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Report, Michael Ingold (PI):  Mitch Whidden


 

CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
FOR
JACK HATFIELD, ATTORNEY
FOR
RONNIE KIMBLE, DEFENDANT
PREPARED BY
MICHAEL D. INGOLD, SR
INGOLD INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES, INC.
AUGUST 3, 1998


 

On July 25, 1998, I traveled to Fort Meyers, Florida. The purpose for this trip was to attempt to interview Mitch Whidden in Arcadia, Florida and also to check the background of Mitch Whidden. On July 26, 1998, I traveled to Brownville, Florida. Mitch Whidden is the Pastor of Brownville Baptist Church, which is located at 7015 NE US highway 17, Arcadia Florida.. I arrived at approximately 10:30 a.m. I observed that this was a very small, white church building. There were ten (10) cars in the parking area of the church. There was a lighted sign in front of the church, which appeared to be new.


After church services were over, I approached Mitch Whidden, who was standing in front of the church. Mr. Whidden and myself had previously met in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 9, 1997. I explained to Mr. Whidden my reason for being there. Mr. Whidden told me that he could not tell me about the conversation that he had in Lynchburg, Va. with Ronnie Kimble. Mr. Kimble supposedly told Mr. Whidden that he had killed Patricia Kimble during this conversation.


Mr. Whidden told me that if I would read Leviticus 5, verses 1-5, I would understand why he could not talk to me. He then began turning the pages in his Bible to this passage. I noticed as he turned the pages, that several were highlighted in yellow. When he located Leviticus 5, I noticed that this passage was highlighted in blue. Mr. Whidden then offered to give me a Bible and I told him that I had one and did not need him to give me one. Mr. Whidden then invited me back to the 6 p.m. service and told me that he would be happy for me to sit with him and his family and to share a meal with him.
 

On July 27, 1998, I talked to Mr. Harry Murray, who is the Treasurer for Brownville Baptist Church. Mr. Murray's telephone number is 941-993-3703. Mr. Murray stated that Mitch Whidden was hired as Pastor of the church on May 10, 1998. He first stated that Mitch had graduated from Liberty Bible Institute. Later in our conversation, he said that it was his understanding that Liberty Bible Institute had 'messed up' on a couple of his credits and that Mitch thought he had -the credits to graduate, but actually did not. Mr. Murray stated that Mitch plans to finish these credits through a correspondence course.
 

Mr. Murray told me that Mitch was licensed to preach by Liberty Bible Institute, but was ordained by First Baptist Church of Ft. Ogden, Florida.
 

Mr. Murray stated that Charles D. Nelson of 3333 49th Avenue E, Baredenton, Florida had been the interim pastor of the church for thirteen months prior to the


 

hiring of Mitch Whidden. Mr. Murray stated that the church has had several Pastors during the time he has been a member of the church. Mr. Murray also told me that Mitch Whidden has no other jobs. He stated that the average number of congregation is 50 to 60 people. He stated that the number of people attending church is seasonal and that during the summer months, attendance is not as large as during the fall and winter. Mr.. Murray also told me that Mitch Whidden's mother-in-law is a member of the church. He stated that he understands that the mother-in-law is divorced.
 

I also visited the Arcadia First Baptist Church. The Pastor, Richard Englert, was away on vacation during my visit. I spoke to the church secretary, Ms Barbara Jones. She stated that Mitch Whidden had made at least three visits to the First Baptist Church since becoming the Pastor of Brownville Baptist Church. She stated that he wanted the help of Richard Englert to 'get started.' She said that
Whidden has also ordered Sunday School material through the First Baptist Church. Ms Jones stated that the Brownville Baptist Church has been there for several years. She stated that she had been in Arcadia, Florida for 25 years and the church was there when she came. She stated that she did not know much about the church or Mitch Whidden. She stated that the church had erected a new sign since the arrival of Mitch Whidden.
 

On August 3, 1998, I made contact with Richard Englert. He told me that due to Pastoral confidentiality, he could tell me nothing about Mitch Whidden.
 

On July 27, 1998, I spoke with a Mrs. Rholetter, who is the wife of Jimmy Rholetter, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Ft. Ogden, Florida. Ft. Ogden, Florida is a small community 17 miles south of Arcadia, Florida. Ft. Ogden, Florida consists of a small general store, a fire station, a toy shop, and three churches. These churches are - The Church of God, United Methodist Church, and the First Baptist Church. These churches are no more than 1/10 if a mile apart.
 

Mrs. Rholetter stated that they had been at the Ft. Ogden First Baptist Church for six years. She stated that she knew Mitch Whidden and that he had been ordained by her husband. Mrs. Rholetter stated that she knew that Mitch was in someway involved as a witness in a murder that had occurred in North Carolina. She stated that Mitch Whidden had talked to her husband about this situation. She stated that her husband had not told her about the details of the conversation which he had with Whidden. She stated that she knew Whidden had attended Liberty Bible


 

Institute, and at one time came back to Arcadia, Fla. and stayed for about six months before returning to Liberty Bible Institute. She did not know if he had graduated from Liberty Bible Institute. I asked her about Whidden's family and she stated that she thought Whidden's father lived in Punta Gorda, Fla. At the end of our conversation, I said, "I understand Mitch is a good person." Mrs. Rholetter responded by saying, "I can't say anything bad about Mitch."
 

Mrs. Rholetter also told me that her family was preparing to move. The address of the Fort Ogden First Baptist Church is 9485 Picken Street, Ft. Ogden, Florida 34267. The phone number is 941-494-2099.
 

After speaking with Mrs. Rholetter, I returned to the Desoto County Court House. I went to the county tax appraiser's office, where I learned that the property located at 7015 NE US Highway 17, is owned by Brownville Baptist Church.
 

I also located the marriage license of Louie Mitchell Whidden, Jr. This license indicated that Louie Mitchell Whidden, Jr. was married to Debra Marie Bunn on October 24, 1992 in Ft. Ogden, Fla. Arthur T. Daniels of Oak Hill Baptist Church located at Rt. 7. Box 243 Arcadia, Florida was the minister, and Jennifer Lother and Jason A. Coker were the witnesses. I also obtained a certified drivers's history of Louie Mitchell Whidden, Jr. Among other charges, this history indicates that Whidden was charged with careless driving and failing to file a report of an accident on May 13, 1991. I have made a written request to the Crash Records section of the Division of Administrative Services for a copy of the accident report.
 

On July 28, 1998, I interviewed Jimmy Rholetter of Ft. Ogden First Baptist Church. My main objective in talking to Mr. Rholetter was to find out how Mitch Whidden was ordained. Mr. Rholetter confirmed that he was the pastor who ordained Mitch Whidden. Mr. Rholetter stated that when a church calls a person to be pastor of that church, that person may or may not be ordained. He said that if the church wants the person whom they have called to be ordained, the church must call the home church of the person in question. Mr. Rholetter stated that he ordained Whidden on May 17, 1998. He stated that Whidden was asked about his beliefs in Heaven and Hell, the Creation, and the Birth of Jesus Christ. He said that Whidden's beliefs must be consistent with those of the church. He stated that there was then a laying on of hands, and Whidden was ordained. I asked Mr. Rholetter is his church was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention; he stated that it was. When I asked him if Whidden's church was a member, he said


 

that Whidden's church was a member of a county organization; the county organization was a member of the state organization, and the state organization was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 

After Speaking with Mr. Rholetter, I talked to Dr. Gary Baldwin of the First Baptist Church of Ft Meyers, Florida. I explained to him how Whidden was ordained. He stated to me that his ordainment consisted of much more that this, but different churches had different processes for ordainment. He stated that the state of Florida had no rules pertaining to ordainment, nor the licensing of Pastors. Dr. Baldwin told me that the person being ordained would have his ordainment certificate and that the church where the ordainment occurred would have minutes of the action kept by the church clerk.
 

On July 28, 1998, I attempted to make contact with Mitch Whidden by telephone. The telephone number I had for Louie M. Whidden was 941-494-4513. Upon calling this number, a female answered and identified herself as the Aunt of Mitch Whidden. She told me that she had been married to the brother of Louie M. Whidden, Sr. She stated to me that she did not know the whereabouts of either Whidden, Sr. or Whidden, Jr. I checked again with local information and was advised by the operator that the number for Louie M. Whidden, Jr in Arcadia, Florida was 941-494-4513. I then checked local information for any Whiddens in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, Fla. There was a listing for a M. Whidden in Port Charlotte which was 941-627-6299. Upon calling this number, I was informed by a female, answering the telephone, who said she did not know a Mitch Whidden.


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Published August 15, 2006.  Report broken links or other problems.

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