Hello, everyone. Yep, it’s time for another newsletter. July 2020 flew by—I think I say that every newsletter. Weather has been pretty good here. A lot of excellent disc golf weather. I’m good. Unfound is good. To my knowledge, all my assistants are good. And that all certainly means something considering that COVID 19 continues to rule the year 2020. That anybody can keep a positive outlook through these tough times is certainly a strong-willed person. I, myself, consider myself to be one of those types of people. I hope you are too.
Let’s get started:
Aug. 7: In Memoriam: Esther Westenbarger
TBD: In Memoriam: Aundria Bowman.
Other cases we’re working on: Matthew Weaver Jr., Vanessa Orren, Marian Hurley, Robert Hurt, Caleb Powell, and Ryalls Chapman.
This summer has been a tough one for reaching family members. I think it’s because of the aforementioned COVID 19. Lots of people worried out there. About their car payments. Mortgages. Children’s schooling. College.
Then there are the riots. And protesting. And all the other issues that have popped up. And talking about their missing loved one only adds to the stress. My opinion. But we’ll keep working hard. There just seems to be a lull in responses to our emails and calls right now. What I know, for sure, is it’s not a problem on our end. Things will clear up eventually.
JANICE NORWOOD EPISODE
On June 27, 2020, Unfound lost another one of its guests. Janice Norwood, mother of Kim Norwood, died after a long battle with an illness. This is the third guest we’ve lost. The other two are Jessica Curtis—sister of Tyler Stice, and Donajean Kapp—sister of Dori Ann Myers. When you do a program like Unfound long enough, you know this is going to happen. But every time it does, it stings deeply.
Frankly, I suffer each of these deaths personally because I know we weren’t able to get answers for these people before they passed. And that hurts me a lot. Yes, for those of you of faith out there, there is the belief these deceased guests now have all the answers they couldn’t get while alive. And I’m not here to argue with that. I certainly hope it’s true.
But Unfound is a material world program. We want answers for these people before they pass on because we know how much our guests hurt. We believe they shouldn’t have to live in the pain that they do. This is why I personally have felt like a failure when I found out that those three had died. It’s the truth.
For Janice specifically, I had not talked to her in probably a year. I believe I spoke to her after her husband died—he was Kim’s father, although I never spoke to him. Yet, because some of the guests knew Janice on a personal basis, they had given me a heads up in June that things weren’t looking good. So, when I got the message Janice had died, I kinda knew it was coming. Very sad.
I certainly hope she and Kim and her husband are now together. I hope so. I want to believe so.
As for Kim’s disappearance, I still believe, as I did when we covered her case, that the farm hand who worked for the Norwood’s at the time is still the best suspect. I base that not on the eyewitness who said he/she saw Kim on the back of a motorcycle with the guy. But I come to the conclusion because of the timing of the man’s working there, then not working there. Not to mention, there aren’t a lot of other theories for Kim’s disappearance.
Could something else have happened? Absolutely. However, I’m just not sure who else or what else that would be.
RIP Janice Norwood.
LINKS FOR BOOKS
Here are the links for all 6 for Season 1:
Volume 6 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077115520
A few weeks ago I took the opportunity to do another Unfound Now. This time, the disappearance of Erika Lloyd. Once a month is probably going to be the rough schedule for these videos that I post to YouTube. Of course, I am somewhat at the mercy of whether a disappearance or disappearances become national news—that’s one of the criteria for picking a case to talk about for Unfound Now.
However, I think it’s probably going to be once a month.
I am quickly finding out how difficult it is to do this kind of program. For example, with Erika’s disappearance, there are many conflicting stories as to when she talked to her family last. And when she drove to Southern California. And which campground Erika went to first. And when exactly the first cop saw her car vandalized.
I had to wade through all of it and I’m still not sure I got everything absolutely precise. The good news? Someone from Erika’s family did contact me to thank me for the coverage.
But talking about these disappearances only weeks after they happened is a lot different than covering them years later. No doubt about it.
Yet, this illustrates very well why we have the “1 year” rule that we do. The rule stipulates that Unfound will not attempt to cover a disappearance in-depth until a year passes. Why? Because as I’ve known all along, a year allows things to kind of sort themselves out. Inconsistencies can be ironed out. Witnesses can be questioned more than once. Phone and social media information can be gathered and scrutinized. And even things as simple as “When did she talk to her family last” can be solidified.
Because the last thing I want is to attempt to do an interview with a guest and still many things are up in the air. That doesn’t help anyone, including them.
Yes, I’ve been challenged on this rule at various times over the last almost 4 years. But it’s not changing—for the reasons I just listed and many others.
This, however, is why I’m using Unfound Now as more of a teaching tool, than an investigative one. And yes, it’s great publicity for the family of the missing person too. But with so many points unknown at the time I’ve conducted the episodes for Linda Stoltzfoos and Erika Lloyd, this allows me to show how we at Unfound analyze unknown issues. How we try to read between the lines, using everything we’ve learned from the 180 disappearances we’ve covered. How we attempt to rule out possibilities and hone in on the most probable ones. How to show people what we mean by the “context” of a disappearance—essentially, what is the story before AND after the disappearance.
All of this furthers a point I’ve made almost since the beginning: Unfound is not just about building awareness for disappearances—it is also about educating the public about disappearances. Why? Because a more-informed public means that more of these cases will get solved. It also means more people will eventually have the courage to become investigators—pro or amateur—themselves.
As for Erika Lloyd’s disappearance specifically, my best guess at this point is that she had a psychological break. I believe she drove to Southern California by herself. And I think she herself vandalized her own car. I realize it’s terrible to think that way but I see no proof of anything else—not at the time I did the Unfound Now episode, and not now either.
I hope she is found alive soon.
You can expect another Unfound Now by the middle of August . . . I think.
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UNFOUND ON THE GROUND
The third one came out for premium Patreon members early in July. The topic? Where to find contacts and sources for missing persons cases. Meaning, if you want to start looking into a missing persons case, who do you talk to and how do you find them? This is what that episode covered. Dr. Eric Grabowsky did a fantastic job managing and directing the discussion.
The good news for all of you who aren’t on Patreon (although you should be . . . ahem)? That third episode will be put on YouTube for free within the next week. Why? Because the fourth episode will be happening on August 10th. So please, look for the third episode soon.
By the way, the first and second episodes of On The Ground are also already on YouTube for free. They were posted right before the following episode was conducted for Patreon members.
How long will On The Ground continue? Hard to say right now. That’s up to Eric. He is a college professor and his real job will come back into prominence in September, no matter if college students will actually be in class or they’ll be taking classes remotely through Zoom or whatever. Totally up to him. I certainly hope he will find the time to put it in his schedule for the rest of the year.
If not, then . . . we’ll have to make other arrangements. But this is all totally up to Eric. It was his idea. He plans the topics of discussion. He handles the coordinating with all the Patreon members for On The Ground. I simply sit back and make sure everything is done to Unfound’s standards.
So, whatever he wants to do is fine with me. I personally hope he hosts On The Ground for years to come.
For some reason . . . maybe because Unfound is becoming even more popular? Because there is a dearth of really good murders-exclusive podcasts out there? Because people are seeing more and more that the way we do things gets results???? I really don’t know.
But for some reason I’m starting to get more and more messages like this: “Ed, could you cover this unsolved murder case?” Granted, I suppose it’s easy for people who are new to Unfound to think we cover a variety of true crime topics. And, it’s certainly true that I personally believe many of the disappearances Unfound covers are in fact murders.
Yet, we don’t cover murders. And I feel sad when I have to respond to these people telling them so. But because I hate giving people a straight “no”, I’ve been pointing them toward John Lordan at BrainScratch on YouTube because he does cover a wider range of crimes than we do. Plus, he does a good job of it.
So, why doesn’t Unfound cover murders?
This is something I thought about way back in 2016, well before Unfound started. In fact, I pondered what kinds of true crime to cover before the other podcast I did got started—the one whose name I never mention. I knew that I wanted to be a specialist—not a generalist. Meaning, whatever I picked, I would stick to that alone. Disappearances. Murders. Serial killers. Plane crashes. Scams. Whatever topic it was. I wanted to become an expert at . . . that, whatever “that” was.
Then, the thinking came to, “I surely know plane crashes but there is already a tv show that does them so well. And . . . I have zero piloting or aeronautical engineering knowledge.” So, I thought that might be a stretch although we have covered a couple plane disappearances on Unfound.
Then, it was, “Serial killers? Not really interested in them. Scams? Nope, they don’t interest me either.”
Thus, the last two choices were murders or disappearances. That’s when I looked back over my life about the topics that usually got my attention. Amelia Earhart. Flight 19. Jimmy Hoffa. Steven Koecher—a disappearance which I got personally involved in. Maura Murray. Jennifer Kesse. Jodi Huisentruit.
Whereas, I couldn’t find a lot of murders that I took a big interest in. Meaning, I allowed my own feelings and tendencies to guide me toward disappearances. It wasn’t a marketing decision. It wasn’t one where I polled any type of audience. I simply went in the direction where I discovered my interests lied the whole time, kind of without me realizing it.
So, the first podcast covered disappearances exclusively. Now Unfound does. And that’s the way it will stay.
Now, before I write this next part, I’m sure by now most of you know I really don’t follow what’s going on in the true crime community. I don’t listen to any other true crime podcasts, unless they’ve covered a disappearance that we may also cover. I know very few true crime hosts. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Having said all that, I would surely support someone starting a murdered persons podcast that is “Unfound-like”, in that the host would interview family members and really get deep into the facts of the murder. I would support that. And I would give that host as many tips as I could on how to make his or her podcast successful. 100%.
But, I can assure you—covering murders will not be happening on Unfound.
Right about now you may be saying, “What about Jolene Matthews and Steve Pankey?” Thank you for asking. That was a unique situation. Jolene was a missing person for a LONG time. During that time, Steve Pankey became a suspect. Then, her body was discovered, pretty much by accident. Then, Steve Pankey became an even BIGGER suspect.
Then . . . he contacted me to give his side of the story. As I stated then and as I will write now, as a journalist and an interviewer, I thought I had a duty to talk to Steve, even though Jolene’s disappearance had become a murder investigation.
Keep in mind, Steve and I didn’t go over the in-depth facts of Jolene’s disappearance/murder. I didn’t talk to anyone in her family, although I did talk to Steve’s co-worker who Steve claimed hated him—I kind of found out otherwise.
Moreover, I only spoke to Steve because he agreed to my format, not his own. He agreed to answer every question and stay on topic. I told him if he didn’t, the interview would end immediately. Of course, that is something I would NEVER do with a regular Unfound guest . . . never.
So, I thought I had a civic duty to talk to Steve being that he agreed to my rules. That’s the only reason. If some other suspect in a high profile murder or any other type of crime were to contact me, I would do the same thing with the same stipulations.
Still, Unfound will never cover any murders like we cover disappearances. Although I would’ve surely loved to have covered Jolene’s disappearance in-depth with her family before it became a murder.
Before I write about him and his Inquisitor . . .
For the record, I am NOT a scientist. The last time I had to even open a chemistry book was over 30 years ago. Likewise, I almost failed out of Grove City College while I was an engineering major. I discovered I’m a very good tinkerer . . . but a horrible theorist in such matters.
So, having said that, within the past month, one of my assistants showed me an article about Arpad Vass. I was been sent articles written about him from listeners. And I’ve been tagged in posts on Facebook regarding what Dr. Vass is doing in his attempts to solve missing persons cases.
And, in total, I’ve been asked what I think.
Well, and read that first paragraph one more time, I think he and his Inquisitor device are a fraud. And really, I don’t think I need a science degree to tell you why, despite that first paragraph. But here’s what I’m not going to do: I’m not going to get into the science of how his device allegedly works. Please look that up for yourselves. To put it in simple terms: It can detect DNA electromagnetic waves that emanate from dirt and other substances.
The first reason I dispute his methodology and what he’s doing is because really, DNA doesn’t mean anything. Think of it this way: In most cases, murders or otherwise, investigators are not looking for the victim’s DNA, they’re looking for the suspect’s DNA. A woman is murdered, She was raped. They get a semen sample and run it through the computer to see if there are any matches.
It’s only then through that process that criminals are charged. Yes, there may be cases where a suspect is already known through other means and investigators go to his house to look for the victim’s DNA. That surely does happen. But it’s much rarer.
So, Dr. Vass saying he is finding missing people’s DNA all over the place doesn’t mean much to me.
Second, EVEN IF Dr. Vass were to detect the DNA of a missing person AND a suspect’s DNA in the same clump of matter, it doesn’t mean anything. Why? There’s no way to tell if the two people were there at the same time.
We unknowingly leave our DNA all over the place on a daily basis. If Dr. Vass’ machine were to detect a missing person’s DNA in the exact spot where one of ours is detected, that doesn’t mean I or you had anything to do with the disappearance, right?
Maybe an even better example is using the most well-known Unfound case: Tom Brown. If Dr. Vass were to trek all over Canadian, TX, detecting both Tom’s and Nathan Lewis’ DNA in several spots together, would that really be a surprise? Of course not—they both live/lived there. In fact, the ONLY thing that would truly mean anything is if Lewis’ DNA was found on Tom’s remains—his actual bones. Why? Because ex-Sheriff Lewis would not have access to Tom’s skeleton otherwise UNLESS HE KILLED HIM.
Likewise, in that same scenario, the only significant place Tom’s DNA could be found where it would mean something is inside Nathan’s house. Why? Because Tom was surely never in Nathan’s house to anybody’s knowledge. You see what I’m saying?
Third, and this is probably the biggest point, once again not delving into the science of the Inquisitor, why is there only ONE Inquisitor on the entire earth? Why is Dr. Vass the only one who is allowed to operate it? Why isn’t he selling it to investigators all over the world if it is such a great invention? I mean, is Dr. Vass planning to solve all these disappearances himself????
Now, I know what he says. He claims he doesn’t want his invention and methodology stolen. Well, first, that’s what patents are for. Second, under that thinking, I guess we should be lucky Dr. Vass didn’t invent the light bulb . . . ahem.
Really, is it Dr. Vass’ intention to keep everything all to himself? If so, what does that say to all those families who may not get the use of his miraculous invention because he’ll not live long enough to help all of them one on one????
Seriously, why aren’t Inquisitors on sale on Amazon or Ebay?
Of all three points here, I think this one is the most damning. This is no different than Bernie Madoff not being able to explain how he made money in the stock market while everyone else wasn’t. This is no different than Uri Geller only being able to bend forks when no one was looking. This is no different than Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos who claimed her company could do complete blood tests with just a drop of blood—meanwhile her company was farming out the work to legitimate testing companies.
First sign that something is a scam: When the person performing the act won’t allow outsiders to take part and cannot logically explain WHY he won’t do so.
I feel sorry for the people who’ve bought into him. This is another case where I believe a bad actor is taking advantage of desperate people. Just like the psychics. And opportunist PI’s. And the fake dog handlers. And all the rest. Wow, there ARE a lot of them.
I’ll do what I can to keep my guests away from him. For everybody else, I hope they use their common sense and don’t allow him to feast on their desperation.
Today is my birthday. I was born August 1, 1970. It was a Saturday. Yes, I’m a Leo. Although I’m not a believer in zodiac stuff, I can honestly say I do display every characteristic that Leos allegedly are supposed to have. In addition, weirdly enough, I seem to be attracted to women who are ALSO Leo’s. Really, I can’t tell you how many women I’ve dated who ended up being born between mid-July and mid-August. An unusual amount, many more than mere chance would dictate. Very weird.
But I thank all of you for the birthday wishes. I’m 50 now. I have no problem with it. I feel great. I look great. There is no other thing I wish I could be doing with my life. Thank you for supporting Unfound and this work.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND UNFOUND
–Unfound supports accounts on Podomatic, iTunes, Stitcher, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify,
Deezer and Facebook.
–on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET, please join us on the Unfound Podcast Channel on YouTube for the Unfound Live Show. All of you can talk with me and I can answer your questions.
The new website: www.theunfoundpodcast.com
Thanks for reading! Have a great August!!