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Attorney Mike O'Mara lied about Eldridge murder files
city manager concedes public records withheld in June are now in police
files after Pit retrieves, copies, seals and has police witnesses sign
Tenn. (December 7, 2000) -- City manager Jim Shipley was forced today
to confess that records whose existence the city denied in a June 30 statement
by City Attorney Mike O'Mara are, in fact, part of the public record.
The Putnam Pit in June requested to inspect all records of the
now closed investigation into the unsolved 1992 murder of school teacher
Darlene Eldridge. Those files were ruled public this year, but the city
had sought to withhold them from The Pit.
Included in the file was evidence that the city had become obsessed with
Putnam Pit's investigation of the Eldridge murder, and had conducted
background checks, contacted the U.S. Department of Defense, checked property
values of a reporter's residences over the past 20 years, driving records
and credit worthiness reports, relying in part on false information passed
along by an informant -- Mary Jo Denton of the local publication, The
The city did not include these investigative documents in June, and
City Attorney T. Michael O'Mara falsely stated that only five sheets of
paper existed in the files sought under the public records request.
On Dec. 1, 2000, access to additional documents was provided -- many
more than the five pages O'Mara offered to provide in June -- but some
documents referred to in collateral material indicate the file is still
being tampered with.
We are asking Shipley to explain this, and we will put his response here
when we get it. This request for response is being sent to Mr. Shipley
at this time: 05/26/03 08:00:33 PM
26, 2000, Cookeville City Manager Jim Shipley said: "Capt. Honeycutt advised
me this morning, that in your rush to go through the file, you
overlooked the file that you suggested had been removed and it is intact
and was and is available for your inspection."
30, 2000, City Attorney Mike O'Mara stated the
file contains only five sheets of paper.
7, City Manager Jim Shipley wrote: "a review of the Darlene Eldridge investigative
file has confirmed that there at least three folders with information concerning
you or your publication in the Eldridge file. One contains the five
pages you referred to, one
contains the approximately eighty pages of which you had two copies
made on November 30, 2000, and the third which contains copies of some
of your publication.