The Inside Scoop Online is an internet source of information, news, and commentary on a wide variety of national, state, and local topics serving the Delta region based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas.
Friday, May 13, 2011
The Urban Legend of 'John Doe'
Urban legend, noun: an apocryphal story including incidents of the recent past, often including elements of humor and horror, that spreads quickly and is popularly believed to be true.
It seems that Helena-West Helena has an urban legend of its own now. This one is called ‘John Doe.' No one knows the true origin of John Doe but it is rumored that he actually has real parents. However, his powers suggest he might be more than just a normal human. You see, John Doe has the power to control men. He occasionally visits public meetings where he uses hand signals as well as mental telepathy to control the speech and actions of others.
One e-mail forwarding councilman even claimed that John Doe was responsible for thirteen million dollars missing. Wow! That's an entire years budget. That John Doe must be really clever. He made off with an entire year's budget and no city employees missed a paycheck. Now that's better than good.
John Doe has great physical strength. He recently stole the levee gate so he could sell it for scrap iron. At least that was the word a few days ago according to Facebook rumors. The gate was apparently located but no one knows which pawn shop had it. Turns out the levee gate isn't even made of iron but, no need to worry with the small details.
All of this sets the stage for John Doe's most dastardly deed, his involvement in the death of a county resident. Now all of this might have some strong humor to it but unfortunately, many residents of Helena-West Helena now believe in John Doe, a boogie man type figure.
On May 3rd, the City Council met and the meeting room was filled with many residents that were reportedly present to get a report on John Doe. John Doe had been the headliner for the Daily World. (yep, they bought into this one too) It seems that the city has been sued because of John Doe's actions. You know, his involvement in that woman's death. But wait a minute, how did everyone find out about John Doe's involvement. Are there witnesses? Did someone see it?
According to the ‘street version' and the one memorialized in the form of a lawsuit, John Doe was pursuing a female resident at a high rate of speed. The woman dialed 911 in an attempt to get help. During the chase, the woman lost control of her vehicle and crashed. She died as a result of the crash. These events occurred on January 16, 2008. A few days after the woman's death, Fred Fielder, then Chief of Police for the City had a warrant issued for his arrest. The allegation was violation of Arkansas' Freedom of Information laws related to the release of 911 tapes and logs. From that point forward, the legend of the John Doe caught fire.
The ‘street version' reports that the chief was charged because he refused to release the incriminating 911 tapes. You know, the tapes that would expose John Doe. The charges against the Chief were eventually dropped but John Doe's legend grew. It became part of the 2010 campaign season when the current mayor distributed flyers referencing the event. So, why has John Doe never been arrested?
A closer look turns the urban legend on its ear. Court documents show that the affidavit for warrant signed by a Daily World reporter, Michelle Page, was signed on January 15, 2008. She claimed she requested the tapes and logs for January 9, 2008. She claimed she actually made the request on January 10, 2008. What she was looking for is still unclear but the records sought were clearly prior to the date of the accident involving the woman, January 16, 2008. So, there was no relationship between the Chief's legal battle, the deceased woman, and 911 tapes of that event.
It seems that those desperate for a destructive rumor to put out on John Doe seized an event, the woman's death. A set of events set in motion prior to the woman's death came to fruition immediately afterwards and those who were desperate to believe a destructive rumor seized the torch and ran with it. Unfortunately, no one has asked some simple yet critical questions. If the woman dialed 911 from a cell phone, wouldn't her own records show that call regardless of what records or recordings the city preserved. Hmmmmm???? Besides, the 911 logs do exist and they show a call from a residential phone reporting the accident.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Facts
Additionally, If there are no witnesses, who told the original story? How does anyone know the substance of a conversation that the woman had or didn't have on a cell phone? The woman could not have told and surely, John Doe didn't tell. What about her blood alcohol level being nearly four times (.31%) above the legal limit? That's enought to send a person into a coma! Just where does all of this stuff originate?
My guess is that it started in the back of some dimly lit room with more than water as the primary thirst quencher. The sad part of the story is that the woman's family has now bought into the story or been led to believe it to be plausible by others with more sinister motives. One thing is for sure, the facts of the real John Doe story will eventually come to light. Until then, the legend appears to be poised to grow.