Will Leah Freeman Ever Have Justice?
Nine years ago 15-year-old Leah Freeman disappeared while she was walking home. Among the last people known to see her alive were her boyfriend Nicholas McGuffin and his friend Brent Bartley. After a month-long search her body was found about eight miles from Coquille, Oregon in a wooded area of a town called Fairview nine years ago today, August 3rd.
Prior to her body being found law enforcement had searched the property belonging to both of the boy’s families and they had both take, and failed, polygraph tests. A Grand Jury was to be convened in August of 2000 but that was cancelled after Leah was found. No suspects have ever been named in the case but the two men remains “persons of interest”.
I recently received the press statement below, which is what has gotten me interested in this unsolved case.
Coquille Mother’s Quest for Justice in Daughter’s
Unsolved Murder Case Continues
Nine-Years Later, Answers Still Sought in 15-Year-Old Leah Freeman’s Murder
Coquille, Ore., July 31, 2009 – As the ninth-anniversary of 15-year-old Coquille, Ore. resident Leah Freeman’s murder rapidly approaches, her mother Cory Courtright’s quest for justice continues. Freeman disappeared while walking home in Coquille the night of June 29, 2000. Her body was discovered in Fairview, a wooded town eight miles outside of Coquille, more than a month later on August 3, 2000. After an autopsy was performed, it was determined that Freeman died from homicidal violence. Nine years later, the case is considered “cold” and remains unsolved.
But there is nothing “cold” about the case as far as Courtright is concerned, “I will seek justice in the murder of my daughter until my dying day. I want the person or people responsible for her death to pay for their crime and to be behind bars where they cannot endanger anyone else.”
Courtright’s knowledge of her daughter’s murder is minimal. She knows where Freeman’s body was found and the generic explanation of her death, but the actual cause of death has yet to be released because as police explained to her, it may hinder the investigation. “Not knowing the exact cause of my daughter’s death is excruciating to me,” Courtirght continues, “I have no idea what Leah went through the last few hours she was living and I still have restless nights wondering what really happened.”
Freeman’s boyfriend, Nicholas McGuffin, and his friend, Brent Bartley (now 27 and 29) were two of the last people known to have contact with her before she disappeared. Search warrants were executed on property belonging to both McGuffin and Bartley’s families and on McGuffin’s person. Additionally, both McGuffin and Bartley submitted to polygraph examinations and failed. McGuffin failed the polygraph when asked key questions in regards to Freeman’s disappearance and Bartley partially failed the polygraph when asked if he had knowledge of what happened to her. A grand jury was scheduled for August 2000, but called off following the discovery of Freeman’s body. No suspects have been named in the case.
Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier recently explained to local media that while the case is considered “cold,” investigators remain active following any and all tips they receive. In regards to the search warrant affidavits for McGuffin and Bartley and other legal documents released in regards to the case, Frasier told local media that “the persons named have not been excluded as potential suspects.” Those legal documents are available to download and view at http://www.leahfreeman.com.
Courtright is frustrated that the case appears to be at a standstill. “I really believe a cold case investigator needs to be brought on-board to take another look at this case from a fresh perspective. I think local authorities made many mistakes from day one of the investigation and there is a critical need for everyone involved to be re-interviewed and for the evidence to be re-examined.”
Courtright is not alone in seeking justice for Leah. In 2008 the Coquille Valley Crime Stoppers was founded. The organization is a not-for-profit group of private citizens that was developed to assist law enforcement in solving existing and “cold” case crimes which are or have been committed in or around Coquille. Since its inception, the group’s primary focus has been on the Freeman case and the unsolved case of Jeremy Bright, a 14-year-old boy who disappeared in 1986 in Myrtle Point, Ore.
On Monday, August 3 Courtright will do what she has done for the past nine years. She will drive to Lee Valley Road outside of Fairview and sit on the desolate roadside where her daughter’s murdered body was discovered. “Leah had so much potential, she had her entire life ahead of her and it was stolen. She deserves justice, her murderer needs to pay for their crime so she can rest in peace.”
If you have any information regarding Leah’s murder, contact the Coquille Police Department at (541) 396-2114. For more information please visit, http://www.leahfreeman.com.
While the Coquille PD hasn’t released specific cause of death aside from the generic “Homicidal Violence” it is interesting to note that DNA samples were taken from McGuffin and Bartley and an offer of partial immunity was also made to Bartley on July 27th 2000, just a few days prior to the body being found.
The video below will give you a bit more information about the group Justice for Leah.
It also looks like the boyfriend was into drugs as well, considering that during the search police confiscated drug paraphernalia from the house.
Nick McGuffin used to have a MySpace profile here but it looks like he hasn’t logged in since 2006. If he still does it is under another name, which is certainly understandable considering the notoriety this case has probably given him.
Although I mentioned at the top that Nick and his friend were among the last two to see Leah alive there were several people that saw her walking home down a busy street shortly after 9pm on the night that she disappeared, yet Nick claims to have driven up and down the same road looking for her at around the same time but never saw her.
There were three questions asked of McGuffin during the polygraph that the examiner felt her answered falsely. This questions were: Did you physically do something that resulted in Leah’s death, Did you have any direct involvement in Leah’s disappearance and Have you talked to Leah since last Wednesday night after 9pm. His answer to all three questions were NO.