New Murder Mystery Hits Close to Home - TribPapers

New Murder Mystery Hits Close to Home

Photo by Sebastian Unrau.

Asheville – If you like true-to-life murder mysteries, well here’s one that hits close to home. Asheville Author and attorney William D (Bill) Auman released his book “If Trees Could Testify.” 

Based on the true story about the infamous Gahagan murders, the “cold-case mystery began with a double homicide that occurred in Madison County in 1983.” Defendants were eventually arrested and charged 18 years later. Author Auman “was the principal defense attorney in the actual case.”  

The book is a “fictionalized account that weaves a haunting tale of intrigue that includes biker gangs, organized crime and colorful characters such as the draft-dodging son of a snake-handling minister!  A search for justice for both victims and defendants who maintained their innocence is a central theme as the case unwinds and unveils a surprise conclusion.”

The Tribune has not reviewed the book, but if a 2002 Greeneville Sun news article from Greeneville, Tennessee covering the true-life case is any indication of how the book might read, it should be a real page turner. According to an April 2002 Sun article, “Charges that had been placed against three Greene County [TN] residents last year in connection with a 1983 robbery and double murder in Madison County…” were dismissed when the key prosecution witness died.

“Tom Rusher, district attorney for North Carolina’s 24th Judicial District, announced during a lengthy press conference at the Madison County Courthouse…Friday afternoon that he had dismissed all charges against the three because of the death this week of a key prosecution witness,” says the article.

The three, “Conley Cutshall of 212C Simpson St., and Cutshall’s sons, Randy of Greystone Road, and Harold formerly of Woodland Circle,” were charged in 2001 “…with the July 29, 1983, murders of elderly brother and sister William Grady Gahagan, 83, and Bonnie Mae Gahagan, 78, inside the residence they shared on N.C. Highway 208 in the Laurel community in northern Madison County.”

The article goes on to say, “Key prosecution witness, Earl Vance “Red” Metcalf, Jr., 59, of Marshall, died Tuesday, apparently of a “massive heart attack,” according to then Madison County Sheriff C. John Ledford. According to D.A. Rusher “…any chance prosecutors had of obtaining convictions in the cases against the Cutshalls died with [Metcalf].”

Sounds like a murder mystery worth reading from an author that was at ground zero
of the case.

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