Happily ever after: Betty Carnes and Vance Mills- fake deaths, fresh start?

In an interview given to Partin’s attorney Clay Bedford, one of Betty Carnes’ coworkers gives a glimpse into Betty’s romantic life in the days leading up to her disappearance:

“‘There’s a man that I’ve went out with a couple of times that his wife–might have found out,’ and [Betty] said, ‘I think maybe she might’ve put that out there wrote that on there’ but [Betty] said ‘I don’t know’–”

Betty had a new boyfriend.

“But she didn’t name no names.”

Was that boyfriend Vance Mills?

Vance and Betty surely would have known each other, given Betty and Judy Smith’s close friendship, and the fact Judy’s husband Donnie was dealing the drugs Vance was regularly flying in from Mexico.

A “cast of characters” drawn up by another of Betty’s coworkers discussed Betty and Judy’s friendship:

Were Betty and Judy flying to their exotic shopping destinations via Vance Mills’ “Friendly Skies”? Remember, Vance was the owner of two aircraft: an MU-2 jet and a twin engine Cessna:


We know Vance was married. Vance was not a faithful husband. He enjoyed the company of other women. It earned him a sexual harassment suit at one point. And most knew about his longtime girlfriend, C. B.

A person with ties to Vance’s long term girlfriend disclosed she was often harassed and mentally tortured by a member of Vance’s family. More than once, Vance had to replace the girlfriend’s car when the family member’s jealous rage was expressed without restraint upon the vehicle.

It sounds reminiscent of the problems Betty had started having: her car was vandalized more than once. Harassing ads had been placed in the newspaper. She started receiving upsetting, anonymous typed letters.

A new, mysterious boyfriend. The flights to exotic shopping locales. Another work friend mentioned how Betty seemed to have more money than what her job could afford her. Vance was a millionaire; Betty was already running in his circle. It is not a stretch to ask if they became involved.

A year and a half after Betty’s disappearance, on the eveningĀ of April 28, 1995, Vance Mills was allegedly killed in a car wreck . Jimmy Renfro, Vance’s close friend and business partner, was the driver. There is a reason I say “allegedly killed:” if evidence points that Betty Carnes could not have been the body in the barrel at Tremco, who’s to say that was really Vance Mills in that car wreck? Bodies were plentiful when you were involved in the nursing home business, and your friends owned nursing homes and funeral parlors, too.

I find the wreck suspicious. Why was Jimmy driving Vance’s car? More importantly, why does the social security death index list Vance’s date of death the 15th of April, thirteen days before the actual wreck that was supposed to have claimed his life?

This many “errors” surrounding the deaths of both Vance Mills and Betty Carnes seems unlikely and suspicious.(See “Depraved Indifference Part 2: the autopsy of Betty Carnes- or was it?”) Imagine being in neck-deep with the cartel, and you discover one of your partners (Donnie Baker) had turned on you and was now working with Tom Handy (the full capacity in which Donnie Baker was partnering with Handy is not known, but sources indicate a link between the Handy household and Baker’s illegal enterprises.)

How far might someone go to start a new life, on a new continent, with a new love, surrounded by sea and sun instead of prison bars, or worse, six feet of cold dirt?