From Cookeville, Tenn. -- Home of the guys with a real little bit of political power who can't handle it
'Going where no dog has gone before -- and without a leash'

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How rude!
Shipley confesses
City Attorney Mike O'Mara lied about Eldridge murder files
Cookeville city manager concedes public records withheld in June are now in police files after Pit retrieves, copies, seals and has police witnesses sign packet.

COOKEVILLE, 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 The 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 Herald-Citizen.

   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

  • On June 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."
  • On June 30, 2000, City Attorney Mike O'Mara stated the file contains only five sheets of paper.
  • On Dec. 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.
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