The following contains my thoughts on 48 Hours’ recent episode, “Abushed.” The full episode, reported by Troy Roberts, can be found on 48 Hours‘ website.
The recent episode of “48 Hours” had a familiar ring to it. Maybe I had seen it on an old re-run of “Dateline on ID.” Or maybe this was a 48 Hours re-run. Or maybe it’s just the fact that this is yet another story taking place in Florida.
That’s the problem with these shows — sometimes all the cases are reported across the channels and then I can’t keep it all straight. The finding of the bones in the Wal-Mart parking lot has happened before. Unless there were two sets of remains found during that construction, I am sure that I have heard of this case. But, moving on.
I applaud the police officers that choose to take on cold cases. For the ones that they wind up solving, it is truly a miracle and it must bring these families so much closure and they can finally start to move on in whatever way possible. This episode exhibits just that and none of this would have ever been possible without the police digging in and doing some work that wasn’t possible in 1988 when David went missing. Googling unidentified remains. Who knew a search engine would be a key instrument to solve a murder from so many years earlier?
From the beginning, this woman, Barbara, did not set well with me. She was avoiding answers to questions, turning things around, and just acting strangely. A truly innocent person would not act that way. It sickens me that she was able to plead guilty to being an accessory after the murder and today is free. OK, maybe she’s right — she didn’t actually kill David. But she was there, she helped lure him to the hotel where it happened, and she helped in disposing of the remains. And, to boot — she carried all of this around with her for over two decades! How could she look at her son in the eye ever again, knowing she had a part in his father’s murder? I don’t believe her story of innocence at all. I believe she plead guilty to avoid a harsher sentence that would have been in the fate of a judge and jury. Her lawyers probably didn’t see this one ending well.
Michael Wolfe’s story was interesting. I believe there is some truth to it, but I don’t know if it is all true. He appeared to be pointing the finger at someone who could longer speak for himself — Barbara’s father. The man had died from cancer years ago and of course it’s easy for Wolfe to say it was all the father’s plan, that he was just an accomplice, and that no one else was the brains of the operation but him. He’s not here to defend himself! Although I have a feeling if he were still alive, he’d also be pointing the finger at someone else — most likely Michael. So then we have a case of each person pointing the finger at someone else and each person is just as believable as the next one and each person is equally not credible. Of course it’s also easy for Michael to point the finger at Barbara as well — she’s his ex-wife! Speaking of ex-wives, this man has six. What on earth does one have to do to married six times?! He was clearly a man with a drinking problem, and he even admitted that he was drinking heavily while waiting in the bathroom with the gun. How believable is someone who is drunk most of the time and we all know what that means — he most likely cannot remember things correctly, if at all. And all of that makes me question his story.
I believe what happened in this story is exactly what happens in a lot of case regarding divorce/custody battles. Barbara divorces John, leaves him in Florida and moves to Arizona. What the judge decides is okay as far as shared custody is concerned would require her to take time out of her perfect life with her perfect new husband (who was 20+ years older than her, by the way) to visit her so-not-perfect-ex-husband. She wanted the child to herself and didn’t want him to be a part of her or her son’s life. Ever. So she probably said something in conversation one day to her current husband, who was just head-over-heals enthralled with her (with that addicting personality too), something along the lines of, “I just wish he was dead!” Then, Michael says to her, “I’ll do it.” And there you have it. He would have done anything for Barbara, even if it meant killing another man (which he knew how to do as a former military policeman) for her. How much Barbara’s father was involved is something we’ll probably never know since he’s gone. But I imagine that he probably would stick by his daughter because again, here’s another man who would do anything for her. This man was her own father.
If what I have said is true that happened, then this all comes down to one word. It’s what I believe most murder cases come down to: selfishness. Barbara was selfish. She let it take over so much that it caused someone to take someone else’s life.