Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]
Welcome to Porchlight International for the Missing & Unidentified. We hope you enjoy your visit.

You're currently viewing our forum as a guest. This means you are limited to certain areas of the board and there are some features you can't use. If you join our community, you'll be able to access member-only sections, and use many member-only features such as customizing your profile, sending personal messages, and voting in polls. Registration is simple, fast, and completely free.

Join our community!

If you're already a member please log in to your account to access all of our features:

Username:   Password:
Add Reply
Shinn, Mary" BoBo", 1978, Arkansas
Topic Started: Jun 3 2006, 08:34 AM (2,453 Views)
Member Avatar
Heart of Gold
[ *  *  * ]
Posted Image

Arkansas Cold Case: Mary Jimmie "Bobo" Shinn
Friday February 18, 2005 11:33am Reporter: Michelle Rupp Posted By: Amanda Manatt

Magnolia, AR - This Arkansas Cold Case is nearly 30 years old and takes us to south Arkansas.

This case has proven very difficult to solve. No body or remains have ever been found, just a young woman who vanished without a trace. Channel 7's Michelle Rupp has more on the bizarre story of Bobo Shinn.

Mary Jimmie "Bobo" Shinn was a young, vibrant 25-year-old art instructor when she disappeared in the summer of 1978. She was going to look at property toward the edge of town.

When she didn't return that afternoon, sheer terror overcame her family. July 20, 1978, in the exhausting heat of another Arkansas summer, just outside of Magnolia, Bobo Shinn vanishes.

(Shinn’s mother) "Its still just unbelievable that it happened to our child. Someone else or you read about it in the paper, but to happened here in Magnolia, in the middle of the day and no one see anything, it’s hard to accept."

Bobo had remodeled a home and was looking to sell it. Police say she had only showed the house to another person, the day before she disappeared. Her car was the only clue found that afternoon. An extensive search ensued, but Bobo couldn't be found.

(Shinn’s mother) "do you ever lose hope? No, no never lose hope."

Corporal Mike Loe with state police has worked this case almost the entire 27 years.

(Mike Loe) "It's caused me a lot of sleepless nights. I've taken the case personal, maybe a little too personal from time to time because I knew Miss Shinn."

But what about a suspect? Bobo had a boyfriend at the time she disappeared -- a person who police say wasn't on their list. For Bobo's family, the constant waiting has almost been unbearable.

(Shinn’s mother) "I thought I couldn't go one night,let alone week after week, year after year, but that's the way its is and we've had to accept it."

Mrs. Shinn says her faith is what's gotten her through this nightmare.

(Shinn’s mother) "I have to admit I just pray she's with the Lord instead of all the things that could have happened to her and be happening to her...maybe the Lord doesn't want us to know what happened at the last."

It is said there's no such thing as a perfect crime. Police say they won't give up...even without a body or a crime scene.

(Shinn’s mother) "I still miss her so much. We all do, and it's hard to explain how I feel really."

If you have any information in the disappearance of Bobo

Shinn, you can call the Arkansas State Police at 870-777-8944 or the Columbia County Sheriff's office at 870-234-5331.

If you have a cold case you'd like the group to consider you can email us at coldcase @katv.com.

» Find More Articles Related To This One

Only after the last tree has been
cut down;
Only after the last fish has been
Only after the last river has been
Only then will you realize
that money cannot be eaten.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
The Old Heifer! An oxymoron, of course.
[ *  *  * ]
Great find, Ell! wondering if this "cold case" dept the reporter is talking about could be a conduit to getting some other stories told out there from Arkansas?

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
Heart of Gold
[ *  *  * ]
what i was wondering is if we contacted the sheriff's # listed if they could provide stats and a pic of mary??? The reporter may want to work with other articles of missing also..

Only after the last tree has been
cut down;
Only after the last fish has been
Only after the last river has been
Only then will you realize
that money cannot be eaten.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
The Old Heifer! An oxymoron, of course.
[ *  *  * ]
What the heck. let's try them both? anybody got a favorite Arkansas case to titillate the reporter with?

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
[ *  *  * ]
yup yup 81ufar! I just cant BELIEVE no one can recognize her! drives me nuts!
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
Advanced Member
[ *  *  * ]
Hi Ell:
Just found this on the site updates and there is a picture of Mary and more info.

Missing since July 20, 1978 from Magnolia, Columbia County, Arkansas
Classification: Endangered Missing

Age at Time of Disappearance: 25 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'6"; 118 lbs.
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Brown/black hair; brown eyes.
Marks, Scars: Scar on left cheek; discoloration on forehead.
Clothing: Unknown
Jewelry: Bobo was wearing several pieces of jewelry, including a one-of-a-kind, custom-designed gold necklace with three diamond pendants.
Dentals: Available
DNA: Available
AKA: Bobo

Mary Shinn was last seen on July 20, 1978 in Magnolia. She was going to look at property toward the edge of town. Bobo had remodeled a home and was looking to sell it. On July 19, 1978, Bobo received a call about the house. An unknown man expressed interest in seeing the property, and law enforcement investigators believe Bobo met him at approximately 16.00. that day for a showing. The man told Bobo he wanted to trade a parcel of land he claimed to own for the E. McNeil Street house - a claim that investigators later deemed false.

Her car was the only clue found, a blue 1976 Buick Special found unlocked and with the keys and Bobo's purse inside, in Smitty's grocery store parking lot, on the day of her disappearance. Bobo's tennis shoes were pushed under the gas and brake pedals. Her wallet was still in her purse but her address book was missing.

An extensive search ensued, but Bobo couldn't be found.
Bobo taught regular art classes at a small studio she owned on Magnolia Street.
Foul play is suspected.

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Agency Case Number: C3488678

Source Information:
The Banner News

there is a picture of Mary on PL U.S.A.and they are linked together.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
Advanced Member
[ *  *  * ]
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
Heart of Gold
[ *  *  * ]
Vanished: The Disappearance of Mary Jimmie 'Bobo' Shinn

By: Jamie Davis - -

Published: 05/04/2011

Photo From The Files of Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe THE SHOES: Bobo's shoes, seen above, were found under the brake and gas pedals in her car after her disappearance. Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, who has been investigating her case for more than 30 years, believes the position of the shoes indicates a "comfortable" relationship with the unknown individual in the car with her.

stop start <- prev next ->
JAMIE DAVIS Banner-News Editor “Come looking for me if I'm not back this afternoon.” Those were the last words of Mary Jimmie “Bobo” Shinn on July 20, 1978, to a friend just before she went to meet an unknown man who claimed to be interested in a house she had for sale on E. McNeil Street in Magnolia. Nearly 33 years later, Bobo's friends and family are still looking for her, and law enforcement agencies continue to follow leads in her case. Unfortunately, there aren't many left to follow. PART I: THE DISAPPEARANCE (published April 25, 2011) Bobo's first love, her friends say, was art, and she taught regular art classes at a small studio she owned on Magnolia Street. But though she adored art, she was the daughter of successful self-made hotelier Gresham Shinn, and she inherited her father's eye for real estate. With his help, she purchased in 1978 a small house on E. McNeil Street with plans to remodel and re-sell it.

More than 30 years later, law enforcement and private investigators who worked on her case agree that the events that led to Bobo's disappearance began with a simple classified ad to sell that house: “Beginner's Delight. Two bedroom house, completely remodeled. Good location.”

The ad ran in the Classified Section of the Banner-News for several days, and on Wed., July 19, 1978, Bobo received a call about the house. An unknown man expressed interest in seeing the property, and law enforcement investigators believe Bobo met him at approximately 4 p.m. that day for a showing.

Investigators further believe, in large part because of statements she allegedly made to friends and family, the man told Bobo he wanted to trade a parcel of land he claimed to own about nine miles south of Magnolia on the Taylor Highway for the E. McNeil Street house - a claim that investigators later deemed false.

But in witness statements taken in the days after her disappearance, Bobo's friends claimed she was interested in the man's offer - she was considering the man's property for her boyfriend, they said.

Unfortunately, Bobo never mentioned the man's name, nor did she discuss the possible transaction with her father, a trusted advisor on real estate matters, her mother, Sue Shinn, told investigators. Sue Shinn assumed, according to her statement, that Bobo had not considered the man a viable prospect.

“She didn't mention his name, and any other time, she probably would have,” Sue Shinn told the Banner-News on July 26, 1978. “She acted like she probably wouldn't see him again - like it was not a big prospect. If she thought it was important, she would have talked it over with her father.”

But nevertheless, on Thurs., July 20, 1978, after a full morning that included a walk with friends and an art class at her studio on Magnolia Street, at about 11 a.m., Bobo received yet another call from the unknown man.

He wanted to see the house again, she told a friend, but the problem was, his car was being worked on at Jordan Brothers Pontiac, then located on E. Main Street, and he needed to take a cab to the E. McNeil Street house.

On the night of Bobo's disappearance, her friend told investigators that she'd gotten those details during a phone conversation with Bobo at about 11:05 that morning.

“She said after answering the phone that she thought that I was the man who was supposed to be calling her. She said that it was to be a man who was looking at her house. I asked her to come to my house. She said that she would if the man didn't want to see the house right away. I hung up quickly, so that she could get her other call,” the friend stated. “About five minutes later, she called me back and told me that he had called and wanted to make a deal about trading houses.”

The friend said Bobo told her the man wanted to “give her his house plus some money.”

“She said that his house was nine miles out on the Taylor Highway. I asked her if she would want a house that far out since it would require so many trips in order to fix it up. She said she might want it for . . . her boyfriend,” her friend told investigators. “I think she told me that this man had offered to take a taxi to her studio because his car was in the Pontiac place. She stated she told him to walk across the street and she would meet him at the EZ Mart. She told me that she would be over to my house at 1:30 p.m. if she were through.”

Her friend added, “She never acted as if anything was unusual. She was rushing the conversation and acting as if she was getting ready to leave right away.”

It was then, the friend said, that Bobo made the chilling statement: “Come looking for me if I'm not back this afternoon.”

And in the almost 33 years since that statement was taken, investigators say only one fact in the case has remained constant: “She isn't here. She's still missing,” says Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, who retired in 2010 from the Arkansas State Police, and who has worked on Bobo's case since May 1979.

“(There's) just not enough to go on. There were no witnesses. Fingerprints (found in her car) have never been matched to anyone. If we got a lead, we checked it, but you know . . .” Loe says, trailing off. “We don't even have a crime scene.”

What investigators did have in 1978, Loe says, was Bobo's car - a blue 1976 Buick Special found unlocked and with the keys inside in Smitty's grocery store parking lot on the day of her disappearance - and the statements of several area residents who may have seen Bobo that day, but even those potential clues raised more questions than answers.

According to statements in Loe's case file, two employees of Smitty's Grocery Store, then located at the corner of Dudney and Main Streets, claimed to have seen Bobo's car in the grocery's parking lot at about 1 p.m. on the day she disappeared.

More than five hours later, the car was “officially” discovered by law enforcement, says Loe.

“There's a little bit of a dispute about (what time the car appeared),” he says. “It wasn't officially found until about 5 or 6 that evening. But they may very well have been right about it being in that parking lot by that time.”

The case file shows that the car was discovered because Bobo's mother, worried that her usually reliable daughter hadn't come home, had already begun looking for her. Sue Shinn began with Bobo's friends, and hearing that Bobo had mentioned that the mystery man's car was being worked on at Jordan Brothers, continued her search there.

An employee told investigators that Sue Shinn arrived at the dealership at approximately 6:15 p.m. and asked if he'd seen Bobo, and if there'd been any strange cars worked on that day. He responded that no unknown cars had come in, and suggested she try across the street at the EZ Mart, he told investigators.

“(Sue Shinn) left and went across the street to the EZ Mart,” he stated, adding that immediately after she left, he locked up for the night, and in a rare deviation from his usual route home, he drove past Smitty's - and saw Bobo's car, the same one she'd purchased at the dealership where he worked.

He stopped to investigate, he later told the police - he wanted to be sure it was Bobo's car, he said, so he opened the door and sat on the edge of the seat. He opened the center console, and after seeing some paperwork with Bobo's name on it, he got out and drove straight to the Shinn's house on Sue Street to tell her mother what he'd found.

Sue Shinn notified the authorities, and within minutes, Arkansas State Trooper Ron Stovall - now the Miller County Sheriff - and a Magnolia Police Department officer arrived on the scene.

Stovall contacted the investigator for Magnolia and Columbia County and the Arkansas State Police criminal investigator, Russell Welch, and the investigation began right there in Smitty's parking lot, he says.

“(An MPD officer) and I were the first there,” Stovall says, adding that his involvement in the case was “very brief.”

Brief or not, however, even 30 years later, Stovall remembers that night clearly, and one thing he specifically recalls is the message sent to officers by the interior of Bobo's car.

“There were things about that car that caused us to believe that she would not have left it like that,” Stovall says. “There were items that she would not have left voluntarily.”

But once again, there was a small problem: Those at the scene may have moved or touched items inside Bobo's car, Welch says. In fact, he adds, he even knows who moved at least one of those items - an MPD officer.

Bobo's denim purse had been emptied in the driver's side floorboard, Welch explains, leading investigators to immediately assume the case involved an abduction rather than a missing person. The purse didn't change the way investigators pursued the case, Welch adds, but rather gave an incorrect first impression to those trying to determine the events of that afternoon.

“Immediately, some people conjectured that there was a struggle. I tried not to read too much into that and just see what happened later, but we went with that, thinking there had been a struggle,” Welch says. “She wouldn't drive around with her purse scattered out like that, so something had to happen to get the contents scattered out.”

It wasn't until two weeks after Bobo disappeared, Welch claims, that the officer admitting to dumping Bobo's purse in his haste to find some clue as to her whereabouts.

“Just out of nowhere, he says that he's the one who knocked her purse over when he was checking the car,” Welch says. “It didn't lead us off into any wrong directions, but it did cause our thinking to go into areas that were just wasting time.”

He adds, “I don't know if he was afraid he'd get in trouble, but he should've just said, 'Hey, I dumped the purse out because I wanted to see what was going on,' and that would've been perfectly reasonable. But he didn't.”

Loe, however, is cautious to not point the finger of blame at any investigator at the scene that night, and says only that all officers who were there officially denied having moved anything in Bobo's car.

Loe acknowledges, however, the Jordan Bros. employee's observation in his statement that he “did not notice anything” out of the ordinary while he was in Bobo's car on the night of her disappearance.

“We just don't know,” Loe says.

Thus, investigators are left with only the official photos taken of the car's interior and exterior after the arrival of Welch. Those photos show several things: A copy of 'The Thornbirds” and a pair of women's sunglasses on the front passenger's seat; Bobo's navy blue purse, contents scattered in the driver's side floor; Bobo's tennis shoes pushed under the gas and brake pedals; numerous grass and seed fragments in the floorboards; and several deep scratches in the paint on the rear left fender of her car.

According to Loe, some of those clues are quite telling. For one, her wallet - complete with a small amount of cash inside - was not missing, but her address book was, he says.

“He took it because his name was in there,” Loe believes.

The grass and seed fragments also tell a story, he says.

“The vehicle had been driven across a hay meadow because the belly pan was wiped clean, and the doors had been opened, and when they closed the doors, it snapped some of the grass off,” Loe says, adding that the car may have been driven in a wooded area as well, which would explain the scratches in the paint.

But perhaps the biggest tale told by any of the few clues in Bobo's car is that of her tennis shoes, says Loe.

“She had slipped them off,” he says, holding Bobo's white canvas tennis shoes in his hands. “These shoes were found kind of up under the brake and accelerator. A lot of girls will be driving along and take one toe and reach over and kick their shoes off and drive in their bare feet or socks. That's how these shoes were. She felt relatively comfortable with the person in the car with her.”

And whoever drove Bobo's car to Smitty's parking lot did so with Bobo's shoes beneath his feet, Loe believes.

“Then he just walked off,” he says, shrugging. “Just walked away.”

PART II: THE SEARCH FOR THE BEARDED MAN (published April 26, 2011)

When Mary Jimmie “Bobo” Shinn disappeared on July 20, 1978, she left only her car behind. The blue 1976 Buick, found unlocked and with the keys in the ignition, was left parked adjacent to Smitty's Grocery Store at the corner of Dudney and Main Streets - the contents of her purse had been scattered in the driver's side floor, and her sneakers were underneath the gas and brake pedals.

“They processed that car,” says Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, who has worked the case since May 1979 after being assigned to it when lead Arkansas State Police Investigator Russell Welch was transferred to another division. “I mean, they tried hard.”

According to evidence in Loe's case file on Bobo's disappearance, investigators spent hours vacuuming particles from the vehicle's carpet and upholstery and dusting for fingerprints and looking for remnants of DNA. In the end, what they found was little help, Loe says.

And in Loe's case file is the proof: page after page of negative results from tests performed by the Arkansas State Crime Lab. The most promising discoveries - hairs found in the car and three partial fingerprints found on the left door glass and the rearview mirror - were tested and are thought to be Bobo's.

“These are the latent impressions that came off her car,” he says, holding them up to the light. “They tell us that they're female, about 90 percent sure that they're female. We think they're Bobo's, but she was never fingerprinted, so we have no way of knowing for sure.”

But still, investigators tried, he says, pointing to notes in the case file about items submitted by Bobo's family that were believed to have been used only by her. The goal, he says, was to try to match the prints to prove whether or not those found in the car belonged to Bobo. Unfortunately, those tests, like the ones before them, revealed little.

And while those tests were conducted, investigators took to the streets, questioning anyone who may have seen Bobo or her vehicle on July 20, 1978. One day after her disappearance, they found a carpenter who'd been working on a house across the street from Bobo's E. McNeil Street property the day before.

Yes, he told investigators - he had seen Bobo with a man that day at about 11 a.m.

Investigators wrote in the case file, “He stated that at approximately 11 a.m., he observed what he recalled as a blue automobile pull up in front of the Shinn house. He placed the time at approximately 11 a.m., but stated the time range could be from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. on July 20, 1978.”

The carpenter, noting that his position was about 75 feet from Bobo's property, stated that he recalled the blue vehicle, occupied by a female he later identified as Bobo, “came from the east off Smith Street, and another vehicle arrived from the west.

“He stated that this car arrived at about the same time as the blue vehicle, but shortly thereafter. He stated he observed an individual go into the house carrying what he described as a notebook or pad. He could not recall how the female was dressed,” investigators wrote in the case file. “He stated he recalled that a white male individual got out of the other automobile and went with the girl into the house. They stayed in the house for approximately 15 minutes, came out of the house, got into their respective vehicles and left, proceeding in the same direction down McNeil Street.”

The carpenter described the man as being 25-28 years of age; 6'1” or 6'2” tall; 215-225 lbs.; heavy and “fairly wide across the shoulders”; with dark brown collar-length hair and a medium-length beard with moustache; and wearing a “baseball-type mesh cap.”

The man was driving a Pontiac, “dark green in color with lighter green vinyl top, and possibly 1969 to 1970, or possibly a 1972 Bonneville, Catalina or heavier model Pontiac,” the carpenter said.

According to Jay Shinn, Bobo's younger brother, several other descriptions - “as many as three or four,” he says - were also mentioned in the early days of the investigation, but only that description was relayed to a police sketch artist.

It's a moment Welch remembers well.

“That one, I really did not have anything to do with. My supervisor would come in and do stuff and not do reports on it, and I remember one day, we had a guy that did composite drawings that had shown up for some reason, and I asked my lieutenant what was going on. He said, 'Don't worry about it,' and later on, I see a composite of this guy,” Welch recalls.

On July 29, 1978, that composite was distributed to the media, and from that moment, the search was on, says Loe, for men and cars matching that description.

Unfortunately, he says, in Columbia County in 1978, there were more than a few men with beards, and investigators interviewed as many of them as they could find.

Roadblocks were conducted, and bearded men received special attention. In room-to-room visits at local hotels, they were questioned thoroughly, and according to some local residents, the rumor spread that “if you don't want to be questioned, you better shave your beard.”

More than 30 years later, Loe, who was not involved in the investigation until almost one year after Bobo's disappearance, believes investigators may have been chasing a bad lead.

He notes that the carpenter claimed to have seen Bobo arrive in her car, and the suspect in a green car. But those details don't match with Bobo's statement to her friends that she planned to pick up the man in her car while his was being worked on, nor do they match with the statements of witnesses who saw the man get into Bobo's car at EZ Mart, he says.

One of those witnesses was the Jordan Bros. employee, who told investigators, “Sometime around the middle of the day on Thursday, July 20, 1978, . . . I just happened to notice a man standing by the telephone outside of the EZ Mart across the street. A car pulled up to him, which looked just like Bobo's car.”

He described the man he saw get into Bobo's car as about 25-30 years old, but he noticed nothing else of interest about the man, he said.

“I did not notice clothing or hair features,” he told investigators.

But there's another problem with the carpenter's statement, Loe says.

“(The carpenter) was up on the roof, across the street, and he wore glasses this thick,” he says, holding his fingers a few inches apart. “And there was a guy that lived down the street, worked as a welder, wore one of those funny little hats, had a beard and drove a green car. And he came home for his lunch break that day about 11:30 a.m.”

Although the carpenter, when shown photos of the neighbor and his car, denied that the neighbor was the man he saw, Welch and Loe believe otherwise.

“The bearded man was a mistake, just a flat mistake,” Welch says. “It doesn't mean that whoever did this to Bobo didn't have a beard, but the way that came about - it was just an error.”

“I remember the day I realized it was a mistake. We were looking for the green car and the bearded guy in it, and one day I'm out there talking to (the carpenter) across the street from the house she had for sale, and I glance down the street. And there's the car we're looking for and there's the bearded man in the yard next to it. That had to be it. The guy made a mistake somehow. I just don't know how,” Welch continues.

He adds that investigators compiled a list of all cars in the area that matched the description given by the carpenter, and says, “There just weren't that many of them.”

“The odds of one being two houses down were just really too much to be a coincidence. And it wasn't panning out. It just created a flood of bad information. That's always a problem when you start putting composites out there. Composites weren't made to identify people; they were made to rule people out. And we were aware at the time that we were going to be deluged by leads, and we were. And we had to check every one of them out,” Welch adds.

What's more credible than the carpenter's description, says Loe, is a statement from the then-young daughter of the EZ Mart manager. The day after Bobo's disappearance, the girl told investigators that at about 11 a.m. on July 20, 1978, an unknown man came into the store and asked for change - “a quarter,” she said - to make a phone call. The man talked on the payphone for about five minutes, she said, describing him as “a white male, in his mid-twenties, approximately 5'8”, weighing approximately 185-200 lbs.” The youth said also that he had dark, naturally curly hair, and was “heavy-built and slightly overweight.”

“She states that the suspect was dressed in a white shirt, possibly a T-shirt, and faded blue jeans. She states that the only unusual thing about the suspect that she noticed was that he walked lazy-like,” investigators noted.

That man is the one Loe is interested in, he says.

“I think that's the man we're looking for, not this guy,” he says, pointing at a sketch artist's rendering of the carpenter's description.

And there's another witness statement that Loe takes seriously, though the man who gave it has since passed away. Two days after Bobo disappeared, on July 22, 1978, Henry Erwin, then the Columbia County Assessor, saw a photo of Bobo's car in the Banner-News and called authorities.

He told them he was baling hay at about 12:05 p.m., July 20, on a gravel road just west of Highway 132 when he saw a blue car pass by on Columbia 32 with a male and female inside it. They appeared to be struggling, he told investigators, adding that the “vehicle was going from side to side of the road, traveling at approximately 10-20 miles per hour.”

Although Welch was not the investigator who took Erwin's statement, he remembers the information well.

“That was an area of interest for a long time,” Welch says, and according to Loe, it still is.

“Harry went to his grave thinking he'd seen the abduction taking place, and he may have. Whether he did or he didn't, we don't know. It was hot, and he had his equipment to keep an eye on. That old farm equipment, it'll buck you if you're not careful. So whether he saw it or not, we'll never know. But he very well could have,” Loe says. “And that does put it in a direction that interests us now.”

But in the summer of 1978, investigators focused on the search for a bearded man with a green car, and on Aug. 18, 1978, state police investigators conducting aerial searches of the county believed they might have found the missing piece of the puzzle when they spotted a green car in the woods south of Magnolia.

ASP Investigator Lt. Finis Duvall, now deceased, took control of the scene when he arrived, and fearing that the vehicle was the one allegedly used in Bobo's disappearance, he proceeded to pry open the trunk to search for any sign that Bobo may have been in the car.

Duvall's actions led to a local dispute that wound up before the Columbia County Quorum Court later that autumn after it came to light that the car, registered to Bill Holmes, of Magnolia, had been reported stolen two weeks after Bobo's disappearance. Holmes took the matter before the Quorum Court, protesting, “Are they going to tear up every green car they see?”

But by that point, Bobo's disappearance had the county in a fearful frenzy. When two young girls ran away from home in late August 1978, investigators and residents began immediate searches, believing at first that their disappearance may have something to do with Bobo's, according to comments made by then-Sheriff Gordon Hunter to the Banner-News.

In the meantime, witnesses, friends and family members agreed to undergo polygraph tests, and others were hypnotized in the hopes that they might remember something, anything, that would help investigators. Welch well remembers the polygraph examinations given in relationship to Bobo's disappearance, but acknowledges that even then, investigators knew any evidence gathered in such a manner would not be admissible in court.

According to then-prosecuting attorney Mike Kinard, however, law enforcement was growing desperate for leads - even those that came from psychics.

“I was one of those in favor of bringing in psychics,” he adds.

But at that point, Welch says, investigators were willing to try anything, and by then, so was Bobo's family, which announced a special 'hot-line' to accept tips and a $25,000 reward for any information - and all to no avail.

Making matters worse was the fact that the media had, early on, incorrectly labeled Bobo a realtor. After that, says Loe, every time a realtor was killed anywhere in the country, he got a call and had to spend valuable time and resources ruling out the possibility.

Those callers included the investigators handling the Robert Zani murders in Texas and Oklahoma, Loe says, explaining that Zani was a psychopath who terrorized realtors, both male and female, in Texas in the late 1970s and in Oklahoma, killed his own mother, whose body was never found.

That lead, like so many others before and after it, trickled to nothing when Loe could find no evidence that Zani had been anywhere near Magnolia in July 1978.

Adding to investigators' frustrations were the various “crazy people” who confessed to Bobo's abduction, Loe says, including a female who, in the early 1980s, confessed to participation in various crimes in the South. Bettye Middleton, in April 1980, waived extradition to Columbia County to be questioned about her claim that she was an accomplice in Bobo's case.

“The information that she gave indicated she had knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Miss Shinn,” then-Prosecuting Attorney Mike Kinard told the Banner-News on April 26, 1980, adding that investigators had spent more than a week contacting over 200 people and searching various areas while checking out Middleton's claim. “This is the typical situation where we had to either prove or disprove her statement.”

Thirty years later, Kinard well remembers Middleton's confession - it was quite convincing, he says, but ultimately, investigators determined it was a false confession based on newspaper articles about Bobo's disappearance found in her home in Shreveport, La. He adds that Middleton's story about accompanying her boyfriend on a trip to Arizona where they buried Bobo yielded no return - Bobo was not found in the area where Middleton claimed she'd been buried, and investigators were unable to prove that Middleton ever had a boyfriend, Kinard says.

In addition to Middleton, also waiting to be proved or disproved at that time, Loe says, were the 'steak and shake' confessions - so called because they're commonly used by inmates to get special favors behind bars - of prisoners like Henry Lee Lucas, who with his partner in crime Ottis Tidwell, is credited with dozens of murders across the U.S.

Lucas, facing the death penalty, enjoyed confessing to various crimes in order to get certain treats, and in Loe's case file are half a dozen video recordings of interviews he conducted with Lucas, trying to determine whether or not the serial killer was lying about his involvement in Bobo's disappearance.

As in the Zani case, Loe was unable to find any verification that Lucas was in or near Arkansas when Bobo disappeared, and by October 1979, law enforcement investigators were no closer to solving the case than they were when they started.

Continued in next post

Only after the last tree has been
cut down;
Only after the last fish has been
Only after the last river has been
Only then will you realize
that money cannot be eaten.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
Heart of Gold
[ *  *  * ]
PART III: THE PRIVATE EYES (published April 27, 2011)

When Mary Jimmie “Bobo” Shinn disappeared on July 20, 1978, after showing a house to an unknown man who claimed to be an interested buyer, investigators exhausted every possible lead - the largest of which was a suspect's description given by a carpenter who'd been working across the street from that house - in trying to determine what had happened to her.

Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, who has been investigating Bobo's disappearance since May 1979, is considered the current expert on her case - “Every time something new came up, they called me because nobody else knew anything about it,” Loe says - and for more than 30 years, he has been the caretaker of the sparse evidence collected by investigators in the early days of the investigation.

Deep within the confines of the sheriff's office evidence room, in a small dented black file cabinet and in several cardboard boxes, are dozens of witness statements, photos, crime lab results and items taken from Bobo's car, which was allegedly first spotted at about 1 p.m. on the day of her disappearance in the parking lot of Smitty's Grocery, then located on E. Main Street.

The evidence compiled in Bobo's case was collected by several sources, county and city law enforcement investigators, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Arkansas State Police among them.

But by August 1978, those investigators were publicly stating that the case was at a “standstill,” and by October, the ASP had reduced the number of investigators working on the case from six to just one: Russell Welch.

Today, Welch says that although he had already begun working on other cases, “There were none more pressing than Bobo.”

Still, in an interview with the Banner-News on Oct. 4, 1978, Welch noted that more than 300 leads received in the case by that point had led nowhere, and said only that he was still “looking for something new to go on.”

And so was Gresham Shinn, Bobo's father. Shinn, who had become a daily visitor to the City-County Investigator's Office, told the Banner-News in the same article, “(Law enforcement) are real quiet on it now.”

He added, “We believe she will be coming home one of these days.”

But by that time, the family had long since begun its own investigation - a decision that initiated a parade of high profile private investigators through Columbia County.

That parade began just days after Bobo's disappearance with the arrival of Bill Gray, a Louisiana private investigator. It was Gray who announced, on July 31, 1978, a second reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest(s) of those responsible.

A week later, Gray told the media that calls to the tip line created by the Shinn family had dropped from more than 100 per day to just 10 - 15. He said also that he believed “there was too much planning involved” in the incident for it to have been the work of a “pervert.”

“A pervert does not act like that. It is a spontaneous thing. They don't care who they grab,” he said in an Aug. 9, 1978, interview.

Thirty years later, Loe agrees with that statement.

“It's entirely possible that this guy didn't intend for it to go the way it did. Maybe he just wanted to get to know her and came up with this ruse to make it happen and things got out of hand. But this thing was far too planned for it to have been random,” Loe says.

But in 1978, neither Gray nor the second reward produced any new leads, and it wasn't long until he was replaced by Dallas, Texas, private investigator Joe Daniel 'Smokey Joe' Smith, a notorious P.I. whose checkered career included the titles of bail bondsman, deputy constable, political candidate and, much later, felon.

Once again, no new leads were producted, and by October 1979, Smith had been replaced with Dallas, Texas, private investigator William C. Dear.

Dear, whose solved cases include the disappearance of teenage genius James Dallas Egbert III in the early 1980s, arrived in Columbia County amid a media entourage and a flurry of headlines - and promptly found himself facing a situation different than those he usually encountered in his investigations, he says.

Dear, now in his 70s and still working as a private eye for hire from his office near Waco, Texas, says, “Magnolia was different. It was, and is, a very private, closed little town.”

And what Dear found when he set up shop in the Coachman's Inn, a Shinn-built hotel in Magnolia, was that his usual tricks for recovering information didn't work.

“Usually, you go into small towns like that, offer money, and people will talk. I've been known to cut money in half and say, 'You'll get the rest when (the information) checks out.' I'll have Scotch tape for them when it does. And in the 1970s in Magnolia, $25,000 was a lot of money,” he says. “But in Magnolia, the money didn't work.”

Adding to the difficulty of Dear's investigation, he claims, was that local law enforcement refused to work with his team. For an investigator who typically has had positive relationships with law enforcement - “I've been inducted into the National Policeman's Hall of Fame,” Dear points out - the 'cold shoulder' was unexpected, he says.

“People would talk to me, and I'd go back to talk to them again, and they'd say, 'I was told not to talk to you,'” he alleges, and although he is hesitant to name them on the record, he claims, as he did in 1979, that it was local investigators who advised witnesses not to discuss the case with him.

“They'd follow me around, see who I was talking to, and tell them not to talk to me. I think they knew people would tell me things they weren't likely to tell the police, and they were afraid I would solve it before they did.”

Loe, who well remembers Dear's entrance into the case, denies those claims, saying only, “We didn't tell anybody not to talk to him. He came in, did his thing, we did our thing, and that's about it.”

But in spite of the alleged lack of cooperation, says Dear, his investigation was ultimately successful: Within a month of his arrival in Columbia County, he had a viable suspect, he claims.

That suspect, unfortunately, was already deceased: Michael G. Morse, 27, of Stamps, committed suicide on Oct. 15, 1978, in the woods of Lafayette County near some family-owned property.

In Dear's 30-plus year old case file are multiple statements from witnesses who said Morse matched the description given by the carpenter, and a statement from Morse's employer indicating that Morse had taken July 20, 1978, off work “so he could meet with a real estate agent in Magnolia.”

Adding to the evidence, says Dear, is the fact that Morse was schizophrenic and “believed he was Jesus Christ,” and that he was not only under the care of an El Dorado psychiatrist, he was also taking anti-psychotic medication.

Further substantiating Morse's involvement, says Dear, is that more than one witness contacted by his investigators claimed Morse had made reference to having information about Bobo's disappearance.

But perhaps the most interesting statement taken by Dear's team is that of the carpenter who provided the description that kept authorities focused on the search for the bearded man in the early days of the investigation.

When Dear's team showed the carpenter a photo of Morse, the carpenter identified him as the man he'd seen with Bobo on the day of her disappearance.

In his written statement to Dear's investigators, dated Nov. 20, 1979, the carpenter wrote, “On Nov. 12, 1979, I was shown several photographs of different male subjects by William C. Dear and Associates, of Dallas, Texas . . . At this time, I voluntarily state that I have positively without a doubt identified a photograph of one Michael G. Morse as being the male subject I saw with Miss Shinn in the 700 block of E. McNeil Street in Magnolia, Ark., at about 11:30 a.m. on July 20, 1978.”

Loe, however, points out that the statement was taken more than a year after Bobo disappeared.

“Could you identify somebody you saw for just a few minutes 16 months before, especially if it was somebody you didn't know?” Loe asked. “No, you probably couldn't.”

And retired ASP Investigator Russell Welch, the first investigator assigned to Bobo's case, also finds it near impossible to believe that the carpenter was able to identify Morse after more than year.

“I don't find that credible,” says Welch, adding that he “was there when all that confusion (about Morse) started.”

Further, Loe says, a photo line-up is a tricky tool that requires careful use.

“When doing a photo line-up, you lay the photos out, and if you keep looking at one, or touching one, or signaling to one in some way or another, your witness will, too,” he explains. “And what other photos did he use? Did the other people in the pictures match the suspect's description? You can't put four pictures of clean-shaven guys in, and one picture of a bearded guy. You can't do that. And I don't know what kind of line-up he conducted.”

Regardless, more than 30 years since those statements were taken, Dear remains convinced that Morse was the culprit in Bobo's disappearance - he believes he may even know where Bobo's body was buried.

He points out that Morse was allegedly building a church in the woods near where he was later found dead, and says, “That's where I think she is - buried somewhere around his church.”

But in 1979, Dear's theory about Morse's involvement found few supporters in Columbia County. Then-prosecuting attorney Mike Kinard discredited Dear's evidence, telling the Banner-News on Dec. 12, 1980, that after a meeting with Bobo's father in which Dear's files were discussed, he had decided not to subpoena Dear's files.

“At this point in time, there has been no evidence presented that any crime was committed, period,” Kinard said in that article.

Thirty years later, it's a comment that Kinard stands by.

“I don't remember what exactly was said back then about evidence, except that we didn't have any,” Kinard says. “It was a theory.”

Furthermore, Kinard explains, it was a theory that could not have been prosecuted in court.

“You can't prosecute a case without the essentials, which are number one, you must prove a crime was committed, and number two, you must prove that a person who is charged committed that crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” he says. “You have to have something more than conjecture and accusations.”

“Everybody that we could identify that had any kind of connection with Bobo Shinn or her family was a suspect,” Kinard adds. “We didn't ignore anybody as a suspect, but at the same time, you had no evidence of a crime other than the location of the automobile . . . with her shoes (inside it). We just didn't have anything else to go on.”

“We had meetings on a daily basis with everybody that was involved in the investigation, and I'm certain that I met with Bill Dear privately, and if I ever did anything other than tell Bill Dear, 'You bring me some evidence and we will follow it,' then I'm surprised because that was my attitude,” Kinard continues. “We wanted to find something. The Michael Morse thing - that was investigated. My conclusion at the time was that it was a theory, but not supported by any evidence.”

And Loe, who was among the ASP investigators assigned to check out Morse as a possible suspect after Dear's allegations were made public through the media, maintains today that nothing substantial was ever found to prove that Morse was involved.

But muddying the water in late 1979 was some discrepancy among public officials as to how thoroughly Morse was investigated prior to his suicide.

Welch, the first investigator assigned to the case who was by that time working as a state trooper in Mena, told the Banner-News on Dec. 12, 1979, that he'd spoken to Morse, but not in relation to Bobo's disappearance.

The conversation, Welch said, might have been about a “vicious phone call Morse made to Gresham Shinn because he was bothered by the investigators looking into Miss Shinn's disappearance.”

Welch told the Banner-News in 1979 that he was only one of six state police investigators working on Bobo's case in its first year, and that although he'd never personally interviewed Morse about the disappearance, the other investigators had.

“We all talked about everything in the case at length every night, and we did not have enough to continue on Morse at that time,” Welch said then, adding that Morse was questioned because of an anonymous tip that he matched the suspect's description given by the carpenter.

Welch also said he recalled Morse having had an alibi, and although he didn't remember what that alibi was, he was adamant that Morse was not a viable suspect in Bobo's disappearance.

Nearly 33 years later, Welch no longer recalls having a conversation with Morse, nor does he remember what other investigators discovered in their interviews with Morse.

“I believe it was Finis Duvall who did the interview with Morse,” Welch says. “I remember riding around in the car with Duvall and somebody else, and they were talking about that. There were some issues with the Morse angle, though I don't remember what all they were.”

But by 1979, the pressure on investigators to solve the case - even if it meant officially naming Morse as a suspect - was growing, and Loe, in a Dec. 12, 1979, Banner-News article was quoted as saying, “This thing has gotten political, and I don't have anything to say about it.”

Thirty-two years later, Loe recalls making that statement and explains, “The Shinns were a successful, well-respected family, and they had a lot of friends. There was a lot of pressure to get this thing solved. A lot of pressure.”

Adding to that pressure was the barrage of phone calls from various media outlets, each of which wanted details on why Morse was not pursued as a suspect - phone calls that were inspired by Dear's claims to the media that the culprit had been found, Loe says.

“And that's probably the only thing I'll say about it. If he had a real, viable suspect, why not bring it to law enforcement? Why not take it to the prosecuting attorney? He took it to the media,” Loe adds.

But the amount of media and political pressure on the case is at least one point on which both Loe and Dear - who gave a 1979 interview in which he referred to the case as “a game of political football” - agree.

Adding to the pressure was that even more than a year after she disappeared, everyone wanted to be the hero who brought Bobo home, Dear says.

“Everyone wanted it solved,” Dear says, “Not the least of whom was me. Bobo, from what I found out about her, was a nice girl, a good girl, and she didn't deserve what happened to her. We all wanted to find her and give the family closure.”

For Dear, that closure came with Morse, and although Loe is doubtful, there was at least one person in 1979 who wasn't: Sammy Tatom, who was later named the State Department of Public Safety Director by his cousin, then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

Even now, Dear says he can vividly recall “going down the back stairs of the sheriff's office (in Lafayette County) to the interrogation room to question witnesses.”

“I'll never forget it,” he says, adding, “I liked Sammy then.”

It was Tatom, son of Lafayette County Sheriff Wade Tatom, who was at Dear's side during a turning point in the private eye's investigation: The exhumation, on Nov. 20 1979, of Morse's father, Dewey Morse, who passed away a few weeks prior to Bobo's disappearance.

At the time, Dear's official claim was that a psychic had advised him that Morse had killed Bobo and buried her on top of his father's casket. Three decades later, however, Dear says that while that statement was accurate - “A psychic did give us some information along that line,” he says - he claims the information was actually provided by a nurse who said she'd overheard Morse say that to his El Dorado psychiatrist.

“She didn't want to be exposed. That's something you'll see a lot in those statements,” he says, gesturing to the large silver trunk that contains his case file. “Lots of people who didn't want anyone to know they were talking to us.”

Dear says he told law enforcement that a psychic provided the tip in order to protect the nurse's identity - a statement confirmed by Loe.

“It was a psychic that told him Bobo was in Morse's father's grave,” Loe says, adding, “We didn't even know about the exhumation until they got back from it. We weren't invited.”

According to Dear, however, at least five law enforcement investigators were present when Morse's father's grave was exhumed, although he declines to identify those officers on the record.

But regardless of who was there and who wasn't, the grave was exhumed with the permission of the Morse family, and nothing was found.

The exhumation did, however, inspire a lawsuit less than a month later. The widow of Michael Morse, Norma Morse, and his mother, Corryne Morse, filed the $2 million suit in Columbia County in December 1979 against Dear and Tatom for emotional duress and invasion of privacy for naming Morse as a suspect in Bobo's disappearance.

In April 1980, Corryne Morse was killed in an automobile accident in Columbia County, and the damages were reduced to $1 million. And just before the trial began that summer, Sammy Tatom was dismissed from the suit, leaving Dear the lone defendant. And still, the Shinn family continued to support him, he says.

“They stuck by me, right through to the end,” Dear says.

And in the end, so did the jury, which returned a verdict in his favor. Dear took that verdict and left Columbia County, but the case didn't end for him, he says. For several years afterward, he received letters and phone calls about Bobo's disappearance, and he dutifully tucked those tidbits into his case file where they remain today - yellowing with age and waiting for the day they might be needed.

When that day comes, Dear believes investigators might discover what he claims to have known all along: That Morse was involved in Bobo's disappearance.

“I'm sure,” he says, nodding emphatically when asked if he is certain Morse is the culprit. “Look at all that. If you were a cop, and you saw all those (statements), what other conclusion would you draw?”

But according to Jay Shinn, Bobo's brother, no conclusions can be drawn, period. The case, he says, is still very much open.

“We feel the case is not solved, and we will continue to investigate any lead we get on it,” Jay Shinn says.

And for Loe, Dear's conclusion is, in reality, just one more theory that can't be proven.

“What he's got is a theory, and there are a thousand theories when it comes to this case. hell, I've got a theory,” Loe says. “Can I say, 'No, Michael Morse did not do it'? No, I'd be a fool if I said that. But do I doubt it? Yeah, I do. But I can't say for sure. Nobody can.”

But viable suspect or not, for all practical purposes, when Dear departed Columbia County, the parade of high profile private eyes came to an end.

The investigation, however, did not

Continued next post

Only after the last tree has been
cut down;
Only after the last fish has been
Only after the last river has been
Only then will you realize
that money cannot be eaten.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
Heart of Gold
[ *  *  * ]
Part IV: DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH (published April 27, 2011)

Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe sits at a long table in a back room of the sheriff's department. On the table before him are a pair of white sneakers, size eight, and a ladies' denim purse, complete with a cherry red wallet with a snap-clasp. They are among the few pieces of evidence in a case that's haunted him for more than three decades: the disappearance of Mary Jimmie 'Bobo' Shinn.

Assigned to the case in May 1979, Loe, formerly an Arkansas State Police investigator, has spent the years since chasing leads across the United States, never giving up on the idea that one day, he will be able to bring closure to her surviving family.

It's not been an easy mission, he says, and over the years, he and other investigators have dug up numerous sites in and around Columbia County. The most recent of those digs was just a few weeks ago in neighboring Lafayette County, he says.

That expedition, like those before it, was unsuccessful, but with another dig planned in the near future - this one at a well in an undisclosed location - Loe remains optimistic.

“It's just a shot in the dark. It's always been a shot in the dark,” he says. “But we have some information we are hoping might turn out to be something. So I'm hopeful.”

Hope is a word Bobo's family knows well, says her brother, Jay Shinn.

Even after almost 33 years, the family continues to hope that the case will be brought to a resolution, that some new information will be found that will answer three decades' worth of questions, he says.

“We are particularly grateful to Mike Loe for continuing to work on this case for so many years,” Jay Shinn says. “We are deeply appreciative of his efforts to bring a resolution to it and to check out any information.”

It's a sentiment echoed by retired Arkansas State Police Investigator Russell Welch, one of the first ASP investigators to work on the case, who describes Loe as a top-notch investigator with an eye for details.

“I felt good that Mike was the one to take (the case) up, and that if I'd made a mistake, he'd catch it, and there were a lot of people there who could've made mistakes,” Welch says, adding that Loe has contacted him on multiple occasions over the past few decades about new information in the case.

But when it comes to information about Bobo's case, Loe says, one thing has always surprised him: that so much time has passed, and so little new information has surfaced.

“Usually, you'll have an ex-wife, or a girlfriend, or a kid, or a friend who'll come in and say they heard so-and-so say something about a crime,” Loe explains. “You'll have somebody in jail, and their cellmate will confess something to them, and they'll trade that information for stuff like cigarettes or radios. More crimes get solved through jailhouse confessions than any other way. That's almost always how it works - somebody talks.”

“And if two people know, we're fixing to solve the thing because sooner or later, one of them will confide in somebody, or drink too much and let something slip, or cut a deal to save themselves (in another criminal case).”

Unfortunately, he says, it hasn't happened that way in Bobo's case.

“We haven't had any of that. Nobody has talked. Whoever did this, he didn't tell a soul,” says Loe. “And he was incredibly lucky because apparently nobody really saw him, and law enforcement didn't have a lot to go on.”

“You know that old saying about looking for a needle in a haystack? We're still looking for the haystack. If we can find the haystack, then we can start looking for the needle,” he adds.

For Mike Kinard, the former prosecuting attorney, Bobo's case remains “a tragic disappointment” in his career.

“It constituted a tragic event . . . I prosecuted from 1966 until 1980, and I can't think right now of another case that was as tragic and disappointing as the Bobo Shinn case because we could not ever develop any reasonable grounds to believe that a crime had been committed other than her disappearance. It just doesn't happen. You normally find something that shows what happened. You find the body, and it's been the subject of a criminal act. We never found Bobo Shinn,” Kinard says. “It's tragic.”

“Fortunately,” he adds, “the statute of limitations never runs out on a murder, assuming that's what happened.”

That's why investigators still actively seek and pursue any new leads in Bobo's disappearance, Loe says, and Ron Stovall, the former Arkansas State Trooper who was the first to arrive at the scene of Bobo's car on the night she disappeared, agrees that somewhere, information exists that may help solve the case.

“This is a wonderful family, and we always hated that there was no closure for them,” Stovall, now the Miller County Sheriff, says. “The case has to be resurrected to keep it on people's minds, to keep the interest up, in hopes that someone will come forward with that new information.”

And according to Loe, any and all new information, even if the individual providing it thinks it might not be relevant, is welcome.

“You just never know what might pan out,” Loe says as he flips through an aged binder of yellowed witness statements. “You just never know.”

And now, with his remaining years in law enforcement numbered, Loe says, he is particularly anxious to close the books on Bobo's case.

“I've got two other cases that are still unsolved, and in both, we know who did it, but just don't have enough to prove it,” he says, holding up a photo of a pretty and smiling Bobo. “But this one - well, I've retired from the state police and I'm not going to be sheriff forever, and this is the one I want to put a cap on before I go home for the last time.”

He has, he says, never forgotten Bobo's final plea - her last known comment, made in jest to her girlfriend on a warm summer morning more than 32 years ago: “Come looking for me if I'm not back this afternoon.”

Loe has taken that call to heart, he says, and it's one he hopes to someday answer.

“I'll never give up. Long as I'm living, I'll keep looking for her.”


o Henry Lee Lucas, the famed serial killer and necrophiliac who was convicted of 11 murders, died in March 2001 in prison of natural causes. Originally sentenced to death, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush commuted his sentence to life - the only commutation ever granted by the man who would later be elected to the U.S. presidency. Numerous books have been written about Lucas, including “The Confessions of Henry Lee Lucas” and “Hands of Death.” Throughout the 1980s, Lucas confessed to dozens of cases, including the disappearance of Bobo Shinn. ASP Investigator Mike Loe conducted a series of interviews with Lucas after his confession, and ultimately determined that the confession was a false one. Video footage of the Loe-Lucas interviews is stored in the Shinn case file. Lucas' partner in crime and alleged lover, Ottis Elwood Toole, was also briefly considered in the Shinn case, but Loe eliminated both as suspects because no evidence was found that put the men in or near Arkansas at the time of the disappearance.

o Ottis Elwood Toole, a Florida arsonist and serial killer, teamed up with Lucas in 1976. Toole, who demonstrated homosexual tendencies and allegedly enjoyed cannibalizing some of his victims, traveled 26 states with Lucas in a journey of murder and terror, even claiming at one time to have been the killer in 1981 of six-year old Adam Walsh, whose father, John Walsh, went on to host television's “America's Most Wanted.” Toole eventually received two death sentences for the murders of a man and an elderly woman, respectively, but like Lucas, saw his sentences commuted to life. He died in prison of liver failure in 1996.

o Robert Zani, 67, is currently incarcerated in Texas after being convicted in 1980 of the murders of his mother, whose body he dismembered and scattered along a highway between Oklahoma and Arkansas, a convenience store clerk and a Texas real estate agent. Zani, according to a book about his crimes and the subsequent investigations into them, enjoyed using aliases and convincing tales about broken down cars to convince realtors to pick him up and take him on tours of expensive homes in high end neighborhoods. On those expeditions, Zani and his wife stole credit cards and jewelry from the unsuspecting homeowners. Because of his history with real estate agents, authorities at one time thought he might have been involved in the disappearance of Bobo Shinn, primarily because the media incorrectly deemed her a real estate agent. No evidence was ever presented that tied Zani to Bobo's case, though ASP investigator Mike Loe did seek more information at the time of Zani's arrest. Loe has since eliminated Zani as a suspect in the case, saying that investigators were unable to place Zani anywhere near Arkansas at the time of her disappearance.


Within 24 hours of Mary Jimmie “Bobo” Shinn's disappearance on July 20, 1978, authorities and volunteers had already begun organized searches for the vibrant dark-haired and deeply tanned 25-year old.

Initial reports described Bobo as 5'6” tall, about 120 lbs., with black hair. Investigators initially believed she was last seen wearing denim cutoff shorts, tennis shoes and a yellow King Tut T-shirt, but that clothing description changed within seven days of her disappearance after her mother found the King Tut T-shirt in Bobo's room.

“We don't know what she was wearing,” says Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, who has been investigating Bobo's case for 32 years. “We just don't know.”

And, says Loe, investigators also didn't know where to start looking for her.

“So they just looked everywhere they could think of,” Loe says.

Indeed, on Saturday morning - just two days after she disappeared - mounted patrols from Columbia, Ouachita and Union counties joined forces with local residents on foot and National Guard aerial spotters to search rural parts of the county, beginning with an area just off AR 344.

Then-prosecuting attorney Mike Kinard was one of those mounted searchers.

“I rode out in the country with them, looking for her,” Kinard recalls. “We wanted to find her alive. That was our hope - that she had just run off - but there's no way she did that, not leaving her car like it was. It just didn't fit.”

The searches continued throughout the next several days, and on Fri., July 28, 1978, eight days after Bobo was last seen, another coordinated search was announced for the eastern and southern parts of Columbia County.

The search began the following morning with volunteers asked to meet at Franks' Grocery, then located on AR 19, and at the residence of Fred Edwards at the three-mile marker on US 82. Two National Guard helicopters and several mobile units assisted in the search, then Sheriff Gordon Hunter told the Banner-News, and the two-day effort involved far more volunteers than any one before it.

“We want all the help we can get,” Hunter said. “We have had people from all over the country, calling to ask if they can help.”

And law enforcement officials weren't the only ones searching. Wildlife officers and utility repairmen reported spotting tracks of searchers in the weeks after Bobo's disappearance in areas that typically saw little to no human activity. Those unofficial searchers may or may not have spotted evidence that may have been pertinent to the case - and that's why investigators no longer release the details of locations of interest, says Loe.

Noting that an effort to recover evidence in the case was made recently in Lafayette County, Loe says, “I don't want that information on the record. People would go out there, digging and messing around, and maybe destroy what could potentially be a scene of interest.”

Ultimately, says Loe, none of the searches conducted over the past three decades have yielded any results - but he welcomes any information that may lead officials in a new direction, he adds.

“We don't turn down any information,” Loe says. “If you think it might help, we want to know about it and check it out.”


In the years since the disappearance of Mary Jimmie 'Bobo' Shinn on July 20, 1978, several of those involved in the investigation of her case have gone on achieve fame or recognition.

Those individuals include:

• ASP Trooper Mike Loe, who was assigned to the Shinn case in May 1979, was named the ASP Trooper of the Year in 1982 for demonstrating excellence in investigatory skills after solving five high-profile murders that year. Loe officially retired after several years with the state police in November 2010 when he was elected Columbia County sheriff, claiming 64 percent of the vote over his two opponents. He continues to work on the Shinn disappearance today and is currently considered the primary expert on the case.

• Former 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Mike Kinard remained in that position until 1980 when he returned to his private practice in Magnolia. From 1987 through 1990, he served in the Arkansas State Senate. In 2008, Kinard was appointed the Associate Judge for District 5 of the Arkansas Court of Appeals by Ark. Gov. Mike Beebe, and has in years past served as Special Justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court at the requests of former Arkansas Governors Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee.

• Retired ASP Investigator Russell Welch, after working nine months on the Bobo Shinn disappearance, went on to make national headlines when he helped compile a massive investigative file on an alleged cocaine smuggling ring at the Mena, Ark., airport. Welch, a California native and a graduate of San Francisco State University, spent his career as a successful criminal investigator in Foreman, Magnolia and Mena. He now resides in Mena with his family where he operates a forensic investigation business.

• ASP Lt. Finis Duvall, who made headlines in Columbia County after discovering and dismantling a stolen green car found in the woods not long after Shinn's disappearance, retired after decades of service to the Arkansas State Police. He passed away Jan. 2, 2009, at the age of 65 in Atkins, Ark.

• William C. Dear, the Dallas, Texas, private investigator hired by the Shinn family to investigate the case, went on to author a number of books, including “O.J. is Guilty But Not of Murder,” “The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III,” and “Please Don't Kill Me: The True Story of the Milo Murder.” Once dubbed 'The Real James Bond' by the London Times, Dear has appeared on such programs as “Inside Edition,” “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee,” and “Good Morning America,” and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. Playboy magazine once named him 'Outstanding Man of Dallas,' and in 1997, he received the National Association of Investigative Specialists, Inc.'s Lifetime Achievement Award. He currently resides on a private ranch near his Mt. Calm, Texas, office.

• Former Arkansas State Police Capt. Ron Stovall, one of the first officers to view Bobo Shinn's car after it was found in the Smitty's Grocery parking lot on July 20, 1978, spent several years with the ASP before going on to win the position of Miller County Sheriff in 2008. He has since made headlines over contraband raids on his own detention facility and lawsuits filed because of alleged civil rights violations and discriminatory employment practices.

Final Editor's Note: The Banner-News could not have written this series without the assistance of several sources, most notably Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, Private Investigator William C. Dear, retired ASP Investigator Russell Welch, former 13th Judicial District Prosecutor Mike Kinard, and current Miller County Sheriff Ron Stovall. The Banner-News is also deeply appreciative of the Shinn family for their willingness to share and discuss information about the case. Readers interested in additional photographs and information may access that data for free at the Banner-News Blog, www.bannernews.net/blog.


Only after the last tree has been
cut down;
Only after the last fish has been
Only after the last river has been
Only then will you realize
that money cannot be eaten.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Advanced Member
[ *  *  * ]

South Arkansas Cold Case Brought Back to Light
Jeané Franseen
07/16/2014 04:43 PM
07/16/2014 06:36 PM

MAGNOLIA, AR -- Mary Jimmie Shinn, known as "Bobo" Shinn, has been missing in the Magnolia community for 36 years.

Her case is still not solved, but the Columbia County Sheriffs Office tells us they will not be closing the case.

Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe says this case dates back to the 1970s.

"Her car was found abandoned, across the street of Smitty's Grocery Store. So, there's where it all began," says Loe.

He says this incident has left a mark on the Magnolia community.

"The case has been a mystery of sorts. It changed Magnolia and Columbia County forever, when it happened. We were sort of a sleepy little town, where things like that didn't happen," says Loe.

Loe says he has been working on this case since he has been with the sheriff's department.

"This case was 10 months old when I got it in May 1979. It has cost me a few sleepless nights," says Loe.

Even after all of these years, he is hoping that they will soon be able to put the missing pieces together to solve this case.

"There is an answer to every case. It's just finding the right key and shoving it in the right lock. Somebody out there knows something. Eventually, we hope we put the right key in the right lock," says Loe.

Shinn's family plans to conduct a memorial service for her this Saturday in Magnolia.

The service will be held at 2 p.m. at Central Baptist Church and is open to the public.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
ZetaBoards - Free Forum Hosting
Fully Featured & Customizable Free Forums
Learn More · Register Now
« Previous Topic · Missing Persons 1978 · Next Topic »
Add Reply