Police: More Bodies Buried on Serial Suspect’s Land
SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) _ Investigators believe more bodies are buried near the remote mountain home of a migrant farm worker suspected in up to 15 killings, a sheriff said Tuesday.
One skeleton already has been unearthed and police dogs have led authorities to about 12 other sites.
The body was found Friday in a shallow grave about 400 yards behind a cabin owned by Frank T. Potts of Polk County, Fla.
Potts, 50, is being held without bond in Bartow, Fla., on a charge of sexual battery on an 11-year-old girl. Authorities suspect Potts in a string of unsolved homicides in New York, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.
The remains were those of a young person, probably a teen-ager, said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Wells. Investigators had not determined the sex or identity of the body, Wells said.
Earlier Tuesday, Jackson County Sheriff’s investigator Chuck Phillips said it was a 19-year-old Florida man who disappeared five years ago. He would not release the victim’s name.
Special police dogs brought in from Louisiana and Mississippi indicated they smelled something at 10 to 12 other locations, all within a 120-yard radius of Potts’ cabin.
″We don’t know if where the dogs indicated are partial remains or full skeletons, but we do believe there are multiple bodies,″ Wells said.
Authorities had received tips that bodies were being dumped on the 40-acre tract on Garrett Mountain near the Tennessee border since right after Potts bought the property, Wells said. Authorities believe he bought it in 1977.
″We’d been up there numerous times, looking in holes and searching for clues, but it’s very rough terrain,″ Wells said. ″We never found anything.″
Potts, a migrant worker, has not been charged in any killings. He has been jailed since Dec. 28.
The FBI was to join the search Wednesday for other graves on Potts’ property, Phillips said.
Florida investigators say the victims were killed during the last 15 years and ranged from age 12 to their early 20s. In each case, Potts was in the area when the killings occurred, police said.
Sheriff’s Maj. Marvin Pittman said there are similarities in the cases, but would not give specifics.
Florida authorities described Potts as a pedophile with a split personality, but friends in northeast Alabama said he was a kind neighbor with preacher-like charm.
James Robert Henshaw, who said he once considered himself Potts’ best friend, recalled how Potts spoke of his love for the ″peace and quiet″ of his mountain retreat.
″If you were around him, you’d think he was a preacher,″ Henshaw said.
Potts was released in 1988 after serving six years in prison for lewd and lascivious assault on a child under 12.