Author’s note: I have recently reached out to Mr. Wible to schedule some time to speak with him. We have never heard his side of the story, which I think may add perspective in ways we’ve never had in this case.
Don’t ever tell me that peaceful protests are ineffective.
Thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens of LaGrange County, Indiana, Sue Glick, incumbent state senator since 2010, won the Republican primary election last week, defeating challenger Jeff Wible.
Wible, you may remember, was the prosecutor who, for no discernible reason, convened a grand jury to decide what charges to press against Christy Shaffer, who was accused of the 2009 beating death of 16-month-old Alissa Guernsey. Instead of charging Christy with anything close to murder, manslaughter, or even neglect of a dependent resulting in death, the grand jury handed down an indictment for a class B felony charge of neglect resulting in serious injury.
Based on the injuries clearly visible in Alissa’s postmortem photos, that baby was not neglected. She was beaten to death.
Thanks to the inadequate charges, Judge Scott Vanderbeck’s obvious bias toward the Sprunger-Shaffer family, and the “good ol’ boys” mentality of the court system in the area, Christy Shaffer spent a pathetic 77 days in jail for the brutal beating death of her 16-month-old second cousin, Alissa Beth Guernsey.
Jeff Wible was running for Indiana State Senate, but he was defeated by incumbent State Senator Sue Glick.
Alissa’s Army, a group of women including Bernadette Buccafuri, the administrator of the BabyAlissaCries4Justice Facebook page, have held rallies and gatherings for years demanding justice for Alissa. Sadly, because of the plea deal Christy Shaffer was given, she can never face further charges in Alissa’s death, so there is nothing more we can do on that front.
We can, however, prevent Wible and Vanderbeck from succeeding in their attempts to further their political careers, and that is exactly what former Indiana State Police Public Information Officer and former Howard County Sheriff Marshall Talbert set out to do several years ago. He hasn’t let up since.
On Friday, June 12, I had the pleasure of speaking on the phone with Mr. Talbert, who filled me in on all of his efforts to stymie Jeff Wible’s political attempts. He also shared several photos with me, which I will share throughout this post.
In my blog post about Alissa, as well as on Episode 8 of Suffer the Little Children Podcast, I shared a letter Mr. Talbert wrote to the editor of KPC News regarding Jeff Wible’s senate bid. The subject line of that letter was “We can campaign for a candidate, or against them,” and the entire letter was a work of art, holding nothing back when explaining most eloquently why Jeff Wible was not suited for a senate seat.
One of his most often quoted lines was, “I wouldn’t vote Jeff Wible for dog catcher, if that were an elected office.”
Mr. Talbert first learned of Alissa’s case after watching the Inside Edition segment about her story back in 2013. He admired the work Alissa’s Army was doing to bring awareness to Alissa’s case, but he had some ideas on how to make their protests more effective. He told them that instead of their hand-lettered signs on poster boards, they should consider having professional signs printed up. He also sought out other men to join the movement, because Alissa’s Army was, up till then, composed solely of women.
Both with Alissa’s Army and on his own time, Mr. Talbert has gone to great lengths to remind Wible and Vanderbeck that they may have forgotten about Alissa, but he and many others haven’t. Twice a year, he makes it a point to protest outside the Indiana judicial conference, which is held at a different, undisclosed location semi-annually.
During the most recent senate seat race, Mr. Talbert even wrote “Remember Baby Alissa” outside Wible’s office as a reminder to Wible why many adamantly opposed his run for office.
Mr. Talbert wanted to do more to campaign against Wible in the past few months, but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, congregation was not allowed. Since restrictions have recently eased, he was able to convene a small group with signs to protest in front of the LaGrange County Courthouse on on the Saturday prior to the election. Since most people don’t campaign against candidates on a local level — this kind of anti-campaigning usually occurs at or near the national level — citizens took notice. A photo of the protest even made the front page of the LaGrange Standard newspaper.
While he and his group campaigned outside one of the voting stations, Mr. Talbert said, Wible himself pulled up and had the audacity to give them the finger, further proving just how unfit for public office he truly is.
Wible was defeated during the June 2, 2020 election by incumbent candidate Sue Glick in the Republican primary for Indiana State Senate District 13. In fact, Sue Glick raked in 61.2% of the votes; Jeff Wible received 38.8%.
For his part, Wible has always refused to speak with the media about his involvement in Alissa’s case.
Whenever we’re faced with the question “What more can we do?”, says Mr. Talbert, remember: there is always something we can do to keep a victim like Alissa in the spotlight. Never forget you can campaign against a judge or prosecutor trying to attain a higher political status. You do not have to accept what public officials do; if you’re unhappy, take action, and attempt to oust them by any (legal) means necessary.
Congratulations to Sue Glick on her victory, and heartfelt thanks to Marshall Talbert and Alissa’s Army for making it happen!
Sources: Marshall Talbert, KPC News, Say NO to Jeff Wible for Elected Seat State Senate District 13 Facebook group