Friday, May 17, 2013

TBI Blasts Channel 4 Report on Disappearance of Holly Bobo

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Ahh, sweeps season, the time when breathless promos let you know what every TV station's investigative team has been working on for the past month.

Newschannel 5 had Scoopageddon himself, Phil Williams, delving into the state's motor pool (and finding some interesting stuff). Channel 2 has been hanging out at pill mills, looking at a doctor who allegedly prescribes too much. Fox 17? They are DETERMINED to get to the bottom of those surcharges on your utility bill as part of their "Waste Watch" series.

And Channel 4 went to the missing persons well, digging up what appeared to be new revelations in the case of Holly Bobo.

Reporter Dennis Ferrier promoted the scoop emphatically on Twitter:




The Bobo coverage was rolled into a short documentary — "Hunted: The Search for Holly Bobo" — where a group of private investigators called "Without Warning" and Ferrier walked through what appeared to be new details and theories about the missing 20-year-old woman.

The only problem? The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says there isn't anything new and that Channel 4's report may have wasted state resources.

The TBI issued a rare statement on Friday, blasting both "Without Warning" and WSMV.


"The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has determined that the non-profit organization “Without Warning” did not investigate the case of missing Tennessee woman, Holly Bobo, to law enforcement standards as reported by Nashville television station WSMV which aired several stories during newscasts this month as well as a special documentary which aired May 12, 2013.

While speaking to TBI Special Agents, each member of the private investigative team admitted that they regurgitated information they had heard and read in order to talk about the case on television. In addition, the founder of “Without Warning,” Sheila Wysocki, wrote in an email to a TBI Special Agent, “You all have to realize that we have been able to make any story surrounding this case a ratings winner and online success which was the goal. In return, someone may come forward to be the hero and give you all the right information to resolve this case.” Each member of the team stated the information provided to them came from the victim’s family.

Since the stories aired, TBI has gone through the appropriate legal channels to obtain the information provided to “Without Warning” as well as video footage from WSMV. No information contained in the documents and video has led to any new evidence in the two year old investigation. The majority of documents contained in the binders are print outs of social media sites, comments posted on various internet websites, personal notes, public records, news articles and a production shooting schedule.

By their own admission, members of “Without Warning” said they had no geolocation information about Holly Bobo’s cell phone after her disappearance including the exact locations and times the phone “pinged” as reported by WSMV. The source of the incorrect and unofficial cell phone information has stated that he told “Without Warning” members the information was not accurate when he provided it to them. TBI has obtained emails exchanged between members of the “Without Warning” team where they discuss the inaccuracy of the times, but used them as factual information regardless."

TBI Director Mark Gwyn called the story "erroneous" and said that "WSMV never confirmed any facts reported in the stories with our agency."

In response, WSMV news director Matthew Hilk didn't address the TBI's criticisms.

"WSMV is aware of law enforcement concerns about the findings of a private detective group working on behalf of Holly Bobo's family. A number of stories on Channel 4 simply reported on those findings. Those stories were done with the cooperation and blessing of the Bobo family.

Although the stories have been airing for several weeks, at no point did law enforcement contact WSMV to dispute any of the findings, until this week. Further, WSMV tried unsuccessfully to engage The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in discussions on the detective group findings, but TBI was unwilling to comment for the record until today's strongly-worded news release.

Channel 4 is committed to fair and accurate reporting in all stories, and is happy to review any concerns raised about the content of those stories. WSMV respects and supports the law enforcement agencies working diligently to solve the Holly Bobo case. We also respect the Bobo family's choice to hire private detectives in their quest for answers in Holly's disappearance."

"Without Warning" disagreed with the TBI statement.

"The entire Without Warning Team stands by its actions to help find Holly Bobo and strongly disagrees with TBI’s portrayal of WW’s efforts. The team is committed to assisting the family, the community and law enforcement solve her abduction and bring her home. Everything the team has gathered has been given to the family who has in turn made all resources available to TBI. The recent news stories have regenerated an interest in Holly’s case, including new tips and potential witnesses. Without Warning has thoroughly cooperated with the TBI and has offered its full resources to law enforcement for the common goal of bringing resolution for the family."

In summation: The TBI says WSMV never confirmed the story with them. WSMV says the TBI never said anything for weeks.

And Holly Bobo is still missing.

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