My own theory of the case: Introduction
Finally I will get to my own
theory of the case. I
will give you my own thoughts on what actually happened in Elkville, in May
1866. This theory is obviously based on the findings I have made in the previous
articles, but beside from that it is just as fictitious, as the two novels by
Karen Wheeling Reynolds and Sharyn McCrumb, and the many websites who also
brings their version of the story. I feel, that my theory is based on a few more
facts than most of the websites and the legends which they refer, and it will come to a completely different conclusion, that as far
as I know
have not been reached before.
As most people will have understood from my articles, I am fairly convinced that
the official explanation for the murder of Laura Foster is wrong. Tom Dooley did
not kill Laura Foster, because she had infected him with syphilis. It was
actually far more likely that he had been infected by Pauline Foster - or
perhaps a completely different woman, whom he also had been with - and he had
been with a few. Neither does the legendary stories that he killed her to avoid
having to marry her come close to the truth. He slept with lots of other unmarried
and married women, so why would he just kill Laura Foster and not all the rest?
It was simply quite common in this area for unmarried men and women to haved
sex without the need to marry for that reason. But what about the story that
Laura was pregnant? Once more I must remind you that children born out of
wedlock, with or without an acknowledged father, was quite common in the area in
the late 1860s, so not even that, would have "forced" him into marriage. Had he
denied being the father of any child, there was at the time no means to prove
him right or wrong.
I have also excluded theories about Ann Melton and/or Pauline Foster being guilty
of the murder. This does not mean that they were not involved in some way, or
otherwise knew or learned of the killing. Neither do I believe that currently
unknown lover or a total stranger did the evil deed. In my opinion, only two candidates are
possible namely, Laura's father, Wilson Foster, in which case the killing could
have been an accident, and James Isbell, in which case I am sure that it was
Was it Wilson or was it Isbell? Well I am actually in doubt. Wilson had
the opportunity and perhaps also the motive (the stolen horse or possibly an
incestuous relationship with his daughter*) and he acted in a strange way after Laura had
disappeared. To me it seems strange, that he was not a suspect at the time.
James Isbell had no apparent motive, but as I have mentioned before, he may have
had a hidden motive, namely revenge for a possible intimate relationship between
Tom Dooley and his (Isbell's) wife and Isbell's behavior after Laura's disappearance was
even more remarkable than Wilson Foster's.
* In an earlier article" I
mentioned the possiblity that Laura may have had run away from home to avoid the
housekeeping for her father and the looking after her younger siblings. A
review of the the movie Forrest Gump steered my thoughts in a completely
differtent direction. In the movie Forrest's girlfriend, Jenny's mother died and
after that her father began sexually exploiting his daughters. Laura's mother
had also died some years before Laura's disappearance when Laura was probably
between 16 and 18 years old, so maybe Wilson Foster took to abusing his eldest
daughter? In this case, there was good reason for her to run away, and for him
to go after her (and maybe even kill her intentionally.) Free love was if not
accepted in the areas then at least tolerated even between relatives (like
cousins), but a relationship between a father and his daughter would surely have been taboo
even at that time ans place.
I actually believe that the Tom Dooley case contains two completely unrelated
stories, which, unfortunately for Tom collided after the murder of Laura Foster.
The one is about Tom Dooley and his relationship with women, the other of
unknown events that led to Laura's death. Someone could see their advantage in
connecting the two stories and that caused Tom's downfall.
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