Hello! How is everyone doing out there? Here in Florida, we thought we escaped COVID 19, at least until the Fall, then to quote Michael Corleone from Godfather 3 (which is a horrible movie), “It pulled us back in.” Everybody’s wearing masks again. Bars shortening hours or shutting down. Restaurants separating tables by at least 6 feet. It’s all happening again.
Me? I haven’t worn a mask since this thing started in March. Why? Because I really don’t go anywhere. And if I do go anywhere, I’m by myself or I am going somewhere where no one else will be. Yes, I’ve done some food shopping but I do that alone and I keep my distance from everyone else (really, I do that anyway even during normal times . . . ahem). Meaning, I continue to say COVID hasn’t affected me really that much, except for the disc golf tournies that have been canceled. They are actually starting back up again. But maybe that will change due to the virus numbers going up again. I guess we shall see.
Overall, I’m great. I feel great—gonna be 50 one month from now. Look great. My dad is good. Family is good. No complaints at all.
Let’s start where we always do . . .
July 3rd: Charles Thompson
July 10th: Jessica Garino
Other disappearances on the docket: Tim Tarver, Jackie Letney, Vanessa Orren, Jacob Weeks, Matthew Weaver.
“Stunned” is a word that comes to mind when I think about my emotions from two weeks ago when Esther and her car were found in that retention pond in Kokomo, IN. Now, I won’t say that at the time back in 2017 when we covered her disappearance that I didn’t entertain the idea that Esther could’ve somehow driven into a lake somewhere. I considered it . . . honestly. But about two seconds later I rejected it.
And . . . I was wrong.
If you haven’t had a chance to go over how Esther and her car were found, I’ll go through it very quickly. Then, I will give you some more of my insights.
A couple teenagers were on a boat in this little retention pond at the intersection of N. Webster St., which runs north and south, and 300 N, with runs east and west. Webster stops at 300 N. Because of that, it’s not a 4 way intersection—it’s a T. The retention pond itself is about 60ft wide and about 150ft long, with the long part running north and south. Yes, not large at all. By the way, it’s only a half mile from where Esther lived but it is not along the route that Esther should’ve taken from the last bar to her house.
And oh, did I mention . . . even though it sat at the end of a T intersection, no guardrail, no fence, no poles, nothing.
While out on this pond the kids looked down into the water and saw the sun bouncing off of something—it ended up being the sunroof of Esther’s Cadillac. The cops got called. Eventually Esther’s Cadillac was pulled out. And she was in it. The belief as of this writing is that she was going north on Webster, totally ignored the stop sign, went across 300N, and into the pond. Then the Cadillac sank with Esther inside. The key was in the ignition. The key was turned to the “On” position. And the car was in Drive.
At this point there are no allegations that foul play was involved, which is contrary to the beliefs I’ve had since Unfound covered the case in 2017. In fact, if you have the Unfound book that contains Esther’s case, I made the argument that I thought her brother—who is no saint—caused her disappearance.
So, what went wrong?
Well, I’ve had a chance to think about that question and I can chalk it up to a few things.
–if Esther’s brother had led a better life, then I could’ve rule him out immediately.
–we took for granted that she took a predictable route home.
–an investigator should never rule out that 1 in a 1000 possibility.
Granted, we’re never going to know what happened that night. We don’t know how much Esther drank. We don’t know how fast she was going. We don’t know why she was on Webster instead of the street east of it that would’ve taken her to where Esther lived. We don’t know why the residents of the two houses right next to the retention pond never noticed anything strange, especially tire tracks that would’ve been telltale sign.
We just don’t know. We’ll never know.
Yet, in now looking more deeply at that night of Esther’s disappearance, it seems clear to me that the retention pond should’ve been checked. This should’ve been something that was automatically done. When a person is supposed to be driving home, and the distance is short, any type of body of water in the immediate area should be checked.
I’m not saying divers have to come in, with sonar, and boats and all that. What I’m saying is a cursory look should be made for tire tracks. For disturbed foliage. The people who live closest to the pond or lake or river should be asked if they saw or heard anything unusual.
None of that was done in Esther’s disappearance.
But in all honesty, her case is a unique one. Esther just happened to be on a road, that had a T in it, and on the other side of that T was a pond large enough to consume a car. And Esther drove into it. The kicker? It’s the only retention pond in the area.
I honestly believe there is nothing in Unfound’s coverage back in 2017 that we could’ve done to come to the concrete conclusion that Esther would eventually be found in a pond a half mile from her house. Sure, I personally theorized about it. But there is nothing factually that could’ve pointed anyone in that direction. EVEN IF somebody had said, “Well, I think Esther was drinking and driving that night,” I still don’t think logically we could’ve come to the correct conclusion.
This is very much like Crystal Morrison’s disappearance. How could anyone have predicted that she would be found not far from where she was last seen and it wouldn’t be foul play? Nobody. These things simply happen. I mean, I’m convinced they are rare. But they happen.
LINKS FOR BOOKS
Here are the links for all 6 for Season 1:
Volume 6 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077115520
As much as Esther’s result was a surprise, Chris’ is not.
Watch Christopher Hyde’s Episode Here
This past month, his sister, Lila, who was on Unfound back in late 2016, announced that her brother’s remains had been identified through DNA testing. The bones were in found in Hillsborough County, FL—which is essentially Tampa—way back in 2004. Why did it take 16 years to make that announcement? I don’t know. In fact, there is much we still don’t know about Christopher’s disappearance and death.
Some of those things include:
–matter of death.
–where exactly were his remains found.
–was his entire body found?
–how was he found?
I’ve asked Lila essentially all these questions since the news came out and she has no answers. She is still very much in the dark regarding all of it. I hope Lila gets those answers because I know she wants them.
There is certainly another question, though: Why did it take so long to match up Chris’ DNA with the remains found way back then? Moreover, since Chris was on NAMUS, why wasn’t someone able to match up his missing persons case with his remains?
I’m glad you asked. Why didn’t someone match it all up? Well, first, although Chris’ missing persons case was listed on NAMUS, the unidentified remains were not. How do I know? Because I checked that way back in 2016 when Unfound covered the disappearance.
And this all kind of speaks to something I’ve talked about before: Since there are missing persons on NAMUS, and there are unidentified remains on NAMUS, it should be fairly easy to match up column A with column B. Yet, it’s VERY difficult to do. Why?
I think the reason is because many unidentified remains aren’t on NAMUS. In addition, many missing persons cases aren’t there either, despite the opposite perceptions.
This is why Christopher’s remains weren’t matched up by someone, even without the DNA.
As for why the DNA testing took so long, I don’t know. We thought the testing in Austin Pevo’s and Aundria Bowman’s was long. But for Chris’? It’s been crazy long. Years. Once again, I don’t know why.
However, as I said, I don’t think anyone is surprised Christopher is deceased. I will admit, though, that the location surprises me—right across the bay from me in Tampa. He started out living with his dad in the Orlando area. Then allegedly, Chris was seen in the Bradenten/Sarasota vicinity. There was never any news on him being in Tampa.
He could’ve been homeless and was roaming around. Somebody could’ve killed him and brought him to Tampa to confuse investigators. Maybe Chris ended up starting some kind of life and something happened. We just don’t know.
I think if Lila can get some of the questions answered from above, we’ll have a better handle on what happened back in 2003/2004.
The big news on his murder is that the trials did not start in June 2020 like we thought they would. It may be an issue of COVID 19. It could be the lawyers weren’t ready. Or maybe they’re trying to work out a deal without a trial.
The trials for Justin and Blandon are supposed to now occur in October. Still no word on Alden Brewster’s.
CHAT ISSUES – Watch Tutorial:
My assistant, Cheree, recently made me aware that there was an issue with the links I would post for both the Live Show and the Think Tank if a person was using a phone to try to watch them. Yes, the links would work fine. But . . . the chat feature wouldn’t work. Meaning, the only thing people could do if they accessed either on their phones was watch, not comment.
So, a couple days ago I messed around with Facebook and YouTube trying to figure out what the problem was. And I think I figured it out.
In a nutshell, I discovered that when you use your phone, and you click on the link in the Facebook app, it doesn’t take you to YouTube. It takes you to the “Facebook Mobile Browser.” Facebook goes to great lengths to make it look like “YouTube”, but it’s not. It can be very deceptive.
Well, the FMB doesn’t allow you to chat—it only allows you to watch. To be able to watch AND chat, you must go to the top right hand corner of the screen, tap the 3 dots, and one of the options will be: Watch on YouTube. Tap that and THEN you will be in the actual YouTube app and the chat option will be available.
My opinion: Facebook does this on purpose because they don’t want people to go to YouTube. They want their users to stay on Facebook. So, they constructed something that looks like YouTube but isn’t. Why doesn’t the FMB incorporate a chat option for YouTube videos? I don’t know.
I hope the video and this explanation helps anyone who has been having problems. Sorry I didn’t realize this earlier.
FOOTNOTE TO THIS: As I was writing this, my assistant Cheree informed me of what to do if a person has an iPhone and is having the same “no chat” problem. The fix? When you click on the link and it takes you to the Facebook Mobile Browser, you click on the 3 dots and pick “Desktop Mode”. Once you do that, the program will take you to the YouTube app and the Chat will then be available.
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I got to speak with Zoe’s mother, Melinda, last week. This is the first time we’ve talked in over a year, I think. That’s not a factor of anything other than I wanted to give her the distance she deserves given what has happened over the last year and a half. The funny thing? Even though we hadn’t spoken in that long, we ended up conversing like no time had passed at all. Melinda continues to be very complimentary of Unfound and the coverage we provided during the summer of 2018.
The main topic we covered was why it’s taken so long for Carlos Rodriguez to be brought to trial. In addition, there has been no news since November 2018 when Zoe was found in Carlos’ back yard. I told Melinda both myself and the listeners were wondering what’s going on.
Melinda said the trial was supposed to happen in May. However, due to COVID 19, everything needed to be pushed back. To when? 2021. When in 2021? Not sure. But that’s what Melinda has been told.
Also, I guess it is then obvious that Carlos plans to plead not guilty. Granted, as the trial gets closer he may change his mind. However, at this time, on July 1st, 2020, Melinda told me Carlos plans to say he was hallucinating due to the drugs he took that night. Because of this, Carlos thought Zoe was some kind of demon . . . or something . . . and strangled her because of that.
Disgusting, yes, I know. As I told Melinda, there is one, and one reason only, that Carlos killed Zoe. He wanted to have sex with her. She resisted. He killed her. Period.
In contrast, some points about Zoe’s murder are still not clear and you’ve probably heard me talk about them before.
First, where are Carlos’ parents in all this? He lived with them. They were allegedly home that night. Carlos continued to live there after he murdered Zoe. The parents continued to live in the house after Zoe was murdered. How did the parents not realize a new slab of concrete got poured in their backyard for no reason?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
This topic came up with Melinda. I have no answers. She has no answers.
Second, and lastly, the police. They searched the Rodriguez home inside and outside after Zoe disappeared. How did they miss the new concrete?
Once again, no answer from Melinda. And me neither.
While I’m at it, though, I must bring something else up. This is another point that no one seems to understand. Why did Carlos confess to Zoe’s murder in the first place? He had kept quiet for five years. Yes, he got in trouble in November 2018 for a domestic abuse or assault charge, something like that. But why did Carlos suddenly spill the beans?
We don’t know. Had his guilt been eating him up for those five years? Nobody knows.
Yet, what this means, and I told this to Melinda, is that had Carlos behaved himself for the rest of his life, Zoe’s murder would’ve never been solved. She would’ve remained in that backyard, possibly forever. I think that’s what we can learn from this.
What I’m saying is, it’s not like Carlos walked into a police station of his own free will and confessed. His conscience wasn’t bothering him THAT much.
He obviously needed some prodding from investigators and that happened once he was charged with this newer crime. Without that, we’d all just believe Carlos killed Zoe without having any proof.
Thank God or god or luck or goodness or whatever else that Carlos put himself in a position where he felt compelled to reveal what pretty much everyone knew he did.
However, this all just shows how so many of these disappearance cases rest on such a razor’s edge. Like Esther Westenbarger’s, we needed teenagers on a bass boat to accidentally find her and her car in a retention pond. We needed surveyors to happen upon Crystal Morrison’s body.
And with Zoe, we needed to Carlos to assault another woman.
Frankly, these examples are not sure ways to solve disappearances. If we’re going to rely on luck, like what happened in these ones, many many many cases will never be solved. That’s a fact.
The question, though, is: What could we have done differently to change how these solutions came about? Really, I don’t have a good answer for you. All I know is solving cases by luck is one sliver away from not solving cases at all.
THE ORIGINAL NIGHT STALKER
Just a couple days ago, Joseph DeAngelo Jr. plead guilty to multiple murder charges he committed in California during the late 70’s and 80’s. Yes, he was the Original Night Stalker. It brought to a close, at least on paper, one of the most well-known mysteries of the 20th century. Of course, for the families, the pain will never end.
As you know, we don’t cover serial killers, necessarily, on Unfound. Yes, we’ve covered a couple disappearances where a known serial killer could’ve been the best suspect. Debbie Lowe, most likely killed by admitted serial killer, Gerard Schaeffer. Julie Weflen—a possible suspect being Will Parks, who seemingly knew other still-missing women. Aundria Bowman—with her adoptive father, Dennis Bowman, now being credited with Aundria’s and another woman’s murders, and there is reason to believe he committed more.
So, Unfound has certainly touched upon serial killers once in a while, although not on purpose. And Unfound will never cover any cases where bodies have already been found—except in our situation with Steve Pankey who requested to come on the program to declare his innocence regarding the murder of Jonelle Mathews, a claim I believe by the way.
However, despite us not covering crimes where bodies have already been discovered, there is still a lot to learn from the reign and capture of Joseph DeAngelo Jr. and apply it to disappearances. Allow me to explain some of those points.
First and foremost, although we discount it most of the time for Unfound’s disappearances, random acts of violence do happen. They are in the minority of crime overall. But they do happen. The Original Night Stalker is a perfect example of this.
Even though he has been in custody for over a year now, and so much has been written about him and his 15 years of terror, nobody yet knows how DeAngelo picked his victims. Even if he stalked these women and couples for days, how did he pick them out? We don’t know. Because as far as I know, none of his victims could be connected to each other. On top of that, ONS killed in both northern AND southern California. And the victims’ ages varied wildly.
What this all means is killers can murder random people. Thus, the next logical step must be killers can make random people disappear. Meaning, some of Unfound’s disappearances could be the work of the random intersection of a killer and one of Unfound’s missing people.
Which Unfound cases could fall into that category?
–Regina Marie Bos
And to name a couple men:
In fact, I will even go as far as to say this regarding crime in general. With all the advancements in DNA over the 25 years, I think we are finding random murders make up a bit more of the percentage of overall killings than we realized. Not much more, maybe 7%. But certainly more.
Second, and this is kind of a corollary to my first point, crimes can have no meaning. What’s certainly clear with the ONS is that he killed for no substantive reason other than he liked doing it. DeAngelo is not a manic. Or a psycho. Or a schizophrenic. Or a racist. Or a revolutionary. Nope. None of those. He killed because he liked terrorizing people. And he went from raping women exclusively to killing couples eventually.
No rhyme. No reason. Except for the joy.
This all certainly means that at least a few of the missing people we’ve covered have been disappeared for no other reason than the suspects wanted to make them disappear. Had nothing to do with sex, which is what we suspect with Zoe’s murder. Had nothing to with drugs, which we suspect in many of Unfound’s cases. Had nothing to do with domestic violence getting to the point of death—a motive we’ve covered multiple multiple times.
Nope. Some of them happened simply because somebody wanted to feel what it was like to kill someone.
What I’m also saying is although we may talk about motives on Unfound, that doesn’t necessarily mean a motive in the traditional sense exists. It may be that the motive is simply inside the perpetrator’s head. Well, without knowing who the exact perp is, it’s hard to determine what’s in his/her head. Just have to remember that.
Third, and this almost seems counter-intuitive given the prolific nature of DeAngelo’s crimes, killers have the ability stop when they want. DeAngelo did. He stopped in 1981. Then he came back in 1986 to kill Janelle Cruz. To then seemingly never kill or rape again.
This is so important. Because there was a time, not long ago, like the 1990’s, where criminal psychologists believed murderers were obsessed. They couldn’t stop. They would kill and kill and kill until stopped. In fact, that kind of thinking still makes for great plots in movies.
Yet, we now know that’s not true. ONS stopped. Dennis Rader aka BTK stopped. Since I’m sure some of you know serial killers even better than I do, I bet you can name some who stopped cold turkey. Yes, they were eventually caught. But they weren’t caught during the course of their sprees. Many are caught later. Sometimes many years later.
Now, what’s interesting about this third point is I think we all unconsciously know this. What do I mean? Well, I think during an interview we make it clear that no one else connected to the missing person has also disappeared. In addition, although we name suspects, most of the time those suspects are not connected to any other disappearances at all.
So, if these suspects are killers, they’ve shown the ability to kill then stop. It’s important to remember that and not see it as an aberration.
The Original Night Stalker will not be forgotten any time soon. He harmed a lot of people. We owe it to society to learn as much as we can about his crimes so that others cannot pull off what he did.
Yep, the new program. Like Unfound needed another one, right? Well, this one had actually been on my mind for a while. Additionally, I’ve had some listeners ask me about doing a new show where I talk about recent disappearances.
So, Unfound Now was created.
Granted, if you watch the Live Show on Wednesday nights, you know I already comment on recent disappearances. I’ve talked about Vanessa Guillen, Suzanne Morphew, and Madison Bell—who I’ve heard is back at home now?!?!?!?!?!. Meaning, I have experience doing this.
Yet, I didn’t want to do what everybody else already does. They’ll get on the tv or YouTube and do endless theorizing, putting facts into evidence that aren’t facts at all. They’ll sensationalize a disappearance when they really don’t know anything about disappearances at all.
Thus, my idea, as maybe you heard in the first episode concerning Linda Stoltzfus (or Stoltzfoos), is to bring everything back to the factual level. I just look at the facts and compare them to disappearances Unfound has covered with similar situations. For Linda’s, hers is a “destination disappearance”, meaning anyone who is traveling alone—walking/driving/riding—goes missing. LOTS of possibilities with those types and I explained them in that video.
Now granted, the video went WAY longer than I planned. And I’m gonna work on that. But the concept in that first episode is sound. I just need to do it much quicker.
This all means that when a new disappearance makes national news, I’ll be recording an episode of Unfound Now and posting it. So please, look for it . . . although I’m not sure when the next one will be. Kinda out of my hands.
We at Unfound have not forgotten that Jonathan’s wife, Cindy, still has yet to be put on trial for the theft and sale of his Jonathan’s father’s bobcat. This was supposed to happen in November 2019. Here we are in July and we’re still waiting.
However, I’ve learned the trial is supposed to start today, July 1st. Seemingly Mississippi doesn’t have the same problem as TX regarding putting on trials when COVID 19 is spreading. Cindy has plead not guilty. My guess is her attorney is going to make the case that Cynthia sold the bobcat because she thought it was Jonathan’s. And since he disappeared, Cindy thought that meant it was hers. Just a guess.
We’ll keep you posted as to what happens. I don’t believe it will be a very long trial.
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 July!!