Hey, everyone!!! How is everything? It’s so weird. I thought September 1st was NEXT week and not today. Why did I get messed up? Probably because like seemingly every other month, August 2020 flew by. It was my birthday August 1st, then . . . . bang . . . it’s August 31 and I gotta get started on another newsletter. Like snapping fingers, that’s how quickly the month went.
How am I doing? Very well. Thank you for asking!
Let’s get started . . . .
Sept. 4: 4th Anniversary Celebration with replaying of Suzanne Lyall episode.
Sept. 11: Robert Hurt
Other cases we are working on: Marian Hurley, Bradley Brooks, Brennan Simolke, Unique Harris, Debra Booth, Jamie Johnson, Douglas Jones, Angela Green.
It just came out. I hope you listened to it. My assistant, Cheree, tells me it was the best one yet. How can I argue with that, right?
Yet, as I think I’ve written before in this newsletter when other Update Episodes have been done, I am surprised that more true crime programs don’t do them. Why? Because Unfound’s have been hugely popular. Just looking at the download numbers—although I do not do that often, their stats rival some of the most popular, regular episodes we’ve done. You the public love to hear what is going on with disappearances Unfound has covered.
So, why don’t other programs do them?
Well, first, I should say at least one other program does. John Lordan on YouTube does updates, although I am not sure when he started doing so. Meaning, Unfound isn’t the only one. Still, though, there are like 1000 other podcasts and tv shows. But none of them give their audiences updates.
So, once again, why don’t they?
Well, first, and I can admit this, Unfound’s Update Episode came about from something Cheree said to me way back in 2018. In fact, given that time frame, at that point she and I had only known each other for a month or so.
What I’m saying is I’m not sure I would’ve thought of doing an Update Episode on my own. It took someone else to put the idea in my head. Thus, I have to believe that it might be the situation with other hosts out there: It never occurs to them that their audience would like to hear follow-ups on the cases the programs cover. Very possible.
Second, putting together an Update Episode can be a lot of work. Well, it’s not for me . . . I’ll explain that in a bit. But I can imagine for others hosts, that constructing an episode that details new news can be daunting.
Why? Because most other hosts don’t do the kind of program Unfound does. Mainly, other programs and their hosts don’t have that direct contact with the people who are “in the know”. Why? Because many other programs just get their information from news articles, Wikipedia, Google, Websleuths, and Reddit, and cobble it into a show for all of you. By the way, family members HATE that—they’ve told me so.
Thus, when it comes to updates, if those same sources haven’t published anything new, how are those hosts supposed to do updates? They can’t. Meaning, if these hosts absolutely 100% desire to update their audiences on cases covered, it becomes hard work because these people now really do have to contact family members to get information that isn’t public. Well, good luck with that, if only for the reason that even 4 years in, Unfound has trouble reaching families. And you add in that most families don’t like their family members’ cases covered without consulting them first? Yep, very difficult.
Whereas, for Unfound, because all of the guests’ phone numbers are already in my phone, and I have all their emails, if I want to know something, all these people are only 30 seconds away. Moreover, because I know these people and I consider them friends, I keep close tabs on their cases without the guests even knowing. In fact, I would say it’s Unfound’s responsibility to know what’s going on, although I will have to admit that given we’ve covered 180 disappearances now, it has gotten tougher.
So, for Unfound, because of the way we do things, constructing an Update Episode is a lot easier.
Third, and right about now you may be saying, “Yeah, Ed, but what about the tv show, Disappeared? It has family members on and it doesn’t do updates either.” Great point. But you have to remember that the people who produce that program are not “missing person people”—they’re tv people. They make tv shows. This week they’re working on Disappeared, next week they’re working on a reality show.
In fact, and I’ve looked into this, there is not one person on the crew of any Disappeared episode who could be classified as a missing persons expert. Not one. The people who interview the family for those episodes are associate producers or production assistants. They aren’t like myself or John Lordan or Marissa from The Vanished who have talked to hundreds of families. They’re just production people.
So, for them, Disappeared is just a gig. It’s just a job for a certain amount of weeks, then everybody moves on to something else. Why do they do the program? Because it gets ratings . . . period. Then they move on to something else that gets ratings. And when the network decides it wants more Disappeared episodes, it gets the crew together again and more Disappeared episodes are made. Then . . . the people move to other productions again. That’s how everything in entertainment works. You’re working on a romantic comedy movie this week, next week you’re working on Disappeared.
Meaning, there’s no one to do an update because, really, no ones cares if an updates get done. These people are in the tv/movie business, and not the missing persons business.
I hate to be so cynical with all of you on this but I know what I’m talking about. I worked on tv production in Las Vegas in 2000. Good people. But they only care about where the next gig is. That’s it. That’s the nature of the work.
So, those are, I believe, the three main reasons more programs don’t do updates. Don’t worry . . . Unfound will always do them.
LINKS FOR BOOKS
Here are the links for all 6 for Season 1:
Volume 6 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077115520
Speaking of updates, and to talk about a specific one, you heard how Chris Turner’s remains were found near Sunrise Mountain in Las Vegas way back during April 2017. They were just identified during July 2020. I’d like to talk about this a bit. I got word of it right after I published the last newsletter.
First of all, why did the DNA testing take so long? I have no idea. My perception continues to be that some true crime cases get first class treatment regarding DNA, while many others do not. That is my perception . . . it may not be reality. However, if it IS reality, I would like an explanation.
A search crew found Chris in April 2017. Yes. . . . a search crew. I know how that sounds. However, from Dawn—his mother–told me, they were out there for practice purposes only and happened upon the remains by chance, not due to any tip. This is what Dawn has told me. On the other hand, police could be lying to her about that. What do I think about it? That is one heck of a coincidence.
What then happened was the remains were buried in an unmarked grave. Then, some time in July, a sample of the remains were tested against Chris’ DNA, and the match occurred. Law enforcement then let Dawn know. What this means is Chris’ remains had been found 4 months before Dawn appeared on Unfound. At that time, no one knew those bones would end up being Chris. In fact, I’ll go even further to say that I went back through the Las Vegas Review Journal articles from April 2017 and none of them mention bones being found. So, I’m not sure how the public could’ve ever known it happened.
As you can imagine, this is like Tom Brown’s case: The remains were in a state that a cause of death may never be determined. And like Tom’s, Chris was found far from where he was last seen—8 miles. That’s the distance between the apartment where Chris and his girlfriend lived, and Sunset Mountain where the crew found his remains. If you’ll remember, the night Chris disappeared, people saw him pounding on doors at the complex looking for his girlfriend.
There’s another fact in all this. Chris’ girlfriend and her mother claimed they saw Chris alive AFTER that group found his remains. This is one of a few factors that led to Chris’ missing person case being closed by Las Vegas Metro in 2017. Luckily, Dawn was able to get it re-opened in 2019.
So, what to think? If you’ll remember my interview with Dawn, she pointed the finger squarely at Chris’ girlfriend and her male friends as the perpetrators of Chris’ disappearance. It makes a lot of sense if we buy into the problems Chris and his girlfriend were having. It makes a lot of sense given who the girlfriend seemed to hang out with after Chris disappeared. Then, on top of that, the sightings that we now know weren’t true.
On the other hand, Chris’ remains were not buried. They were on the surface of the sand from my understanding. If he was murdered, why didn’t someone bury him? Or throw him in a dumpster? Or hide him in a cave . . . there are many in those mountains around Las Vegas—look up “Sandstone Doe” if you’re interested. Meaning, could this just be another situation like Crystal Morrison? Or Christopher Hyde? People who died due to the elements . . . allegedly. Or to pick out a non-Unfound disappearance, Brian Barton?
What I’m saying is, in my opinion, although I am very happy that Dawn gets to bring Chris home and have a proper burial for him, there is nothing I’ve heard that causes me to think this moves the investigation along. Finding Chris’ remains only proves to us what I think most people already knew: He was deceased since some time in 2016.
Had he been found buried? Had there been obvious signs of trauma to the remains? Had Chris been found actually in a dumpster? Then I think murder would be much more clear cut. But right now, I think Chris’ cause of death is very much still up in the air.
NOBODY on this entire earth is more surprised that Unfound made it to 4 years than I am. Not possible . . . nobody can be more stunned.
“Why is that, Ed? Tell us why.” I’m going to do that.
I’m not sure when anybody creates something, he or she really knows whether it is going to last. Yes, they hope. They pray. They do all the preparation. But really, a lot of it amounts to luck. There are simply those variables that can’t be predicted, so they can’t be prepared for.
For me, when I started Unfound, I was a guy who failed at most everything he did. Yes, I know, I know . . . I talk like a winner. I look like a winner . . . I mean . . . . the hair, c’mon. I’m friendly. I’m outgoing but also a hermit.
Still, I’ve failed at so many things. How much? I would say I’ve failed way more than most of you. From being a musician. To starting a drag race company. To being an actor. To trying to be a filmmaker. To trying to be a novelist. To trying to be good at romantic relationships. To trying to climb the corporate ladder.
Really, I’ve failed at so many things. The stories I could tell.
But there are some things I’ve never failed at:
–always being a hard worker.
–always trying to use my abilities for good, and not for evil.
–always being honest with myself about WHY I’ve failed.
–always knowing that there is something out there for me where I can be myself and help others.
Those are points that have always been true about me.
So, when I started the first true crime podcast—the one that I never mention by name, it felt perfect. Granted, the other host and myself eventually had a falling out after 5 episodes. But, there was something about the entire process and subject matter that just felt . . . right. Not to mention, even though the podcast only lasted for 3 months, it was the single most successful thing I had done in my adult life to that point.
This is what led to Unfound. I took parts of that first podcast and put them together with the ideas I had about the kind of podcast I would want to listen to if I were one of you. Because really, that kind of missing persons podcast didn’t exist at the time. And still, I’m not sure any podcast since has really followed the Unfound mold. LONG unedited interviews. LONG episodes. Staying away from the theories and conjecture and psychics and kooks. Does anybody else do that? Not to my knowledge.
And given the first reviews of Unfound, I could see why nobody did what I was doing. The reviews were terrible. One stars over and over and over on iTunes. People hated it. I remember one reviewer saying something about my voice—that it was more like a stage actor’s than a podcast host’s. Something like that. I took that as a compliment, by the way, despite the reviewer’s intention.
Somehow, I worked all through that. It’s also the reason I NEVER read Unfound’s reviews anymore. I haven’t looked at a review on any application since probably 2017. Yes, yes, I know . . . I ask for a nice review at the end of every episode. But I do that because you the audience who love Unfound want to give it a nice review—I get enough questions about the topic. And I appreciate that—I really do.
However, I can also say: Unfound will continue whether it gets nice reviews or not. (I also don’t care about Unfound being at the top of Best Of lists either. Don’t care. Not important. When that’s directly connected to missing persons cases getting solved, I will care. But not a second before that.)
Then Emily came on. And Cheree. And Karie and Heather. Eric. Natasha. To me, these people are the true indicator of what Unfound has become. That people want to be a part of the podcast. That they give their free time to helping with Unfound. To the time they give thinking about how to make the program better. That is the true indicator of how good Unfound is and the work it does.
I’ve been asked by people who are thinking about starting their own podcast: How do I do that? How do I know it’s good or not? How hard is it?
I tell them that you’ll know your podcast is having a positive effect on people when strangers come out of nowhere to volunteer to assist you. People don’t want to be associated with losers. They want to be associated with winners. And if people want to help you, YOU are winning—no matter what the reviews or any list says.
So, how has Unfound gotten to 4 years of existence? Yes, I know . . . lots of podcasts are older. Many podcasts make it to 4 year anniversaries. Well, that’s true. But most do not. Moreover, some podcasts may make it to 4 years but are they are putting out original material every single week for that entire time? Because Unfound has. Even the In Memoriam episodes have new summations.
I would say Unfound has made it to 4 years of existence due to a lot of factors, many of which have nothing to do with me. The assistants, of course. You the audience, of course. The guests, absolutely of course.
But really, and I’m not a religious guy and I hardly ever mention anything close to it on the program, but I do believe there is an element of the supernatural in all of this. Our work comes from a positive, moral place in ourselves. And I think when people can do that in anything, positive results will be gotten. When people are doing things for just and moral reasons, I think those people are rewarded with contentment and sense of purpose. And that makes them want to continue.
Granted, Unfound has a long way to go. Most of the cases we’ve covered are still unsolved. Still a lot of grieving families out there. But we never forget about any of them or their missing loved ones.
Thus, Unfound will continue on for another year. And the year after that. And the year after that. Etc. I hope you will stay with us.
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MISSING PERSONS IN THE TIME OF COVID
I’ve been asked a few times since March about COVID and how it might relate to missing persons cases. There are many articles about how divorce is up due to many people being stuck at home. Many articles about how child abuse is up. Many articles about how suicide rates have risen drastically since this all started.
But what about missing persons cases? Has their rate gone up in the last six months?
It’s an excellent question. Really, I don’t think there are any studies that have been done. Not to mention that six months might not be a long enough span to make any in-depth meaningful assertions EVEN IF it could be shown that fewer people have gone missing between March and August 2019, compared to March and August 2020.
So . . . I just don’t know.
From just an anecdotal POV, I can see reasons to believe the missing persons rate could be up over the time span. However, I could also see reasons why the rate would be down over the time span. What do I mean?
Why could the rate be up?
–Because disappearances can be linked to suicides, which are up since the lockdown started.
–Because disappearances can be linked to domestic violence, which is up since the lockdown started.
–Because disappearances can be linked to people losing their jobs, which has happened since the lockdown started.
You see what I mean?
Yet, why could the rate be down?
–Because disappearances can be linked to people being isolated by themselves, whereas most people are clustered in family groups during the lockdown.
–Because disappearances can be linked to people being out of contact with others for long periods of time, whereas teenagers, for example, can’t get out of their parents’ sights due to many getting schooled from home now.
–Because disappearances can be linked to crimes of opportunity, for example, going to work. However, it’s hard to get abducted off the street when you never leave your house.
So once again, I just don’t know.
Instead, I want all of you to think about something else. Given what is going on in many cities right now, how seriously do you think police are taking missing persons cases? Not very. And this is something many people don’t consider.
Yes, within a police department, there are many different divisions. Homicide. Burglary. Vice. SVU. Etc. And of course all the patrol officers.
However, when things happen . . . buildings trying to be lit on fire. Opposing groups fighting in the streets. Or 9/11. Or maybe a mass shooting like what happened at that nightclub in Orlando. When those things happen, every single law enforcement official becomes a patrol officer. The suits that are worn by homicide detectives and the rest are ditched. They put on their regular police uniforms and show up to wherever they are ordered to go.
What does that mean? Crimes don’t get investigated.
This is no different from the military. Yes, in all branches we have cooks and secretaries and lawyers and truck drivers and MP’s and all these other positions that have nothing to do with fighting the enemy. However, if things get bad enough, and a hill needs to be taken, everybody—cook or not, lawyer or not, MP or not, secretary or not—has to pick up a rifle. That’s the way it works.
What comes to mind is the film, Full Metal Jacket. Joker has signed up to be a reporter for Stars & Stripes. What does the Gunnery Sergeant say? You’re not a writer, you’re a killer. In other words, killing the enemy is Joker’s #1 job. He can do his writing when no killing is required.
And what happens in that movie? Joker does end up having to pick up a rifle due to the Tet Offensive.
Well, with the police, when the crap hits the fan, every officer–no matter what usual position—has to show up for crowd control. And if they have to do it for 90 days, then no investigations get done. That’s just the way it is.
So, in that way, missing persons are not getting investigated like they should in some of these cities where police have other things to do . . . whether you agree with the protesters or the police or not or neither or whatever. There are only so many officers, and every detective becomes a patrol officer when he or she is needed.
In other words, on Sept. 11, 2001, for example, it’s not like the police continued to look for stolen cars after the Towers got hit. It was all hands on deck for rescuing people and keeping people out of the area. Everything else become unimportant.
And I have to say, in the current climate, my belief is missing persons cases just aren’t that important in those places where there are more pressing matters.
THE UNFOUND ROUNDTABLE
We had our first meeting yesterday. I went over what the plan is. I think I can finally reveal that we at Unfound—myself and the assistants—are going to attempt to do. We will be doing a long form series covering a particular disappearance. By the way, a disappearance that I am not going to reveal at this time. All I will say is it is one that is not very well known.
The idea is for each of us to be in charge of what you might call different “departments” on a disappearance case. Getting To Know The Missing Person. Getting To Know the POI’s. Timelines and Maps. Evidence. Paperwork. Etc. Each person would be responsible for one of those.
Then, once we dig enough into our respective sections, we will record an episode over Zoom or Skype or whatever. It will then be posted for all of you to hear. I imagine we will also be doing video as well.
From there, probably on a monthly basis, we will release another episode. This will be a situation where one particular aspect of the disappearance is featured and the person responsible for it will get to showcase his/her work. The rest of us will ask questions to then generate discussion, which is recorded for all of you. This will give great insight to how we think about disappearances, how we personally investigate them, and how you can educate yourself on them.
What do I always say? Yes, Unfound is about awareness and resolutions. But it is also about education.
When will the first episode be out? Not sure yet. We like to under-promise and over-deliver.
That’s about it for August. Thank you for reading. And thank you for listening. And thank you for the support!
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