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Unformatted text preview: her family in a dirty trailer with no air conditioning. Pepper preferred to sleep in a pup tent deep in the woods. He saved his money and bought his own shotgun and camping gear. So Pepper spent as much time as possible in the De Soto National Forest, twenty minutes but a thousand miles away from his mother. There was no clear evidence that Pepper and Patrick had ever met. Coincidentally, Patrick's cabin was situated in the general vicinity of the forest where Pepper liked to hunt. Patrick and Pepper were both white males, roughly the same height, though Patrick was much heavier. Of much greater interest was the fact that Pepper's shotgun, tent, and sleeping bag were found in Patrick's cabin in late February of 1992. The two disappeared at approximately the same time, from about the same area. In the months after their joint disappearances, Sweeney and Cutter had determined that no other person in the state of Mississippi had turned up missing around February 9 and remained so for more than ten weeks. Several, most of them troubled teens, had been reported missing in February of 1992, but by late spring all had been accounted for. In March, a housewife up in Corinth evidently fled a violent marriage and had yet to be seen. Working with FBI computers in Washington, Cutter had determined that the nearest person reported missing shortly before Patrick's fire was a shiftless truck driver from Dothan, Alabama, seven hours away. He had simply vanished on Saturday, February 8, leaving behind a miserable marriage and lots of bills. After investigating this case for three months, Cutter was certain there was no connection between the truck driver and Patrick. Statistically, there was strong evidence that the disappearances of Pepper and Patrick were related. If, by some chance, Patrick didn't perish in his Blazer, Cutter and Sweeney were now almost positive Pepper did. This evidence, of course, was much too speculative to be admitted in a court of law. Patrick could've picked up a hitchhiker from Australia, a hobo from parts unknown, a drifter from a bus station. They had a list with eight othe...
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- Spring '10