Nearly five years after her daughter died, Hannah Truelove’s mother, Mona Harris, sent Hall County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Dan Franklin a letter and a collage of childhood photographs of Hannah.
The letter read:
“Thank you so much for all you’re doing for my Hanny.”
Three years later, Harris died at 56 on Aug. 9, 2020, but the photo collage she sent still resides on Franklin’s office refrigerator.
Hannah Truelove: 10 years later
This is part 3 of a three-part series on the death of Gainesville High student Hannah Truelove.
Part 1: ‘We know who is responsible’: On 10th anniversary of Hannah Truelove's death, a suspect but little evidence
Part 2: ‘She had the voice of an angel’: Hannah Truelove’s father speaks about the last time he saw his daughter
Franklin said he understands that people will probably scrutinize why there hasn’t been an arrest if there is a suspect in mind. It has been as frustrating for Franklin as it has been for family and friends.
“Our burden to bear for an arrest is probable cause,” Franklin said. “Do we have that? Probably. But our ultimate burden is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If we make an arrest, we want to make sure that it’s a solid one. Because I would hate to make an arrest just purely based on probable cause and then lose it at the trial phase, because then we’ll never get … (another) shot at it.”
It’s hard to know how time changes a person, Franklin said. Maturity and possibly having kids of their own might make someone realize “what they took from another person,” Franklin said.
Franklin clarified that he has kept an open mind to avoid tunnel vision in his investigation.
“Twenty-six years of experience tells me not to discount anything, but the same experience tells me that we’re on the right track and we’ll get there one day,” he said.
In the days and months after Truelove’s death, some media outlets and internet sleuths pointed to Hannah’s Twitter posts as a possible avenue into her mind before her death.
Eleven days before Truelove was reported missing, she tweeted “I got me an uglyass stalker.”
After talking with Harris, Franklin said the tweet was referencing a guy at Hannah’s school who liked Hannah, but she didn’t like him back.
Franklin said the boy had shown up at her house with flowers.
He was interviewed and eliminated as a possible suspect, Franklin said.
Franklin said he and his fellow investigators are paying attention to trends in law enforcement, particularly in DNA technology.
Because Hannah was completely submerged in water after the rainstorm, Franklin said the water “washed away the lion’s share of our trace and biological evidence.”
“As time advances, they can generally use smaller and smaller amounts of whatever biological evidence you may have or trace evidence you may have to get the results that they couldn’t have gotten back when this happened,” Franklin said. “… If anything’s being worked on right now, generally it’s in that regard to see what’s out there and see if it would benefit us to take whatever existing evidence we have and see if we can apply it to modern science and see if they can help kind of open something up.”