Murder Sheet

You Never Can Forget: The Creek

November 24, 2020 Mystery Sheet Season 1 Episode 2
Murder Sheet
You Never Can Forget: The Creek
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Murder Sheet
You Never Can Forget: The Creek
Nov 24, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Mystery Sheet

Could a missing man accused of killing his girlfriend be responsible for the Burger Chef murders? Or is he yet another victim?

This episode covers one of the most confounding theories in the Burger Chef case. In 1981, Indiana State Police detectives Jim Cramer and Donovan Lindsay received a call from a jailhouse counselor. A young man was claiming to have information on the Burger Chef murders — an eyewitness account, in fact.

Allen Pruitt went on to tell police he saw two men abduct the employees from the restaurant three years before. And he named names, telling detectives exactly who he saw force the four victims out of the Burger Chef.

But revelations from yet another informant ultimately throw everything about Pruitt's story into question.

Here's a link to Donna McIntyre's group Missing and Not Forgotten. In the years since her friend Mary Ann Higginbotham vanished, Donna has worked as a tireless advocate for victims.

Follow the Murder Sheet on social media for the latest on the Burger Chef murders and future episodes: 

And send tips to [email protected] 

Show Notes Transcript

Could a missing man accused of killing his girlfriend be responsible for the Burger Chef murders? Or is he yet another victim?

This episode covers one of the most confounding theories in the Burger Chef case. In 1981, Indiana State Police detectives Jim Cramer and Donovan Lindsay received a call from a jailhouse counselor. A young man was claiming to have information on the Burger Chef murders — an eyewitness account, in fact.

Allen Pruitt went on to tell police he saw two men abduct the employees from the restaurant three years before. And he named names, telling detectives exactly who he saw force the four victims out of the Burger Chef.

But revelations from yet another informant ultimately throw everything about Pruitt's story into question.

Here's a link to Donna McIntyre's group Missing and Not Forgotten. In the years since her friend Mary Ann Higginbotham vanished, Donna has worked as a tireless advocate for victims.

Follow the Murder Sheet on social media for the latest on the Burger Chef murders and future episodes: 

And send tips to [email protected] 

Áine Cain: A quick content warning before we get started: This episode of the Murder Sheet describes instances of physical abuse and violence against women. 

*Sounds of birds and running water collected from the banks of White Lick Creek* 

The waters of White Lick Creek are sandy, quiet, and as gray as the clouds above. Standing on the banks, the air is thick with that salty smell of wet decay. Birds flap overhead. Logs poke up through the calm here and there. Who knows what else lies beneath the surface? 

We visited the creek in Mooresville, Indiana on a rainy day in October. A camo-clad man on an ATV rumbled by us a few times, probably wondering what’d made us trespass on hunting grounds armed just with a recorder and a selfie-stick. Other than him — and the understandably peeved property owner who confronted us on the walk back to the road — we were alone at this bend in the creek.

Kevin Greenlee: White Lick Creek — and the secrets it may or may not still hold — flows through the heart of our story today. It’s here in June of 1979 where a teenage boy noticed a sealed barrel, washed up on a sandbar in the middle of the water. Being a teenager, he got curious. So he took a carpenter’s hammer and cut a hole in the side of the barrel, one large enough for him to stick his hand into.

The teenager reached in and pulled out a small piece of carpet, then a bit of plastic.

When he inserted his hand again he felt a piece of rope. He tugged at it. A skull spilled out of the barrel, onto the sand.

Was it possible that he had just discovered the body of the first victim of the man who would go on to commit the Burger Chef murders?

*Eerie music plays*

Áine Cain: My name is Aine Cain.

Kevin Greenlee: And I’m Kevin Greenlee.

Áine Cain: And we’re the Murder Sheet. We’ll be taking a multi-part look into the Burger Chef murders. We’ll be presenting you with a new theory about what happened each week as part of our miniseries, “You Never Can Forget.”

On a weekly basis, you’re going to hear from figures you’ve never heard from before. You’re going to hear about facts that you’ve never heard before. And hopefully, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the sheer complexity of this awful crime.

Kevin Greenlee: We don’t just rely on what we’ve been told or what we’ve read. We have worked this case ourselves. 

We decided to do this podcast so we can tell you what we’ve learned and even clear up a few misconceptions. In this miniseries, we will give you the top theories about the crime. After we’re finished covering the Burger Chef case, the Murder Sheet will continue to investigate different restaurant related homicides for the rest of season one. 

Áine Cain: We’re the Murder Sheet, and this is “You Never Can Forget: The Creek.”

*Eerie music based on the Burger Chef jingle plays* 

Áine Cain: In the case of the Burger Chef murders, the victims were likely abducted in the town of Speedway, Indiana and transported into the woods of Johnson County, where they were murdered. That jurisdictional tangle meant that Indiana State Police took the lead on the case early on, with assistance from the other agencies. 

Kevin Greenlee: Most of the troopers assigned to investigate the Burger Chef murders had never worked a case like it before. Here’s Jim Cramer, who worked the case for the Indiana State police. 

Jim Cramer: WE WORKED OUT OF THE SPEEDWAY POLICE DEPARTMENT. I DON’T REMEMBER THE EXACT NUMBER, STATE POLICE-WISE. MAYBE 14, 18 SOMETHING LIKE THAT. WE WORKED IN PAIRS. WE WOULD MEET THERE IN THE MORNING AND THEY WOULD GIVE US 3 BY 5 INDEX CARDS WITH LEAD INFORMATION. TO FOLLOW UP. THEN WE’D LEAVE AND SPEND THE DAY RUNNING DOWN ALL THE LEADS WE COULD AND COME BACK AND TURN IN THE CARDS WITH ALL OUR RESULTS OF WHAT WE HAD DISCOVERED.

Áine Cain: One of the state troopers Cramer worked most closely with was Donovan Lindsay. Lindsay and Cramer would end up working on the Burger Chef case for years to come. 

Jim Cramer: DON WAS — HE WAS THE PERSON. YOU KNOW, AS INFORMATION CAME IN, TO MAKE SURE THE CASE WAS PUT TOGETHER, THE PAPERWORK WAS DONE. AS LEADS CAME IN, THEY WOULD FUNNEL THROUGH TO HIM. THERE WERE OTHER FOLKS INVOLVED, BUT DON, — HE WAS THE GUY. 

Áine Cain: In the early days, the Burger Chef murders brought to mind another Indiana mass killing fresh in the detectives’ memories.

Jim Cramer: IT WAS THE BIGGEST CASE A LOT OF US HAD WORKED ON IN OUR CAREER. SOME OF THE GUYS HAD BEEN INVOLVED ON THE PERIPHERY OF A SIMILAR CASE OUT IN HOLLANDSBURG THE YEAR BEFORE.

Áine Cain: In that crime, a group of men led by Roger Drollinger broke into a home, and forced the residents — a woman, her son and her three stepsons — to lie on the floor. All five were then shot; only the mother survived. Drollinger was behind bars within a couple of months. But a solution in Burger Chef proved more elusive. 

Jim Cramer: IT WAS GATHERING LOTS AND LOTS OF INFORMATION. I KIND OF EQUATED IT TO FISHING WITH A HOOK AND NO BAIT. YOU’RE CASTING AROUND TRYING TO DEVELOP WHAT INFORMATION WE CAN GET. 

Kevin Greenlee: Sometimes the leads they got were clearly nothing of value — like the many, many tips they received from people who claimed to have spotted men who resembled the composite drawings the police released of the suspects. But other times it seemed like what they were being told could potentially be the key to solving the entire case.

Jim Cramer: AROUND 1980 OR 1981 AN INDIVIDUAL CAME TO DON LINDSAY’S AND MY ATTENTION. WE ACTUALLY GOT A PHONE CALL FROM A COUNSELOR AT THE MARION COUNTY JAIL WHO SAID, “I KNOW YOU TWO ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THIS CASE BURGER CHEF.” AND SAID, “I’VE GOT SOME INFORMATION IF YOU WANT TO COME DOWN AND TALK TO ME WHICH WE DID.” HIS STORY BASICALLY WAS THAT THERE WAS TWO INMATES WHO GOT INTO IT AND THERE WERE COMMENTS MADE ABOUT THE BURGER CHEF. ONE OF THE PERSONS INVOLVED IN THIS WAS JIMMY FRIEDT. 

Áine Cain: Jimmy was the brother of Jayne Friedt — one of the Burger Chef victims. He was in jail after being arrested on cocaine trafficking charges. We will have quite a bit more to say about him in a future episode. The other person involved in the confrontation was a young redhead named Allen Pruitt who liked booze and fast cars. He’d been arrested on probation violation charges — we think. It’s hard to find correctional records that far back.

Kevin Greenlee: When Cramer and Lindsay went to talk with Pruitt, they learned that the man claimed to have visited the Speedway Dunkin’ Donuts with a friend on the night of the murders. The visit was awkward-- the men were drunk and a ex-girlfriend of Pruitt’s buddy was there — and so after a few moments Pruitt slipped out to the parking lot, clutching his roiling stomach.

He got out there just as the Burger Chef employees next door were being abducted. He was in a position to have seen the whole thing-- and even to identify the perps.

The first question on the detectives’ mind was obvious — was Pruitt even actually there that night?

Jim Cramer: WE FOUND LEAD INFORMATION IN THE CASE WHERE A GENTLEMAN WAS SITTING IN THE DUNKIN’ DONUTS WHO WAS COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO ANY OF THESE PEOPLE — AN OLDER GENTLEMAN- AND HE DESCRIBED SEEING EXACTLY WHAT THIS WITNESS TOLD US HAPPENED: “THESE TWO GUYS CAME IN, THEY WERE DRUNK. ONE GUY LEFT, WAS OUT BY THE CAR.” 

Áine Cain: The ex-girlfriend at Dunkin’ Donuts initially denied seeing Pruitt but later she too confirmed he had been there that night. We should note here that the ex-girlfriend was the girl who was dating George Nichols, who you heard from in the previous episode. She and George had seen two guys outside the Burger Chef that night, and their statements were the basis for the sketches of the suspects that were widely circulated to the public. 

Jim Cramer:  I’M CONFIDENT THAT THIS WITNESS I’M TALKING ABOUT WAS STANDING IN THE PARKING LOT AT A MINIMUM LOOKING AT THE BACK OF THE BURGER CHEF AND HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE WHAT OCCURRED THERE.

Áine Cain: So what did Pruitt say he saw? 

Kevin Greenlee: The answer to that is in a deposition Pruitt gave in 1981, a deposition that has been sitting in a file in the Hendricks County Courthouse for nearly 40 years — available to anyone who knew what file to look for it in. 

I will read some excerpts from that deposition now, with some help from Áine set the scene.

*Eerie music based on the Burger Chef jingle plays* 

Áine Cain: Allen and his friend grew up in Avon, a small and quiet town without much to do-- except to drink and drag race. Sometimes he would go into Indianapolis and hang out at a 24 hour White Castle on the west side. Perhaps it was there that he heard about the Galaxy-- a new under 21 club in Speedway. People said a lot of good looking girls hung out there. It sounded like it was worth the drive. So — on November 17, 1978 — Allen and his friend made the trip.

Kevin Greenlee (speaking as Allen Pruitt):  … We ended up over at Speedway at the Galaxy… probably around 10:30, somewhere along in there … I can’t remember if we went into the Galaxy or not, I think we did… 

Áine Cain: The Galaxy was in a shopping center across the street from the Dunkin’ Donuts and the Burger Chef. After a while, the donut shop seemed to hold more appeal to the friends than the club.

Kevin Greenlee (speaking as Allen Pruitt): We left the shopping center. [My friend] pulled into Dunkin Donuts, parked there on the east side of the lot ... went inside.  [His ex] girlfriend was working there at the time. My friend went in there and introduced me to her and they talked a little bit.

I told my friend, “I’m going outside” … I’d been drinking quite a bit, stomach was upset. [I] went outside, heard some racket next door, at Burger Chef there, and I walked around to the side fo Dunkin Donuts to see what was going on.

Seen the orange van sitting there … an orange Ford, I think, travel-all vans, econoline, something like that. A long type of van. It was orange and it had a white spoke, curtain was on it. Had oval shaped bubble windows. 

Áine Cain: Allen saw someone by the van.

Kevin Greenlee (speaking as Allen Pruitt): … I recognized the guy: Jeff Reed. [He] evidently went inside, came back out, and I seen where he grabbed the black boy.

Áine Cain: That would have likely been Mark Flemmonds, the only African American victim of the Burger Chef murders.

Kevin Greenlee (speaking as Allen Pruitt): [Grabbed him] by the back and threw him towards the van and he went down and hit his head on the back corner of the van and I guess it either killed him or knocked him out and Jeff picked him up, put him in the van. That’s when I seen Tim Willoughby, right after that. Him and Jayne and another girl, they walked out the back towards the east side of the building, her car must have been sitting and I seen him as they pulled out, pulled out of the parking lot. I’m pretty sure they went east when they left. 

I seen everything as well as I remember it, there’s no problem there. I mean I remember everything but it just seems more like a movie, you know … it doesn’t seem real, probably because I was intoxicated at the time. 

Áine Cain: Allen also claimed to have information that explained the reason behind the confrontation he witnessed that night. 

Kevin Greenlee (speaking as Allen Pruitt): Before that night, there was some talk going on about a situation Jayne got herself involved with Tim Willoughby … over drugs …

Well she was running two ounces of coke and she came up with this bit, said that somebody stole it out of the car. Tim was telling me that he had to either get something straightened out, she either had to come up with the money, because there was people on the end, you know, was supposed to been paid for at such a time and it then wasn’t paid for and I guess somebody was raising hell with him and I started. 

Thinking all about that…. Tim was mainly bitching about, he was getting tired about the way she was doing things and every time she’d go sell something for him, she’d come up with something about ... a shortage of money ... She’d say, “Well, somebody said it wasn’t that good and they just offered me a halfway fair price for it. So I went ahead and sold it to them.” She was pocketing the money out of it, guess Tim was getting kinda fed up with it.

Áine Cain: Despite all of that, Allen did not feel alarmed or concerned about what he witnessed that night. 

Kevin Greenlee (speaking as Allen Pruitt): I didn’t really think much about it at the time, at first I figured… they’re getting some to go to a party or something … until they had that black boy, then I thought he just got mouthy or something and just called off and knocked the hell out of him …

I remember going down, you know, the highways, the way [my friend] drives …. Wake up once in a while, I remember when we got home …  and talked to my mom and my brother and  [my friend] says, “Let’s go get some more beer.” I guess we went and got some more beer and what my mom says ... we came back to the house about 15 minutes later, we both fell asleep in the car. 

*Eerie music based on the Burger Chef jingle stops playing* 

Áine: Pruitt’s statement — as you heard — implicated Jeff Reed and Tim Willoughby as the murderers. Who are these men?

Kevin: Let’s start with Jeff Reed. He was a guitarist but was best known in the area for being the “King of the Snake Pit.” That was an area on the infield of the track at the Indianapolis 500. Here’s  Will Higgins, an Indianapolis Star writer known for putting himself into strange and extreme situations. We spoke with him at a coffee shop last year. Apologies for the audio quality.

Will Higgins: THE RULES WERE SORT OF SUSPENDED. I WAS THERE, I SAW IT. IT WAS JUST LIKE LAWLESS.  

Áine Cain: It was a place where people could go and drink and make out and make love and flash people and roll around in the mud and have fun. It was free love at the first turn, all in full view of the horrified families sitting in the stands. 

Some of the biggest partiers in the Snakepit even came up with a joking name for themselves: The Riff Raff Society. As the King, Reed was royalty in this community. 

Kevin Greenlee: Áine and I got to pay a call on a couple who were a big part of the Snake Pit scene, and had the photos to prove it. “Hope you’re not offended by nudity,” said the wife as she pulled out the first of a seemingly endless series of dead-eyed, smiling women dutifully exposing their bodies to the leering eye of the camera. 

We’ve talked to many of Reed’s associates from this period and they generally remember him as a good and loyal friend with a gift for making them laugh. But there are some dissenting voices, talk of Reed having a side not everyone saw. 

Áine Cain: When Reed got angry, sources say he could become randomly violent — tearing mailboxes from the ground and ripping mirrors off of cars. One person who witnessed this part of Reed’s personality told us that she called the police in 1978 and let them know they should look at Reed as a suspect in the Burger Chef murders.     

Kevin Greenlee: At the beginning of this episode we mentioned Roger Drollinger- the man who led a group who murdered four people in Hollandsburg, Indiana. Reed and Drollinger were friends. Reed actually lived with Drollinger for a time. The two of them even committed some crimes together.

Áine Cain: On one memorable occasion the two men worked together to do what they called “Christmas shopping.” They took a grocery bag, followed a postman as he delivered mail and stole any envelope that looked like it might contain cash or a check. After they filled their sack, they returned to Drollinger’s place and started tearing open the Christmas cards and holiday letters they had snatched. If they found a check, they kept it. Everything else they tossed.  

Kevin Greenlee: After they were caught, Reed pled guilty and testified against Drollinger. A policeman who knew Reed in the seventies said Reed typically admitted his crimes when confronted — which makes it interesting to note that in the weeks after the Burger Chef murders, police had information that Reed told several associates he was the guilty man. 

*Podcast promo*

Áine Cain: Let’s take a quick break from “The Murder Sheet Presents: You Never Can Forget” to tell you about a podcast investigating yet another unforgettable crime. 

The Orange Tree is a seven-part series about a 2005 homicide that happened near the University of Texas at Austin. The murder of 21-year-old Jennifer Cave, who was shot, dismembered, and left in a bathtub at her friend Colton Pitonyak’s apartment, continues to haunt the area to this day.

Kevin Greenlee: Like the Burger Chef murders, this case features plenty of twists and turns, including Colton’s flight to Mexico with another UT student Laura Hall. Both were later convicted in connection with the crime, although Colton has continued to appeal his verdict and claim innocence. The business student-turned-convicted-murderer now says that he doesn’t remember much about the night Jennifer died. 

Áine Cain: The Orange Tree is reported on and produced by Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas, who were both seniors at the University of Texas when they started the project.

Together, Haley and Tinu strive to piece together this tragic story in an in-depth podcast that features audio from courtroom scenes and interrogation rooms, prison phone calls, and exclusive interviews with both perpetrators and the victim’s family.

You can binge all seven episodes of The Orange Tree today on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And now, back to the Murder Sheet.

*End of podcast promo*

Áine Cain: And then there’s Tim Willoughby. 

A friend of his says Tim was a charming and smooth talker — the sort of guy who would win over a girl and then remember to ask if she had a girl for his buddy. But there was another side to Tim. 

Kevin Greenlee: He was a small town hood who kept getting in trouble with the law-- he got caught trying to steal a car, got busted for breaking into a pawn show and once even got arrested for trying to steal dumpsters. We’re also baffled by that last one. 

And he could be impulsive, emotional. The sort of man who was quick to anger.

That was why the family of Mary Ann Higginbotham grew concerned when she fell in love with Tim. 

Áine Cain: Here’s Mary Ann’s friend, Donna McIntyre.

Donna McIntyre: BUT WHEN MARY ANN GOT HOOKED UP WITH TIM MR. HIGGINBOTHAM LET IT BE KNOWN STRAIGHT UP FRONT THAT TIM WAS NOT THEIR TYPE OF PEOPLE AND HE WAS NOT GOING TO ACCEPT HIM IN THEIR FAMILY AS MARY ANN’S MAN

Áine Cain: The relationship confused Donna as well. She’d been friends with Mary Ann since childhood, and they’d gone to high school together. Donna knew Mary Ann as a softball player, an aspiring artist who loved to draw horses, a young woman who took her makeup so seriously that she’d separate each eyelash with a small pin before applying mascara.

Donna McIntyre: MARY ANN WAS A YOUNG BEAUTIFUL GIRL. HE WAS NOT A NICE LOOKING GUY. ACTUALLY HE WAS DIRTY LOOKING. HE WAS JUST— MARY ANN WAS ABOVE HIM. WAY ABOVE HIM, MARY ANN COULD HAVE BEEN A MODEL. AND I COULD JUST NEVER FIGURE OUT HOW IN THE HELL SHE ENDED UP WITH SOMEONE LIKE HIM. I NEVER WILL UNDERSTAND IT. 

Kevin Greenlee: Seeing Mary Ann with Tim was a confirmation to Donna that her old friend was running with a rougher, pot-smoking crowd. And today, she knows that Tim used more than his charm to woo Mary Ann. 

Donna McIntyre: TIM WAS PEDDLING DRUGS. IT WAS EASY TO MANIPULATE YOUNG GIRLS IF YOU HAD THE RIGHT DRUGS.

Kevin Greenlee: There were other problems. Here’s Mary Ann’s mother.

Mary Higginbotham, Mary Ann’s mother: HE BEAT HER UP TOO.

Áine Cain: Finally Mary Ann had had enough and asked for help. She contacted her brother Robert and asked him to come over to the place she shared with Tim. She was ready to move out.

Robert Higginbotham, Mary Ann’s brother: SHE CALLED ME TO COME PICK HER UP. THIS WAS SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE HER LAST DAY AT WORK. AND I WENT OUT THERE IN THE TRUCK. AND WAS GOING TO BE PICKING HER UP BUT TIM HAD A GUN AND HE WAS GOING TO SHOOT BOTH OF US. I ENDED UP — SHE BEGGED ME TO JUST LEAVE HER THERE. 

Áine Cain: Mary Ann tried again, reaching out to someone else. 

Mary Higginbotham, Mary Ann’s mother: SHE CALLED HER GOOD FRIEND AND WANTED HER TO COME AND GET HER BEFORE SHE WAS SHOT AND SHE SAID MARY I CAN’T BECAUSE I GOT SOMETHING PLANNED AND RIGHT AFTER THAT IS WHEN SHE WAS SHOT.

Kevin Greenlee: In June of 1978, Mary Ann stopped showing up for work at Laughner's Cafeteria and Tim failed to show up to serve a weekend jail sentence. The couple’s landlord went to their place to investigate, and found it empty

Donna McIntyre: WHEN THE LANDLORD WENT OVER THERE, THERE WAS SOME OF THE LINOLEUM AND CARPETING AND STUFF HAD BEEN CUT OUT AND IT WAS JUST PILED ON A WOODPILE IN THE BACK OF THE HOUSE. AND SOME OF MARY’S PERSONAL EFFECTS WERE THROWN IN THE CREEK. THEY NEVER FOUND ANY OF TIM’S PERSONAL EFFECTS.  

Áine Cain: Soon after that, a man identifying himself as Tim Willoughby called the Hendricks County Sheriff’s department. He said he and Mary Ann had gone to California and he gave the address of Mary Ann’s parents, presumably so that her personal effects could be given to them.

After that — silence. 

Kevin Greenlee: Until, that is, that day in June 1979 when the boy opened the barrel he found in the creek. 

Donna McIntyre: WHEN IT CAME ON THE NEWS THAT THERE WAS A BARREL FOUND MRS. HIGGINBOTHAM CALLED ME . SHE SAID, "I KNOW THAT’S MARY ANN."

Áine Cain: The body that was welded into the barrel was so decomposed that initially the police could not even be sure if it was male or female. The only thing they could tell was that the victim had been shot in the head.

The Higginbotham family provided their daughter’s dental records and then waited.

Donna McIntyre: I WAS WITH MRS HIGGINBOTHAM WHEN THEY CONFIRMED THAT WAS MARY ANN. AND THAT WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS I’D EVER DONE. WAS BE RIGHT THERE BY MRS HIGGINBOTHAM WHEN SHE WAS TOLD THAT.

Mary Higginbotham, Mary Ann’s mother: YOU DON’T EVER GET OVER LOSING A CHILD ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE WAS SHOT. 

Kevin Greenlee: When we met with the Higginbotham family last year, they expressed sympathy for the young man who found the barrel. Even after all the horror they’ve been through, their thoughts were with someone else as they gathered together to recount the trauma of losing Mary Ann. 

Jim Higginbotham, Mary Ann’s brother: I’VE ALWAYS FELT SORRY FOR THE CHILD THAT FOUND HER… HE REACHED IN AND GRABBED THAT FULL HEAD OF HAIR. 

Áine Cain: Donna, Mary Ann’s friend, went on to become a victim’s advocate, helping families like the Higginbothams recover from tragedies that they should never have to face alone. We’ve included a link to Donna’s group, Missing and Not Forgotten, in our show notes.

The family took some comfort in where the barrel was found. In the year since her disappearance, they had moved from Plainfield, Indiana to Mooreseville and now made their home about a mile from where Mary Ann had been discovered. It was as if in some way, despite everything, Mary Ann managed to find a way to come home to them. 

Kevin Greenlee: But where was Tim? 

He had beaten Mary Ann, threatened her with a gun. She was welded into a barrel. He was an experienced welder. After the couple vanished, her property was left behind. His was not. Needless to say- before he was linked to the Burger Chef case, Tim became a suspect in Mary Ann’s murder. 

But police couldn’t find him.

Áine Cain: After they heard Pruitt’s story, Cramer and Lindsay stepped up the efforts to locate Tim — and even got some good leads.

But then a new informant stepped forward to reveal something startling: she had first hand knowledge that Tim Willoughby had been murdered on the same day as Mary Ann Higginbotham back in June 1978, and had therefore been dead for nearly six months before the Burger Chef murders.

Kevin Greenlee: Did this mean that Allen Pruitt had been lying, pinning the Burger Chef case on a dead man? Or was Tim Willoughby still out there?

Áine Cain: Join us next week for that informant’s story. Plus Cramer confronts Jeff Reed. 

Jim Cramer: I WAS JUST BLUNT WITH HIM. WITHOUT READING HIM HIS RIGHTS OR ANYTHING I SAID HERE’S WHAT I THINK HAPPENED. I DIDN’T COME OUT AND SAY I THINK YOU DID THIS. I GAVE HIM ALL THE INFORMATION THAT HE COULD KNOW WE WERE LOOKING AT HIM HOT AND HEAVY.

Kevin Greenlee: And we talk with Allen Pruitt, to see if he still tells the same story today he told in 1981.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Murder Sheet Presents: "You Never Can Forget." Special thanks to Kevin Tyler Greenlee, who composed the music for the Murder Sheet, and who you can find on the web at kevintg.com.  

Áine Cain:
To keep up with the latest on the Murder Sheet, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @murdersheet and on Facebook @msheetpodcast or by searching Murder Sheet. For exclusive content like bonus episodes and case files, become a patron of the Murder Sheet on Patreon.

If you enjoyed listening to the Murder Sheet, please leave us a five star review to help us gain more exposure. And send tips, suggestions, and feedback to [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening.

And please stay tuned for word from our friend Nina at the podcast Already Gone — a great podcast you should be listening to. She actually introduced me to the Burger Chef case with her 2016 episode on the crime. 

*Melancholy music plays*

Nina Innsted from “Already Gone”: Murder, missing persons, unsolved mysteries — ”Already Gone” explores lesser-known cases from Michigan and the Great Lakes region. I’m Nina Innsted, the voice behind the “Already Gone” podcast. Join me for a look at stories that will have you looking over your shoulder and locking the doors at night. Listen to “Already Gone” on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcatcher.