POTTS, James "Jim" Franklin
Friday, August 29, 2003 Miami News-Record
James Jim Franklin Potts
James Jim Franklin Potts of Wyandotte died Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2003, in Galena, Kan. He was 51.
Potts was born Dec. 29, 1951, in Miami to Jack and Billie (Brewster) Potts.
He lived in the area most of his life, graduating from Miami High School in 1970.He was a member of the Cherokee Tribe.
An Army veteran, in 1985 he re-enlisted with the Army and served in California, Lawton, Louisiana, Germany and Bosnia.
He was discharged in 1997.He worked for the Joplin, Mo., Fire Department for 10 years and the Ottawa County Sheriffs Department. He later worked as a legal investigator for Loring and Wyant Law Firm in Miami. He was currently working as a private investigator.
He married Carolyn Lyons on May 18, 1985, in Waurika. She survives, of the home.
Additional survivors include three sons and their wives, Brad and Heather Potts of Midland, Texas, Matt and Angie Potts of Lubbock, Texas, and Brian Potts of North Miami; his mother, of Miami, and four grandchildren, Megan Potts, Louren Potts and Christine Potts of Midland and Jared Potts of Lubbock.
He was preceded in death by his father and one son, Arron Potts.
Services will be 2 p.m. Friday at the Paul Thomas Funeral Home in Miami with the Rev. Jerry Von Moss officiating.
Burial will be in G.A.R. Cemetery in Miami. Pallbearers will be Ben Loring, Eddie Wyant, Sam Robinson, Mark Robinson, Craig Walker and Scott Voorhees.
Honorary pallbearers will be Chuck Stotts and Larry Miller.The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home.
Friday, August 29, 2003 Miami News-Record
Potts, James "Jim" Franklin
James F. Potts found 1 result. . .
Published: Thursday 2003/08-28 Joplin Globe
James F. Potts
WYANDOTTE, Okla. - James "Jim" Franklin Potts, 51, a legal investigator, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2003.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Paul Thomas Funeral Home, Miami, Okla. Burial will be in G.A.R. Cemetery, Miami. Visitation will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
Jack Potts, Miami, died Wednesday, July 12, 2000, at Integris Baptist Regional Health Center, Miami, after a sudden illness. He was 76.
The service is 10 a.m. Monday, at the Paul Thomas Funeral Home chapel, Miami, with the Rev. Jerry Von Moss officiating.
Burial is in GAR Cemetery, Miami.The military rites will be conducted by the NEO Veterans Funeral Detail. Masonic rites will be conducted by the NEO Veterans Funeral Detail. Masonic rites will be conducted by the Miami Lodge No. 140 A.F.&A.M.
The family will receive friends from 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday, at the funeral home.
Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2000 Miami News-Record
Pg. 8; Wed. Feb. 11, 2004
The Death of James F. Potts
I know you don't know me and most
of you didn't know my husband. My
husband was James F. Potts, who was
found on the side of the highway south
of Galena, across from Schermerhorn
Park on August 26, 2003 at approxi-
mately 6:15 a.m., with a gunshot wound
to the head.
The detective told me that morning
when they notified me, that he had
committed suicide. That was less than
two hours after he was found.
Do I believe he committed suicide?
No I do not. My husband, Jim was the
most honest, sincere, compassionate,
hard working, caring man you could
ever meet. He would have given the
shirt off his back, if you had wanted it.
My husband was in Galena work-
ing. He was a private investigator and
was one of the best you will ever find.
Jim was not suicidal! He had his own
business going good after a long hard
struggle, he was remodeling his dream
home on the lake, which was almost
done, his grandchildren, with the new-
est one following in his footsteps, play-
ing the drums. When Jim's dad was so
sick, he was terrified that he would
commit suicide. Jim was adamant
against suicide, never believed it to be
Jim would have left me a note if he
had planned on doing such a thing, to
tell me why and to say he was sorry for
whatever reason, like he had done for
23 years of our marriage. Jim was a
proud man and he never would have
shot himself on the side of a highway
where everyone could see him in that
shape, nor would he leave his car run-
ning and headlights on. Jim loved life
too much, he was happy, free-spirited,
and was looking forward to the future.
Everyone that knew Jim, knows he did
not commit suicide.
I just want the person or persons
responsible for my husband's death to
know, besides taking the love of my
life from me, they have also caused me
to lose our home, which Jim put his
blood and sweat into, which was his
dream home, and I can't save that. I
was left with not only our bills to-
gether, but also his business bills. I had
to sell everything from our life to-
gether less than a month after losing
Jim because I had to move and couldn't
fit very much in this small place. I've
lost Jim's boat and Jim's dog, my dog
and to whoever stole my wedding rings
shortly after the funeral, I don't see
how you can live with your conscience.
I've lost Jim's trailer because his so-
called best friend decided to steal and
keep for himself or sold it, not sure yet
which one it is. The promises some so-
called good friends made but have
never fulfilled. How they can do that to
Jim after all he did for them, I will
So whoever is responsible, I hope
you are happy, because you've taken
more from me than anyone could ever
imagine. The most precious was my
husband's life and for that I can never
I hope no one ever has to go through
what I have endured and especially
what Jim had to endure. I hope he didn't
Whoever is responsible, just re-
member, someday you will have to
stand before God! And this time you
will be face to face with Jim and not
sneaking up and shooting him from
behind! I guarantee you won't win in
Mrs. Jim Potts.
Pg. 8; Wed. Feb. 11, 2004
To see Comments made to Globe Click Here
Family disputes 'suicide' Investigator was investigating complaints against Galena police
Published April 10, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
GALENA, Kan. - South of Galena, past Schermerhorn Park, a silver-gray, 1985 Buick LeSabre was parked along the southbound lane of Highway 26.
The car was straddled on the highway and the shoulder, just past a driveway leading to Triple W Ranch. The car's headlights were on, and the engine was running.
On the gravel next to the car's rear tire on the passenger side was Jim Potts. The 51-year-old private investigator from Wyandotte, Okla., was dead, shot in the back of the head.
It was 6:11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2003.
Investigators quickly concluded that Potts committed suicide, and the case was closed.
But Carolyn Potts never believed the ruling, and she remembered a serious conversation her husband had with her about a month before his death.
"If anything happens to me, I want you to look at the Galena Police Department," she said he told her. "He said, 'Carolyn, listen to me. I'm serious. If you delve into it, if you ask too many questions, you're next.'"
Now, Potts' widow and his three grown children are asking those questions in hopes that the case will be reopened.
As part of an investigation conducted over several months, the Globe has uncovered information that raises questions about the ruling that the death was a suicide. Here's what was found:
Experts who analyzed the autopsy report noted the rarity of suicides in which the gunshot wound is to the back of the head.
An expert said it was not clear from the autopsy report from what distance the gun was fired.
Another expert said the gun probably would have left gunpowder residue on the hand if the shooting had been a suicide, yet no residue was found on either of Potts' hands.
Galena residents had been urging Potts to investigate the Galena Police Department in the weeks before his death.
Published April 18, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
Not only does the Potts family deserve answers, the community of Galena needs them, too. The plainspoken fact is that there is nothing on the public record pointing to the death of private investigator Jim Potts as being a suicide.
The cardinal rule in law enforcement is to seek the truth, regardless of where it leads. Our system of justice depends on that. In the case of Potts' death, there is no evidence investigators did anything but reach a snap conclusion based on ... well, nothing that we can see.
Potts was a 51-year-old private investigator from Wyandotte, Okla. He had been asking questions in Galena, Kan., about alleged police brutality in the community.
His body was found along the southbound lane of Highway 26 outside Galena early on the morning of Aug. 26, 2003, lying beside his car, the engine running and the headlights on. A police report indicated that there was a driver's license near his left hand and a black, .38-caliber handgun near his right foot.
That is about the extent of what the public knows. Serious questions appear to never have been answered:
While an autopsy report says a gunshot wound to the back of the head was consistent with being self-inflicted, there is nothing in the report to indicate the distance from which the gun was fired.
No gunpowder residue was found on either of Potts' hands, and the gun found at the scene apparently was never tested to see whether that particular weapon would leave residue.
Within hours of discovering the body, police went to Potts' home to inform his wife, Carolyn, that he had committed suicide, a conclusion reached with no supporting evidence.
These are just many of the unanswered questions. The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department, despite the family's request of it to do so, has refused to release any investigative records it has of the death.
Cherokee County Sheriff Bob Creech has a duty to the public. He should immediately make any records on Potts' death available for public inspection and should call in an outside agency to re-examine the death and the quality of the investigation into it.
The Galena Sentinel-Times
Wed., April 21, 2004
Miriam Barton, Editor
The death of private investigator Jim Potts, and how Cherokee County officials handled the investigations, had raised many questions in the public's mind long before the story hit the papers.
The fact that Potts was investigating the Galena Police Department's alleged questionable behavior towards its citizens, as well as into the then Police Chief Cameron Arthur's past, plus the fact that the county investigator in charge of Potts' death had also worked for the Galena Police Department and Arthur during the same time period, screams to have the criminal investigative records opened to the public so the controversy can be put to restor, at the least, have an outside agency look over the investigation.
Cherokee County says that it will not release the criminal investigation records because it would "serve no purpose". Whose purpose are they talking about? It is not the Potts family. Carolyn Potts wants to have those files opened. Jim Potts was her husband, after all.
The Potts family have lived in a nightmare since this started, questioning what the county told them and questioning the county's method of investigating Jim's death. It has been their word against Cherokee County law enforcement.
It took over a month for this newspaper to get information on Potts' death, even though the Sentinel tried to get information the day after Potts was found. The newspaper was told by the detective that it was not the county's policy to send press releases on suicides. But after questioning our motives for wanting the information in the first place, (forget that we are a newspaper), the detective said he would type something up and fax it to us, which he never did. The detective did say that the official ruling of the suicide would not be made until the autopsy came back. So, if a ruling of suicide had not been made, what was the problem of giving official information as to a "man" found dead south of Galena?
Is it possible that the county tried to keep this incident out of the media's eye because of who the dead man was and what he had been doing in Galena? Is the county trying to protect the ex-police chief? These are the questions, questions of a possible cover up, that are fermenting in this town. Why not put to rest this burning question, and open the records.
Carolyn Potts has stated that she was told by the county that her husband's license was found in the front seat of the car. Galena Police, who were first on the scene, say that it was on the ground, by Potts' hand. She also says the autopsy said, according to initial information, that he was found seated next to his vehicle, not laying on the ground as police said.
The fact that the four law enforcement officers who went to talk to Carolyn Potts that day, all had different accounts later of what took place this doesn't sound right, either. Law enforcement officers should be aware of what takes place in all situations. And, if these men didn't keep notes on that day, they should have especially if they needed to refer back as to what happened.
After all, this was the death of a private investigator who was found alongside a highway with a bullet wound to the back of the head. Potts had been in the law enforcement community for a very long time, not only as a private investigator, an Ottawa county deputy, and a Joplin Fire Fighter, but also a member of the Tri-County Drug Task Force. Jim Potts deserves better than what he got, as does his family.
The people of Cherokee county deserve better as well.
It looks like it was an investigation that was hurried, with little or no real forensic work done. If that is not the case, then Cherokee county has no reason to be worried about letting "light" into the criminal investigation of James Franklin Potts' death.
Opening those records and having a complete investigation by an outside source is the only way to bring an end to this controversy.
The Galena Sentinel-Times
Wed., April 21, 2004
Records released in death of investigator
Case was ruled suicide; man was contacted about looking into Galena Police Department
Published May 07, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
COLUMBUS, Kan. - Cherokee County Undersheriff Gary Allen has released to The Joplin Globe copies of the investigative reports in the Aug. 26, 2003, death of private investigator Jim Potts.
The copies were provided this week in response to a request filed under the Kansas Open Records Act by Globe attorney Charles Buchanan. Allen had denied a previous request for the records. Potts' widow had given her consent for the release of the information.
The investigative reports include typed summaries of interviews with a witness who says he saw Potts' car and with Potts' widow, Carolyn Potts, on the day of his death; and with Gary Ice, an investigator in the Ottawa County district attorney's office, on Sept. 1, 2003. It also includes Cherokee County sheriff's Detective Sean Putnam's description of the crime scene.
Also included are Putnam's typed notes relating to a telephone conversation with Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Bruce Adams on Oct. 14, 2003. The investigative file also includes copies of the preliminary and final autopsy reports.
"We felt this case has drawn more speculation than it deserves," Allen said Thursday. "We felt it best as an agency to release the record to quell some of the myths once and for all."
Potts' body was found shortly after 6 a.m. lying face-up near the rear, passenger-side tire of his car, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head. His car, engine running and headlights on, was facing south, straddling Highway 26 and the shoulder of the road. His .38-caliber revolver was by his right foot, with a spent .38-caliber hollow-point shell casing nearby. His driver's license was upside down by his left hand.
Putnam visited Carolyn Potts within hours at her home in Wyandotte, Okla., and told her that her husband had committed suicide.
He was accompanied by Ottawa County District Attorney Eddie Wyant, Ice and Bob Ernst, with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.
Some Galena residents had been in touch with Potts about hiring him to investigate complaints against the Galena Police Department and then-police Chief Cameron Arthur.
The investigative reports that were released do not include any photographs of the crime scene.
"It is our decision not to release per your request the scene photographs taken during the investigation, as our agency believes they would serve no purpose and would cause additional emotional grief to Mrs. Potts should they be viewed or duplicated," Allen wrote in a letter dated May 4 responding to the newspaper's request.
Globe Editor Edgar Simpson said the newspaper disagrees with the Sheriff's Department regarding the photos.
"We feel the pictures are a vital part of the public record," Simpson said. "While we have no intention of actually running them in the newspaper, we feel they are important in helping us provide context for our readers in understanding what happened to Mr. Potts and how local law enforcement handled his death."
Suicide declared within hours
Reports in man's death show witness was never pursued by authorities
Published May 09, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
GALENA, Kan. - Within hours of discovering a Wyandotte, Okla., private investigator lying dead on the side of the highway, shot in the back of the head, Cherokee County authorities were calling the death a suicide.
Earlier that morning, investigators had questioned a Galena man who was driving north on Highway 26 into Galena. John Link told deputies that he saw a car pull off the road, thought he saw movement in front of the car and by the time he could stop to see if help was needed, found a man lying in a pool of blood.
Investigative reports in the Aug. 26, 2003, death of 51-year-old Jim Potts were released this week by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department in response to a request filed under the Kansas Open Records Act by The Joplin Globe's attorney, Charles Buchanan.
The reports also revealed that another Galena resident told Potts' widow that he had seen Link that morning soon after he had found Potts. The man told Carolyn Potts, according to investigative reports, that Link had blood all over his clothes that morning. The investigative reports did not include any follow-up with that man.
Nor did the Sheriff's Department conduct tests that crime-scene experts say are normally routine in ruling out a suicide.
Here's what the Globe found in reviewing the investigative reports and interviewing Cherokee County Undersheriff Gary Allen:
A .38-caliber revolver, owned by Potts and found by his right foot, was never tested for fingerprints or submitted into evidence.
The victim's hands were never tested for gunshot residue.
Interviews were conducted with three people: Link, the Galena man who found Potts' body; Potts' wife, Carolyn; and Gary Ice, an investigator with the Ottawa County, Okla., district attorney's office and a former associate of Potts'. Potts, a former Joplin firefighter, had worked for the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department from 1982 to 1985, when he re-enlisted in the Army. He was injured in 1997 while unloading a truck and went back to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, then worked as an investigator for two Miami, Okla., law firms before going into business for himself about nine months before his death.
Carolyn Potts and her family continue to dispute the suicide ruling. Efforts by the Globe to locate Link for comment have been unsuccessful.
Potts was found dead outside Galena, Kan., shortly after 6 a.m. Aug. 26. His car, with the engine still running and the headlights on, straddled the southbound lane of Highway 26 and the shoulder.
Potts' body, according to the investigative reports, was found lying face-up near the rear passenger-side tire. He had died of a gunshot wound to the back of his head. His .38-caliber revolver was by his right foot, a spent shell casing in the gun. His Oklahoma driver's license was upside down by his left hand.
Link, who had been driving on Highway 26 toward Galena, was reportedly the man who found Potts' body. He told investigators that he saw what would later be identified as Potts' car pull over to the side of the road. After Link discovered Potts' body, according to reports, he saw a car coming so he got back in the road to try to stop the car. According to his statement, the car would not stop. Link then went and made contact with someone who called the death in to the Galena Police Department. The report does not name the person who made the call.
Carolyn Potts has told the Globe that her husband had been asked to investigate the Galena Police Department in the weeks before his death. Galena resident Bob Shryock has told the Globe that Potts met with him and his wife at their house about two months before his death. He said Potts told him that a Tulsa, Okla., lawyer had hired him to investigate allegations of police mistreatment of Alberto Reyes, whose arm was broken on April 25, 2003, while he was being arrested.
George Jackson, a former Galena city commissioner, said he had met with Potts in late July or early August at the Miami, Okla., law office where Potts worked. They had talked on the phone before the meeting about Potts investigating complaints about the Galena Police Department.
Wayne Hill, of East Moline, Ill., has spent the past 15 years as a homicide-reconstruction specialist for police agencies. He wrote the textbook "Homicide Event Reconstruction Sciences." The textbook is used in the criminal-justice department at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.
"You just can't be too thorough," Hill said. "You've got to interview relatives, business associates, potential enemies. You've got to do all this before declaring a shooting death is self-inflicted. That's the problem with a half-hearted investigation. The rumor mill can run rampant and you can't disprove it."
Sheriff's Detective Sean Putnam, in his investigative report, wrote that before he told Carolyn Potts of her husband's death, he had called the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department in reference to "an Ottawa County resident who had committed suicide in Cherokee County, Kansas."
Allen confirmed that only Link, Potts' wife and Ice, the investigator who had worked with Potts, were interviewed. Allen said that if the victim had no potential enemies and had money problems or family problems, then the investigation might lean toward a suicide ruling.
Hill said investigators should have swabbed the hands for gunshot residue and placed paper bags on the hands with rubber bands to preserve remaining residue.
Hill said that when a revolver is fired, residue typically spews from the front and back of the cylinder and from the barrel.
Allen has said that bagging the hands is standard procedure in most cases when a suicide is suspected, but that apparently was not done in this case. He said his department also did not swab Potts' hands.
"The swabbing would not have been done by us," Allen said. "Anything like that, we're going to let the pathologist do to obtain a better sample."
There is no record that any swabbing was ever done.
Hill said the absence of other tire tracks or footprints at the scene could suggest that the death was a suicide.
Allen said no tire tracks or footprints could be discerned on the asphalt of the highway or the driveway a few feet to the north of the car. The investigative reports do not mention tire tracks or foot prints.
Putnam, the lead investigator for the Sheriff's Department in the case, had worked part time for the Galena Police Department, the same department Potts had been asked to investigate.
Hill said Putnam should not have been involved with the investigation. "If it was me, I would say, 'Excuse me, sheriff, I have a conflict of interest here,'" Hill said.
Allen said that Putnam was the investigator on duty on the morning of Potts' death and that he had no idea when he arrived on the scene Potts was a private investigator.
"Later on came the rumor mill that he was investigating the city of Galena," Allen said. "He was well into the case before those comments were made, and he had already determined it to be a suicide."
Allen said the department didn't see any reason to involve an outside agency or place someone else in charge of the investigation.
"I don't see that it was a problem," Allen said.
He said that although people in Galena have said they had talked with Potts about investigating the Galena Police Department and said he was working for a lawyer, no one has come forward to say they hired Potts.
"I would think those individuals would say, 'He was working for us,'" Allen said. "We don't deal in innuendo or rumor. We deal in facts and evidence."
Gun not checked
Newton County, Mo., Sheriff Ron Doerge has investigated many homicides and suicides in his 25 years in law enforcement. He said he was not familiar with the Potts case but discussed how his department handles shooting deaths.
"Anytime it's a gunshot death, first of all you have to start with an eye toward it being something other than a suicide," Doerge said.
He said he has never investigated a suicide in which the gunshot entry wound is in the back of the head.
Doerge said some aspects that should be examined are the angle of the projectile, the direction of blood spatters, how close the weapon was to the victim, and whether there was "tattooing" of the skin from a gun fired from point-blank range. If there is no tattooing, he said, the shot was fired from farther away.
An autopsy on Potts' body was conducted by Dr. Erik Mitchell, at Frontier Forensics in Topeka, Kan. He ruled that Potts died of a gunshot would consistent with self-inflicted injury. Mitchell declined to answer questions about the autopsy.
He wrote in his report: "There is a contact gunshot wound to the head with the entry well behind and below the right ear and the exit in the left temple ... While the entry site is not usual for self-inflicted injury, it is not mechanically impossible."
Doerge said that instead of placing paper bags on the hands, his department usually swabs the hands to gather samples of gunshot residue at the scene. He said it is also important to check the gun for fingerprints. He said that if the victim's fingerprints are the only ones found on the gun, it is probably a suicide.
Allen said the Potts gun was not checked for fingerprints.
"I don't believe the gun was submitted, no," Allen said.
Doerge said it's also important to carefully examine the area around the body in every direction for any evidence. He said investigators must also make numerous sketches and take numerous photographs.
"You don't want a bunch of people tramping around" the death scene, Doerge said.
Allen said the Sheriff's Department would re-examine the case if relevant information becomes available, but he said that has not happened.
"Our information is he was not investigating the city of Galena," Allen said. "He was not investigating the police chief. There was no reason to meet with anybody In Galena. He was not here to do anything other than commit suicide."
Police probe verified
Lawyer: Investigator working on Galena case at time of death
Attorney says autopsy aspects pose problems
Published May 12, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
Private investigator Jim Potts at the time of his death was investigating allegations of police brutality by the Galena (Kan.) Police Department for attorney Roger Johnson, something that Johnson says he told authorities.
Cherokee County (Kan.) Undersheriff Gary Allen said last week that he had no evidence that Potts was investigating Galena police.
"He was not investigating the police chief," Allen said. "There was no reason for him to meet with anybody in Galena. He was not here to do anything other than commit suicide."
But Johnson says Potts did have reason to be traveling to Galena on the day of his death, and that the probe of the Police Department was still under way. He said he sees the obvious question as being: If Potts was going to commit suicide, why would he go to Galena to do it?
Johnson, with the Joplin law firm of Little, Little, Gallagher & Johnson, said Tuesday that he retained Potts on June 9, 2003, to investigate a complaint of police brutality against the Police Department and former Galena police Chief Cameron Arthur. One of Alberto Reyes' arms was broken as he fought with police while being taken into custody on suspicion of drug possession on April 25, 2003.
Potts, of Wyandotte, Okla., was found dead shortly after 6 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2003, just south of Galena. His car, with the engine running and the headlights on, was parked straddling the southbound lane of Highway 26 and the shoulder. He was lying face-up near the passenger-side rear tire, with his .38-caliber revolver near his left foot and his Oklahoma driver's license near his left hand.
The gunshot entry wound was in the back of Potts' head, with an exit wound at his left temple.
Investigative reports in the case, obtained last week by the Globe from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department with a Kansas Open Records Act request, indicated that a witness, John "Roo" Link, discovered Potts' body when he stopped to try to help a person he thought may have been a troubled motorist.
The investigative reports include no mention of the possibility that the death may have been a homicide, and indicate that investigators declared the death was a suicide before informing Potts' wife of that finding.
Johnson said Sean Putnam, then a detective with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department, contacted him about Potts' death on Sept. 16, 2003. There is no mention of the conversation in the investigative reports.
"I told him at the time we were investigating the Reyes case, and Potts was doing an investigation into the Galena Police Department at my request," Johnson said.
Johnson said he told Putnam he was concerned that the Sheriff's Department could not be objective in its investigation because Johnson represented former Cherokee County Treasurer Sharon Carpino in her civil lawsuit against the county and Sheriff Bob Creech.
Criminal drug-possession charges against Carpino were dismissed when a judge ruled that deputies had coerced a statement from Carpino upon which a search warrant of her home was based.
Johnson said Potts did not investigate the Carpino case for him.
Johnson said Putnam told him that Creech would not be involved in the investigation of Potts' death. He said Putnam did not reveal to him that he had worked part time for the Galena Police Department.
Putnam, reached by phone at the Bel Aire (Kan.) Police Department, said he didn't think it was necessary to include Johnson's comments in the investigative file.
"It was after the investigation was already over," Putnam said.
Putnam initially said that Johnson did not tell him that Potts was working for him and investigating the Galena Police Department, but that Johnson told him he had contacted Potts about that matter.
Putnam later called back to the Globe, saying he had reviewed his notes and that Johnson had told him that he was working with Potts.
Johnson said the investigation of the Reyes case was still under way at the time of Potts' death.
"It seems obviously odd to me that he would choose to be in the city of Galena to commit suicide when he lived all the way in Wyandotte and coincidentally happened to be investigating the city in that same time frame.
"We still had the Reyes case open. We expected Potts to carry on with the investigation he had started. There was no specific assignment I had for him. He knew that I was interested in whatever information he could gather."
Scott Voorhees, another attorney with the law firm, said Potts had told him in the past that he carried his gun with him in his car, but not on his body. He said Potts told him that if he were to be pulled over by police, he would inform police immediately that he had a loaded gun in the car and where it was located.
Voorhees contacted the Kansas Bureau of Investigation about Potts' death. The investigative report in the case notes that KBI agent Bruce Adams contacted Putnam on Oct. 14, 2003, and told him Voorhees said that Potts was working for his law firm.
Voorhees said Adams told him about the limits to the KBI's jurisdiction, and that local police must invite the agency to become involved.
Johnson provided a copy of an interview Potts conducted with a witness to Reyes' arrest. The interview was conducted June 24, 2003, in Galena. The witness identified Arthur and former police Sgt. Troy Newman as being at the scene, and other unidentified officers. He said the police tackled Reyes and broke his arm, though the man made no move to resist.
Johnson said medical records he obtained in the case showed that while Reyes was at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, his stomach was pumped without his consent, he was sedated without his consent, and a tube was forced down his throat.
Arthur had alleged that Reyes had swallowed drugs.
Johnson said the records show nothing resulted from Reyes' stomach being pumped.
The KBI ruled that the police use of force in the Reyes matter was justified.
Johnson said Potts was excited about the investigation. He read from an e-mail Potts sent him.
"Roger, as you know, I absolutely love a good civil rights violation case, especially when it involves excessive force," he said Potts wrote.
Johnson said residents began contacting Potts about the former police chief. Galena residents Bob Shryock and George Jackson and City Commissioner Darrell Shoemaker have said they talked with Potts about the possibility of investigating residents' complaints about Arthur.
Johnson provided a copy of an e-mail he received from Potts on Aug. 5, 2003. The subject line read: Galena Police Department.
"Roger, I wanted to let you know about this in case I disappear. ha! I got a call from Vena Jackson (Veva Jackson, George Jackson's wife) from Galena. Her husband is set to take over as the new City Manager in Galena as soon as the other one is gone. Vena is getting some citizens together to take up money to hire me to look into some additional cases of police brutality. I should be meeting with them as soon as she gets with her husband."
Johnson said he didn't take the e-mail seriously until after Potts died.
"He was just saying that if something happened to him, what I took from it afterwards, is this is where you ought to look," Johnson said. "I did not take seriously on Aug. 5 that Potts was concerned for his life by continuing the investigation."
Johnson said another troubling aspect of the investigation is that Potts' hands were not tested for gunshot residue. He said he contacted Ottawa County (Okla.) District Attorney Eddie Wyant and his investigator Gary Ice. He said he told them about his concerns as to whether the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department could conduct an impartial investigation.
"I asked for them to make sure they stayed in the loop to assure that whenever the autopsy was performed that powder tests were done on Jim Potts' hands to confirm that in fact he had used the gun himself in causing the fatal wound," Johnson said.
Despite the request, the tests were not conducted, according to the autopsy report.
"It's infuriating to me that this powder test was not done as a basic practice without anybody requesting it," Johnson said. "It's infuriating to me, even more so, that they knew we wanted it done and it wasn't performed."
Johnson said he would have thought the concerns over a conflict of interest with the Sheriff's Department would have prompted the department to seek outside help.
"What's apparent was the ongoing relationship between the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department and the city of Galena Police Department when Cameron Arthur was running it," Johnson said.
Johnson said he paid Potts about $800 for 20 hours of work at $40 an hour on the Reyes investigation. He said Potts worked about 20 hours a week on cases for the firm.
Allen, the undersheriff, said Tuesday that the attorney who hired Potts to investigate Arthur had been identified, and said the Reyes case was an old case on which the KBI already had issued a ruling.
"Their findings have no binding effect on anybody that wants to bring their own civil claim," Johnson said.
Allen was asked Tuesday what it would take for him to revisit Potts' death or ask another agency to investigate. He said: "Somebody to make us believe he had an investigative purpose in Cherokee County on the morning of his death."
Published May 15, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
Was the death of private investigator Jim Potts a suicide, as Cherokee County, Kan., authorities have said, or something more sinister that was somehow linked to his investigation of the Galena, Kan., Police Department?
The official answer is that Potts shot himself in the back of the head on the morning of Aug. 26, 2003, while standing outside his parked car just south of Galena.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Gary Allen had said that there was no investigation of police by Potts and that "he was not here to do anything other than commit suicide." But Joplin lawyer Roger Johnson said he had retained Potts to investigate an allegation of police brutality.
There are other disturbing questions. Why would Potts, who lived in Wyandotte, Okla., drive to Galena to kill himself? That seems more than a little odd. He also mentioned to Johnson in an e-mail that "in case I disappear," the lawyer should know that Galena residents were wanting to hire him to look into additional allegations of police brutality. Was Potts truly concerned for his life? Why didn't authorities take gunpowder residue tests on Potts' hands to determine if, indeed, he had shot himself?
We know the official version of what happened to Jim Potts on that lonely road. Perhaps he did drive to Galena to kill himself, as was concluded. But questions continue to nag. A new inquiry by an outside agency other than the Galena Police Department or the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department would seem in order. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation might seem a logical choice. But we think that the Justice Department should be asked to check into the case. After all, Potts was looking into an allegation of a civil-rights violation when his life came to a sudden, violent end.
Truth demands help in Cherokee County
Published May 16, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
Lady Justice is staggering in Cherokee County, Kan.
The question is: Who will set her right? Those most responsible are Cherokee County Sheriff Bob Creech, a conflicted officeholder pursuing a college degree; District Coroner Adam Paoni; and county Attorney Joanna Derfelt, who has yet to step into an increasingly strange situation.
The fate of Jim Potts is not in question. He is dead. Husband, father, private investigator, former Joplin firefighter. Good guy or bad, struggling or not, nothing will bring him back.
While Potts' fate in the mortal realm is settled, his death on a lonely road in the heartland of America and how it was handled by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department has raised deep and disturbing questions about truth, justice and the competency of law enforcement.
The Sheriff's Department's "investigation" is astonishing not in what it reveals but in what it does not. The department's actions, both in the hours after Potts' body was found Aug. 26, 2003, and since, are troubling for both what was done and what was not done.
When Lady Justice cries, who hears her call?
The evidence is increasingly mounting that the Sheriff's Department has conducted an active campaign to ensure that Potts' death continues to be treated as a suicide. I use those words - "active campaign" - carefully. What Kansas reporter Roger McKinney has uncovered and what the public record reveals is a systematic refusal to follow any information that may lead to a conclusion other than suicide in Potts' death.
Since questions first arose, Cherokee County Undersheriff Gary Allen has rested his insistence on the accuracy of the suicide ruling on the supposition that Potts, contrary to what at least three people told McKinney, had no client and was not actively investigating the Galena Police Department.
This, Allen suggested, meant Potts came to the outskirts of Galena that morning for the sole purpose of committing suicide.
In a 2 1/2-page letter to me, Allen asked for intervention so that "inaccuracies" in the Potts stories could be corrected.
"In conversation with McKinney, I have repeatedly told him that any law enforcement agency deals with facts and evidence in the investigation of a crime, not rumors, but he has continued to print rumors on the death investigation of Potts, and not factual evidence.
"McKinney has reported in his articles that Potts was investigating the Galena Police Department and Chief Cameron Arthur but the investigation of the death of Potts has never determined that Potts was investigating either Arthur or the Galena Police Department. No individual or agency has been found or come forward to state that Potts was retained to investigate anyone or agency in the City of Galena."
The fact is that Cherokee County Deputy Sean Putnam knew within two weeks after Potts' death that Joplin lawyer Roger Johnson had hired him to look into an allegation of police brutality that involved the Galena Police Department and Arthur. This information never made it into the investigative record.
Further, Johnson questioned Putnam as to whether the Sheriff's Department could conduct an impartial investigation. Johnson is the same attorney who represented former Cherokee County Treasurer Sharon Carpino in her lawsuit against the county in which she claimed that she was wrongfully arrested on drug charges.
Putnam, himself, was once a part-time Galena police officer, and Creech had attended a Galena City Commission meeting at Arthur's request during the height of questions over Arthur's tenure as chief.
When asked about Johnson's recent confirmation, Allen switched positions. Now, Allen says, proof of Potts' conducting an investigation involving Galena was not enough. "(We need) somebody to make us believe he had an investigative purpose in Cherokee County on the morning of his death," Allen told Roger.
The conflicts, reversals and refusals to ask questions and gather information are just a small part of the problems in this case.
In a conversation with me, Allen said Potts' wife, herself, led investigators down a path to suicide, telling Putnam that her husband was taking antidepressant medication and was worried about financial troubles.
Yet, Putnam's first words to Potts' wife, as suggested in the investigative records, was that her husband had committed suicide, indicating that a conclusion had been reached before talking to her.
Nothing was done to follow up on information provided by John Link. Assuming that the summary in the investigative reports of an interview with him is correct, Link saw Potts' car pull to the side of the road:
"Link stated he was driving north on Highway 26 towards Galena. He thought he saw a vehicle moving south and then pull over to the side of the road. He then thought he saw movement in front of the headlights of the vehicle.
"He stopped to see if the driver of the vehicle needed help. He kind of pulled off the road and walked in front of the car that was parked. He saw a man lying in a pool of blood. He saw a car coming so he got back in the road to try to stop the car. The car would not stop ..."
The significance of this is hard to overstate - based on the summary, Link could have seen Potts in the act of committing suicide. Did he? What exactly did he see?
Why weren't standard gunpowder-residue tests performed? This is an especially important question since a Ferrotrace spray, according to the autopsy, was negative. Ferrotrace is meant to help determine whether someone recently held the metal handle of a gun. Though unreliable, when it showed negative, wouldn't the next logical step be to test for actual gunpowder?
Why does the autopsy report say "decedent was found seated next to his vehicle" when all other information says he was found on his back? Why was no time of death documented?
Why wasn't the gun tested? Why do the investigative reports make no mention of Potts' computer or cell-phone records?
The list is endless.
It is possible that Potts' did, indeed, awake in the predawn hours of Aug. 26 and point his car toward Galena, his binoculars beside him and his camera equipment in the trunk, with the sole intention of killing himself.
But being possible is a damn poor standard for those whose jobs it is to seek nothing - as Allen says - but "facts and evidence."
Truth demands the light. Attempts to hide it, obscure it and misdirect it are often successful, but only for a while. Truth seems to have its own will, pushing against abusers, some well meaning, some not so much.
Justice, though often a handmaiden of truth, is different. Only the naive and fools believe justice is truly blind. Justice is a product of our system, imperfect, assailable by the winds of prejudice, politics, laziness or corruption.
In Cherokee County, Justice is wounded. Who will heal her?
Edgar Simpson is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to him, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, Mo. 64802.
Group to turn in grand-jury petition
Cherokee County group says 310 names collected
Published December 10, 2004 12:00 am - The Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
COLUMBUS, Kan. - Members of a group trying to start a grand jury in Cherokee County said they will submit their petition to officials for verification of signatures next week.
The group met Thursday to evaluate the status of the petition drive.
Judy Evans, a leader of Cherokee County Citizens for Better Government, said the group has 310 signatures of registered voters. Members are required to gather at least 232 valid signatures to impanel the jury.
Evans said a few more signatures would be good to have in case some of the signatures are thrown out.
"We can always use more names if anybody wants to carry a petition," she said.
Attending the meeting was Carolyn Potts, widow of Jim Potts, a Wyandotte, Okla., private investigator who was found dead Aug. 26, 2003, outside Galena. He died of a gunshot wound that entered his head in the right side of the back of his neck. The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department quickly declared the death a suicide.
Potts had been hired by a Joplin, Mo., attorney to investigate allegations of police brutality by the Galena Police Department.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has since reopened the investigation of Potts' death, but Carolyn Potts said in an interview Thursday night that she has heard nothing from the KBI since an initial introductory visit by agents.
Members of the residents group at times have said they would like the grand jury to investigate Potts' death and at other times have backed off that position.
Potts said she is torn about the possibility of the grand jury investigating her husband's death. She said she has heard that if the grand jury investigates the case and doesn't produce an indictment, no other agency would be allowed to investigate it. She said she doesn't know whether that report is correct.
She said she doesn't have much confidence at this point in the KBI investigation.
"I don't know what to do," she said.
The petition uses wording specified in state law, asking that a grand jury be summoned "to investigate alleged violations of law and to perform such other duties as may be authorized by law."
State law requires the petition circulators to submit the petition to the district court clerk, who would turn it over to the county clerk for verification of the signatures and the form of the petition. When she completes that work, she would return it to the district court clerk with information about whether the petition contains an adequate number of signatures of registered voters.
The district court judge then would consider the petition and summon a grand jury if he determines that the required procedures have been followed.
Members of the group circulating the petition have made allegations of police misconduct and other issues they say they want the grand jury to take up.
Judge John Gariglietti is chief judge of the 11th Judicial District, which includes Cherokee County. He said Wednesday that the group circulating the petition would not determine what the grand jury took up after it was formed.
"They won't be on it, unless by random chance," Gariglietti said. He said he supposes committee members could volunteer to testify before the grand jury or mail evidence for the panel to consider, but it would be up to the jurors to decide.
Gariglietti said that because testimony before a grand jury is secret, that might frustrate the group circulating the petition further.
"It may or may not satisfy the desires of those petitioning for the grand jury," he said.
Gariglietti said fellow jurors elect a presiding juror to run the proceeding.
"There's really not that much direction" in state law, Gariglietti said.
A grand jury may ask the prosecuting attorney to attend its sessions. The prosecutor also may be permitted to question witnesses and present other evidence to the jury.
The law states that grand juries also may employ special counsel and investigators, with the approval of the district judge. Those costs, and costs of compensating jurors for their time, are to be paid from the county general fund.
Attorney seeks reports in death of investigator
Published April 08, 2006 12:17 am - Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
GALENA, Kan. - An attorney defending Galena in a federal lawsuit filed by former police Chief Cameron Arthur has subpoenaed the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department for investigative reports related to the death of a private investigator outside Galena last August.
The U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., on Monday listed a "return of service" on a subpoena filed by attorney David Cooper with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department. The subpoena seeks "the investigation file, including photographs, of the investigation of the death of Jim Potts ... to include copies of all narrative reports, reports of forensic testing and audio or video recordings made as part of the investigation."
Cooper said he would not say why he is seeking the information. A return of service document is confirmation that the Sheriff's Department received the subpoena.
Potts, a private investigator from Wyandotte, Okla., was found dead of a gunshot wound to the back of his head just after 6 a.m. Aug. 26. He was found lying outside his car, which was parked straddling Highway 26 and the highway shoulder south of Galena. The engine was running and the headlights were on.
Within a few hours, the Sheriff's Department ruled the death a probable suicide. Several Galena residents have said Potts had contacted them in the weeks before his death about investigating residents' complaints about the Police Department and Arthur.
Arthur has said he had no knowledge of Potts.
Joplin Globe attorney Charles Buchanan has sent a letter to the Sheriff's Department on behalf of the newspaper seeking copies of the investigative reports related to the death under the Kansas Open Records Act.
Arthur's federal lawsuit against the city and several city officials alleges employment discrimination. He was fired in November.Globe/T. Rob Brown
Jason Cummings (right) and Alex Belt, environmental health specialists with the Joplin Health Department, check out a spill Monday afternoon in the wake of an accident that left 3,000 gallons of apple juice concentrate on a parking lot near the entrance to the Joplin-Webb City Industrial Park.
Click here to view the letter sent by the FBI to U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts concerning the death of Jim Potts.
State reviewing death of Wyandotte man w/ FBI letter
Published April 07, 2007 10:34 pm - Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
GALENA, Kan. An assistant attorney general in the office of Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison is reviewing investigative files related to the death of Jim Potts.
However, a spokesman for the attorney generals office wouldnt provide additional information.
Kyle Smith, director of public and governmental affairs for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said the KBIs investigation has closed and the case had been turned over to the attorney generals office.
Its a challenging case. Ill leave it at that, said Smith.
A federal investigation also has concluded, according to a letter sent by an FBI official to a U.S. Senator from Kansas.
Potts, a private investigator from Wyandotte, Okla., was found dead just after 6 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2003. His car was parked straddling the southbound lane of Highway 26 and the shoulder, south of Galena. He was lying face up near the passenger side rear tire. A .38-caliber revolver was near his left foot and his Oklahoma drivers license was near his left hand.
An autopsy revealed that Potts died of a gunshot wound to the head, with the entry wound below and behind his right ear, at the base of the skull. The bullet exited his left temple in two places.
Joplin, Mo., attorney Roger Johnson had hired Potts to investigate a case involving a Galena police officer breaking the arm of a resident during an arrest. Some Galena residents also had contacted Potts about investigating complaints about then-police chief Cameron Arthur.
Roger, I wanted to let you know about this in case I disappear. ha! Potts wrote in an Aug. 5, 2003, e-mail to Johnson about a phone conversation with a Galena resident. Johnson has said he didnt take the e-mail seriously until Potts died.
The Cherokee County Sheriffs Department in its investigation almost immediately concluded the death was a suicide. Then-deputy Sean Putnam headed up the investigation. Putnam also was working part time for the Galena Police Department. Bob Creech was sheriff at the time.
Forensic pathologists interviewed by the Globe in 2004, including Dr. Cyril Wecht, coroner in Allegheny County, Pa., said Potts would have had to have held the gun upside down and pull the trigger with his thumb to kill himself in the manner described in the autopsy. They said that is unusual, but it has been known to happen.
Firearms consultant Wayne Hill Sr. said in 2004 that the autopsy photos showed the imprint of the gun sight at the top of the entry wound, indicating the gun was held in a normal manner.
I dont think he shot himself, Hill said at the time.
FBI, KBI probes
The KBI began its investigation in mid-2004 after being asked by Creech to do so following a series of stories in the Globe about the death and investigation.
The FBI began its investigation in 2005 after Potts widow, Carolyn Potts, sent a letter in 2004 to then-U.S. Rep. Brad Carson, D-Okla., who requested the FBI examine the case. The criminal section of the U.S. Justice Departments civil-rights division was overseeing the case.
Our investigation was closed on the 26th of January, Cynthia Magnuson, Justice Department spokeswoman, said last week. She would not offer any additional comment on the issue.
The FBI, according to a letter sent to U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, apparently waited for the KBI to finish its investigation, reviewed the KBI report and closed its investigation without further action.
The March 14 letter to Roberts, R-Kan., is signed by James Burrus Jr., assistant director of the FBIs criminal investigative division in Washington, D.C.
Our civil-rights unit determined that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation concluded that Mr. Potts death was a suicide after the KBI conducted an independent inquiry into the death of Mr. Potts at the request of the Cherokee County Sheriffs Office, Burrus wrote in the letter to Roberts. The Department of Justice examined the results of the Kansas City FBIs review and concluded that there was no evidence of a civil-rights violation. As a result, the FBI and the Department of Justice ended their review of this matter, the letter reads in part.
Carolyn Potts provided a copy of the letter to the Globe. She said Thursday she was frustrated and disappointed with the FBI.
They did not investigate not the way it should have been investigated, Potts said.
She remains convinced that her husband was murdered.
Attorney generals office
We did receive the case on March 6, said Ashley Anstaett, spokeswoman for Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison, on Thursday. Were looking at it right now.
Anstaett said she could not say anything more about the case.
Smith, with the KBI, said the state agency normally does not share its investigative reports with the FBI, because most KBI cases do not share jurisdiction with the FBI. He said it sometimes occurs in drug cases.
Its not common, but it does happen, Smith said. Its unusual.
Smith also said the KBI in providing its evidence to prosecutors normally does not make conclusions or recommendations. He said the agency presents the facts and allows the prosecutor to make a determination.
Carolyn Potts, widow of Jim Potts, said she determined in recent months that the revolver returned to her by the Cherokee County Sheriffs Department after her husbands death and identified as the one recovered from beside his body is registered to the Police Department in San Angelo, Texas.
Click here to view the assistant attorney general's letter.
State office rules investigator was not murdered in 2003 w/ assistant attorney general's letter to Carolyn Potts
Published October 06, 2007 10:07 pm - Joplin Globe
By Roger McKinney
GALENA, Kan. More than four years ago, a private investigator who had been hired to investigate the Galena Police Department was found dead beside a road outside of town.
He had a bullet wound behind and below his right ear, at the base of his skull. The bullet, which apparently has never been found, exited near his left temple in two places.
The Kansas attorney generals office has now concluded that Jim Potts was not murdered.
But the investigators widow and a lawyer for whom he was working at the time remain equally convinced that Potts did not commit suicide, which is what the authorities decided almost immediately after the body was discovered.
The latest ruling came after a Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe into the death.
Based upon our review of their investigation, there is no credible evidence to support a theory of homicide, Nola Wright, assistant attorney general, wrote in an Aug. 28 letter to Potts widow, Carolyn Potts.
Potts, of Wyandotte, Okla., was found dead just after 6 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2003. His car was facing south, straddling the southbound lane of Highway 26 and the shoulder. He was lying face up near the passenger-side rear tire. A .38-caliber revolver was near his left foot and his Oklahoma driver license was near his left hand.
A witness who discovered Potts body said in 2004 he was driving south on Highway 26 when he nearly hit Potts car, which was partly on the highway. Dale Dardenne said he pulled over to investigate and noticed the car was running before discovering Potts body.
Roger Johnson, a Joplin, Mo., attorney, had hired Potts to investigate the Galena Police Department and then-police Chief Cameron Arthur on behalf of a client whose arm was broken by one of Arthurs officers during an arrest.
Arthur was fired from his job in November 2003, after three years of almost nonstop controversy ranging from police brutality to unauthorized sale of police patches on the Internet.
While he was the subject of multiple complaints and probes, no formal charges were ever filed against him in connection with his job. He was charged with criminal property damage in connection with a home he rented in Galena, but that charge was ultimately dismissed.
Arthur, after moving away from Galena, sued the city alleging a violation of right to freedom of speech in connection with the rental-home dispute, and ultimately obtained a $150,000 settlement in that suit.
Some Galena residents who heard about Potts investigation also had contacted him about investigating complaints against the police chief.
Roger, I just wanted to let you know about this in case I disappear. ha! Potts wrote in an Aug. 5, 2003, e-mail to Johnson about a phone conversation with a Galena resident. Johnson said he didnt think Potts was in any danger when he received the e-mail.
Review of autopsy report, photos
The investigation into Potts death by the Cherokee County Sheriffs Department, then headed by Sheriff Bob Creech, was over within a few hours and the death had been ruled a suicide. The sheriffs deputy in charge of the investigation was working part-time for the Galena Police Department.
Forensic pathologists who reviewed the autopsy report and autopsy photos for the Globe in 2004 said that Potts would have held the gun upside down and pulled the trigger with his thumb to shoot himself behind his right ear. They said it was an uncommon way of committing suicide, but it sometimes is done that way.
Its very awkward, said Cyril Wecht, coroner in Allegheny County, Pa. Its not physically impossible, but its damned difficult.
Some of the conclusions reached by the forensic experts and criminologists the Globe enlisted to review the autopsy report and photos and to test the gun were:
n Gunpowder expelled from the gap between the chamber and the barrel of the gun would have caused stippling, small pockmarks, on Potts neck if the gun were held in the manner described. No stippling is visible in the autopsy photos.
n The hollow-point bullets contained in the revolver would be unlikely to make an exit wound if fired into the head. Harry Bonnell, a forensic pathologist and former chief deputy medical examiner for San Diego, Calif., said at the time that if the bullet had exited, it would be easily found near the body, but he doubted that there was an attempt to find it.
They just wrote it off as a suicide, Bonnell said.
n Potts hands were not tested for gunshot residue. Though the tests cannot determine with certainty who fired a gun, it could have determined if Potts hands were near the gun, Wecht said.
n Blood on the palm of Potts right hand in autopsy photos would not be there if he had fired the gun.
KBI, FBI, grand jury
Creech requested the Kansas Bureau of Investigation look into the case in mid-2004 after a series of stories about the death had appeared in the Globe. Creech said the Globe had created a frenzy. The Globe stories primarily focused on the way the death was investigated and how it varied from standard practice.
A grand jury also was convened in Cherokee County to look into the death in 2005, but no indictments resulted.
The FBI launched an investigation into the death in 2005 for the civil-rights division of the U.S. Justice Department. The federal agency concluded in January that there was no evidence of a civil-rights violation after reviewing the KBI investigative files.
The KBI turned its investigation over to the office of Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison on March 6.
Wright, the assistant attorney general, wrote in her letter to Carolyn Potts that the KBI had conducted an intensive and thorough investigation of her husbands death.
The autopsy report, the grand jurys refusal to rule this a homicide and the lack of evidence at the scene of his death warrant the conclusion that (1) his death was not a murder; and (2) there is no credible evidence, direct or circumstantial, linking any person to his death.
Wright wrote that she expressed her condolences to Potts.
I know that this is not the conclusion you wanted to hear, but as prosecutors, we must abide by certain standards, and we cannot bring criminal charges based on speculation, rumor or innuendo, Wright wrote in the letter.
Wright did not return calls to the Globe seeking answers to questions including what evidence was found of a suicide.
Frank Papish, the KBI agent who investigated the case, said he would need clearance from superiors to speak about the case, but he didnt return subsequent phone calls.
No more options
I dont know what other options I have, Carolyn Potts said. Ive tried everything I can think of. I cant believe our system is so bad.
Potts said all of the investigators dismissed the idea that her husband was investigating the Galena Police Department and police chief.
Johnson, the attorney who hired Potts, said he doesnt recall any KBI agent talking to him, or his partner, Scott Vorhees. He also was not called to testify before the grand jury.
I dont think justice has been done, Johnson said. They havent looked under every stone.
He said it is easy for investigators to conclude a death is a suicide because it doesnt require them to do any work. He said the information reported in the Globe provides more evidence of a murder than of a suicide, and he hasnt seen any information from authorities to counter that suggestion.
Until somebody shows me theyve done that, I remain convinced that this was not a suicide, Johnson said.
Wayne Hill Sr., an Illinois criminologist, said in 2004 that what he thought was an imprint of the gun sight at the top of the entry wound in autopsy photos of Jim Potts indicated that the gun was held in an upright, normal firing position and not upside down or sideways.