Diary of a Mad House Hand: Guest Post

Photo courtesy of Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

On November 14, 1994, police were summoned to a farm near Folsom, West Virginia. The source of the call was most unusual; a would-be burglar told them there was a dead body in the basement of the house. It sounded like a prank, but it still needed to be checked out.

When the policemen arrived at the farm, they entered the house cautiously. The burglar was not there, but as the policemen made their way down the stairs to the basement, they knew the would-be thief had been telling the truth. The lawmen were greeted by an overwhelming odor that they instantly recognized as the smell of decomposition.

On a bed in the basement, police found human remains, which appeared to have been there for a long time. An autopsy identified the remains as the farm’s proprietor, 37-year-old Tim Good. He had been strangled to death.

Neighbors were shocked that such a good man had met such an awful end. Diaries found in the home identified the prime suspect and reveled a bizarre tale of manipulation and brainwashing, ultimately culminating in murder.

Tim Good had moved to West Virginia from Collinsville, Pennsylvania, 1993. His friends were surprised by his move because he owned a successful 350-acre dairy farm in Pennsylvania, and the West Virginia farm was much smaller, and the land was not as suitable for dairy farming.

Ben Freeman worked for Tim for six years in Pennsylvania. Freeman, his wife Eliza, and their two children had also lived with Tim, a bachelor. The Freeman family moved with Tim to West Virginia, where the living arrangements remained the same. Strangely, upon arriving in West Virginia, Freeman introduced himself as Dave instead of Ben.

Shortly before Tim left Pennsylvania, acquaintances said both his and Freeman’s behavior had changed. Tim acted docile while Freeman gave the impression of being in charge of the farm, a pattern that continued in West Virginia. Although it was Tim who had purchased the farm, neighbors said Freeman acted as the boss and Tim the employee.

Several months after Tim arrived in West Virginia, the neighbors saw less of him and, within a year, both Tim and Freeman dropped from sight. They appeared to have left the area even though the farm had not been sold.

One year later, in October of 1994, neighbor George Anderson saw Freeman driving to the farmhouse. George, along with several other neighbors, went to inquire about Tim. Freeman told them he did not know where Tim was and that he, like the neighbors, had not seen him in over a year. Freeman said he and his family moved out of the home after Tim inexplicably vanished. He had only returned because he had heard the kitchen door had been broken. After checking it out, Freeman left the area again.

Three weeks later, Tim’s remains were found in the basement of his home. After performing an autopsy, the coroner believed Tim had been dead for approximately a year.

In searching the home, police found voluminous diaries written by Freeman, the contents of which revealed he had taken control of Tim’s life to the point that it appeared Tim had become a virtual slave in his own home.

Freeman fancied himself a self-made preacher and appeared to have made Tim his pigeon. Tim was estranged from his family and seemed to have turned to Freeman for spiritual guidance; instead, he had become Freeman’s puppet.

Freeman’s diaries revealed a medieval type living arrangement in the home: Freeman and his family lived like royalty in the lavishly-furnished upstairs, equipped with three big screens TVs, a hot tub and a wet bar. Tim, on the other hand, lived as a virtual prisoner in the dungeon-like basement. The diaries listed the chores Tim was to perform each day and what he was allowed to eat each day if anything. It appeared that Freeman controlled every aspect of Tim’s life.

Grocery receipts indicated Freeman and his family had lived in the house for approximately seven months after Tim was killed. Tim’s bank account, which had contained nearly $1 million, had been drained. The Freemans left the farm when Tim’s money was gone. In his diaries, Freeman indicated Tim had questioned him about the money. Police believe Freeman then realized his control of Tim might have been waning and murdered him.

In May of 1996, police tracked Dave Freeman to Sterling, Virginia, where he was working as a mechanic under the name William Cooper. He was arrested on May 18.

Freeman’s real identity was determined to be Winston Jelks. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to twenty years in prison but was released after serving ten years.

One source says Jelks may have murdered two of his children from a previous marriage, but it did not elaborate, and I could not find any other information on the subject.

Winston Jelks died in March of 2018 at age 60 from complications of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

• Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Unsolved Mysteries
• West Virginia Herald-Dispatch


This Week’s True Crime Bestsellers on Amazon:

If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood
The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


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