Witch helping CrimeStoppers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sometimes there's an emergency when a parent is distraught and needs a handy reference card to help peace officers find a wayward, or otherwise missing child and so on Halloween the officers are getting help from a wandering witch to provide the cards for the kids.

In her finest black gown, hat and broom, the Brushy Mountain Witch is to appear at the Marshall County Jail's entrance, better known to Sheriff Les Helton, his deputies, detectives, dispatchers and correctional officers as the Sally Port, a secure garage that's entered from East Church Street.

"I'll be here to greet the children," the black-clad, green-faced witch said to promote her appearance that included more than her close-up portrait. "I've been practicing my cackle for the radio."

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, the witch will be helping officers participating in the CrimeStoppers program to fill out the reference cards to help during an emergency.

Joanne Sellars, a records clerk with additional responsibilities, offered a brief history lesson in the Tennessee Department of Corrections' facility made famous by especially heinous offenders such as James Earl Ray.

"They opened Brushy Mountain Penitentiary in 1896 and closed it this year," Sellars said. "The new one is about 12 miles from the old one where the worst of the worst go."

Closure of the old prison sent the Brushy Mountain Witch a-wandering.

"The Brushy Mountain Witch is looking for a new home," she said of herself. "Witches feed only once a year on Halloween night and I'm detecting some really good smells from Marshall County for my stew.

"I'll be flying over Marshall County on Halloween night gathering things for my stew," the witch said.

However, well before dark, the witch will be at the sheriff's Sally Port working with officers from the Lewisburg Police Department, agents with the Tennessee Bureau and, of course, lawmen and women from the Marshall County Sheriff's Department.

"We'll be fingerprinting children and providing identification cards" for the personal information of children such as eye and hair color, height, weight, sex and race, according to Sellars and Detective Capt. Norman Dalton, a founding member of CrimeStoppers here.

"All contributions will be appreciated," Sellars said. The money will go to pay rewards for information leading to the arrest of crime suspects.