The disappearance of 53-year old Cheryl Lynn Hughes from her paradise-like home set off an investigation that led to the search for a serial killer in Panama in 2010. Cheryl had moved with her husband Keith to Bocas del Toro, Panama, to live out her dream on their own private island. But, after she and Keith separated, Cheryl was gone and an eccentric neighbor had taken over her property.
It turned out that Cheryl was not the only missing person in the area. Someone was killing Americans in Panama and taking possession of their property. When all was said and done, six Americans had been killed. When the killer’s home was searched, police found stolen checkbooks, ATM cards, jewelry, purses, gun ammunition, and gold dental fillings and crowns in a glass jar.
William Holbert, a North Carolina native known to his victims as Wild Bill Cortez, had become well known among the Boca ex-patriots. After an American family of three disappeared from the area, Bill and his wife had moved into their home and converted a boathouse into a private bar they called “The Jolly Roger Social Club.” The bar was decorated with a skull and crossbones flag and it was opened for partying every weekend.
But as disappearances piled up, neighbors decided that there was something wrong. The police came in and discovered bodies buried in shallow graves. But Wild Bill and his wife were already on the run. They fled through Costa Rica and were finally captured on the Nicaraguan border.
Join us at the quiet end for this stunning tale of theft, murder and real estate fraud. After being extradited to Panama, Wild Bill confessed to his crimes but showed little remorse for all of the pain he had caused. He would explain what he did and how he did it but the question of why will forever haunt the loved ones of his victims.
After middle-aged couple Wayne and Sharmon Stock were brutally killed in their Nebraska farmhouse, police decided that a family member was behind their murder. A nephew confessed and implicated his cousin as his accomplice. But they still needed some physical evidence.
Enter forensics investigator David Kofoed. Kofoed found a spot of blood underneath the steering wheel of a car. DNA testing confirmed that the blood was Wayne Stocks'. But other evidence at the scene was not adding up.
The discovery of an engraved ring in the Stock house turned the investigation in the right direction. The ring was traced to a Wisconsin couple whose truck had been stolen with the ring inside of it. Two teenagers had stolen the truck and took it for a joyride.
Join us at the quiet end today for Nebraska Joyride. This is a fascinating case involving a false confession, two cold-blooded killers, and a forensics investigator charged with planting evidence.
Gina Renee Hall experienced more pain in her 18 years than most of us do in our lifetimes. As a young child, she suffered severe burns. As a result, she went through multiple surgeries and was left with disfiguring scars.
You might think that she would have been bitter and isolated herself from the world. But Gina was a friendly, outgoing, and pretty young woman. She accepted what life had given her---dressing to hide her scars and yet always being fashionable, playing competitive sports, and attending college.
But Gina’s decision to go out dancing, and to dance with 28-year old Stephen Epperly, would lead somewhere that no one could have predicted. At least, Gina could not have predicted. Others who had known Stephen Epperly for years were aware of his violent past. He had been accused of rape more than once, but he was never convicted.
Epperly was the last person to see Gina alive. And blood was found in multiple locations where he had taken her. Her car was found abandoned with the trunk open. But Gina has never been found.
In today’s True Crime Brewery, The Search for Gina Renee Hall, we will go over the details in this nearly 40-year old case. We’ll explore Epperly’s history, his story, and the extensive circumstantial evidence used to convict him in Virginia’s first “No Body” murder conviction.
Long Island has a dark and terrible secret: the infamous Long Island Serial Killer – also known as the Gilgo Beach Killer. This still unidentified killer is responsible for the murder of over 10 women and one man, all whose remains were dumped along the Ocean Parkway.
In December of 2010, the Suffolk County Police Department was conducting a search for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker. Shannon lived in Jersey City and she had been missing since running away from the home of a client that May. While conducting that search in the dunes of Ocean Parkway, Police Officer Mallia and his German Shephard Blue found the skeletal remains of a woman stuffed into a burlap sack. But these remains were not Shannon Gilbert’s.
The search expanded and, two days later, they uncovered three more bodies – all female – that had been dumped in the thick vegetation along the road.
The four bodies were identified within weeks. All four women were revealed to have been escorts or sex workers who had advertised their services on Craigslist. Six more sets of remains were found in March and April 2011.
As the police widened the scope of their search, they continued to find more human remains. The FBI eventually became involved and speculated that the alleged killer was someone familiar with law enforcement techniques. But finding the killer has proven been impossible. Psychologists have put together a profile and several suspects have been looked at, but the case remains unsolved.
Join us today at the quiet end for a discussion of these murders, including a heartbreaking look at the victims and what turned their lives in a direction where they became vulnerable to this serial killer.
Check out Mob Queens, a new podcast from Stitcher! Mob stories are always all about the guys. But not this one. Anna Genovese is a New York drag club maven and bad-ass mob wife. Hollywood besties Jessica Bendinger (writer, Bring It On) and Michael Seligman (writer, RuPaul’s Drag Race) are obsessed. They piece together Anna's story, racing between speakeasies, mob informants and former drag queens. But will their heroine's secrets unlock more than they want to know about Anna... and themselves? Mob Queens is out NOW - listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Mitrice Richardson was released from the Lost Hills Sheriff department in Malibu, California, in the middle of the night without her phone, money, or transportation on September 17, 2009. She had been arrested hours earlier after behaving strangely at an upscale restaurant. She was unable to pay her dinner bill and the restaurant staff were concerned that she was mentally unstable or intoxicated.
Once in police custody, Mitrice’s mother was contacted and she was assured that they would be keeping Mitrice overnight. Her mother could pick her up in the morning. But, by morning, Mitrice had been released. Her whereabouts were unknown.
No one knew why Mitrice had driven about 40 miles from her home to the oceanside Malibu neighborhood. She had made some strange Facebook posts and had demonstrated some unusual behavior that day. When she was released after midnight, she was in an area she didn’t know, without any way to contact her family. Her car had been impounded and she was unable to retrieve it.
Mitrice’s family believed that she could have been having a mental health crisis, so her release was both negligent and dangerous. And, as time passed and Mitrice was not found, her family began to feel ignored and deceived by the Sheriff’s office and the LAPD.
Join us at the quiet end today for the story of a disoriented, young African-American woman who was left to fend for herself, in the dead of night, in the rugged terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains, and was never seen or heard from again.
What happened to Mitrice Richardson? The gaps and omissions in the Sheriff’s department’s handling of her case, as well as her family’s discoveries, welcome further investigation into the events of her disappearance
Heather Strong was a 26-year old waitress and mother, trying to make ends meet, when she disappeared in 2009. Heather had lived a difficult life which had only gotten worse when she became involved with Joshua Fulgham and Emilia Carr. Joshua was in on-again off-again relationships with both Heather and Emilia. When Heather went missing, Emilia was 8-months pregnant. She claimed that Joshua was the father.
Emilia was known to be jealous of Josh and Heather’s relationship. Just one month before Heather was vanished, Emilia attacked Heather with a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.
In The Elimination of Heather Strong, we’re talking about a group of young people who lived dysfunctional lives burdened by drug use, sexual and physical abuse, violence, poverty, unplanned pregnancies, and infidelity. Their relationships ended in betrayal and tragedy, leaving one of them dead and two in prison.
Anne Marie Fahey was a beautiful, ambitious secretary to the Governor of Delaware when she disappeared in 1996. Anne Marie had been having an affair with a married man—an affair she had ended. But her ex-lover, Thomas Capano, was not a man who took no for an answer. In fact, he had been stalking Anne Marie for weeks.
Thomas Capano, a powerful attorney and father of four, denied knowing anything about Anne Marie's disappearance. But when the truth came to the surface, Anne Marie’s loved ones were devastated and Capano’s image was destroyed. He was exposed as a womanizer, a man with a temper, and ultimately, a cold-blooded murderer.
Anne Marie had defied Capano when she broke things off with him to pursue a better life with a new love interest. He wanted to keep her to himself. When Anne Marie had the confidence to leave him, he murdered her, enlisting the help of his brother to dispose of her body.
Join us at the quiet end today for Out to Sea: The Murder of Anne Marie Fahey.
Michelle and Jason Young lived in a suburb outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. They had a two-year-old daughter named Cassidy and Michelle was five months pregnant with their second child. By all accounts, theirs was not a happy marriage. Jason had several affairs and spent a lot of time on the road for business.
On the morning of November 3, 2006, Jason was out of town. He had checked into a Hampton Inn in Huntsville, Virginia 170 miles from Raleigh the night before. At nine that morning, he left a voicemail for Michelle's younger sister, Meredith Fisher, asking her to stop by his house and retrieve some papers for him. When Meredith arrived at the Young’s home, she found Michelle Young brutally murdered in the master bedroom. Little Cassidy was left unharmed.
It didn’t take long for Jason to become the primary suspect in his wife’s murder. Investigators were able to poke holes in his alibi and put together a strong circumstantial case. Join us at the quiet end today for His Alibi: The Murder of Michelle Young. This is a tragic story of a young, pregnant mother who was beaten to death in her own home. Her husband would end up getting two trials but not everyone would be satisfied with the outcome.
When 19-year old Jessica O’Grady stopped answering her phone on May 11, 2006, her friends and family worried. She had left to see her boyfriend late the night before and hadn’t been seen since.
Jessica had recently found out that she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, Chris Edwards, had another girlfriend, Michelle, who was also pregnant. Still, Jessica was optimistic. She loved Chris and wanted to have a family with him. What she didn’t know was that, to Chris, Jessica was just a fling. He planned to marry Michelle. And he didn’t have the resources or the desire to support two children from two different mothers. Besides, if Michelle found out about Jessica, she might leave him.
As we know, the leading cause of death for a pregnant woman is murder by the father of her unborn child. As time passed with no sign of her, it seemed possible that Chris had done something to Jessica. Chris denied seeing Jessica on the night of May 10th, but circumstantial evidence led investigators to Chris’ front door. What they found there was disturbing, but was it enough to prove his guilt?
Join us today at the quiet end for a missing person’s case that turned into what is known as a "no-body case": The Disappearance of Jessica O’Grady.
*We are taking July 15th off, so TCB will return on July 23rd*
Kristin Rossum and Greg de Villers were newlyweds who seemed to have a bright future ahead of them. But sometimes things are not what they seem. Beneath the surface, their relationship was poisoned by lies, addiction and betrayal.
Kristin was a toxicologist at the medical examiner’s office. She may have appeared to be professional and loyal, but she was, in truth, a methamphetamine addict involved in a long-term sexual affair with her boss. She was also in a position with unlimited access to dangerous drugs.
When Greg died of a drug overdose, his family and friends pressured the police to investigate his death as a homicide. Kristin claimed that Greg learned about her affair and killed himself. Investigators believed she killed Greg because she was afraid he was going to expose her affair and her drug use.
Kristin Rossum was an unlikely killer, but her husband’s death was suspicious. Questions about the scene and the events leading up to Greg’s death showed a long history of deceit by Kristin and revealed the possibility that she and her lover had plotted together to kill to him.
Join us at the quiet end today for Heart Stopper: The Death of Greg de Villers, the story of a complex murder plot fueled by drug addiction and a clandestine love affair.
John David Smith married his second wife, Fran, in 1990. While confined to her home recovering from a broken hip, Fran disappeared from her New Jersey home in 1991. Fran’s daughter DeDe and sister Sherrie called the house, frantically trying to reach Fran, but there was no answer. Then DeDe called John at work. He claimed that Fran had packed her bags and left him, but how could she have done that when she couldn’t even walk?
John had been lying to everyone. Fran’s family members found all of Fran’s belongings still in the house. Then they discovered that John had been married before. Back in 1970, John Smith’s first wife Janice Hartman had disappeared just days after divorcing him. Now Smith had two missing wives.
Join us at the quiet end for the story of two missing wives and a man with some very dark secrets. His secrets would only be revealed after his brother came forward with a secret from 20 years ago.
Child molester and killer Westley Allan Dodd is remembered as one of the most evil men in modern history. What I find interesting about this case is how early in his life Dodd began to have his sick urges and how his behavior progressed from exposing himself to murder- virtually unchecked.
After his murder convictions, Dodd revealed that he had been molesting young children since the age of 13. In his final interviews, he admitted that there was no treatment for him and, if set free, he would offend again. He then declined an appeal, becoming the first person to be hanged in the United States since 1965.
At the quiet end today, Doctor Dick and I will go over the childhood and crimes of this predator as we try to make sense of how this kind of human being is constructed. Also, what can we as a society do to protect children?
It has been a long-held belief that pedophiles are untreatable and must be kept away from our children, but is there a way to prevent pedophilia, or at the very least, make early diagnoses before anyone is hurt?
When he was 19, Chuck Riley met 15-year-old Marlene Olive while dealing drugs at her high school. He developed a crush on her and they eventually became boyfriend and girlfriend. Marlene controlled their relationship and Chuck did anything to please her.
Marlene had a deeply troubled home life. Her mother, Naomi, suffered from alcoholism and mental illness. Marlene and Naomi fought constantly. Marlene rebelled at an early age with heavy drug use, delinquency, self-harming behaviors, shoplifting, and promiscuity.
As the mother-daughter relationship imploded, Marlene sought out Chuck’s help to kill Naomi. When Marlene’s parents stood together to reign in Marlene’s behavior, her father was added to her hit list.
Join us at the quiet end today for California Parricide, the story of a vicious double murder which many people should have seen coming but no one ever imagined would actually happen.
Peter Bergna picked up his wife Rinette from the airport and drove up Slide Mountain near their home to talk about their marital problems. According to Peter, the brakes on his truck malfunctioned, causing the truck to crash through a guardrail and nosedive off an 800-foot cliff. Peter was lucky. He had somehow been expelled from the driver’s side window and landed without serious injury on the upper slope of the mountain. Rinette was not so lucky. Her broken body was found inside the crushed truck hundreds of feet below.
Peter was the only one left alive who knew what had happened between the airport and the crash. Police attention turned to him first because of his odd behavior at the scene and then after a forensic analysis of the crash was done. Reports of infidelity and verbal abuse strengthened suspicions.
Our quiet end case today is Rock Bottom: The Death of Rinette Bergna. Did Peter plot the murder of his wife, and if he did, would prosecutors be able to convict him of the crime?
The murder of Andrew Bagby was an event of terrible shock and grief for the loved ones he left behind, especially his mother and father. Andrew was David and Kate Bagby’s only child. He was well-liked with a promising future as a family physician.
In 1999, Andrew began dating medical intern Shirley Turner. When he tried to end things with Shirley, she responded badly. Andrew believed he had ended the relationship for good in November, 2001. But Shirley phoned him obsessively and drove 16 hours to show up unannounced at his door.
Andrew agreed to meet her after work on November 5, 2001. The following day, his body was found face down in a parking lot. He had been shot five times.
There was strong evidence against Shirley in Andrew’s murder. But David and Kate Bagby’s nightmare, which had begun with the murder of their son, would end with the death of their one-year-old grandson, Zachary. To add to their misery, it was clear to them that Zachary’s death was preventable. Zachary was in his mother’s care when he shouldn’t have been. Why did the Newfoundland Social Service system allow this tragedy to happen?
Join us at the quiet end today for the tragic story of two cold-blooded murders, one entirely preventable, in A Failure to Protect: The Story of Andrew Bagby & Zachary Turner.
Jack Unterweger’s lust for violence was insatiable. His first known murder victim was Margret Schafer, an 18-year-old German girl. Unterweger would tell a jury that, at the moment of her killing, he had seen his mother reflected in her face and he acted out of a lifetime of rage. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. But in jail, Unterweger read voraciously and he began to write poetry, short stories, plays, and an autobiography.
After over 15 years in prison, Unterweger was released based on the belief that writing his life story, and the self-reflection it required, had reformed him. Not only was he a famous author, he was also Austria’s most high-profile “rehabilitated” offender.
But Unterweger had everyone fooled. As he interviewed police in the role of a journalist, he had already resumed his life as a serial killer. Unterweger sexually assaulted and brutally murdered prostitutes in Vienna, Los Angeles, and Prague as he spoke on talk shows and worked to get his books made into Hollywood movies.
Join us at the quiet end today for The Devil Himself: Jack Unterweger. It’s the shocking story of an international serial killer who was hiding in plain sight.
Apparently hard-working and intelligent mother of two and registered nurse, Kristen Gilbert, was living the life of a middle-class soccer mom. She had a good job, a loving husband, and two children. She seemed a lot like the other Massachusetts suburbanites in her neighborhood, but she held sinister secrets that eventually bubbled to the surface.
Beneath the façade of an ordinary working mother, Kristen lived a life of duplicity. Before her 30th birthday, she was arrested on suspicion of serial murder: injecting patients at the hospital where she worked with lethal doses of epinephrine.
These were vulnerable victims and Kristen’s motives were a mystery, perhaps even to herself. It may have been as simple as a need for attention and excitement.
When a healthcare professional takes a life, it’s a special kind of evil. Trained and relied upon to protect and restore health and virtually holding their patients’ lives in their hands, a nurse who kills betrays the most basic trust while preying on the sick.
Join us at the quiet end today for Murder by Nurse: The Victims of Kristen Gilbert.
After suffering for years in an abusive marriage, Helle Crafts filed for divorce in the summer of 1986. Soon afterward, she disappeared. Her friends filed a missing person’s report, but her husband, Richard Crafts, gave various stories that Helle was off visiting relatives or that she just needed some time alone.
Police suspected foul play, but with no body, it was impossible to prove that a homicide had even occurred. Police did learn, however, that Richard Crafts had purchased several items, including new carpeting, bedding, and a large freezer, around the time of Helle’s disappearance. He had also rented a wood chipper.
A witness came forward, claiming that he had seen a man using a wood chipper on a bridge over a lake near the Crafts’ home. That is when the search for Helle took a very disturbing turn.
Join us at the quiet end today as we discuss a horrific crime often referred to as the "wood chipper case.” Investigators, along with Dr. Henry Lee, the Director of Connecticut’s Forensic Science Laboratory at the time, worked together to solve what Richard Crafts had considered his perfect crime. I chose this case because it serves to broaden awareness of domestic violence and because it is chock a block full of interesting forensics from a pre-DNA era.
Middle-aged mother of two Susan Fassett was an unlikely victim in a love triangle that ended in her murder. Married to a cop and a member of the church choir, Susan had a reputation as an honest, upstanding person. After her death, the secrets revealed about her life came as a shock to most.
The biggest shock of all was that Susan was involved with a man commonly referred to as the scum of the earth. Fred Andros, a mean, homely, and amoral man, extorted money, frequented prostitutes, and somehow lured Susan into his web of corruption.
Join us at the quiet end today for a story of corruption, sex, and murder: A Secret Life: The Plot to Kill Susan Fassett.
A Florida woman saw the state patrol car's lights flashing behind her and wondered why she was being stopped. She didn't think she was speeding, she later told investigators, but she pulled her car onto the southbound shoulder of Interstate 95 and waited as Trooper Tim Harris approached her car.
Trooper Harris asked her to get out of her car. Then he saw that she was obviously pregnant. He gave her a warning ticket for driving 6 miles over the speed limit and let her go. Police would later speculate that the woman's pregnancy saved her life.
The next woman pulled over by Trooper Harris would not live to see another day. Lorraine Hendricks’ car was found abandoned on the highway and detectives suspected that someone she trusted was involved in her disappearance.
Trooper Harris was seen as trustworthy. He had been with the Florida Highway Patrol for eight years. Before that, he had worked for local police departments, earning several commendations. He was married with two young children. But a closer look would expose a troubled man.
Join us today for A Darker Shade of Blue, the terrifying story of a man who was called upon to serve and protect but turned into a dangerous predator.
To say that Stella Nickell had a rough upbringing would be an understatement. She had a childhood of poverty, neglect, and abuse. At 16, she gave birth to a daughter, Cynthia. In the next 12 years, she had numerous failed relationships, a failed marriage, and spent time in jail. In early 1974, when she was 32, she met Bruce Nickell and they married.
One summer day in 1986, Bruce came home with a headache and took four Excedrin capsules. Stella said that her husband walked out on the back deck and suddenly collapsed. He was taken by helicopter to a Seattle hospital where he died. Doctors said Bruce died from emphysema, but Stella said that never made sense.
Almost two weeks later, Stella heard about the death of 40-year old Sue Snow. News reports said that the woman had died after swallowing cyanide-laced Excedrin. Stella immediately called the police to report that Bruce, too, had taken Excedrin right before he died.
Police initially focused on Sue Snow’s husband Paul Webking for her murder. But the call from Stella Nickell led to the conclusion that Sue Snow was not the only person killed by the poisoned headache medicine. Excedrin capsules were recalled and an investigation for murders by product tampering began.
Join us at the quiet end today for a discussion of the Seattle Cyanide Murders. There is no doubt that it is a heartless act to kill a spouse, but what kind of a person kills at random?
In 2012, Harold and Toni Henthorn celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary with a hiking trip in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Toni plummeted off of a 100-foot cliff and died a horrible death. Harold told police that his wife was busy taking photos and must have slipped. He didn't see exactly what had happened because he was using his cell phone at the time.
It could have been a tragic accident. After all, Harold was a respected member of the community, a loving husband, and a devoted father to their daughter. He worked as a fund raiser for churches, charities and non-profit groups. At least, that's what he told everyone.
But maybe things weren’t what they appeared to be. Friends and family thought they knew him, but facts surfaced that painted a new picture of Harold Henthorn. Harold had no job and no income. He also had a shady history, including a first wife who had also died in a freak accident.
Harold’s history, along with his ever changing narrative of Toni’s death, led to a murder investigation. Life insurance, years of deceit, and inappropriate behavior were gathered to create a strong circumstantial case against him.
In today’s episode, Over the Edge, we look back at the lives of Sandra Lynn Henthorn and Toni Henthorn, two wives whose final moments were likely filled with fear and violence, murdered by the man who claimed to love them.
The case of physician Michael Swango not only exposed the dark side of a man who had taken an oath to do no harm, it also opened our eyes to a professional environment where doctors accepted the word of fellow physicians over that of nurses and patients—even as evidence of gross misbehavior piled up.
Michael grew up in Quincy, Illinois and graduated as valedictorian at the Quincy Catholic Boys High School. He served in the Marine Corps, receiving an honorable discharge in 1980. He then attended Quincy College followed by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
His troubles were first noticed in medical school. Although he was a brilliant student, he preferred to work as an ambulance attendant rather than concentrate on studying. Even at that young age, he had an odd fascination with dying patients. Michael Swango’s patients often ended up "coding," or suffering life-threatening emergencies. Several died unexpectedly.
Join us at the quiet end today for a true story that actually is stranger than fiction: Taking Lives: The Crimes of Dr. Michael Swango.
Baptist minister Matt Baker presented himself to the world as a man of God, a family man who set an example for his faithful parishioners. But when his wife Kari was found dead in their bed of an apparent suicide, questions about who he really was emerged. Kari Baker’s mother and aunts would become the catalysts to investigate Matt Baker’s deceptions and lies, working with police to expose him as a narcissistic bully and a lifelong sexual predator.
What they uncovered would open up suspicions of his involvement in not only one, but two, family deaths. But it took years to get justice for his wife and safety for his daughters. This story is a striking example of the power of love and determination and a victory of the truth over Matt Baker's carefully constructed life of hypocrisy.
Join us at the quiet end today for Ungodly: The Murder of Kari Baker.