few days after this, after what he had seen, and that he had called the sheriff’s department to try to find out who this woman was, and he had even tried to look in newspapers and the news, everything. And his plain words were, “It’s like it never even happened.” And I was like, “Sir, that’s what we’re running into. No one knew about it.” My son’s kindergarten teacher, actually she lives in Lowndes County, she lives on the same road as where this incident happened, but she works here in Florida as a teacher, and even she said that she never even heard about this. No one did hear anything about it. So when I told her everything that was going on, I showed her all our proof and everything, she’s even outraged to know that nothing is really being done about this. So, I mean, we have residents that actually live there that are very mad at this, at this particular time.
TODD: It’s like a bomb going off and nobody heard it.
TODD: It’s just unreal and you were listening for it, you know, so it’s just amazing that this has just slipped through the cracks, and I hope it serves as an example, you know, that people never assume that everybody is in the loop with things.
CINDY: Right. And, you know, my sister…Belinda just now, recently, I’m not sure exactly when it was, but I know it was some time within the last month or month and a half, that Belinda was taken off the Florida FDLE as missing. You could even go on there as far as February, as a matter of fact, February 26th, I know she was still under FDLE website as missing. And I had actually got kind of mad because I had contacted Detective Shultz in Plant City, January 3rd, and said, “Hey look, we need to go ahead and get her off of here because if this guy comes to Florida and we call the law and they run my sister’s name, they’re going to see that she’s missing and it’s not really going to be a big deal to them. They might let this guy go. So we really need to get her off of the database.” And he said, “Okay, I’ll work on it.” Well, I come to find out, you know he was waiting on Detective Wanda Edwards to send the paperwork, and I had talked to him and he was like, “You know what,” he said, “I can’t believe it because she only sent me one page, and if this is all their murder investigation, I mean, come on.” So these were his words and, like I said, you know, I don’t want anybody thinking we’re blaming this one particular department because we’re not, and I don’t want anybody thinking that we’re just trying to come up with lies to prove a point, we’re not. This is just what has been told to us. So these are our feelings. This is what people are telling us and that’s all we have to go by nowadays, is just what people are telling us.
TODD: Well, if she’s still listed as missing, obviously there are going to be people trying to work on possibly trying to match her with a Jane Doe at some point, so that’s wasting a lot of time…
TODD: …that can be more effectively used somewhere else.
CINDY: Right. And you know, my point is, if we lie to police officers, we will go to jail; but they can lie to us all day long and nothing happens to them and this is what’s happening, and it does make us very, very mad. But what can we do? Right now, our hands are tied. Now I do know David Farrell is trying to work on this case…
TODD: Uh huh.
CINDY: …through the DA, but he’s only one man. He’s the only guy at the DA but he handles 5 different counties, so he is very, very busy. So, I mean, for him to actually find time on a cold case like this, and he has told us plain out that, yes, he was the technician at the time, his job was to get my sister’s fingerprints and to find out who she was; that was all his job was. And he said that would he have known that 5 ½ years later that he was dealing with the same case again, he would have personally asked to take this case home when he was still at the sheriff’s department. So, even he is impacted by this.
TODD: Well I hope that this case serves as an example and it helps bring about change in cases like this where maybe there’s a required protocol of contacting family members at certain points in time. You know, just to touch base because usually it’s only if you call them…
TODD: …that you get data, but possibly there should be something in place where a mile marker is reached in a case, you know, where something happens, that there are phone calls placed so that people know, so that nobody can say, “Well, we didn’t know.”
TODD: And then document it, like you said, the one sheriff’s office makes a lot of documentation.
TODD: That’s good.
TODD: It’s good to have that documentation.
TODD: Well, I am so glad to have you on the phone tonight and I wish you the best with this, and we will remain with you, and you will have a permanently archived file here, and you will have something that you can take to ‘America’s Most Wanted’ and they might change their mind. When you have…this translates into 20 pages of text once this particular recording is transcribed; that’s a lot of information.
TODD: So that’s a lot to go on, and a lot of the work is done for them now so, hopefully, that’ll help move it forward.
CINDY: Anything that helps, that’s all we ask.
TODD: Well, we will do our best and be here for you for whatever you need; you just let us know.
CINDY: And we really appreciate that. Thank you.
TODD: Well, thank you for being here tonight and I’ll be in touch.
CINDY: Okay. Thank you so much.
TODD: All right. Goodnight, everybody. Goodnight, Cindy.
On February 22, 2001
Belinda Cartwright was run over by a Freightliner flatbed semi truck.
Witnesses report seeing Belinda clinging to the running board,
begging the driver to stop the truck.
One eyewitness claims to have seen the window open and
the driver shove her from the running board,
where she fell beneath the back tires, crushing her.
Belinda remained a Jane Doe for a mere 8 hours before
authorities identified her through fingerprints.
Her remains were placed in a cardboard coffin in a pauper's grave.
Where she has remained for the last 6 years.
After filing a missing persons report with their local police department,
the family began their own internet search,
using the Social Security Death Index Records.
They were shocked to discover their sister listed as deceased.
It took five years before they were able to get details on Belinda's tragic death.
The driver of the semi truck has never been found.
Please view composite drawing below:
If you have any information on this case
Please use click this link below:
This remembrance video is courtesy of Belinda's family.