What Really Happened to a Missing Mother From Eufaula
Posted by: Jon B. Carroll
Date: Mar 04 2015 10:03 AM
There are some articles you never want to write. No matter how I think about a missing Eufaula mother Lisa Wallace, and friend of several of my own friends, there is nothing good I can say about this. In fact I wish now I did not know what I now do about the case.
Imagine how a city can spend nearly 100 K dollars on an issue of trees and yet have an unwillingness to spend hardly anything to search for a missing mother that lived and worked in its community. If you ever consider Eufaula a safe place to raise your children, that fact alone should make your stomach turn.
Below is a conversation I had with a member of the Eufaula Police Department directly about where they stand.
Have you conducted a thorough search ? No.
Have you set up a task force to focus on her ? No.
Have you assisted outside agencies in their search ? No.
Have you misplaced or lost evidence that was turned over to you ? No comment.
Is there any explanation for how this potential evidence went missing? No.
You have a missing mother, now going on three years, and the best you can do to quote [ officers name redacted ] is say …”well we think she ran off, thats our professional determination”.
She just “ran off” ? Yep she ran off.
Of course in the past three years when each day goes by and there is no trace , nor any use of her social security number, no hospital or medical visits, no driver’s licenses, passports, prescriptions, or any use of any identifying information in any US state or province in Canada, you start to realize that maybe…… she didn’t just “run off”. Not the Eufaula Police Department though, they think she just “ran off”. When asked where she ran to, and why, there is no evidence of her being anywhere years after her disappearance, they do not know.
The last conversation I had with Detective Donald Brown of the Eufaula Police Department about this case was especially cryptic.
“I have to admit the more the months and years pass I think you guys were right the whole time, someone killed her ”.
Ok mistakes happen, lets move on and call out the calvary and search every day and night, relentlessly until this missing mother is found. We owe her family and daughter that at the very least. But in Barbour county when the wrong people go missing, or are murdered …often nothing is done.
Now if that sounds harsh consider this, Shelly Shaffer who teaches criminal justice and forensic science, and is the associate dean at Florida State University, with over 20 years experience in law enforcement met with the Eufaula Police Department directly with Lisa’s mother, it did not go well. After the meeting she told me,
In all my years experience as a police officer I have never encountered a force that was as corrupt as the Eufaula Police Department. They are purposely not investigating this case, they are ignoring evidence thats crucial to determining what happened to her, as well as destroying evidence.
This point was further underscored when a joint state and federal task force arrived last year unannounced with mobile forensic labs and interviewed multiple people of interest. They interviewed anyone that might know anything about Lisa’s disappearance and even wanted to know from Robbie Pelham and I who our sources were at the Eufaula Police Dept. Citing journalistic privilege, and the state’s shield law, and upon advice of our attorney, we were and are unwilling to share that information. However we did learn that when the task force requested certain evidence that could have been from a crime scene involving Lisa Wallace the police department maintained they knew nothing about such evidence. However receipts exist from the evidence turned into them and an officer at the Eufaula Police department was captured on a video recording device accepting the evidence. There is no doubt at some point the evidence did exist and was in the possession of the Eufaula Police Department. One officer present said, speaking strictly off the record, the issue with Larry Hubbard was the source of the evidence being a private investigator he did not like personally. But the evidence had significant blood spatter that the FBI cadaver dogs had identified as human blood. So why is it not evidence ? He stated "the only issue that should be discussed is whether it was Lisa's DNA and if not who's was it?"
Why lie ? Thats a question several federal agents would like to know. More than likely its about covering their own butts at this point.
Here is what is frightening though about this kind of cruel indifference, maybe the whole time she was right here in our community. The Police Department just didn’t care enough to look for her to the degree they should have.
What if, God forbid, she could have been saved in the week or two after her disappearance?
This is what your political legacy will be Mayor Jack Tibbs and Councilman Bob Powers, not whether trees got cut down in the historic district. The mother of a young child went missing from your community and you….did nothing.
I believe what is known about Lisa’s last 24 hours will likely be the key to determining what happened to her. It is my hope, in writing this, that someone comes forward with a piece of information about those last hours that can help this investigation. By writing this I realize it will upset some who are preoccupied with selling Eufaula as a idyllic town and I realize those in law enforcement as well may be offended.
So be it, what matters more is where is Lisa Wallace ?
I also have been asked by those close to the victim’s family to share what I know in a public forum, so I will be blunt and try to discuss everything Im aware of about this case in the hope someone will come forward. The only information I am not sharing is that which might put people at risk. It is my opinion that information about Lisa’s last 24 hours is crucial, however small and insignificant of a detail you know, it could be what enables those investigating this case to understand other information and solve it.
WHAT IS KNOWN
Lisa Wallace went missing on Saturday Oct 27, 2012. Her husband, Chris Wallace, who admittedly was arguing and fighting with her the night before claims he last saw her that morning about 11 AM. She was scheduled to work the lunch shift at the River City BBQ that day. According to Chris Wallace (her husband) he left her at their home located just past the KOA campground in north Eufaula while he carried their 20 month old toddler to his mothers at approximately noon. When he returned from dropping their child off, Lisa was gone. Following right behind him were two Eufaula Police officers. His mother had called the police worried about Lisa becoming violent and off her medication after hearing from Chris about the arguments that morning. This was not unusual for them according to family and friends. The officers looked inside the home questioned Chris and wanted to make sure there was no physical violence involved in their reported arguing, they noted Lisa was missing and they noticed nothing that indicated it was a potential crime scene. This event anchors the timeline of when Lisa officially goes missing.Regardless of whether one believes Chris Wallace, we have two police officers on scene with him, all three note her absence and this fact is undebatable.>We also know she is scheduled to be at work, about a mile and a half away and she never shows up. This fact anchors the timeline of the moment we know she is missing. This also occurred inside the city limits and is clearly within the jurisdiction of the Eufaula Police Department. They are responsible for the investigation of Lisa at this point.
The Wallace home was a rented doublewide trailer located on a dirt road that enters into a swampy wooded area that passes an old KOA campground along Lake Eufaula. Beyond the Wallace home there are only two other occupied dwellings. There is only one way in and one way out. The restaurant Lisa Wallace worked at is about a mile and a half north on highway 431. The campground at times has nearly 40 residents in it that live in trailers and small campers and often includes weekend hunters for deer season and of course those fishing lake Eufaula. It has been known in the past few years for a place with heavy drug activity and was recently sold to a new owner.
At the time there was a couple living there who saw who they thought was Lisa walking down the road leaving her house past the campground at around noon, but they have been reluctant to get involved as they think her disappearance is drug related. If that is true, then outside of Lisa Wallace there was no other possible woman who lived there that could match her description. This story also matches the last place where search dogs picked up her scent, two weeks after she went missing, which is beside the road in the area where she was seen walking in front of the old KOA campground – the scent stops at a small turnaround spot.
As one law enforcement official told me,
“if the hit on the dog is correct she may have gotten into a vehicle. She came to this point from their house along the south side of the road and then vanished.”
None of that is certain however, one cannot say with any certainty what day she could have left this scent they tracked. The dogs are from one of the best teams in the nation that I do know. Two years ago the handler, Nancy Locke, won the FBI Director’s award for outstanding work, they are in short, as good as they get.
The next, and one of the few hard leads, comes a few days after her disappearance. The man she worked for, Bill Burr, received a text message from her asking for additional money (thousands) . Multiple employees that worked with her believe this was related to a large drug transaction her and her manager Gary McLeod were involved in. Burr, reportedly, did not reply. Multiple witnesses saw and read the text, and when two Eufaula police officers entered the River City Grill after a missing person report was filed, he showed it to them. Their response ? Nothing. One officer later told me he,
“felt they should put a law enforcement hold on the account and attempt to preserve any geolocation data”. He was told to “back off. She has just run off. Drop it.”
This is what is believed to have been the last known contact with Lisa Wallace. Burr and McLeod, have since left town.
Much of the published articles written thus far by Penny Carter, a reporter at the Clayton Record, center around the suspicion that her husband Chris Wallace was somehow involved in her disappearance. I did not know Chris Wallace at the time, but as he attended school with several of my cousins, I have gotten to know him the past two years. I cannot say whether Chris Wallace should still be a suspect. Until anyone is ruled out, it is my opinion, everyone is a suspect that could have had a motive or opportunity to do Lisa Wallace harm.What I can share is the very first thing I said to Chris Wallace when I met him, if you killed your wife I don’t want to know, I can though give you some good advice. You need a good preacher first and an even better lawyer second.
He laughed a bit and then big tears formed in his eyes and he shook my hand.
Chris Wallace is pretty open about how he did not get along with Lisa, the two were planning on divorcing and the argument, like many parting couples, centered around custody of their child. Is this motive …maybe, but Chris would likely have won custody in a Barbour county court given both their backgrounds and criminal records. If Chris Wallace is guilty then he is a very rare breed as he has been exceedingly honest about their arguments, harsh words and openly shared things he has said that might make him look guilty or incriminate him.
As a result of that, the joint ABI and FBI task force that took over the case in April of 2013 has focused on him for over a year with a barrage of interviews DNA tests and polygraph tests to his friends. Chris has been denied the opportunity to take one although he has been consistantly willing to take one. But to believe that Chris Wallace is the likely suspect there is a basic fact that the timeline has to allow him time to kill Lisa and hide her body. The more I look at it, Im not so sure it does.
Chris, at the time, drank often and too much (this has since changed), and the most damming piece of circumstantial evidence that exists in this case is a series of statements he made the night before she went missing. However, it is also unlikely that he was in any sort of condition to do anything else other than pass out that night. This is what is known and corroborated by those that served him and were a party to those discussions. Transaction records at the bar and security video substantiate this. The two last known voice contacts with Lisa were from Chris’s best friend Jeff whom she called looking for him and a bar employee, as she wanted to know where and how drunk he was, and as they spoke she acknowledged he was coming in the front door of their home. This occurred around 2 am which matches the time it would take him to get home after leaving the bar. The next nine hours though open up a timeline where anything could have happened. It is this hotly debated timeline that leaves him as a suspect in her disappearance.
One has to ask bluntly – can a man who is literally knee walking drunk with over a dozen whiskey laden drinks under his belt pull off an unsolvable crime without making a single mistake ? Further if we carefully establish the timeline for the data that is known then Chris is left with more than likely only a hour or so to have done Lisa harm and cover up any crime. This seems very unlikely. If so, he had to have had help. The state investigators have relentlessly interviewed everyone who works with, or who are close to Chris, and they don’t have anyone it could be. It is therefore increasingly likely that for the past two years they have concentrated their focus on the wrong person. That is nothing short than a investigative disaster, if first there is no real investigation to start with, and then its followed by a flawed one where the focus has been on the wrong person.
When I questioned [ name redacted at officer’s request ] a state investigator investigator said he could not get past the potential incriminating statements Chris made in a drunken rant the night before.
I want to focus on facts though not what a man said while intoxicated.
We know where Chris Wallace is a 2 AM and then 6 hours later Chris Wallace is up the next morning trying to remove his truck from a ditch it is stuck in. The truck he claims was run off the road while he was very drunk and almost home. At times up to seven people, some of whom he did not know in front of the KOA campground attempted to assist in getting the truck out. In the end he is unsuccessful and has to call a local tow truck to help. This occurs at 11 AM and is documented by the tow truck driver as well as multiple witnesses and photographs.
During this timeframe Gary McLeod, the manager at the restaurant where Lisa works, reports he drove over to pick Lisa up for work. Neither Chris, nor did anyone at the scene, see McLeod drive by on the small single lane dirt drive that leads to their house. Wallace said “Its possible he came by while I was under the truck or working on it but I didn’t see him”. No calls exist that indicate McLeod tried to call her once there (if he ever was) and unable to get her to come to the door. Lisa would have been home with their small child. Not calling her cell phone if she didn’t come to door seems highly unlikely.
What is then known is a phone call was made to Lisa’s phone shortly after 11 when she was scheduled to be at work from the landline at the River City BBQ. The call lasted just over 6 minutes. Eufaula Police detectives subsequently interviewed everyone working at the restaurant that day and no one claimed they called Lisa. “Obviously someone was lying” said one officer. When I asked of there were any follow up interviews to determine which employee was lying he said, “no, we thought she ran off and were pressured to drop it”. If this was a voice call to Lisa, then this event anchors the timeline on the front end. Regrettably the Eufaula Police Department did not subpoena the geolocation data for Lisa’s phone in a timely manner or we would know what cell towers her phone registered with and determine an approximate location. Critical information was obtainable in that data set as to where that phone was when the call was received as well as the content of text messages being exchanged. What is confirmed, per what has been shared with me, is it was a voice call and hence they questioned employees about it. However whatever Eufaula Police Officer is responsible for not obtaining that data has a lot of explaining to do as it is standard procedure in a missing person case.
One also has to realize that while Chris spent hours, 8-11:30 trying to dig his truck out, that it is highly unlikely he left a 20 month old daughter at home alone with dogs, one being a pit bull the other a recent rescue dog. The phone call, and that circumstance, lead you to believe that Lisa was alive and at their home at 11 am that morning caring for their child. Chris Wallace then becomes the last person known to see Lisa alive. He claims that he carried their child to his mother’s at about 12:15. They were arguing, planning to divorce, and harsh words were exchanged. He carrying the child to his mothers while they worked was normal. Wallace claimed she had several bags packed. The trip to Wallace’s mothers home is about 15 minutes. When Wallace returns she is gone.
If you choose not to believe Chris Wallace you still have to reconcile five other issues that tend to make one think Lisa was still alive at this point.
- Her phone received a voice call from where she worked.
- Text messages were exchanged
- Chris Wallace was unlikely to have left his twenty month old child alone with two dogs for several hours.
- The two Eufaula Police officers who looked in the home and spoke with Chris are not lying when they say Lisa was not there.
- The couple who observed a woman who looked like Lisa during the approximate timeframe Chris carried their child to his mothers are probably right. They saw Lisa.
There is no evidence of any kind that indicates Lisa was missing or deceased at that time.
If one thinks that Chris Wallace is not involved in Lisa’s disappearance, then the most likely possibility for what led to Lisa going missing is drugs.
My experience in living in south Alabama tells me there are usually only two reasons people are killed because of drugs.
- Someone has become an informant, or,
- You owe a drug supplier money and try to beat them out of it.
Both of those conditions will get you killed depending on who your dealing with. If you choose to not want to believe that I urge you to carefully look at the unsolved murders in Barbour and Henry county, the facts speak for themselves. What is known fact is the places where she worked, River City Grill and the River City BBQ were at the time operated by those actively engaged in the sale of narcotics. There is a fairly long list of former and current employees of these establishments who have been busted for drugs, this is a matter of public record.
Police officers repeatedly have told me and others, they were pressured to not conduct busts or target these individuals which were trafficking narcotics at these businesses, this indicates some sort of political protection in place at a level that apparently could influence a police department’s investigations.
For the record, the previous owner Bill Burr, maintains he had no knowledge that this was going on.
Lisa was close in particular to one individual who managed the River City BBQ, Gary McLeod. McLeod also leaves Eufaula with no notice shortly after Lisa goes missing and is questioned by an investigator. Multiple eyewitnesses, one whom I have known for many years, who worked at the River City BBQ at the time, allege an almost daily involvement with drugs, in particular cocaine and a willingness to establish contacts to enable the purchase of larger quantities of this by purchases of multiple ounces at a time and other designer drugs for resale. McLeod is also reported by a law enforcement official speaking strictly on the condition of anonymity to have a brother living in northern California that shipped a high grade of marijuana to multiple addresses in Georgia and then resold the drug through the restaurant. A person I know personally, who purchased this from him, confirmed the arrangement. All this speaks to a very dangerous atmosphere Lisa was working in at the time of her disappearance.
McLeod has been questioned by the FBI and pursued by private investigators working the case on behalf of the victim’s family, he now lives in Utah, and he reportedly denies any involvement and declines to answer any questions. Those close to McLeod however, said he left out of fear, from whom though they will not say. One of the most interesting potential leads that has surfaced though regarding Lisa is a grainy video from a convenience store on the west end of Barbour county where a larger scale drug ring openly operates and there have been multiple unsolved murders of competitors and suspected informants. It is unclear as I understand it if the woman caught on film with two other men is Lisa, but it resembles her and was taken a day or two after her disappearance.
The two men she appears to be with also match a description by a resident of Clayton that saw her in the Dime Store restaurant a day after Chris Wallace last saw her. Authorities have not let multiple people who may can identify the men present in the video view it, nor have they allowed her husband to see if he can recognize any of the clothing the woman in question is wearing.
Why is not really understandable to me as the technology exists to blur or obscure any information in the video except for the clothing she is wearing. Suspect or not, he (Chris Wallace) might can identify her. The state investigator who is leading the investigation [ name redacted at officer’s request ] understandably has declined to comment “as the case is open and ongoing, we are actively pursuing any new leads, and rest assured we are not going to give up”.
Of course this brings up the whole issue of why the Sheriff’s department is not actively involved in the case. Barbour County Deputy Ryan Conner (not an actual law enforcement officer per the state and APOST we have learned) stated publicly that, they were not asked and he felt strongly that the state should have consulted with them to start with, when the task force arrived in the county with a mobile forensic lab and set up near the airport. However in the months that followed Lisa’s disappearance the Sheriff’s department did not offer any significant assistance or initiate a search for her. Disturbing at best.
The most alarming lead however that has developed is from one of Eufaula Police Department’s confidential informants ( a prescription pill dealer) that shared while they were in a,
“traphouse he frequented he overheard two men stating that they will never find that girl, she has part of a car axle chained to her and is in the lake”.
They allege she was kept at a location near Louisville and robbed of the money she had trying to make a purchase. Strangely a similar description comes from another drug dealer near Clio recently. Perhaps rumor, but a lead is a lead and should be followed to its end.
There is also is a strange issue of several homeless people living in tents and involved in a portable meth lab in the wooded area between 431 and the KOA campground. The day Chris was attempting to get his truck unstuck several watched and were in the area. Two of these men often drove a old riding lawnmower up to a local store for a while. After that day they left Eufaula and have not been seen since.
Linked to this lead is the work of a investigator working on the case a few months ago who spotted an object on sonar that resembled a human body in in the lake near the area where these men camped. But after divers searched carefully, it was discovered to be a tree stump that had a shape resembling a human body. The investigator though, as well as many others connected to the national search organization NWCAVE (National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation) have continued their search for Lisa. They unanimously believe Lisa was abducted and killed in the city of Eufaula. All without question are suspicious of how the Eufaula Police Department appear to be purposely obstructing the investigation.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT
At this point if I was a member of the victim’s family I would file a lawsuit against the city’s police department. Not in the hopes of winning per se, but to get subpoena power and depose all these officers at Eufaula Police Department that had anything at all to do with this case. Especially Larry Hubbard who was in charge of the investigation. I would as well include Sean and Cathy Johnston as well as Matthew Moss, all investigators who worked on this case for the victim’s family. Why was evidence destroyed by Eufaula Police Department, and why were leads given to them not followed up on, and who specifically was responsible for making those decisions ?
The police were given evidence this is provable, with subpoena power and a federal judge involved, the victim’s family can get the evidence log sheets, see where they went, who signed off on what, and try to determine who was responsible for it going missing. Whether Eufaula, the DA or the local judges like it or not the family will get answers if a federal judge enters the picture.
Then I would use a carrot and stick strategy – the lawsuit being the stick. I would have a carrot in the form of a retired FBI agent along with a certain retired homocide detective I know in Montgomery thats known to be one of the best the state has ever had and familiar with Barbour county be granted confidential access to review the drug informants and suspects in the department’s files. They, with Chief Ralph Conner’s and Courtney Potthoff’s legal consent, with whatever legal non-disclosure agreements necessary in place, need to see who Lisa Wallace’s known associates are, were any she was close to or involved with, or was she, an informant. If so, who in the department or DA’s office knew that and could have leaked that information. These guys then make a list – they need to know where these people were the day Lisa Wallace went missing. Some, even though the case is three years old, can still be proven through employment records to have been at work or through debit or credit card transactions to have been somewhere.
Those you cant account for and were involved with drugs and had direct ties to Lisa, should be interviewed and looked very carefully at. The logic goes like this, if the text messages from Lisa to her friends where she was moving to are indeed from her, and if the text message to Bill Burr on that following week was from her, then we know one thing. Lisa was probably with someone she trusted. I want to know who that person is because this is my prime suspect.
I want to reiterate what matters here. We have a victim’s mother, she wants answers. Something indeed horrible may have happened in Eufaula to her daughter and this cant be fixed. But what we can do as a community is exceed her expectations in investigating and searching for her daughter. And we have the power to bring those responsible to justice. This I firmly believe.
If you have information regarding this case and do not trust law enforcement call me or send me a private message. If you are reluctant to do that my friends in this community are known, send word to them and tell them not to call or text it. I assure you, if you a drug dealer or preacher I wont judge you, it will be held in confidence, and I promise you one thing – I will put it in front of someone who can help solve this case. Your name will be kept out of it, you have my and my family’s word word on that. If your willing to speak directly with law enforcement, I suggest you call the regional FBI office directly and avoid any involvement whatsoever with Barbour county or the city of Eufaula.
FBI Regional office: 251-438-3674