Help with case comes across boundary lines

By Johnny Johnson Published: June 22, 2008
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"I
t's an excellent way to get out information about what we are looking for.

"But in this sense, I think it hinders the investigation. So many stories are misinterpreted and hearsay is told, and then it's blown way out of proportion and we have to deal with the aftermath of that.”

One of the best examples Rice can think of was the recent attempt by news outlets to help locate a suspicious American Indian man with a long ponytail who may have been one of the last people to see the girls alive.

"That sketch was in the paper and plastered all over the news,” Rice said. "Do you have any idea how many Indians we have in this county who have long hair and wear a baseball cap?”

Approximately two-thirds of the county has some sort of relation to the Creek tribe, Rice said, and that meant fielding and checking out dozens and dozens of calls saying that the sketch looked like someone.

"And we have to check them all out,” he said. "We were overwhelmed, but everyone just wants to help, and we understand that.”

‘On the right track'
After spending nearly two weeks, going door-to-door and checking the validity on some "lower-level” leads, Rice said his office was trying to transition back into taking care of some of the county's everyday business that had been put on hold during the murder investigation.

His office has been used for interviews and for lie detector tests, but Rice said most of the loose ends have been tied up and investigators may be close to a big break in the case.

"I believe they are on the right track, and that it's not too far away,” he said. "This is definitely not a dead end as some people think. I know that with something of this magnitude you want someone in jail this second, but there's so much to look at, and so many leads. They have a responsibility to do this right all the way.

"This is not a case that we want kicked out in court.”

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Officials are searching for a man with a black ponytail and driving a white Ford or Chevy pickup who may have information about the case. Anyone with information is asked to call (800) 522-8017. Provided by osbi

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