Prosecutor in Evelyn Boswell Case and Megan Boswell's Attorney Speak on Preparing for Long-Awaited Trial

Evelyn Boswell
Evelyn Boswell, left, and her mother, Megan Boswell, at an early court appearance following her arrest in 2020.Inside Edition

Megan Boswell's defense lawyer and Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus spoke to Inside Edition Digital about the long road to the murder trial of Evelyn Boswell's mother.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but in the haunting murder case of baby Evelyn Boswell, they often grind to a frustrating halt. 

It has been nearly three years since an Amber Alert was issued on Feb. 19, 2020 for 15-month-old Evelyn, a chubby-cheeked girl with wispy blond hair and huge blue eyes. Her own grandfather alerted children's services officials, saying he hadn't seen her since Thanksgiving and had no idea where, or how, she was.

Megan Boswell, the child's teenage, single mother, was ultimately arrested and charged with murder, in a twisting series of events in which she repeatedly lied to investigators about where her baby was and who had her, authorities said.

Boswell's high-profile murder trial has been twice delayed and its latest scheduled start date is February 2025, five years after the baby's decomposing body was found “tightly wound” in a blanket and aluminum foil, and stuffed into a trash can.

She was still alive when she was shoved into that receptacle, where she suffocated, according to pre-trial testimony. The bin was inside a playhouse that was built for Megan when she was a child, according to authorities. The playhouse was on the family's rural Tennessee farm, where various relatives had lived over the years, including Megan and Evelyn, investigators said.

There are many reasons for the long delay in attaining justice for Evelyn's killing, some of them manmade and some beyond human control. The COVID-19 pandemic didn't help. Neither did seemingly endless speculation driven by social media and unrelenting media attention, those associated with the case tell Inside Edition Digital.

"Covid shut down the court system for two years," Sullivan County Public Defender Andrew Gibbons says. The pandemic "threw a monkey wrench into everything," he says, and created a massive backlog of cases awaiting trial.

Gibbons' office was recused from representing Megan Boswell, because it was representing other members of her family in unrelated cases, Gibbons says. Outside counsel was appointed, and there was a mountain of evidence to sort through.

"There's a lot of technical evidence that has to be reviewed. There's hundreds of interviews, a lot of physical evidence," Gibbons says. "There's never been a case like this driven by social media."

In September of last year, Boswell asked for a new attorney, saying communication had broken down between herself and her counsel. The feeling was mutual, her lawyer said, who asked to be removed. The trial judge granted her request, and defense attorney Gene Scott was appointed in October.

In November, Scott received the prosecution's evidence in the case. "There's a lot of it," Scott tells Inside Edition Digital. "It's always hard to come into a case after another attorney's handled it."

In December, Scott asked for, and received, a two-year trial delay so he could prepare a defense.

He has begun the laborious task of looking at witness statements, the pathologist's report and "a ton of social media stuff." 

"If you look at Facebook, there's hundreds of comments. This case has really caught people's attention. The case drug on for a while before any charges were filed, and there's a missing child. Anytime there's a missing child, people are interested," the attorney says.

Scott declined to discuss his new client. "I don't think it's an appropriate topic of discussion," he says. "I'm not going to say anything about my dealings with Megan."

His client, he says, "needed someone to represent her and I think it's the right thing to do."

Because of all the pre-trial publicity, Scott says he may file for a change of venue, something Boswell's previous attorney had also asked for. 

"In other parts of the state, I think you'd get a more fair jury pool," Scott says.

Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus tells Inside Edition Digital that trial delays are not unusual, but five years "is not the norm," he said.

"We were ready for trial, then Ms. Boswell got new counsel. That was very frustrating," the prosecutor says. But, the case "will go in two years and there won't be any more delays," he says.

Staubus pays no mind to social media. "We've gone about our investigation and focused on the facts. I don't pay a lot of attention to social media." The case will be tried on the facts, the district attorney says.

The trial judge has sealed nearly all court records in Boswell's case, citing massive media attention and social media comments that could taint potential jurors.

From the beginning, when Evelyn was reported missing by her grandfather, thousands deluged social media with false sightings and speculation about what happened to her. Hundreds of tips poured into a hotline established by investigators, most of them erroneous, authorities said.

The search for Evelyn crossed state lines and encompassed several properties. More than 600 tips poured into a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation hotline — so many that state officials finally asked people to stop reporting visions, psychic readings and personal theories about Evelyn's location because they were overwhelming investigators and telephone operators.

On Aug. 19, 2020, Megan was charged with two counts of felony murder. She also was charged with one count each of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances, as well as 12 counts of making false reports to investigators.

She has pleaded not guilty to all 19 charges and remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.

More than 60 Facebook pages have popped up since Evelyn's Amber Alert was issued. Some had more than 20,000 members. 

Tara Wells is an administrator for The Official Evelyn Boswell Homicide Case Discussion Group, which has more than 7,000 members and remains active.

Unlike other social media sites, Wells says she does not allow overly emotional or speculative posts and confines comments to discussions about the legal aspects of Evelyn's murder case.

Wells says she understands the fascination with Evelyn's very short life.

"Evelyn was such a beautiful baby girl. She went a very long time without anyone reporting her missing," she says.

Her case has similarities to Casey Anthony, another young child also reported missing by a grandparent who hadn't seen the girl in weeks, Wells says. "You just become very invested" in paying tribute to such children and tracking the often-circuitous paths to justice for the victims, she says.

"The media doesn't always get all the details accurate in the beginning," Wells says. And in Evelyn's case, "a lot of (the court case) is sealed, so there's not a lot of information out there. Some of it has come out in the pre-trial hearings. A lot of it has been very hush-hush."

Sites like hers are places where people can discuss and comment about the criminal aspects of these cases, she says. And though the journey for justice has been very long for Evelyn Boswell, Wells said she has no problem with that.

"I'm a big believer in letting the justice system do its job," she says. "It's more important that it's done right."

"It's a very sad case and I hope and pray that the verdict is the right verdict for the truth, for whatever happened to Evelyn.

"At the heart of it," Wells says, "we just want justice for Evelyn."

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