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Charlie Metcalf had earned enough money helping build the rayon factory at ENKA to buy a new 1929 Ford model A. He drove that car all over the mountain region and joined his brothers and buddies for a little fun drinking mountain "moonshine". He had promised to marry his girl friend Lessie May Boone sometime later. In late 1929 he and his brothers lost their job setting poles and stringing lines for the telephone company because the company they were working for went bankrupt after the stock market crash.
In March 1930 one of Charlie's friends arranged a date with two girls. Otho Merrill was dating Bessie Mae Kent who was almost eighteen at the time. Charlie was driving his car and avoided drinking too much but Otho became very drunk and was put out in his front yard around 10 PM. Charlie drove around with the two girls with Bessie refusing to go home because no one was home and she did not want to go into the empty house. Before 11 PM Charlie's date was dropped off at her house because she was afraid her daddy would whip her for being out too late.
Bessie asked Charlie to run away with her because she claimed she could not go home because of abuse. Charlie reminded her that he was planning to marry Lessie and Bessie replied that Lessie only wanted his car. He allowed her to drive in the direction of Hot Springs until she lost control before stopping at a point just before tumbling down the mountainside.
Not being able to get his car back on the road without help Charlie built a fire to keep warm. Sometime later a car came by traveling north but was not able to help because he did not have a rope or chain. The man in this car invited Bessie into his car to wait for help and while Charlie was sitting by the fire the car drove away north.
Charlie drove to the Kent house early in the morning to assure himself that Bessie was home. He told the family the story about the other car. The Kent's contacted the sheriff in Marshall who investigated the matter before arresting Charlie for kidnapping on April 4, 1930.
The authorities dragged the French Broad River for several days. Kidnapping had not become a major federal crime because the Charles Lindbergh case did not occur until 1932.
John Metcalf, Charlie's father, did not have the $10,000 cash bond because the banks had failed. His standing in the community allowed him to get Charlie released without bond pending trial.
Ceff Edwards attempted to organize a lynching because he thought Charlie killed Bessie and disposed of her body. Charlie was not able to fully forgive Ceff during his lifetime.
At some point Lloyd Bryan, a local man, then working as a policeman in River Rouge, Michigan and a Fuller Brush salesman as a second job knocked on a door and recognized Bessie. The sheriff in Marshall accepted his word that she had been found and finally cleared Charlie of all charges.
Charlie had a lot of explaining to do to Lessie. She accepted the situation and found the silver lining. Charlie stopped drinking and driving around with his buddies. Later in the year they were married. The consummation of the marriage led to the birth of James Farol Metcalf nine months later on August 24, 1931.