Hello everyone! How was your October? Maybe even better: How was your Halloween? What did I dress up as this year? Same as last year—a podcaster who works from home. Hahahahahah. But seriously, I hope you and your children had a great time. I was over at my brother’s to watch the trick or treaters. Every year he gets over 300 in his neighborhood. It’s crazy, it really is. I kind of just hang out and watch the people going by. But this year I got some bug bites, mosquitoes or something. So I had to use some bug spray surprisingly. I hope you didn’t have the same problem where you were.
So, let’s get started where we always do:
Nov. 8th: Bradley Allen.
Nov. 15th: Tim Guy.
Others also being worked on: Glenda Petersen, Paula Waid, Jake Latiolais, Robert Helphrey.
THE BIG NEWS FROM OCTOBER
As most of you know, I kept a somewhat large secret for most of October. This was in regards to an interview I did with a person of interest in a disappearance/murder case. I kept this person’s identity a secret for a while because I wasn’t sure the interview would actually happen. I didn’t want to release his name and blab about it, then him back out for whatever reason.
Well, the interview happened. And it will be released this Monday, Nov. 4th.
Who is this person? Steve Pankey. If the name sounds familiar, he’s already done a few interviews with local tv in Idaho where he now lives. In addition, he ran for Congress for the state of Idaho at one time as well.
But yes, he is a person of interest in the disappearance and murder of Jonelle Matthews in Greeley, CO in 1984. In fact, just within the last two months police have served warrants on his house and his vehicles. They’ve also questioned him.
I am not going to go into all the details of the crime here. But I will give you a summation:
Jonelle was driven home from a chorus concert by a friend’s father in December 1984 . She was dropped off and there was nobody at her house. When her father got home an hour later, she was gone. Her remains were found this past summer 18 miles away from Greeley by a crew laying a gas line. This is when the police started intently looking at Steve for Jonelle’s murder.
How did I come to interview Steve? He contacted me. Somehow he knew about Unfound and decided that I should be the guy to talk to him about Jonelle. I talked it over with my assistants and decided to talk to him. However, since Steve initiated the contact, I made it clear with him that the interview would be done on my terms, not his. I would decide on the questions and would be able to end the interview if I thought he was being evasive or declining to answer too many questions.
Steve agreed to those terms and I recorded our talk on Oct. 14th. And like I said above, the interview will be released on Nov. 4th, this coming Monday.
Since the interview, we were able to track down two of the people Steve mentioned in the interview. First, the mayor of Greely, CO, John Gates. At the time in 1984, he was a police officer and one of the first cops at the Matthews house. Mayor Gates gave me a long but polite “no comment” in regards to Steve.
Also, I talked to Russell Ross—he was the friend’s parent who dropped Jonelle off the evening she disappeared. Credit goes to my assistant, Cheree, who found his phone number. Russell spoke to me for about 40 minutes and we had a great conversation. The coincidental part? He and Steve worked together a few years before the disappearance happened. Yep . . . that’s kind of weird. But I will be telling all of you what Russell had to say after Steve’s interview plays.
Steve answered every question and avoided none. Did he tell the truth? That will be up for all of you to decide. The episode will be close to 4 hours long. So get comfortable.
What does this mean for the future? Will I entertain the idea of interviewing another POI if the person contacts me? Uh . . . the general answer is yes, I will. However, whoever does so must understand we will do the interview according to MY rules, not somebody else’s. I would feel differently if I were the one to contact a suspected murderer—then I would have to live with the rules he sets. But trust me, I will NEVER contact a suspected murderer to do an interview for Unfound. NEVER, that’s not what we do.
However, if a suspect contacts me, then I think I have an obligation as a journalist to interview the person. But only according to my rules.
I still have no updates for you if the remains found on the Fort Hall Reservation were his or not. I spoke to his mother about a week ago and Susan has no new information. They told her it could take 3 or 4 months to get the DNA results back. That seems pretty long to me but there could be some mitigating circumstances that I don’t know about. We also must consider that police are handling this as a murder so they might not be as quick to release information.
When I know, you’ll know.
A lot happened in a very short time after we covered David’s disappearance on Oct. 4th. With 48 hours, Aletta, David’s sister and the guest for the episode, spoke to the guy who held the party the night David disappeared. She hadn’t spoken to him since David disappeared. He said he remembered David hanging out with a couple girls at the party and he gave Aletta the names. However, he couldn’t offer up much more than that. The most important part? Aletta got to talk to him.
Then, within two weeks, Aletta got to meet Terri Lynn, the girl who seemed to also disappear after David did. It turns out Terri still lives in the area and Aletta met her in person. Terri said that David was with two girls at the party, somewhat corroborating what the party thrower said. She had no idea what happened to David and I don’t believe Terri offered up a theory to Aletta.
So, even though Aletta still doesn’t have the answers she deserves, I think it’s very important that Aletta got to speak to these people after all these years. These conversations have certainly added more information and context to the night David disappeared. Does it give me any more insight into what could’ve happened? I am leaning more toward David being murdered—but I have no proof of that.
LINKS FOR BOOKS
Here are the links for all 6 for Season 1:
Volume 1 — https://www.amazon.com/Unfound-Season-1-Cases-ebook/dp/B076G5VMYP/
Volume 2 — https://www.amazon.com/Unfound-Season-1-Cases-2-ebook/dp/B079JN5TQT/
Volume 3 — https://www.amazon.com/Unfound-Season-1-Cases-3-ebook/dp/B07CQT6NW7/
Volume 4 — https://www.amazon.com/Unfound-Season-1-Cases-4-ebook/dp/B07F74KNZQ/
Volume 5 – https://www.amazon.com/Unfound-Season-1-Cases-5/dp/1093389133/
Volume 6 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077115520
The trial for Jon’s wife, Cindy, will be starting November 19th. I will try to keep you all updated when information gets out about the proceedings. Keep in mind, this is NOT a trial regarding Jonathan’s disappearance. This trial will only cover the selling of the Bobcat, which Cindy didn’t have permission to sell. She has pled not guilty and her defense is she believed the Bobcat was hers and Jonathan’s, and that she had every right to sell it. Not sure if that will fly or not.
I want to point all of you to the recent blog written by my friend, Heather, at her blog, LostNFound. If you will remember she was Unfound’s guest for Dale’s case. Well, she has written a follow-up article—kind of a “Part 2”–concerning everything she discovered since she was on Unfound last year. Heather has done some fantastic work on this case so I feel you should read what she’s done. I don’t want to ruin it for you. Just go to her site to find the latest info:
THINGS IN CANADIAN, TX KEEP HAPPENING
It’s not like I’m trying to be the Town Crier for Canadian. I don’t live there. I’ve only been there once. And really, my only concern is anything regarding Tom Brown’s murder. However, I have to talk about this new incident since it is related to Tom’s case.
Tom’s signs were vandalized . . . again. Of course all of you remember when they were cut up back on July 4th. That person has still not been identified. However, I think we all thought that would be the end of it.
Well, it happened again, roughly 3 weeks ago. This time, though, the culprit was allegedly caught in the act. There is, allegedly, an audio recording of someone coming upon the guy ripping down one of Tom’s signs and the two having a conversation. I have NOT heard this recording. I have been asked to listen to it. However, I have declined. Why? Well . . . unless the source of the audio can be verified, I’m staying away.
Probably the most surprising part about this vandalism is the alleged perpetrator isn’t a teenager. Or a drunk. Or Nathan Lewis . . . ahem. Or the town criminal. It was a pillar of the Canadian community . . . allegedly. In fact, he has a connection to the videos I received from Penny way back in April of 2018.
No, I’m not going to reveal who this man is. Simply because there has been SO MUCH stuff going on in Canadian that I’m not sure I will ever reveal any names, places or dates until I get hard confirmation.
What’s clear, though, is someone tore down the signs . . . again. No matter who did it, it’s horrible.
THE SQUEAKY WHEEL TOUR
I was so happy to be able to publicize the event put on by Jannel Rap this past Friday. And as of the publication of this newsletter, the tour is still going on, and will be till Nov. 7th. I’ve gotten messages from listeners saying how they went to some of the events last weekend. I’m hoping you get to read this newsletter and can attend some this coming weekend.
The website is https://411gina.org/.
I was also ecstatic to be able to talk about Regina Marie Bos’ disappearance again. When Unfound covered it WAY BACK in 2016, I think the program was getting like 1000 downloads a week. Now, well let’s just say the download numbers are way more than that. So a whole new audience has gotten to hear about Regina and the circumstances.
Really, after listening to my interview with Jannel back in 2016, my opinion hasn’t changed. I think a stranger caused Regina’s disappearance. You should know, though: The Think Tank thinks differently. I was in the minority when we discussed the case on Oct. 27th. That doesn’t mean the members thought Regina’s boyfriend did it. Instead, they think someone who was at the bar who knew Regina approached her when she got to her car. Certainly possible. Hey, as I always say, “If we knew what happened we could just go solve it right now.”
In the discussion group on Facebook, I post a poll regarding every case. The members there think someone else, not the boyfriend, caused Regina’s disappearance. However, I didn’t break the poll down into stranger vs. friend. Maybe I should’ve done that.
I’ve been meaning to talk about this disappearance during the Unfound YouTube shows the last couple weeks but we keep running out of time. Well, I can’t say that’s technically true. There is no time limit on the Wednesday shows. However, after about an hour, my voice has had enough truthfully. So, that’s why the show rarely goes past 10:15pm ET.
So, what I’m really saying is I haven’t gotten to Brandy’s story because there were other things to talk about first and my voice gave out . . . .
Anyway, the reason this disappearance has been on my mind is because the police in Malabar, FL where her disappearance occurred have decided to take another look at the case. You can find that article here:
I think I am going to include a disappearance case like this in each newsletter from now on. The case will probably be one that is fairly well-known or that has been on Disappeared, and certainly one that Unfound hasn’t covered yet. Like last month when I wrote about Tara Calico’s case.
I am going to do this because after 3 years of covering these cases, I think I need to start showing people kind of the process I go through when trying to figure out what happened. And since I don’t, and never will, do any theorizing or fingerpointing on the Unfound episodes because I don’t want to influence Unfound’s large audience, I think I can use this newsletter as a teaching tool. Just to kind of show you my thought process.
I’m not going to go through all the details of Brandy’s disappearance. You can read them here:
My impression of going over Brandy’s disappearance is that many people will look at the illegal marijuana business she and her husband were involved in, and suspect this was the cause of Brandy’s disappearance. And that’s not an outlandish opinion. We know of some of Unfound’s disappearances—Jeff Joseph and Donnie Smatlak come to mind—where drug dealers were killed because of the business they were in.
The reasoning in Brandy’s case goes something like this. Now that her husband was going to go to jail for the marijuana growing, customers and suppliers were afraid he might try to get a deal by exposing others in the business. And since these people couldn’t get to Brandy’s husband who was already in police custody, they got to Brandy so as to send a message to the husband to keep his mouth shut.
The logic is sound. We know these kinds of things happen. Lots of people in these illegal businesses start to get a little antsy when one of them is going to be going to jail.
Yet, I think to only consider that part of this disappearance is only telling part of the story of Brandy Hall’s life. Yes, she and her husband were in an illegal business. But also, Brandy was having an affair with her former superior at the fire department. And what do I say: Relationships are the #1 cause of disappearances—no other motive is even close. Not drugs, not money, not power. Nothing. Relationships–#1.
So, there’s that. We also can’t forget that the night she disappeared, Brandy left the fire stations early. She was supposed to work till later but requested, and was allowed, to leave. This is actually the big mystery in this case because nobody, at least publicly, knows why she left early, and nobody knows where Brandy went.
Well, this is how I think about something like that. I’m 49 years old and my work experience tells me that Brandy had something to do that night. Yes, I know—that seems obvious. But allow me to re-phrase that. I don’t think Brandy got off work early so she could just go home and lie around. Instead, I believe she was CERTAINLY going somewhere and she was CERTAINLY going to see someone. And this was planned before she ever got to the fire station.
To expound on that last point, that nobody publicly knows who Brandy was going to see, tells me A LOT. It seems her husband didn’t know. None of her friends. Her co-workers. Her children. No one. Meaning, whoever she was going to see, Brandy really didn’t want anyone else to know.
For me, that leads me back to this affair she was having. As far as we know, this other man is the only person Brandy would be going to see but wouldn’t want to reveal it. Because I think if Brandy were going to see some of their marijuana partners, she would’ve told her husband. There’s no reason to keep that a secret from him. And under the circumstances, I think the husband would’ve said to say away from them, which I think Brandy would’ve done had he said so.
So, that’s kind of the reasoning to his point. But I must bring up a couple other points that are part of the disappearance.
The truck. It was found driven into a pond or canal or something like that. On the inside of it was a large amount of blood that was tested to be Brandy’s. So, something happened inside the truck. The question: Did the blood get there because Brandy died in the truck? OR did she die outside of it and somebody put her body in there? Either way, what this means is somebody out there DEFINITELY knows what happened to Brandy Hall.
Somebody dumped the truck in the water. Somebody threw out some of her stuff that was found later, nowhere near the truck. This reinforces my idea that Brandy left the fire station with a plan to see someone. Then somebody had to scramble to cover things up when something went wrong. I would also add that we know of many Unfound disappearances where the missing person’s car was never found.
What are some of those?
–Lola Katherine Fry
To name a few.
So, vehicles are not difficult to hide or get rid of. Why didn’t the person in Brandy’s case successfully do that? Hey, Florida has many deep canals and lakes. What exactly was the problem?
My thought is the person who ditched the truck was unprepared for the situation that happened that night. He—yes, he—had to think on his feet when Brandy ended up dying. This also leads me to believe the drug business was not the reason for the disappearance. Why? Because those kinds of people would do a more complete job—like in Jeff Joseph’s case. Not to mention, if they were trying to see Brandy’s husband a message to keep his mouth shut, why would they hide the truck at all?
My opinion is Brandy’s truck was dumped by an amateur. Someone who probably has no criminal record. Somebody who was unprepared and needed to do things quickly. But what this also means is wherever Brandy showed up, she most likely showed up there unannounced.
Given all that, what do I think happened? My guess is Brandy left work early because she was going to see the man with whom she was having the affair. I think she went there to ask him for money since her family was now in a very tough spot.
This is where the scenario could go in a couple different directions. Did Brandy threaten to expose the affair and the guy killed her? Did the man turn her down and Brandy committed suicide? Either choice is possible. I think it’s even possible that the man’s wife could’ve harmed Brandy.
But we must remember something: People, generally, don’t cover up suicides. There’s no reason to do that. So if Brandy took her life in her own truck, even it was in the guy’s own drive way, what would be the big deal? Why would he feel like he needed to hide that?
Did he try to cover up to save his marriage? Well, maybe. But the cover up of his affair didn’t work so well since everybody who knows the case knows Brandy was having an affair and knows the guy’s name. So why would the guy cover up something that was “out there” already?
Meaning, what I am going to default to is Brandy went to the house for money—either trying to sympathetically get it or trying to extort the cheating husband. He declined. Things escalated. And he killed her. Then he had to hurriedly try to clean everything up, quite unsuccessfully.
This is a case, though, where everything is circumstantial. This is the reason I have entertained a TOTALLY different possibility that maybe some of you thought of. Maybe Brandy staged her own disappearance. She was surely skilled in taking her own blood. She could’ve been doing that over a long period of time. Then, when the time was right, Brandy left work early, ditched the truck and dumped her own blood over the inside of it, then took off. Possible. Although unlikely.
What’s the key to solving Brandy’s case? That’s a tough question to answer without knowing some of the non-public details. The key to me still lies with the “affair guy”. I know that seems simplistic but I’m not sure non-police people have really looked into this. I think what I’m saying is a podcast—maybe Unfound—needs to do a deeper dive on this case and put more pressure on the affair guy. If nothing else, I’d certainly like to ask him what he thinks happened to Brandy.
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BEHIND THE SCENES
The work continues. It’s slow going. But the work is certainly worth it because nobody but Unfound is working on these cases we’ve decided to research more deeply.