There have been murmurs in certain sections of the metal community that are snowballing into a bit of a roar as of late regarding the events surrounding the tragic death of All That Remains guitarist Oli Herbert on October 16th of 2018.
For those readers not familiar with the story thus far – a brief synopsis:
- ~ October 9th – about 1 week before Oli died, he and his wife Beth met with a notary (one of Beth’s friends and an ex-stalker of Oli’s) to update his will.
- October 16th – Oli is found dead in a pond on his property, the notary/Beth’s friend is present when the police show up. Police sources say the death does not appear suspicious.
- November 5th – A Public Memorial for Oli is scheduled by his wife/family for Sunday the 11th.
- November 8th – The memorial was cancelled, no reason was given.
- November 10th – Beth releases Oli’s initial Toxicology reports and cause of death, clarifies that the Oli benefit was cancelled due to ‘numerous threats to her person and property’
- November 15th – a month after Oli’s passing, the Hartford Currant announces the police are investigating Oli’s death as suspicious
A Facebook page called “Justice for Oli Herbert” seems to be spearheading the effort to get the information out – I figured I’d actually practice some due diligence and see what this is all about. I’m a fan of All that Remains’ first two albums, so this did pique my interest. After reading through posts on the page, it seemed like a pretty clear-cut case that Beth was guilty.
They’ve even got some indie metal sites establishing a timeline of events, and some pretty damning “character defamation” information that, while it doesn’t establish guilt (and is 100% circumstantial) – certainly paints a picture of Beth as a personality disordered bitch who made Oli’s life miserable.
But then I dug a little deeper, and went through the group’s photo albums and older posts. I started noticing a couple things seemed out of place for a ‘pursuit of justice’.
The author(s) of the web page seemed to be slandering Oli’s widow Beth based on her attendance at “neopagan” religious ceremonies, specifically Beltane and Mabon.
It struck me as a bit odd that a website allegedly out for justice would be openly listing attendance at an alternative religious ceremony with derogatory information about their target – all of which has NOTHING to do with the case. Especially when they’ve got things like #burnthewitch in the title.
Neopagans who attend these festivals, properly called Wiccans, also refer to themselves as witches. A more prominent example of someone in the metal community who celebrated these festivals and was part of this heathen community is the recently deceased Jill Janus.
This sort of thing is why it’s always a good idea to check a source – the “Justice for Oli” page is single-handedly dictating the media narrative surrounding Oli’s death, and they’ve resorted to religious discriminatory slander (among other things) within a month of Oli’s death.
Something about that didn’t sit right with me, and I contacted the page admins and let them know about it (a note to the JFO group – you know who I am and you know how to contact me) – but then I started questioning everything they said.
Boy, am I glad I did. Contrary to their claims – the page “Justice for Oli” is not making the case any more clear. Quite the opposite – their entire existence seems to be an exercise in muddying the waters surrounding the case.
As of 11/19, it seems that they’ve managed to confuse some 8,000+ people with their intentionally misleading rhetoric, as well as an underhanded all around approach to the investigation. I’d like to take the time to point out what they’ve got correct and where they’ve been intentionally misleading the public, weaving lies in with the truth to make reality a bit more opaque.
What We Should Be Questioning
A) The circumstances of (and immediately surrounding) Oli’s death
I’ll admit, I was curious when the “JFO” group first popped up. Oli’s death on October 16th, 2018 was certainly outside the pale. Details in the reporting of his passing were sparse, and the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the matter was that he apparently wandered down to a pond on his property, slipped in, and drowned.
Healthy 44 year old men, typically, don’t just wander off in the middle of the night and drown in a lake on their property.
Quite the opposite, photos of Oli kayaking indicate he was pretty comfortable in the water – that pond in particular. That means he’d be pretty familiar with navigating the banks of the pond, etc. I’d imagine it also means he’d be pretty good at swimming, especially since he’s not wearing any sort of safety gear like a life preserver.
So we can safely say it’s a good idea to question why a person who was familiar with a particular area near water (he lived there for years), who involved himself in activities that required him to be pretty adept around that body of water, dies in that body of water in a manner that suggests the exact opposite. Legit, 100% good question.
When you factor in one of the last text messages from Oli (from October 15th), it becomes apparent that at some point he wasn’t feeling quite like himself. The response is unintelligible, to the point where it appears something is chemically wrong with Oli – and this is within 24 hours of his passing.
I don’t think there’s any way to really make sense of it, and it implies there was either a problem with Oli’s cognitive function, motor skills, or both. Any one of those things would be enough to impair him once he got near the water.
B) The people who cry Foul Play
“Justice for Oli Herbert” came into being around October 24th, 8 days after Oli’s passing. The authors of the page choose to remain anonymous, but they claim open association with (and it’s safe to assume participation from) a man named Drew Johnston – who was thanked by Oli in the linear notes of one of All that Remains’ albums.
So, we’re hearing from sources pretty close to Oli – seems legit right? This guy wasn’t just friends with him, they were close friends and corresponded regularly. If I’m not mistaken, Oli even participated in Drew’s wedding.
This is where it gets interesting. By his own accounts, Drew was Oli’s social media manager – and represented him in that position for over a year, as well as essentially teaching Oli to use it.
In the same post/chain, we also see there is an inherent bias on his part – there’s no love lost between these two, and it obviously extends to well before Oli’s unfortunate demise.
As with the Decapitated case, it’s important to question the motives of an accuser because they might have a background (i.e a history of lying to the police to get friends out of legal trouble in the Decapitated case) that makes them an unreliable source.
C) What is the context of the initial statement from Beth denouncing Drew Johnston?
This particular post/action has been cited by the “Justice for Oli” page as a major indicator of guilt. After all – why would she act preemptively on poor, innocent Drew Johnston – one of Oli’s closest friends and the person who managed his social media accounts for a year?
Maybe the the person being referenced held a grudge that predated Oli’s death, and very openly stated he had “dirt on their toxic relationship”.
Maybe she thought he was a “clinger” whose only interest in associating with her now deceased husband was the accumulation of sub-cultural capital (in metal, generally we call it credibility) – that he would then use in a toxic way?
Or maybe she didn’t trust the type of guy who would use his dead friend’s social media to insult said friend’s wife due to a pre-existing bias.
Maybe they had a beef that went back quite a ways? My friends haven’t always gotten along with my girlfriends, nothing really out of the ordinary there.
I can comfortably say that this mutual dislike obviously extends back for years. Nobody makes that more clear than the folks at JFO themselves.
D) What is the context of the infamous “Say Cheese, Honey” photo/post
This is the photo that brought a LOT of people on board with JFO’s message. It’s a photo of the area where Oli’s body was found, posted by Beth with the caption ‘Say Cheese Honey”.
First Thoughts – That looks shady as fuck.
Most people (myself included) can’t imagine a context where saying this would be remotely OK. Fortunately for us, the comments section of one of “Justice for Oli’s” posts provides us with a clue.
Soooo… someone took control of Oli’s social media to accuse his wife of murder the day after he died, and she responded. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty comfortable assuming it’s Drew Johnston.
If not him, someone in the Justice for Oli group. How do I know this? Both Oli’s official page (which Drew had a hand in operating by his own admission), Drew’s personal page, and the Official JFO page admins openly claim to be working together regularly on the JFO page. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who’s taken back the reigns of Oli’s social media page.
Let that sink in for a second.
Beth was not directing this in any way, shape, or form at her now deceased husband – she was directing it at Drew Johnston (the person who was pretending to be Oli the day after his death) while he was operating her dead husband’s facebook page.
Is it still a fucked up thing to say? Sure is.
Does it make her any more guilty or innocent? Nope.
Does goading a woman by using her dead husband’s social media, then taking her angry response out of context and posting it online to slander her seem shady as fuck? Yeah dude, it’s fucking gross, and worlds more toxic than anything they’ve proven Beth has done.
Kinda makes me question what Drew and Company’s definition of “Justice” really is.
E) The circumstances surrounding the release of the initial tox report/cause of death.
Once again, standing by itself the statement seems a bit odd. Once again, a little context bring a lot of clarity to the situation.
At this point, Beth was certainly aware of the “Justice for Oli” page. She even took (per JFO’s own post/declaration) control of Oli’s facebook page long enough to tell the creators to take it down. Needless to say, she had seen a lot of the things that were being said about her.
She probably also saw people posting screenshots of her social media, and then using it to goad on conspiracy theories that she had poisoned her husband, and then dragged his body down to the lake to make it look like an accident.
In that context, we can see that Beth was well aware of the allegations/theories that were already starting to spread about her.
If people were accusing me of murdering a loved one, I’d feel a certain sense of vindication when preliminary lab results proved it wasn’t true. I might even make it public.
I’m not saying that’s what did or didn’t happen – but I am saying that when you reintroduce context suddenly all these “odd things that don’t add up” make a lot more sense.
E) Changing Oli’s Will 1 Week before his death?
Yeah, that’s another one that looks shady as fuck. This is a good thing to question. “Justice for Oli” has been presenting the timing of this event, coupled with the participants, as a clear indication of malice aforethought.
Here’s the thing – Oli and Beth were getting ready to go through a divorce. You know one thing that ALWAYS changes when you want to divorce someone? How much of your shit you want them to get when you die. Changing your will is a normal part of the divorce process, and from what I can gather Oli was a willing participant in the divorce.
The notary herself, Wendy, is questionable. And JFO is doing a good thing raising the question – why was the notary (a friend of the widow) for the will present at the crime scene a week later when the police showed up?
There actually is a simple explanation – when you’re dealing with legal stuff, it’s nice having a close friend who’s a notary. And it’s pretty common knowledge it’s not good to be alone after a loved one has died, perhaps Beth called her close friend Wendy simply for moral support after discovering her fucking husband died?
To recap everything we’ve discussed so far
The Justice for Oli team, although claiming to be looking for justice – seem to think that the best way to go about doing that is by knowingly distorting the truth to get people on board. Because there’s a big difference between these two images:
So, besides the whole religious discrimination as defamation thing – my major issue with the whole thing is this – “Justice for Oli”, how exactly does lying to the public to get them ‘on board’ with your cause further justice?
If you’re demanding the truth come out – doesn’t that kind of imply you shouldn’t be giving a distorted version of the truth?
Realistically, this is the sort of due diligence Metal Injection, Loudwire, Metal Hammer, Metal Insider, Kerrang!, The PRP, Louder Sound, Lambgoat (especially Lambgoat, fuck those guys), Billboard, Ultimate Guitar, MetalSucks, Blabbermouth, etc. SHOULD have been practicing. There’s a huge story here, and they’re all literally promoting lies and slander without offering up the truth. Or questioning anything.
I understand why they didn’t – the whole fucking thing is a rats next of toxic personalities and conspiracy theorists. But here’s the thing – that sort of cancer doesn’t just go away if you ignore it. It grows. Within less than 1 month, they’ve gained nearly 10k followers – with 2k of those coming between November 16th and November 20th. This isn’t just growing, it’s snowballing.
At some point, there has to be some reason injected into the clusterfuck of insanity – because I guarantee we’re going to hear about this again.
Hopefully, those “journalists” at the sites I mentioned pull their collective heads out of Jered Threatin’s ass long enough to do their jobs as members of the media and actually fucking report on something worthwhile. Every single image was sourced from the “Justice for Oli” group.
The information is literally in plain sight – this needs to get out before it gets buried.