48 Hours – August 25 2021 – ‘The Circleville Letters’ – CBS

FOR TWO DECADES, AN ANONYMOUS LETTER WRITER TERRORIZED THE SMALL TOWN OF CIRCLEVILLE, OHIO, AND NOW A DOCUMENT FORENSICS EXPERT BELIEVES SHE’S UNMASKED THE AUTHOR

“48 Hours” Investigates the True Crime Mystery in “The Circleville Letters”

Wednesday, August 25, 10:00 PM, ET/PT

Has a forensic document expert unmasked the anonymous author of the infamous Circleville letters? For nearly two decades, an anonymous letter writer terrorized the small town of Circleville, Ohio, by sending threatening letters that exposed alleged secrets about neighbors and friends. Erin Moriarty and 48 HOURS investigate the true crime mystery behind the letters and interview experts about the documents in “The Circleville Letters” to be broadcast Wednesday, August 25 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The sinister story has gripped part of Ohio for decades, with small-town intrigue, a flood of threatening letters, a booby trap and an attempted murder. Was the man many suspected of writing the letters actually the Circleville letter writer? That’s a question open for discussion. The mystery has caught the attention of more than a dozen podcasters and attracted television and print coverage. And it happened just 30 miles from where Moriarty was raised in Columbus, Ohio.

“The Circleville letter writer,” says podcaster Marie Mayhew, “knew everything about everyone … and knew everybody’s secrets.”

The letters at first focused on a married school district superintendent and his rumored relationship with a school bus driver named Mary Gillispie. “I know everything,” the writer wrote. “I’ve been observing your house and know you have children… . It’s your daughters turn to pay for what you’ve done.”

One day Gillispie saw an obscene sign about her daughter on a fence. When she went to remove it, she noticed it was tied to a string, which led to a box with a gun rigged to go off. The gun was traced to her brother-in-law, Paul Freshour. Freshour’s estranged wife told investigators he was also the Circleville letter writer. He was sent to prison, but the letters continued, even though he was kept in isolation and not allowed pen or paper.

Now, Beverley East, a forensic document expert, believes she has identified the Circleville letter writer. At the request of 48 HOURS, East examined 49 letters.

“I would go into court and swear on the Bible on the evidence that I found,” East tells Moriarty.

“I would say one person wrote all of these,” East continues.

Is the case closed? Has the writer been finally identified?

48 HOURS: “The Circleville Letters” is produced by Lisa Freed and Richard Fetzer. Mead Stone is the producer-editor. David Dow and Tamara Weitzman are the development producers. Jud Johnston, Ken Blum and Diana Modica are the editors. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.


This newsmagazine investigates intriguing crime and justice cases that touch on all aspects of the human experience. Over its long run, the show has helped exonerate wrongly convicted people, driven the reopening — and resolution — of cold cases, and changed numerous lives. CBS News correspondents offer an in-depth look into each story, with the emphasis on solving the mystery at its heart. The program and its team have earned critical acclaim, including 20 Emmys and three Peabody Awards.


About 48 Hours

This newsmagazine investigates intriguing crime and justice cases that touch on all aspects of the human experience. Over its long run, the show has helped exonerate wrongly convicted people, driven the reopening — and resolution — of cold cases, and changed numerous lives. CBS News correspondents offer an in-depth look into each story, with the emphasis on solving the mystery at its heart. The program and its team have earned critical acclaim, including 20 Emmys and three Peabody Awards.

This show is broadcast on CBS, also known as the Columbia Broadcasting System.

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