How is everyone doing? Are you ready for the summer? Cookouts, baseball and softball games, fireworks . . . and . . . humidity, mosquitoes, and tornadoes. Well, I will guess nothing is perfect.
As many of you I’m sure already know, I am in my new place now. Just within the last few days I got all of the pictures and decorations in place, in addition to putting the last few boxes away and getting my “office” situated. My “office” is essentially the guest bedroom—hence the quotes.
At this point I need to give a shout out to my personal trainer, Blake Herrick, who volunteered to help me with the move. Without him, I would’ve been lugging everything myself. But he offered to assist and I was smart enough to take him up on his offer. We had a great time talking about my work and his work. About life. Etc.
Okay, let’s get this newsletter started where we always do . . .
May 17th: Jack Hemby
May 24th: Barbara Frame
Also in the works: Austin Pevo, Calandra Stallworth, Irene Larosa, Joshua Jarrell, Kelly Gaskins, the Zaharias children.
WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT Q & A EPISODE? PART 1
Yep, gotta talk about it—both WHY it happened and the content of it.
First, why. Well, simply put, I gotta stood up by two guests in the same week. That’s never happened since Unfound started in Sept. 2016. In fact, me getting no called/no showed for official interviews is just about unheard of. So, I guess given the probabilities, I suppose I was due.
Yet, they and I had gone over the cases. I had done follow up calls with both of them. I prepared the interview outlines. I had scheduled the interviews in which they approved both the day and time.
Then poof . . . nothing. I called and left messages. No response. One of them messaged me several hours later saying she got called into work . . . but never explained why she didn’t text to tell me that at the time it happened. The other guest—now 3 weeks later—still has never gotten back to me.
I was pissed. However, I don’t want any of you to think that I’m angry about it because I feel what happened is a slight against me personally. That’s not the case at all.
Instead, as I explained at the time, and since, working these cases is a zero-sum game. When I am working on one case, I can’t work on another. If I’m working on Tom Brown’s case, I can’t work on Dowell Phillips’ case. Or, even a better example from the list above, if I’m working on Austin Pevo’s, I can’t work on Calanda Stallworth’s.
That’s just the way it is.
So, when guests no call/no show, they are taking away from other families who would’ve been getting my attention instead—families who have no desire to EVER stand me up, who will show up for the interview any time, anywhere.
That’s what ticks me off.
This is the same explanation I use when people ask Unfound to cover Maura Murray, Jennifer Kesse, etc. What’s my answer? Well, covering those cases—which are already getting a lot of attention anyway—takes away from covering all these cases that have gotten no attention. Zero sum game.
True, I don’t like missing a Friday because I realize how much work myself and Emily and Cheree and others have put in to make these episode happen every Friday. I mean, really, we put in too much work to ever miss a Friday. To me missing a Friday is like a pitcher planning for a game, to then get out on the mound and never throw a strike. That’s the closest analogy that comes to mind. And having been a pitcher at one time, I know that feeling . . . ahem.
We take our work very seriously. This isn’t entertainment. This isn’t a hobby. This isn’t for sh*ts and giggles. Unfound isn’t about churning episodes out so the advertisers are pleased—we have no advertisers. This is as philanthropic and altruistic program as you will find anywhere. Imagine if there were a cancer benefit being held for someone, and the person doesn’t even bother to show up because he/she decided to go see Avengers: Endgame instead.
That’s how I feel when these things happen. And I know my assistants feel the same way. We’re here to help.
Now, you will notice that I haven’t mentioned the people or the cases. The reason is no potential guest is ever banned from appearing on Unfound. In fact, these people who did this don’t even have to apologize to me. All they have to do is contact me and say they’re now ready.
However, will I have other guests ready just in case these people once again stand me up? Yes.
WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT Q & A EPISODE? PART 2
Now that the explanation of what happened is out of the way, I can talk about how much I enjoyed making that episode. Most importantly, I need to thank the listener, Marie, who came up with the idea of a Q & A episode where I could answer the most common questions I get through email, Messenger, and on the YouTube show on Wednesday nights. It was a FANTASTIC suggestion and I was able to record the episode without a lot of preparation. If you’ve listened to it, you should know I essentially answered all those questions off the top of my head—no notes. Yes, I had the questions typed out. But that’s it.
So, Marie, thank you.
If you’ve listened to the episode already, you know I covered many topics that I’ve written about in this newsletter. CrimeCon. Favorite cases (I don’t have any). How I started the program. Etc. Yet I know that many, many listeners have never heard those answers before because many don’t get this newsletter and many can’t/don’t tune in to the YouTube show. So I hope those people got a lot of interesting information about myself and the program out of it.
I’ve already been asked when I will do another one. I really don’t know. Probably not any time soon. Simply because I would prefer to just answer the most common questions during the YouTube show. And I think it will take a while to accumulate enough popular questions to produce another Q & A show.
On the other hand, you can expect another Update Episode in August.
Volume 1 — https://www.amazon.com/Unfound-Season-1-Cases-ebook/dp/B076G5VMYP/
Speaking of the Update Episode, there was something I forgot to include in it and I am really kicking myself in the butt now, because the information is certainly relevant to a case and I think we can learn a lot from it. And it’s in regards to the Juanita Nelson case.
Somehow I forgot to include a message I got from the young woman Graham allegedly abducted and assaulted and raped in the early 2000’s. She contacted me shortly after the Nelson episode came out on February 1, 2019. Here is what she wrote:
I just listened to the podcast about Juanita. It is a very sad story and a lot of information was new to me. But I am not sure how much of it is true or what information is correct I feel this way because the information regarding what happened between Graham and I, is simply not true or extremely exaggerated. I feel it is important for you to know that I was never held hostage by him for four days, was never shared with his friends, did not escape out a window and my diary never said anything about Juanita. The whole diary entry was completely made up by the police. These are just a few of the facts that are misleading. The police made up a lot of things to fit their agenda. I protested and was dropping from the case.
So, what are we to make of this?
First, and most importantly, I believe her. Why? For a many reasons. 1. She contacted me voluntarily. 2. Katie had told me behind the scenes that she didn’t think this woman took an active part in Graham’s prosecution. 3. I don’t see a reason for her to lie about any of this all these years later because everybody, including Juanita’s own family, admits Graham has cleaned up his life since the early 2000’s. So it’s not like he is threatening this woman now.
Second, this DOES NOT mean I think Katie lied about all this during the interview. Yes, I have issues with some statements Katie made after the interview. But I don’t believe she lied at any point during it. Instead, what Katie said in the interview is exactly what the police told her. So, why would the police lie? That takes us to . . .
Third, the truth is a lot of misinformation we encounter in missing persons cases is started by the police themselves. Now before you think I’m going all “conspiracy theory” on you, hold your horses please and read that statement again. What she says is, “The police made up a lot of things to fit their agenda.” And what was their agenda? Putting Graham in jail. And the police are allowed to lie to suspects for any reason to try to induce confessions from them. The problem? Well, as you see here, sometimes the lies the police create, become “fact”. I’ve encountered this before but I don’t believe the situation has ever been so pronounced as seems to be the situation with Juanita’s case.
So, to break this down. Juanita disappears. There are a few suspects, including Graham. Then, Graham in the early 2000’s hooks up with this young woman. Something happens but it’s not as bad as the public thinks. However, the police, in a desperate effort to get Graham thrown in jail, create stories about the crime so as to possibly get Graham charged with Juanita’s disappearance too. Of course, that didn’t work—because Juanita’s case is still unresolved. Furthermore, the police went SO FAR with their stories that even the victim backed out of helping the prosecution. In the end, Graham still went to jail for a few years.
But what is the residue of the law enforcement’s words? Their lies still live on in 2019 even though Graham has been out of jail for like 15 years.
The biggest question to all of you is this: Does this change your opinion about what you think happened to Juanita Nelson? Because the listeners were very clear in their beliefs in this case. They thought Graham murdered her.
Well, now that you know that the police exaggerated what Graham did to this girl, that there was NOTHING in her diary about how Graham said he murdered Juanita, and that this girl didn’t even want to take part in the prosecution because the police lied, has your opinion changed? Is Graham still the best suspect?
If you’ll remember, I got to talk to Juanita’s father after the episode came out—on Super Bowl Sunday to be exact. You may also remember that my best suspect in the case is Mr. Nelson. To add on to that, there is nothing in that conversation with him that changed my mind. In fact, to be honest, I only became MORE suspicious of him after that phone call.
I’m wondering how all of you feel about Mr. Nelson now. Does this message from this young woman now make you think that it’s more probable that Mr. Nelson was involved in his daughter’s disappearance? Since it seems that Graham wasn’t as bad as we first believed.
I’ll be interested to hear from some of you regarding this.
BEHIND THE SCENES WORK
If you’ve been watching the YouTube show on Wednesday nights, you know I’ve been talking here and there about work we are doing behind the scenes at Unfound. When I say “we”, I mean myself, Emily, Cheree, and the newest team member, Eric Grabowsky.
So, what is “behind the scenes” work? How does it influence the weekly episodes? Why are we doing it?
Behind the scenes work means that we are working on cases that we don’t plan to feature on Unfound for quite some time. Why won’t they be on Unfound soon? Because we have discovered there is information on a case that hasn’t properly been investigated and we don’t feel comfortable covering the case without thoroughly researching that information. More to the point, we believe that if we bring a case like this to the public without looking into these items, that coverage of the disappearance will be very incomplete.
What kind of work is it? Well, although I can’t tell you the cases, I can give you some examples of what we are doing. We are going over phone records and calling people on them even if some of them are known to be criminals. We are going back and finding witnesses who saw the missing person shortly before he/she disappeared. We are trying to track down retired investigators who worked on the cases. We are learning more about the locations of the disappearance to better understand the culture and community. We are tracking down friends and other family members, instead of just interviewing one person like we usually do for Unfound episodes.
Yes . . . a lot more than we do in other cases.
Why these cases and not others? All I can say is the circumstances of the disappearances are the determining factor. To be even more frank, in one particular case we are working on, we are working on the belief a cover up was conducted by employees of a business. And this is a theory the family never considered at the time of the disappearance. So, we are examining whether a cover up is a possibility. All information we collect goes directly to the family. Then they can determine what they want to do with it.
How does this affect the weekly episodes? Not at all. We’ve been doing this for months now and the weekly episodes still occur—except for that week when the guests stood me up, of course.
Why are we doing it? Because we believe that certain avenues of inquiry have been egregiously overlooked and the cases are so old that the family will have no hope of getting the police to seriously look at it again.
Another reason we are doing this is because I think the public has taken for granted what happened in these cases. Whereas, the facts says the popular opinions are wrong. And our goal is to be able to paint a more accurate picture of these disappearances for the public so as to correct the record.
One last point to make is the reason we’re doing this is because we at Unfound believe we can make more of a mark outside of the podcast arena than inside it. In fact, there is no podcast in the world that has worked so diligently on as many cases as Unfound has. Zero. Interviewing people. Digging up new information. Putting cases back on the map. And continuing to work with guests LONG after they’ve been on the program.
Unfound isn’t here to just tell you what’s already out there. We’re here to expose what ISN’T out there.
WORKING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT
To even further explain what I mean by doing things outside the podcast world, something happened recently. On the very day I was moving, May 1, 2019, I got a call from an investigator who is working on one of Unfound’s cases. Unfortunately I am not at liberty to tell you which one. When I can, I will.
This investigator called me because he found out that I had conversations with some people on the fringes of the case. I believe the guest for that episode had told him this.
So he called me up and left a message. I called him back and eventually we got to talking on the phone. I told him I had copies of the conversations and he was more than welcome to read them. I got them to him within an hour.
I think what he is trying to do is check to see if these people told me the same stories that he told him. I don’t know that for a fact but that’s my suspicion.
To continue on what I was talking about in the previous section, I really don’t know how many podcasts in the world are getting calls like that—ones where law enforcement believes the podcast has information that could be relevant to an investigation. This is the kind of stuff Unfound wants to do more often.
When I believe I am safe to tell you what case it is and the result of me giving him the information, I’ll let you know. But for now I think it best that I keep the case confidential.
THE THOMAS BROWN CASE
Yep. We have an update. How many newsletters is this in a row now that we’ve talked about this case? I’ll have to go back and check.
The biggest news is that Pyne Gregory has been fired. This is a continuation of news that came out in early April that District Attorneys in the area were not taking any of Pyne’s cases, because his reports were thin on the facts and he seemed to not understand police procedure—that’s me paraphrasing the situation. In fact when the news first came out I couldn’t understand how they could ever keep him on as a deputy. A deputy who can’t arrest anyone is useless . . . nothing more than a mall guard.
I guess the powers-that-be agreed with me.
You should know, though, that the official news on Pyne’s firing is that it had nothing to do with Tom’s case. What do I think about that? Well, I am certainly open to that. Truthfully, I have no idea.
However, my suspicion is that Pyne doesn’t get fired if the TX Rangers and the AG’s office don’t come to Canadian to investigate Tom’s disappearance. My belief is they started going through Hemphill County’s paperwork and discovered Pyne’s work was lacking. That is a theory—I have no proof of that. But it makes sense.
I’ve heard a lot about Pyne. Lots of rumors. In fact I will go as far as to say I’ve seen more people talking about him over the last four months than about Sheriff Lewis. Probably due to the rumor out there that Pyne found Tom’s remains. For the record, there is NO proof that is a fact. I’ve asked the people who’ve told me this to get confirmation and they’ve never gotten back to me. Without corroboration I must dismiss news like that as simply somebody’s “3 in the morning” idea.
However, you all know my opinion: Pyne should’ve never been a deputy in Hemphill County. He should’ve never been in law enforcement after the incident back in the 2000’s concerning the pizza delivery person. If you don’t know that story, just do a Google search. Also, we talked about it during my interview with Tom’s mother in the summer of 2018.
The companion to this news is that a deputy has resigned as well. Ben Guerra gave his two weeks notice around the time Pyne got fired. You can imagine lots of rumors have swirled because of this. As of the writing of this newsletter I don’t know the reason that Guerra left his position.
Maybe he planned to do so before Pyne got fired? Maybe he got a better offer somewhere else? Maybe he doesn’t want to be a part of a department that is getting such bad publicity? Could be any or none of these. All I know is his name has never been featured prominently in anything regarding Tom’s case. In fact I don’t think I ever even heard of him until I got the news he was resigning.
Of course the hope is that if he knows something about Tom’s murder, Ben will talk. I think those hopes are a little TOO high. But he needs to be talked to by Phil Klein or whoever anyway.
That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!