(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Host of Missing Pieces): I’m Todd Matthews and this is Missing Pieces. Tonight we have Sharon Garry; she’s the sister of Tina Sinclair and the aunt of Bethany Sinclair, they are missing and they have been missing since 2001, is that correct, Sharon?
SHARON GARRY (Guest): That’s true, February 4th, 2001.
TODD: And I wanted to welcome you to the show obviously.
SHARON: Thank you.
TODD: So, on the night of February 3rd, 2001, Tina Sinclair picked up her daughter, Bethany, from the movie theatre and brought her home. According to Tina’s boyfriend, Eugene Van Bowman, Jr., he and Tina got in a fight and he left. He said that upon his return home, Tina and Bethany were gone. Tina’s car and pet cat were left at home. An unidentified woman phoned Bethany’s school and said Bethany would not be in school on Monday [February 5th]. Is that pretty much how it took place?
SHARON: That’s pretty much how it took place, yeah.
TODD: Okay, where were you during this time period?
SHARON: Um…I live in Connecticut, and the first call that I got was about February 8th when, I believe it was first my mother that called me, and told me that she thought that Tina had taken off. Then I called my father, my stepfather, who lived on the property at the time and he had told me, yes, that they had gotten into a fight over the weekend and that Eugene Van Bowman, who is the ‘person of interest’ in the case, had told him that Tina had gotten angry with him and taken off. Then on the 10th, I was called by the police, and they told me that there seemed to be no trace of the girls, Tina and Bethany, and wanted to know if I had heard from them or if they were in Connecticut with me. Their suspicion, at that point, was that perhaps Tina had gone some place to hide.
TODD: From Van Bowman?
TODD: Okay, what city and state did this occur in?
SHARON: In West Chesterfield, New Hampshire, which is near Keene, NH, and also just less than five outside of Brattleboro, Vermont, where Tina and I grew up.
TODD: Okay, so you’re real familiar with that area then?
SHARON: Very much, yes.
TODD: How far is it from you now, or at that time period?
SHARON: About an hour and a half…if that.
TODD: Would that be something that she might normally have done? If she had had an argument, might she have come to you?
SHARON: Yeah. Yeah, Tina and I were very close but I knew that there were problems there and it wouldn’t have been surprising for her to have called me and wanting to come to Connecticut, or, at the very least, gone to my mother. But the problem was, the relationship was so tumultuous before that, that Tina had kind of exhausted, I guess, us with the back and forth of going back, you know, of being abused by him and then going back to him.
TODD: So, basically, she would have confided in you?
SHARON: She would have confided in us, at the very least, if she was leaving, yes.
TODD: I think you’re expressing a little bit of frustration with the going back into the situation.
SHARON: Yeah, well last time Tina and I spoke before that, was several months and that’s probably the longest in her life we ever went without speaking. The reason for that was because that was when her boyfriend at the time, Eugene Van Bowman, had been charged with sex crimes against children, and Tina was…originally she had called me and asked me to take Bethany back to Connecticut with me, concerned that she would be questioned and just didn’t want her under the gun, so to speak, in those charges. Then this news story broke that Eugene Van Bowman had been charged, and I asked Tina if Bethany could just stay in Connecticut with me until everything blew over or in hopes that Tina would leave him, and she believed his story that he was innocent of those charges.
TODD: So you think that this probably affected your relationship, somewhat, with her?
SHARON: Yeah, well then Tina came to Connecticut to get Bethany and again, you know, we had words and I begged to at least leave Bethany with me, and told her if she wanted to come and live in Connecticut that we could start over and everything and she said no and that she was going to figure out a way to get the situation resolved and that she had it under control. And she was pretty upset with me for not having more faith in her. I’m not sure why she believed in him at that point, but we do know that the Friday before the girls vanished, he plead guilty to those charges.
TODD: So…wow. And I’m reading now, that it was later discovered that Tina and her boyfriend actually had 2 fights that night.
TODD: So, that was a little different than what you originally knew. How did you find more?
SHARON: Yeah, it was different from what Bowman had originally told the police, you know because he had said that she came home, they had a fight, and then her and Bethany had left. Earlier that night actually, he was at a local bar, and Tina had already dropped Bethany off at the movies and had gone to that local bar and they had had a fight there, and then Tina left, heated, and that was according to the bartender, at the time.
TODD: But then she had to reconnect with Bethany at some point, and I’m seeing that Bethany was on the phone to her boyfriend until almost midnight.
SHARON: Correct. She picked Bethany up at the movies and they went home, which was the home that they shared with Eugene Van Bowman, and Bethany was on the phone, again, with her movie date, her boyfriend at the time, and that night was Bethany’s first date. Then Tina had reminded Bethany that she had laundry to do, and I guess either there was no telephone reception in the cellar where Bethany did her laundry or where the laundry room was, and so she told her boyfriend that she had to get off the phone and finish her laundry. And that was the last time that they were ever really heard from, that was about midnight that night.
TODD: What about Bethany’s boyfriend, have you spoken with him?
SHARON: Extensively, yeah. His mother actually worked at the high school so she was actually the first person to call the police and being concerned about Bethany because her son, of course, was trying to call Bethany, a lot, during the first few days that they were missing and could never get in touch with her. And she didn’t come to school so he was concerned.
TODD: Had she spoken with him about some of the things that, maybe, she had encountered?
SHARON: Not that we’re aware of. He told us “No.” Now, again, he was interviewed by the police and all that information is…they’ve withheld from us, the records are sealed so we don’t really know exactly what he may have told the police that he didn’t tell Bethany’s family. But he says, “No” and that she has never mentioned anything about any kind of abuse or fighting or anything like that. She was pretty closed-mouth about things. I, myself, as her aunt and Godmother and somebody who has been a part of her life since the day she was born, asked her several questions about Bowman’s treatment of her and treatment of Tina before the girls disappeared because I was concerned about his abusive nature, and she pretty much denied that anything was wrong.
TODD: Let’s talk a little bit about Tina. Tina was born November 29, 1966. She was 5’2”, approximately 120 pounds, blonde hair, green eyes; she had a scar around the navel area due to surgery and a tattoo on her right ankle, of a butterfly.
TODD: Have you got any photographs of the butterfly?
SHARON: I don’t. I don’t. I wish I did, but no I don’t. We were supposed to go and get tattoos of butterflies together and I kind of tricked her, I went on a vacation one time and came home with a fake tattoo, and she thought it was real, so the next day she went out and got one of her own.
TODD: So she went and done it herself? Do you know where she got the tattoo?
SHARON: You know, I don’t. It would be interesting to try to find out. I’d have to check around the local areas and find out where she got that.
TODD: I’m thinking it would be very interesting to have the tattoo, you know exactly what it looked like, and put it on the website.
SHARON: Yeah, that would be great.
TODD: Because those are usually really keen identifiers. A lot of cases have been solved that way.
SHARON: I don’t know why I never thought of that.
TODD: Well, we got it and that’s what we’re here for, so we’re going to work on some of these things and, hopefully, we can help you move things along a little bit. Okay, now Bethany was born October 15, 1985. She was 5’ 2”.
SHARON: She was born on my birthday.
TODD: So she was also 5’2” and approximately 120 pounds, so they were just…
SHARON: Actually that’s incorrect.
TODD: Okay, tell me the correct way.
SHARON: What’s that?
TODD: Give me that correct stature for her.
SHARON: Okay, she was actually, probably about 130 or 140 (pounds), and at least 5’6”.
TODD: So she was quite a bit bigger than her mother?
SHARON: Very tall girl.
TODD: Brown hair, brown eyes. A U-shaped scar on her head, can you tell me about her scar?
SHARON: Yeah, when she was about 9 or 10 years old, she had a bicycle accident where she flipped her bike and landed on a rock and she got 44 stitches in her head that day…
SHARON: …so it was a pretty big injury. She also got gifts of about a half a dozen bike helmets, but we were pretty scared because that was a very serious injury that she had and it was about the size of a horseshoe.
TODD: Well, did it actually cause a concussion?
TODD: Okay, so that might be something to add to a website too, that there are records of a concussion.
SHARON: Right. Right, it was a pretty serious head injury.
TODD: Okay, so now there’s February 4, 2001. Okay he seemed to have a problem with his neighbors at one point in time, Van Bowman?
SHARON: Well, he’s not a real popular guy. I mean, he could go out to a bar and buy everybody drinks and be boastful and bragging about all kinds of different things that we found out recently, weren’t really all that true about him, but…and so, people, I guess, partied with him for that reason, but in the long run, really, he was very liked or very popular. I’m sorry, I’ve lost track of your question.
TODD: So you obviously never really cared much for him, it doesn’t sound like. Is this like the normal guy that she would be with?
TODD: Because I’m sensing that you feel that this was out of character for her to be with this guy.
SHARON: Way out of character. You know, in the past, she dated men that were kind of soft-spoken, gentle and kind…
TODD: uh hum
SHARON: …not great big, tall men who were overpowering and boastful and bragging and…no he wasn’t anything like the men that she dated.
TODD: He was a very take-control type, it sounds.
SHARON: Very much.
TODD: That’s probably different from what she was used to, somebody to just kind of take over.
SHARON: No, because she was a very take-charge woman herself, not so much when she was with him though, it was very strange. Her personality changed quite a bit in that relationship. He definitely had a lot of control over her.
TODD: Okay, I’m going to ask you a couple questions and I don’t mean to ask you anything to make you uncomfortable at all, but what about Bethany’s father?
SHARON: Bethany’s biological father lives in Northern Vermont, and he was, unfortunately, not a real strong role in Bethany’s life. He moved about 3 ½ - 4 hours away and saw her maybe 2 or 3 times a year throughout most of her life. He gave up parental rights, of Bethany, when she was about 3 or 4 years olds when Tina remarried, which is why they both go by the last name of Sinclair. So Tina remarried and her new husband, at the time, adopted Bethany.
TODD: Okay, so she’s got 2 father-type connections. Now, her biological father, has he responded to what’s happened at all?
SHARON: Yes, very much. He’s been very active in the investigation and communicating with law enforcement.
TODD: So this has been like a really big wake-up call for him, it sounds?
SHARON: It’s his only child.
TODD: Yeah. So you work with him on this, or, how’s your relationship with him now?
SHARON: It’s very good. We recently, on Mother’s Day, had a candlelight vigil in our hometown, where we all actually grew up and went to high school, Bethany’s father, Tina and I, we all went to school together. So he came to that and it was very good to see him and he drove a long way come and, yeah, it was, like I said, it was good to see him and his whole family was there.
TODD: Well, tell me about the candlelight vigil, how does, you know, and I’ve been around a lot of these, so I’ll ask you the normal questions, how do you feel that that helped the situation? You know, sometimes it can help you emotionally, and sometimes it can help to keep it in the public eye, and sometimes it actually helps yield some type of tips. How did this particular event help you in this case?
SHARON: I think, all of the above actually, because we advertised it so much and we went around talking to people about it and everything. I used MySpace, for example, to contact a lot of the alumni from…Tina’s alumni, Bethany’s alumni, and my own, and a lot of people came out of the woodwork, so to speak, that we hadn’t heard from before that, may or may not, have been able to produce some leads or tells us a little something. You know, a woman that saw Tina at Wal-Mart the day before the girls disappeared, and some other people that Bethany had gone to school with, and things like that. So, at the very least, it was nice to see so much support and so much concern.
TODD: And hearing some of these last moments that you knew of her whereabouts, I’m sure that gave you some comfort to hear these stories of people that had actually seen them and it helps put together some of the pieces, I guess, right?
SHARON: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. The show of support was nice and it gives you a little bit of hope that there’s still perhaps some information out there.
TODD: Were you surprised with the response that you had from the public?
SHARON: I didn’t really have time to react with surprise. It was very emotional.
TODD: Now, this has been 6 years now. What have you learned about missing persons in this time period? Was this the first time…when this happened to you, what was your knowledge of the cause of missing?
SHARON: Absolutely none.
SHARON: Absolutely none, you know, other than just seeing an occasional blurb on ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ or milk cartons and things, it really was never…missing persons cases were never really that much, six years ago, out in the public eye. I can’t really tell if it is now more than it used to be, or if it’s just because of my involvement now with, actually several missing persons’ organizations.
TODD: I think it’s something you pay more attention to now.
TODD: And the information is more readily available, because I’ve worked in this type of…I’ve worked for a number of years, and years ago before the Internet, it was so vague and scattered, you really didn’t hear of anything like this, and now somebody can go missing, and across the planet you hear about it within just a matter of minutes.
SHARON: Right. You know, 6 years ago was probably around the time, I could be wrong, but I think it was around the time that a number of the organizations that Tina and Bethany are sited on with the Internet just began, the CUE center, and ChildSeek, those were brand new, if not just starting up when I was seeking help with this case.
TODD: I mean, I know it’s odd to say this, but you sort of came in at a good time, when there was like an awakening of information. Can you imagine trying to work on this before the day of Internet?
SHARON: I can’t imagine it, and you know, honestly, even now, it’s difficult for me to hear of other families with missing family members because I know how just desperately difficult it is to go through that.
TODD: Now, we talked about this father, what about the adoptive father? What’s his…does he have a role in this now?
SHARON: Well, he also showed up at the candlelight vigil. It was…that was a very tumultuous relationship for Tina as well, it didn’t end very well, and it didn’t end very well for Bethany either. He really wasn’t very nice towards the end so he and I don’t really see eye to eye, never did. I mean, he’s not the same sort of personality as Bowman, but he was very controlling with Tina, he’s nearly twice her age so, from the beginning, we just kind of scratched our heads like, “What is she doing?”
TODD: Wow. But it’s good that he actually came and had some degree of support for this, because you can’t get too much support, you know that. I think you’ve come to learn that, there’s no such thing as having too much support in these cases.
SHARON: Sometimes it feels that there’s not enough so, yeah, absolutely.
TODD: No, there’s no way. You can’t get overexposure in this type of thing and I know people, and sometimes if it’s not in your family or you don’t know anybody personally that’s missing, I think people get tired of hearing it, but that all changes when you become part of that family, that family nobody wants to be a part of but, and I’ve said it a lot of times, it’s a caring family. I’m sure you’ve met some very caring people.
SHARON: Very much, yes. Yeah. In Connecticut, recently I teamed up with Gil Alba, who is one of our investigators, and he asked me to come to a legislative meeting that was being formed by a couple of the families of missing people here in this state, and what they were doing was they drew up a bill that they’re trying to pass here and really all over the United States, they’ve made it a national thing for changing the way law enforcement is responding to missing persons cases.
TODD: Okay, now in your case, when this case was reported to law enforcement, how did that happen, and how could it have been better?
SHARON: Well, how is happened is that West Chesterfield, New Hampshire, is a very tiny, little town. It’s, um…you know, I’ve referred to it as Mayberry, USA, it’s just…the police station is smaller than a house that people might live in, and I don’t know, it probably has maybe 4, maybe 6 members, at the most, in the police station itself; two on staff at a time. So, we understand that one of the local police officers responded to the call and went out to the house, already knowing of my sister and her boyfriend, Eugene Van Bowman, because of the domestic calls that he had responded to in the past. So, that was the beginning, it really didn’t take off…it took off very slowly. The first search warrant didn’t take place until 2 ½ months after Tina and Bethany had been missing.
TODD: That’s a long time.
SHARON: Right. And what had happened was, I was trying to get the local police to call in the state police and, perhaps the FBI, and it took a lot for me to convince them…it took me going out and showing them, “Look, there’s been no activity on her cell phone, on her bank account, at her post office; she’s not around anymore.” And then I called the state police myself several times, haunted them, and finally they…when the state police investigators came in, Troup C from Keene, New Hampshire, that’s when they started to work on a few searches with cadaver dogs in the river and things like that, and then finally got the first search warrant…2 ½ months after the girls had become missing.
TODD: A lot of things can happen in 2 ½ months.
SHARON: A lot.
TODD: Now, what the NCIC, you know the National Crime Information Center, part of the FBI, is this case actually listed with the FBI NCIC?
SHARON: My understanding from the FBI, when I’ve spoken to them several times, was that they would not be formally part of the case unless formally asked by the state police.
TODD: I don’t really think that has to occur to actually have a report filed.
SHARON: That was from the Boston Division of the FBI.
TODD: Now the National Crime Information Center, they keep statistical data. You know, I know from the NCIC there’s over 6,000 unidentified bodies, I know that there are over 100,000 missing, but there are so many more that are not included in that total because they’re not reported to that agency to even be used as a statistic without…
SHARON: That’s the organization where a child can be reported after a certain period of time…
TODD: uh huh
SHARON: …but not an adult, because I remember that being one of the things that was being considered, that Bethany could be reported but Tina couldn’t be.
TODD: But if you find one, you know the possibility of finding the other is greatly improved obviously. So that’s a good step. Having an NCIC report would be a good step and that’s something that you can push or ask, you know, is there an FBI NCIC number? Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually working on the case, it could still befall to the local, you know the NCIC is a database that law enforcement use to share data with each other, so if it’s not there, it’s very difficult for law enforcement to relate this information to other agencies. It’s more difficult for another agency to see this data and relate it to something that might have been found locally…a clue.
SHARON: Right, which is why we want this case to be out more nationally because we know that, you know, of course, like everybody does, Tina had contacts, especially in Florida and further down the east coast, but she had friends and contacts in other places and so did other people who perhaps had involvement in her life and with Eugene Van Bowman. So, yeah, we’d very much like to be able to reach out more nationally.
TODD: Have you spoken to some of her…the possibilities, if she did just leave, what about some of the places she would have went, do you know any…do you have any of the same connections?
SHARON: Yes. Yeah, I mean, at this point, after 6 years, we’ve checked out and exhausted everything that I would know of.
TODD: Wow. I see you’ve got a YouTube video.
TODD: Now who put that together for you?
SHARON: That was a friend of mine that’s been helping for several years. She designed the website for us and things like that.
TODD: And those are great because it just gives you a visual and it really helps. I really love those and I see more and more people doing them. I think it’s a really good thing for people to do, to create those.
SHARON: It’s very extensive and I was very impressed by it. It sums everything up very well.
TODD: Yeah, and it’s good to show to media if you’re dealing with media, it’s a really great tool to use.
TODD: Now, what about you're...you spoke of your mother earlier?
TODD: Is she still around?
SHARON: Is my mother still around?
TODD: Okay, I didn’t know if she was still living. How is she doing with this?
SHARON: Well, she’s doing okay. She, um…about a week after the candlelight vigil, she had a mini-stroke and she was hospitalized for a little while and she’s recently recovering from that, but it’s been hard. I mean it’s unimaginable for a mother and a grandmother to have to go through.
TODD: Do you think the stress from this situation could have contributed to her stroke?
SHARON: I really don’t have an opinion about that but I know that it has contributed to a great deal of the stress in her life, and it’s really hard to say, I mean Mom, she’s a tough woman, a very though woman. It doesn’t seem it when you meet her because, Tina looked a lot like her, she’s very tiny and petite, but very tough on the inside.
TODD: Now, when you have a conversation with your mother, or any time you see your mother, does this…do you talk about this every time?
SHARON: Pretty much, yeah.
TODD: It’s hard not to, I’m sure.
SHARON: Of course it’s hard not to, and out of our entire family, my mother and Tina and Bethany and my daughters were the closest. That’s why Easter is so important to us because we all got together on Easter and Mother’s Day is a huge event for us.
TODD: You know, with somebody gone and it’s just an open…if they had died and you’d known…if they had died in a car crash and it was just a known fact, done, it probably would have been easier to move on past that, knowing that.
SHARON: Right. And you can almost, you know, you can almost say goodbye.
TODD: uh huh
SHARON: But in this case, you really can’t say goodbye, you know, everything still lingers. Losing them would have been hard no matter how we lost them, but this way, I would say is probably the worst.
TODD: Because you just don’t know what to do, I know that. You have so much to do but you don’t know what to do and you don’t know where to do it.
SHARON: Right and people have said to me before that I’m obsessed with the case and, you know, I have to kind of stop myself from time to time and realize that, in a way, this case is the way that I maintain a connection with Tina and Bethany.
TODD: Yeah. It’s a way of hanging on, isn’t it?
SHARON: Well it is a way to hang on and sometimes it’s not real healthy. You have to kind of take a step back and say to yourself, “Okay, what am I doing here?” because when you’re going to sleep at night, that’s all you’re thinking of, and when waking up in the morning and that’s all that’s on your mind; you go straight to the computer, straight to the Internet, and you’re on the phone, and you’re dong this day in and day out, it can really wear on you.
TODD: Do you think you’re obsessed?
SHARON: I think that I have been. I want justice for my sister and niece. I think what happened to them was horrifying…or what I believe happened to them, and I want justice for them. And I don’t want the person responsible to ever have the opportunity to do this to anyone else.
TODD: You know, would it be easier just to make a decision in you mind, this is what happened, I’m going to let it go? Could you do that?
SHARON: No. It wouldn’t be possible.
TODD: There’s just no way to let it go. I know that.
SHARON: There isn’t, and I know that if the tables were turned and it was me that was missing, Tina would be in the same position that I’m in.
TODD: That was my next question for you, if you thought she would do that.
SHARON: When we were little girls, we were very, very close, you know. We even slept in the same bed when we were little and, you know, I wasn’t the big sister that didn’t want the little sister tagging along, she was with me a lot, and then even when she was a teenager and I got my own apartment, she came and stayed with me. She’d run away from home and she’d come to my house, and we just stayed really over the years. She was with me when I had my first child and I was with her when she had Bethany and we were like mothers to each other’s daughters.
TODD: Well, you said you were Bethany’s Godmother, right?
TODD: Which means that you would be taking custody of Bethany if anything had happened to her mother, right?
SHARON: True. Bethany lived with me a lot. She’s in between the ages of my two daughters, so the three girls were like sisters to each other.
TODD: Now, I’ve worked on a case, just today in fact, where a case…and I know your mind has to drift to the unidentified, often, and I know that’s a possibility that you have entertained quite a bit, I’m sure.
SHARON: Well, it is. One of the things about this area that I live in and that Tina and Bethany lived in, is there is a very large river that runs through both the property that Tina and Bethany lived on and right next to where I live, and it’s called the Connecticut River, and we’re often hearing about bodies found in and around the Connecticut River, and so yeah, every time something like that arises, it’s alarming, I guess.
TODD: uh huh
TODD: Well, this river case now, in the case that I was starting to speak about, there was a scar, a surgical scar, the body was misclassified, it was classified as a female and they called it a hysterectomy scar, turns out this is a male and, of course, with the water, it’s difficult to tell at times, you know, of course a lot of the medical examiner’s work wasn’t really done properly, and it turned out to be an appendectomy scar. What type of a surgery did Tina have?
SHARON: She had a partial hysterectomy and then ended up having a full hysterectomy; at the time she was 25, and that was what that was…she had cancer.
TODD: Okay, so that’s an important note there. What about any other broken bones, in both ladies? Had either of them ever had any broken bones that might have healed?
SHARON: Tina broke her right arm, and another time she had a broken collarbone, I believe.
TODD: And dental records for both of them; are dental records available?
SHARON: Yes, the police have them.
TODD: Have you ever heard of the National DNA Database?
TODD: Now there is a National DNA Database and after the show, I’m going to give you some information on that, and it is a…pretty much just as it says, you can actually put your DNA into this database as a possible match so that if a body is found, it can be matched. You don’t exactly have to have a body to match it too immediately. It doesn’t have to be for an immediate comparison, but it is a step you can take and it’s somebody that you can contact on your own to help get some movement. I want to see if you can do that and hopefully that will get you a little of movement. I know you work hard on this, like you said, you check your email everyday but I know you probably feel like, “I’m checking my email, I’m doing all this work but I’m not getting anywhere.” It’s good to have something where you know, “Okay, I’m making some progress. I’m doing something that’s made a little bit of a change and it’s moving forward.”
TODD: So, hopefully we’ll keep moving on that. And another case that I worked on…are there any barges or anything in the river?
TODD: Yeah, boats for transporting materials back and forth, upstream and downstream?
SHARON: Not that I’m aware of, no.
TODD: I know of a case in Memphis where a body actually got caught in a barge and got taken so far upstream, that the body came back down the river and was found, and it was assumed that it had come from upriver.
SHARON: The closest to that there is, is there’s the Vernon Dam.
TODD: uh huh
SHARON: And the Vernon Dam goes from Hinsdale, New Hampshire through Vernon, Vermont, and the ‘person of interest’ used to work at the Vernon Nuclear Power Plant, and he had DUI convictions where he had lost his license, so the way he got to work was by boat or by his Hovercraft, and he would take the river, the Connecticut River to go to work at the Vernon Power Plant. Now right before the power plant is where the river is damned, and they release that dam every spring, and it’s screened off and I know that the police have collected the contents of the screening and contacted us from time to time to ask us questions about some of the things that they’ve found in it. Nothing of great substance.
TODD: So far.
SHARON: Well, more than I want know of, you know, it was articles of clothing; and one time they found a woman’s boot; they found a cat carrier with a dead cat in it and they wanted to know how many cats Tina and Bethany had, and things like that.
TODD: How do you deal with things, when you get a tip and you have to think about it and you don’t know for sure?
SHARON: Well, you know, the first 2 years it was almost continuous and it was very difficult.
TODD: Because they’re pretty much compared to every to little detail then and every little cold case crime and unsolved case, you know, they have to go through the motion of ruling everything out. Now how hard is that to deal with? You have to wrack your brains and what if you just don’t know, what if they had an article of clothing and you don’t know. How do you find out?
SHARON: I mean I don’t know exactly everything that Tina had hanging in her closet but, we were sisters, and did shop together quite a bit, so I could answer a couple of questions about clothing that they found but, like they found a boot with a skeletal foot in it, those things, I mean it’s just difficult to get a call where they’re asking. Now, the case you were talking about with the scar on the head, we recently were contacted about a body that was found and they had asked us those questions, and we thought, “Gee, that’s information that they’ve had since the beginning; why would they call us and ask us this?” And it turned out, you don’t find out until a week or two later, that it was identified as not being them, so when we do get a call like that, it’s just being on pins and needles until you find out one way or the other.
TODD: Well, do you have to pressure them to give you the rest of the data? Like if they get you excited on a possible resolution, and you don’t get a call, what do you do, do you just call back?
SHARON: Yeah. Yeah, you have to, you really do. There’s kind of a fine line though because, myself personally, most of the law enforcement agents…they refuse to communicate with me any further, partly because I’ve had so much to do with the media and websites and everything, but also because I’ve got to such a level of frustration with them because they weren’t responding to some of the leads and information that I was giving them, in my opinion, in a timely enough fashion, so it was getting very frustrating for me because I felt like, you know, “I’m giving you all of this information, some of it might be key to helping us find out what happened to Tina and Bethany, and you’re not even responding, you’re not even questioning these people.” So I got very frustrated with them and was…I got rude, I got very rude with them, so they don’t really talk to me very well any more.
TODD: Why do you think that, like you said, that they didn’t respond in a timely manner? Why do you think that’s the case?
SHARON: Well, you know, I asked them that and I got answers like, “We only have so many resources. We only have so much money. We don’t have equipment that can accomplish these things.” It was mainly more about money and manpower and availability than anything. My answer to that was, “If this is a family member of yours, you wouldn’t be able to go home and go to sleep at night.” So, you know, those being the reasons that were given to me, made things even more frustrating.
TODD: What choices in your life, since this has happened, would you ever consider going into law enforcement?
SHARON: That’s exactly what I’m considering.
TODD: I had a feeling that was the case.
SHARON: Yeah, I’m taking criminal justice classes now and I’m considering becoming a victim’s advocate.
TODD: Hmm…you’re going to hear a lot, and it’s hard. You know, I get a lot of mail and it’s hard to keep up and then live your own life…but, then I think, a lot of us are doing this on a voluntary basis and sometimes we can be more active in it than law enforcement.
TODD: And you see law enforcement come and go, and you’re still there. “Well, I went through 3 detectives, and I’m still here on this particular case and I’m still here working on it.”
SHARON: Exactly. That’s exactly the case with us. I mean, the first person who was the head of law enforcement, the law enforcement agency that has this case now, was Peter Reisenberg, and Peter Reisenberg retired 2 years into the case and now works for a health food company. You know, he came to visit us the day of his retirement and he did tell us that this was the hardest case that he’s ever had to look at.
TODD: So that left you to having to train somebody else, right?
SHARON: Yeah. No luck in that department. The next person along did not have very good feelings for me from the beginning.
TODD: Well, it’s funny how personalities play into these things because I’ve had excellent relationships with certain medical examiners and law enforcement where you’re hearing things that’s not public, there’s just no way that it’s public, and it helps you shape the way that you try to help them. And some, won’t even give an NCIC number, like you’re going to do something evil with it, it’s not about that, I mean there’s nothing you can do other than pass it on to other law enforcement so that they’ll have a full record, so that they can access the record themselves and, you know, it’s funny and you wonder why. I don’t understand why and sometimes there will be things going on that you probably won’t know about. I have sat and personally knew things that the family member didn’t know until it was processed well enough that law enforcement could tell them; I couldn’t tell them. Not that I wouldn’t want to, it just wasn’t my job. It wasn’t my responsibility or liability to do so and you just have to wait and hope everything works out, but it’s hard to hold on to that data and know it and not be able to say anything, and just sit back.
SHARON: Because you know how desperate they are.
TODD: Yeah, because you know they’re hurting, and you can imagine that death would be easier to deal with than what they’re dealing with and you can’t say anything, and you hope law enforcement deals with this in a timely manner or do it well, and let them know as soon as they can let them know. And I know that some family members are different, some you can’t tell things to, you know. You seem levelheaded, you seem like you’re easy to talk to, but there are some that you can’t tell.
SHARON: I probably am a little bit more than I was in the beginning. You know, in the beginning I was very heated, I was very angry; I mean I went through some phases in the process myself.
TODD: Oh yeah, you went through a range of things and you evolved, that’s why I think somebody like you would be a very good victim’s advocate, because you could actually say, “Okay, I understand what you’re going through” and mean it, and I think you would be able to help filter the data back and forth between the family member, you’d know when they’re in a destructive phase, and I try to work with people and get them in a productive phase where, you know you can’t always bring everything back to them, but you can say, “This worked in this case, and this is something that you can do that won’t interfere with law enforcement.” Like getting the tattoo, getting data on the tattoo, that’s not going to be easy for you, but it’s something you need, so that responsibility is going to fall back to you to try to reconstruct this piece of data. I’m sure you’ll be able to do it.
SHARON: I’m honestly very pleased with the idea. It’s a new challenge and something that’s a little bit more positive than other things that I’ve had to look into.
TODD: Well, then it gives you something to do that’s something, you know, I could tell you to go home and knit a sweater, you know, there are just so many things that you can do but when you’re actually able to do something that you know is going to make a difference, and actually help build a case file because, believe it or not, everything that you find, even in the media, you’re helping build a case file, a profile of these 2 people, that it’s not today, maybe tomorrow. Maybe the officer that will be there tomorrow, maybe the volunteer, maybe the amateur might help bring you some type of resolution, so every bit of data you can pull together, is going to help…absolutely. Now, I’ve got to ask you a question, it’s not an easy one…do you think they’re alive?
SHARON: Oh no.
TODD: I mean, I know you’ve considered possibilities, both ways, but after 6 years…
SHARON: Well, I mean it didn’t even take me 6 years to decide that.
TODD: When did you come to that point, do you think?
SHARON: Well, honestly, in the pit of my stomach, the first day I got the call from law enforcement.
TODD: uh huh
SHARON: And, then again, when I went to the house myself, and then again, more and more as I looked into everything that had occurred, and I just kind of always knew it, but…um…I kind of always knew it.
TODD: But you can’t just stop at that, of course. Have you ever had a point where you…?
SHARON: We’ve exhausted all possibilities of what might have happened to them. You know, there’s no activity whatsoever on their social security numbers or anything like that. Could they be in some type of Witness Protection Program and all of those possibilities? I suppose, but I don’t really think that this situation runs that deep. I don’t believe that that’s the case. This ‘person of interest’ has made threats before about disposing of bodies and things like that, so, he’s bragged about being a Navy Seal and being able to pass lie detector tests and all that kind of stuff.
TODD: Has he had a lie detector test?
SHARON: He refused it. He’s actually the only person that the police talked to and that the police wanted to do a lie detector test with, who refused.
TODD: So there’s not enough evidence to force this then?
SHARON: No. Not at this point.
TODD: How do you feel about that?
SHARON: It bothers me. You know, again, I think that it was more a law enforcement issue than anything. I think that law enforcement messed things up at the beginning, and they know that, so it bothers me. It bothered me when I knew it was happening.
TODD: So do you feel like, more or less, do you think that there is any corruption involved in this?
SHARON: It has occurred to me before.
TODD: And that goes through everybody’s head, you know, I know that, but…actual involvement?
SHARON: Yeah, again, I’ve said that the candlelight vigil has brought some people out of the woodwork…
TODD: uh huh
SHARON: …we had a couple people contact us, and I can’t really go into detail about it because it’s being looked into at this point by law enforcement, but we did have people come out of the woodwork who made some allegations that made it seem as though there might have been some corruption involved.
TODD: Now, I’m saying a difference in corruption and really not knowing how to do it.
SHARON: I think there was a little bit of both of that actually. I think that some of the law enforcement agents were somehow friends or something with this ‘person of interest’ but, again, that’s not something that I can substantiate at this point.
TODD: That’s the problem with living in ‘Mayberry’, you know.
TODD: In small towns, it makes it hard because, here where I live, everybody is related to somebody, we’re all connected in so many way, you know, a lot of people never leave here. I’ve lived…I was born, lived, grew up and worked like in a 5-mile radius. Well, obviously, I’ve met everybody within that 5-mile radius at some point in time. We’re all connected in some way.
TODD: And loyalties…
SHARON: You know, I never realized how much until this case began to transpire, and then I realized, we really are…we really are all connected, very much.
TODD: So you have children?
SHARON: Yes I do. I have 2 daughters.
TODD: Are they involved in this?
SHARON: Well, my oldest daughter lives in the same town and was very, very close to her aunt Tina and to Bethany, like I said; the girls were all within each other’s age ranges. Connected? I would say, my oldest daughter has chosen not have everyone know that she is connected with the case, and my youngest daughter lives in Connecticut with me, so I think they’ve kind of, as much as possible, stayed away from the situation except for staying in connection with some of Bethany’s friends and things like that.
TODD: So, anybody…this is one of the harder parts of the show, do you think somebody out there knows something, besides the ‘person of interest’, that might be reluctant to give information?
TODD: Maybe, out of fear, or not wanting to be involved or just for what ever reason?
SHARON: I think there are a couple people who know things and are not giving it out, but out of fear.
TODD: Without naming them, which obviously you’re not going to, what would you want to say to those people now, if they’re listening?
SHARON: Well, I think that they’re in more danger by not giving up the information that would be required to obtain a conviction against this person than if…I mean, if they don’t give up the information, they are in more danger than they would be if they were able to obtain a conviction and put this person away so that he can’t harm anyone else. And, God forbid, something might happen to them or someone that they love, because this person is still walking free, then they will have to live with that blood on their hands as well.
TODD: Now, what about if…do you think there’s any possibility that Tina and Bethany could still be alive? Do you hold any hope left at all for them?
SHARON: I don’t.
TODD: Other than the Witness Protection Program?
SHARON: Yeah, I don’t. And you had asked me earlier about my mother, and you know I’ve talked to a couple of psychologists about this and I do know that there’s a thing that mothers, in particular, go through with soldiers who die at war and their bodies aren’t found, the mothers always, always think, 20 years later think that their sons are going to walk back through the door, especially at Christmastime, during holidays and things…my mother goes through that still. She still, every now and then, hits a time when she believes they’re still out there and they’re coming home, and we kind of have to just smooth things over for her until she starts grieving again, and…because she goes back and forth with it, which has got to be just devastating for her.
TODD: Like you said, you just can’t have closure until you actually know 100%. It’s just impossible. You can’t just put it aside and make a decision, and let it be that way. I want to thank you for being here tonight and I know it’s been hard, but I think we went through a lot of information and, hopefully, you got to say a lot of the things that you wanted to say.
SHARON: Yeah, thank you. I’m glad that you do this. This is a good forum, I think.
TODD: Well, I want to have you back again, and I tell all the quests that mostly, but I want people to come back when they’ve made progress and things to talk about and, hopefully, you can encourage other people…I know you’re going to encourage other people, you’ve got an incredible amount of strength and devotion to your sister and your niece, and I think it’s going to matter.
SHARON: Oh, absolutely.
TODD: If not, write me on the future, there’s…you know you’re making an impact on this case, whether you know it or not, whether you always feel like it or not, you have. I mean, we found you.
SHARON: That’s what I have to hold out hope about, so I do, I do hope so, and once there is some kind of resolution in this case, I think that the next duty that I have is to give other people hope, and that’s my full intention.
TODD: You are out there enough that we found you. So that was…you’re making progress. Well, we’ll let our guest go tonight. It was a pleasure having you here and I hope to talk to you again.
SHARON: Thank you very much…you will.
TODD: Thank you.
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