Anonymous Letter Suggests New Suspect in Cold Case

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Police in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received an anonymous letter suggesting a shocking new suspect for a 44-year-old cold case.

In November 2020, 11 News covered the story of 6-year-old Beth Lynn Barr. The news station revealed Wednesday that shortly after, the Allegheny County Police obtained a four page handwritten letter. Written by a woman, the letter suggests that the police should investigate one of their own. According to 11 News, the woman said that she believed the officer, now dead, kidnapped and killed Barr.

On November 23, 1977, Barr walked home from school for Thanksgiving break when a man stopped her on the side of the road. According to 11 News, a neighbor saw the young girl speaking to the man inside his blue sedan. Barr never returned home that day. Investigators then believed that the man abducted and killed her.

Sixteen months after her disappearance, a man walking his dog stumbled upon the remains of Barr in a shallow grave. Barr’s body was seven miles from her home with multiple stab wounds to her chest.

The Wilkinsburg Police investigated the disappearance with the help of the Allegheny County Police. Robert Payne, an investigator with the Allegheny Police at the time of Barr’s disappearance, recalled that his superintendent offered 300 officers to join the task. However, Payne said that they were never called in.

Payne believes this to be a critical mistake in the investigation. He believes that those 300 officers could have provided the necessary aid and manpower to find Barr. As a result, the police were 16 months behind whoever killed Barr.

The author of the letter stated that the case of Beth Lynn Barr haunted her. She also said that she searched for the young girl those 44 years prior and knew her parents. In regards to the officer, who remains unnamed, the author suggested that the police use his DNA and fingerprints to further investigate the cold case.

Payne, now Chief of the Allegheny Police, is skeptical of the legitimacy of the letter. He explained that there is no evidence in the case that points to a police officer as the culprit. He additionally said that while the author brings up good points, she goes on tangents in the letter, including one about how she loved the officer she accused. The author stated that she would come forward if her theory proves true. Payne said that because the author refuses to come forward for an interview, he sees no value in the letter’s contents.

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