Inmate’s Letter Launched Berry Search

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CLEVELAND -- A prison inmate provided a possible break in the case of Amanda Berry's disappearance when he directed investigators to the location where he claimed her remains here buried.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason tells Fox 8 News he is housed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility and sent a letter three weeks ago to him indicating he had information on 17-year-old Amanda Berry’s disappearance.

Berry went missing in April 2003 after she left her job at Burger King on West 110th Street and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland.

Authorities considered the inmate’s information “credible” and launched a search at West 30th Street and Wade Avenue near I-90 on Thursday morning.

Robert Wolford, who provided the information, is serving time for the unrelated killing of a homeless man in Cleveland. That killing took place in the same area where authorities are now searching for Amanda Berry’s remains.

"He indicated there's another individual who committed the crime, and when we apprehend him, we'll be able to talk a little more about that," Mason says.

Fox 8 News reporter Jack Shea, who broke the story of the new investigation, noted that authorities are often skeptical of information provided by inmates because it is often given with the intention of striking a deal to their benefit.

Mason would not go into details of what was in the letter he received, in part, because a suspect is still on the loose.

"I don't want to get into the 'why,' Mason said during an interview, "but it makes sense."

Authorities drove Wolford up from the prison in Lucasville on Wednesday.

"During the trip, they have a normal conversation, but (Wolford) tells them where the body is," Mason said.

Deputies took the 25-year-old Wolford directly to a vacant lot near West 30th Street and Wade Avenue on Wednesday afternoon. It is almost the exact location where Wolford killed a homeless man several years ago after a drug deal gone bad.

Attorney Steve Canfil helped represent Wolford in that case.

"I think, if you look at the record, you will see that there are a number of psychiatric referrals, and there may have been issues with mental illness involved with him," Canfil said.

Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services reports that there were many calls to Wolford's childhood home regarding "abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment."

CFS says it twice removed Wolford from the home when he was a boy.

Wolford had a long record with the juvenile court that included charges of theft, burglary, and receiving stolen property.

Mason says Berry and Wolford knew each other "from the neighborhood" but did not want to go further into describing how they knew one another at this time.

He says, whatever happens, "it's all bad" for Berry's family.

Mason adds, though, that if her body is found, the family may get some closure and know that someone has been "held responsible in the death of their child."

*For more on Fox 8's coverage of the Amanda Berry case, click here.

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