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I haven’t spent any time covering this but have recently taken some time to review all of the testimony about the van sightings and I thought it may be helpful to spend some time summarizing all of the different descriptions as well as the time and dates provided by each witness.
There were four witnesses who reported seeing a white, maroon or reddish-white van in the days surrounding Nancy’s disappearance. Though the descriptions aren’t exactly the same, that is typical for witnesses to have slightly different recollections because at the time they don’t realize that the information is going to be important. Imagine if four witnesses came forward and said they saw a white car near Fielding Drive around the time of the murder. It wouldn’t matter if the descriptions were slightly different to prosecutors because Brad had a white car and since that information fit with their theory that he was responsible for the murder, they would do everything possible to stress the significance of the sightings. Since the van didn’t work for them, it was downplayed — “witnesses described the van with different colors, it may have been a work van.”, etc.
During the trial I was struck by the amount of detail some of the witnesses described and wondered why police didn’t issue an all points bulletin requesting information from the public to contact them if they saw a white/maroon van driven by a Hispanic male. Two witnesses described seeing two Hispanic males with the van. The van appeared to follow a female jogger matching Nancy’s description and the next day the same van is spotted on Fielding Drive where the body would later be found and no one from the police believed this was important?!
Police had Curtis Hodges’ description before Nancy’s body was found. They didn’t bother to pursue this lead though because they believed they had the case solved already, and they didn’t share the information with the media so that others would be on the lookout for a van matching this description. They remained silent.
This is Curtis Hodges’ description of the van:
Maybe the van looked something like this.
Perhaps this is why some witnesses described it as white; others as maroon/reddish-white. There are several two-tone vans from the 80’s that match Curtis’s description. Also, the two witnesses who described it as “white” saw it in the dark and it’s possible that the red wasn’t visible in the dark.
Here’s a chart of the witness’s descriptions matched up with a map marking the locations of the sightings. The van sightings began on the evening of July 11, 2008 and continued the next day, July 12th and again on the 13th. After that, no more sightings were reported. I believe it must be related to her disappearance – must be involved in the murder.
Two of the witnesses noted that the van/truck was driving without headlights. One of the sightings occurred on 7/11 and I believe it could have been the murderer scoping out a location to dump the body. Another witness saw a maroon van with two Hispanic men the day after Nancy disappeared on Fielding Drive. It didn’t belong there. It was a Sunday, no work was going on and they were just standing there, leaning against it. It’s very odd. Again, combine all of the sightings and this is certainly information that police should have had the media share with the public.
*Please click on the chart to read the text*
The tire tracks led right up to the body. Police compared the measurement inside the tire tracks to those of the Cooper vehicles and they did not match. Could the wheel base match up to an older van?
Testimony about how the tracks were measured: