The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 7 – Deborah Poe

February 4, 1990. Orlando, Florida. 26-year old Deborah Poe shows up to work the graveyard shift at a Circle K convenience store. At around 4:00 AM, the store is discovered to be empty and Deborah is reported missing. Less than an hour beforehand, a customer had frequented the store, but for unknown reasons, an unidentified man was standing behind the counter and sold her some cigarettes. Did this mysterious man play a role in Deborah Poe’s unsolved disappearance or was someone else responsible? We attempt to answer this perplexing question in this week’s minisode of “The Trail Went Cold”.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Click here to listen to the podcast on Stitcher.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on Google Play Music.

The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

12 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 7 – Deborah Poe

  • I don’t know why but I really feel like the boyfriend didn’t do it. I was reading articles of interviews with him and it just didn’t seem like he would, but maybe I’m siding with him more than I should. However, the fact that he had worked with her during the graveyard shift for a few weeks after the naked man came in (until she told him that it’s no use for both of them to lose sleep those nights) makes me question why he waited so long to do this when he had plenty of opportunity beforehand. Plus he, along with her parents, had told her on multiple occasions that he didn’t want her working there at night because he was worried about her safety. Again, he could just be putting up a front, but that just doesn’t seem like a person who would do that to me.

    A part of me feels like maybe she was hiding something. Her family and loved ones all expressed concern about her working the graveyard shift, yet she still did it. Sure, she wanted to save up for a home but there were certainly safer ways to do so than work a graveyard shift at a gas station in Orlando, right? It surprises me that she wouldn’t succumb to everyone’s wishes and find out another way to make the money she wanted to make. And as a woman myself, I know I would be scared sh*tless if I was working the graveyard shift in a gas station, especially after a naked man chased me around the store, so I would do everything I could to get out of there. What if there was a secret lover that nobody knew about who visited her on those nights (Megadeth man, perhaps. If so, interesting type…), or she was into drugs, etc.? This would certainly answer why she had her boyfriend stop coming around.

    Or, did anyone question the woman who came in for cigarettes? I mean what if that woman made up this incredibly stereotypical heavy metal fanatic as a scapegoat when she herself was in on it? I’m sure there would be less of a sign of a struggle and less concern from Deborah if a woman comes in asking her to step outside to check something in her car quickly than if it were a man.

    Just more food for thought from Liz! Great job as always Robin.

    • Thank you. I do agree that reading interviews with the boyfriend in those articles gives me the same impression you have and that he sounds pretty sincere on the surface. The only thing that casts suspicion on him is the short documentary about Deborah Poe on Youtube which mentions that he lived across the street from the church where police were searching for remains, and the quote from the detective in that one article where he said they were near the home of a suspect in the case. I’ve only heard that police considered a “friend” of Deborah’s to be the prime suspect, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re referring to her boyfriend. Maybe Deborah did have a secret male friend we don’t know about.

      I don’t have any suspicion about the woman who purchased the cigarettes because she willingly came forward after hearing about Deborah’s disappearance on the news and I doubt she’d do that if she were involved.

  • Yeah that’s true. Interesting case!

    By the way, have you heard of the Eastburn Family Murder case? I just heard about it today and it’s pretty fascinating. It’s similar to the Tommy Ziegler case in the way where someone has been jailed for it, but there are a lot of inconsistencies and weird coincidences that make it a fascinating case that is still relevant today. I suggest you check it out, would love to hear your thoughts on the podcast!

    • Oh yes, I’m quite familiar with the Eastburn murder case. I’ve seen a few TV specials about it and the made-for-TV movie they made about the case during the 1990s (before Timothy Hennis was retried for the murders). Technically, the books should be closed on this one since Hennis’ DNA was matched to the crime, but one part of me is bothered by the fact that other physical evidence from the scene DOESN’T match him. It’s quite an odd situation.

  • I thought it was interesting that her purse and keys were inside her car. I know it was 1989, but would someone have really left their purse in their car for an 8 hour work shift?
    And the fact that her apron was left ‘neatly folded’. That is extremely odd. I wonder if employees were supposed to take off the apron if they went outside for a cigarette and that’s why it was left there.

    • Yeah, even though all the sources say that Deborah’s purse and keys were inside the car, I’ve yet to see a logical explanation for this since Deborah’s shift technically didn’t end until about four hours after she went missing.

      Deborah taking off the apron to avoid getting the smell of smoke on it during a cigarette break is the best explanation I’ve ever heard for that, but I’ve never seen any source confirm if she was even a smoker.

    • I used to work in a convenience store in the early 2000s and always left all my personal stuff in my car. We had no locker, and the employer treated us like potential thiefs. So I just kept the car key in my pocket and went to my car during breaks. Maybe se went to her car at some point and was attacked outside.

  • The thing is – it was (somewhat) recently made evident that the matched DNA may not actually be a reliable match because the NC lab that matched Hennis’ DNA to the crime has been proven to hide evidence about DNA in multiple other cases for over 16 years! So the DNA results from the 2007 trial may not be reliable and would need to be re-tested by a more respectable source, bringing into question even more if the other DNA in the room is in fact the murderer.

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/fbi-north-carolina-crime-lab-buried-blood-evidence/story?id=11431980

    • Yes, I have had my suspicions that the DNA tests might not have been valid. But I do think it was a mistake for Hennis’ defense team to not explore that angle and instead try to explain the DNA evidence by claiming Hennis had consensual sex with the victim.

  • Robin, another great episode! And you are so correct about management being irresponsible… I used to work the night audit at a hotel. I was always the only staff member from 11pm to 7am. The money was good but ultimately I couldn’t keep doing it for several reasons, including not wanting to be alone at night anymore. Creepy drunks, shifty weirdos, and all kinds of other people would be lurking around. What a shame Deborah had to work all by herself, if not maybe she wouldn’t have disappeared.

    • Thank you. I’ve always found the whole working alone scenario so frightening because if some predator frequents the establishment enough times, they’ll quickly figure out how vulnerable you are and take advantage of the situation, which may have been exactly what happened to Deborah.

Leave a Reply