01 July 2012

The Pottses—Murder in the Hills

Part 1

When I was 17–18 and still back in Upper Appalachia where I was born, I was driving home very late in the evening. We lived out this long, lonely country road. There was a fork in it; either direction would take me home. The left road went up over the mountain and was the quickest route to my house, but it was steep and covered in slag and we didn't usually drive it in bad weather. The right fork was level, safer to drive all around, but stretching out a long way before coming around to my house from the bottom.

At the very last moment, I decided to take the right fork instead of the left. It had started to snow.

* * *

I'd miscalculated the time and distance needed to make the switch and my car spun around and fell onto the driver's side into a deep ditch. I remember the radio still playing, the car not running but just . . . ticking. It was spooky.

Then I smelled gas. I can't remember how I got out, but it was fast. It took a moment for me to get my bearings, but then I headed down the road to the only house out there for a couple of miles in any direction.

Of course I'd passed this house a thousand times in my life. My dad and mom often referred to it as the Pottses' house when we talked about which fork and relative distances. The only other building in view in reasonable walking distance was a church up on the curve going into the fork. It was dark this late at night.

I walked the 1/4 mile to the house. The door opened up the second I knocked. An elderly man and woman stood there, lights blazing behind them. The Pottses.

* * *

They gazed at me in astonishment. I had blood running down the side of my mouth, and I must've looked pretty wild. But without hesitation, they brought me inside, cleaned me up, and called my dad, whom they knew. (Of course. Everyone knew my dad.) When Tice got there, he jollied up the Pottses a bit and then he and I went home.

Afterwards, I would think about the Pottses and their isolated little farmhouse whenever I rued the demise of my Chevy. . . .

Part 2
. . . to come soon . . .


  1. i have lived in guernsey county most of my life and know the location of the home well. It still stands and is occupied.

  2. Hello! Please write to me at the_tapu@yahoo.com. I am corresponding with several people in Guernsey County and beyond who are interested in moving the investigation of these murders along. Thanks for reaching out!

  3. The Guernsey county Sheriffs Dept has finally hired an cold case detective . I do hope this is solved.By the way I enjoy your blog.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. You have a picture of the wrong house. I grew up a half mile away from the Potts house. I was only 8 when the murders happened, but I do know that is not the right house.

    1. You are correct. I made a decision not to show the real locations, etc., in this piece. Instead, I chose representative photos. I actually do that a lot throughout this blog. Maybe I should add disclaimers.... Thank you for reading and commenting. Do you have any other opinions or questions about the content?

      (I grew up about a half mile up Buffalo Mine Road! But I was older than you at the time of the murders and had already moved away.) --the tapu