MOULTON, Ala. -- An unusual post on the Moulton Police Department's Facebook page that addressed the ongoing search for a missing woman -- the wife of Moulton City Councilman Brent White -- received hundreds of reactions, comments, and shares from the public Friday afternoon.
Authorities are continuing to look for Jennifer Marshell White nearly a month since she was reported missing. Family members said she was last seen in Moulton on April 8.
Moulton Police took to Facebook around noon to, "give the benefit of the doubt to the well meaning but perhaps uninformed individuals and organizations who have expressed their opinions and speculations regarding Jennifer 'Marshell' White and her family."
The post complains about the "CSI" TV show effect where the public assumes investigations should have a quick resolution based on discovery of scientific evidence. The post contends reality doesn't work that way.
The Moulton Police Department post then says, "law enforcement does not 'show their hand' during open investigations," saying that would be a "foolish way to investigate."
The post then offers a list of a "few of the facts that we do know, some facts the well meaning people may not be aware of."
The listed "facts" include, both details of the investigation, personal information about the missing women's medical and marital history, the assertion that there is no evidence of foul play and that there is "zero evidence of an affair on Brent's part."
It also contends any suggestion that the Moulton Police Department is covering up for a city councilman is "ridiculous."
The list includes a number of claims and details, many focused on White's alleged behavior:
- Several law enforcement agencies have been involved in the search for Jennifer White;
- That she left her residence "voluntarily and alone;'
- The night of her departure she texted her husband and daughters, that indicated "that she would harm herself," and that her "earthly suit would not be found for days;"
- "There is absolutely no evidence that indicates that anything nefarious happened;'
- She was on "several medications that can have serious side effects," including "new or worsening behavior and thought problems;
- The couple was raising four grandchildren and the "marital problems mentioned in the media were the result of having to raise 4 children;"
- That "everyone has a breaking point:"
- "Brent's whereabouts have been verified (very early on I might add) the day that Marshell voluntarily left:"
- It also says Brent White has been interviewed by 5 experienced investigators, both from the Moulton Police Department and the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation;"
You can read the full post here:
The Moulton Police Department's Facebook page was taken down around 3 p.m.
"She's not here to defend herself, how dare they?" Jennifer White's daughter, Allison Cross was in disbelief when she read what the police department posted. "That to me should've been known better. That is completely inappropriate. You don't give information of an ongoing investigation to the public. You don't attack the victim. You don't release medical information."
WHNT spoke with Chief Lyndon McWhorter of the Moulton Police Department over the phone and he told us one of his officers wrote the initial post. "He read it to me. I told him at the time that I was worried about the possible HIPAA violations and information about Mr. White. And I said before you post it you should talk to Mr. White before you start naming stuff. He did. Mr. White wanted it posted. It got posted."
McWhorter said after it was posted he read it over and decided it needed to be taken down. He added that he takes full responsibility for the situation and the actions of those who work in the department. "And that comes back on me. It doesn't matter who put it on there."
"I'm not trying to accuse anybody of anything," said Cross. "I'm not suggesting that there was a murder. That was indicated in this Facebook post. I just want the truth. And the truth seems to make people around here very nervous. And that makes me very suspicious."
Allison believes that McWhorter should not be leading the investigation because her mother's husband is a city councilman.
We asked McWhorter if he sees his relationship with the missing woman's husband as an issue. "I don't," He responded. "The reason I say I don't is because you're right or you're wrong. Either way. It ain't gonna be no cover-up. Matter of fact anybody that would think it'd be a cover-up is foolish to think that we'd get all these state agencies to cover up something."
Chief McWhorter said White's case was the most stressful case he's ever worked. He apologizes to anyone who was offended by the post. He said he wasn't available for an on-camera interview until Monday.
WHNT reached out to Mayor Roger Weatherwax who said he would not speak on a situation that was, "over." When asked if he had confidence in the ability of the chief to lead the department said, Mayor Weatherwax said, "Yes."