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Episode 32: Barney Hill Hypnosis Tape

On September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill, along with dachshund Delsey, were returning home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, traveling south on US Route 3. At approximately 10:15 pm they noted a “bright star” which appeared to move erratically. They continued to watch it as it apparently paced them and got closer and closer. Barney stopped the car, and the couple looked at the object through binoculars. They saw a spinning, flattened circular disk with multicolored lights on the rim. About two miles north of North Woodstock, the object descended and hovered about 100 feet in the air in front of the Hill’s car. A blue-white fluorescent glow shone through its windows.

Barney stopped the car and got out. He could see several uniformed, human-like figures and grew frightened, jumping in the car, and driving down the road. Suddenly, the Hills both heard an irregular beeping sound, felt a tingling sensation and became drowsy. The next thing they remembered was a second series of beeps, and they were driving through Plymouth, New Hampshire. It was two hours later, and they had no memory of what had happened to them. However, they both reported feeling clammy and dirty.

Betty and Barney Hill came to believe they had been abducted by aliens. Around two years after the incident, they began to visit Dr. Benjamin Simon, a Boston psychiatrist and hypnotherapist. Dr. Simon began hypnotizing the Hills on January 4, 1964. He hypnotized Betty, 41, and Barney, 39, several times each, and the sessions lasted until June 6, 1964 (over 9 hours of recordings were made). Simon conducted the sessions separately, so Betty and Barney could not overhear one another’s recollections, which turned out to be remarkably similar. At the end of each session he reinstated amnesia.

Dr. Simon admitted privately, in correspondence, that he did not not believe the Hills were abducted. Instead, he felt that they were re-living a dream that Betty had experienced right after the incident, and which she had discussed with her husband. He believed the dream had been transferred to Barney, an example of  folie à deux whereby a delusion or hallucination is transmitted from one person to another.

When Barney first describes the aliens he saw inside the UFO, he says, “One person looks friendly to me. … And he’s smiling.”  And when the doctor asks, “What was his face like?” Barney replies, “It was round.  I think of—I think of—a red-headed Irishman.  … I think I know why.  Because Irish are usually hostile to Negroes.  And when I see a friendly Irish person, I react to him by thinking—I will be friendly.  And I think this one that is looking over his shoulder is friendlyHe looks like a German Nazi.  He’s a Nazi … a black scarf around his neck, dangling over his left shoulder.”

Dr. Simon felt that the abduction narrative reflected the Hills’ anxiety as the result of being in a very early interracial marriage in a predominantly white part of the country. He thought Barney may have suffered from a persecution complex. He said, “my interest in UFOs was almost entirely on the phenomena of Barney’s developing racial paranoia which seemed to me to have been the best representation on the matter I had seen.”

Listen to the hypnosis session here.

More about the case.

Episode 31: Byron Smith audiotape

     Byron David Smith, 64, was a retired State Department security engineering officer whose home in Little Falls, Minnesota had been broken into multiple times at least half a dozen times during 2012. The thieves had stolen thousands of dollars in cash, the watch his father had received after spending nearly a year as a POW in World War II, medals and ribbons Smith had earned in Vietnam, several firearms, and jewelry. Smith, who was angry that local police had not been able to prevent the break-ins, began wearing a holster with a loaded gun inside his home.

On Thanksgiving, 2012, Smith was at home when he heard people casing his property outside. He took his gun and went to sit in his basement, waiting for six hours to shoot the intruders. He turned on an audio recorder to tape the incident, intending to show he was attacked inside his home (defending your home against intruders is permitted under the state’s “Castle law”). However, the audio tape also picked up Smith’s bitter curses and angry mutterings, including him rehearsing what he was planning to say to police and attorneys after he had killed the burglars (“I realize I don’t have an appointment, but I would like to see one of the lawyers here,” he says at one point).

The intruders were two local teenagers, Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, 17, who were being investigated for prior burglaries, including those at Smith’s house. When Brady appears at the top of the basement stairs, we can hear Smith shoot him twice, then we hear Brady fall downstairs and Smith firing again, shooting him in the face and killing him.

Minutes later, we hear Kifer entering the basemen. Smith shoots her at the top of the stairs. She cries out, “Oh my god!” and falls down the stairs. Smith goes to shoot her again, but his rifle jams. He picks up his revolver and fires many times into her chest, then dragged her across the floor and put her body next to that of her cousin, and killed her instantly with a shot to the head.  Following the shootings, he mutters, “I am not a bleeding heart liberal. I felt like I was cleaning up a mess – not like spilled food, not like vomit, not even like…not even like diarrhea – the worst mess possible. And I was stuck with it…in some tiny little respect…in some tiny little respect. I was doing my civic duty. If the law enforcement system couldn’t handle it, I had to do it. I had to do it. The law system couldn’t handle her and if it fell into my lap and she dropped her problem in my lap…and she threw her own problem in my face. And I had to clean it up.”

Smith waited until the following day to have a neighbor call police, saying that he did not want to bother law enforcement on Thanksgiving. When interviewed by police, he acknowledged “firing more shots than I needed to,” and and described firing “a good clean finishing shot” into Kifer’s head. This use of excessive force, coupled with the fact that Smith had clearly been lying in wait for the teens, led to his conviction for two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, and his appeal denied.

Listen to the audio here.

Learn more about the case here.

Episode 30: Fiona Wais testimony, Steven Capobianco Trial

This episode features testimony in the trial of Steven Capobianco, 30, for the murder in Hawaii of Carly “Charli” Scott, his 27-year-old ex-girlfriend who was five months pregnant with their child when she went missing in February of 2014.  Capobianco pleaded not guilty to the charges in the trial, which took place in July of 2014.

Charli met Steven Capobianco in 2009. She fell in love, and Steven invited her to live with him, but during the two years the couple lived together, according to the prosecution, “the defendant would tell his friends that they were just roommates and he did not like to take pictures with her.”

After Steven broke up with her, Charli continued to love him, even though she knew he didn’t care about her. It was after they had broken up, and when Steven had a new girlfriend, that he got Charli pregnant.

Charli’s mother testified that on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, she went to check on her daughter at her home in Makawao, Hawaii, and noticed that one of Charli’s dogs was in the home and had urinated and defecated inside.  Charli’s other dog, Nala, was missing.

Charli had three sisters, Brooke, Fiona, and Phaedra, who all testified in the trial. Her two younger sisters, Fiona and Phaedra often stayed at the home Charli shared with Steven to spend more time with their sister. When Charli went missing, Fiona was 16 and Phaedra 13. The girls found evidence of her remains in a nearby forest, along with the burned-out shell of her car.

In her trial testimony, Fiona relates how Charli announced her pregnancy to her family, how Steven had insisted that she get an abortion, and Charli’s refusal to do so. After learning that her sister was pregnant, Fiona says that she contacted Capobianco to ask him questions. He replied by saying that, “I thought she took care of it.” Fiona told him that Charli was having the baby.

Fiona also said that Charli did not get along with their stepfather, and at the time of her disappearance, she was not allowed at her mother and stepfather’s home. Later, when Charli went missing, Fiona told the jury that Steven had said, “I have a hypothesis that Charli could have picked up a hitchhiker,” adding, “It didn’t make sense to me, because the story that I had heard repeatedly was that Steven’s car was having problems, and when they were last seen, he was driving down the road in front of Charli to make sure that his vehicle didn’t break down again.”

Listen to Fiona’s testimony here.

Read more about the case here.

Watch the trial on YouTube

Episode 29: Gypsy Willis Testimony, Martin McNeill Trial

From the outside, the MacNeills were the ideal Mormon family. They lived in a gated community in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Martin MacNeill was a doctor, lawyer, and Mormon Bishop; his homemaker wife Michele was a former fashion model and beauty queen. The couple had four natural children: Rachel, Vanessa, Alexis and Damian, and four girls adopted from the Ukraine: Giselle, Elle, Sabrina, and Ada.

But in private, Martin MacNeill was not happy with Michele, talked about wanting a divorce, watched pornography and had extramarital affairs. When, after 30 years of marriage, Michele, 50, died while at home recovering from a facelift, her family was suspicious. Their suspicious increased when MacNeill began openly dating his children’s nanny, Gypsy Willis.

During her testimony at Martin MacNeill’s murder trial in 2013, Gypsy calmly describes meeting the doctor at a dating site in 2005, when she was a nursing student. They went to lunch, and MacNeill seemed reserved. He told her he was married and had a great life, but he was looking for extramarital excitement, she says, “and that is what I was. It was very passionate and very sexual. It was so fun—this beautiful, handsome doctor taking time out of his life for me.”

After the lunch, they stayed in touch; instant messaging progressed to texting, their relationship eventually shifting from lunch dates to lovers around January 2006. She claims to have been genuinely shocked when Michele MacNeill died, but went along with Martin’s plan to move her into his family’s life gradually, as nanny to the younger children. Gypsy says Martin proposed to her just three months after his wife’s death, although they were never married. She also read excerpts from letters she and MacNeill exchanged while both were in prison on identity-theft charges.

These charges were just one of the dark secrets that emerged during the trial. MacNeill had stolen his 16-year-old adopted daughter Giselle’s identity documents and given them to Gypsy. He was also found guilty of sexually molesting Alexis on two occasions. It also turned out that MacNeill had falsified university transcripts to enter medical school, and that the couple’s youngest adopted daughter Ada was, in fact, the child of their daughter Vanessa, who was a heroin addict. In 2010, their 24-year old son Damian committed suicide.

Gypsy Willis was sentenced to three years of probation. Martin MacNeill was sentenced to life without parole, and committed suicide in Utah State Prison in April 2017, at the age of 60.

Listen to Gypsy’s testimony here

Watch on Youtube here

MacNeill Trial Documents

Episode 28: Interview with Jens Soring

This is an interview by Noreen Turyn of WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Virginia with Jens Söring on March 26, 2011. Söring came to the U.S. from Germany as a child. When a student at the University of Virginia, he fell in love with a fellow student, a beautiful but troubled girl named Elizabeth Heysom. On the morning of March 30, 1985, the bodies of Elizabeth’s parents Derek and Nancy Haysom, were found brutally slashed, stabbed, and almost decapitated in their home in Bedford County, Virginia. When police supected Elizabeth and Jens of involvement, they fled the country, spending almost a year traveling around the world until they ran out of money. Eventually, they were arrested in London on charges of check fraud. At first, Söring confessed to committing the murders, but when he learned he would not be extradited to Germany, as he had assumed, but would remain in the U.S., he recanted his story.

According to Söring, Elizabeth admitted to him that she had killed her parents and was terrified of being executed for the crime. Jens says he promised her that, if they were ever arrested, he would take responsibility for the crime, since he believed he would be extradited to Germany, where there is no death penalty. Since his recantation, Söring has insisted on his innocence; he has many supporters, and has written books about his case.


This interview took place at  Buckingham Correctional Center, in Virginia. Elizabeth Haysom is currently also serving a 90-year prison sentence for two counts of accessory to murder.

Listen to the interview here.

Watch the interview on Youtube here; check out Jans Söring’s website and a New Yorker article about the case from November 9, 2015 by Nathan Heller.

Episode 27: Squeaky Fromme Competency Hearing

Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme was a member of the Manson family. On the morning of September 5, 1975, Fromme went to Sacramento’s Capitol Park, where President Gerald Ford would be speaking, dressed in a red robe and armed with a semi-automatic pistol that she pointed at the President. The pistol’s magazine was loaded with four rounds, but there was no cartridge in the chamber. She was immediately restrained by a Secret Service agent, and arrested.

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 21, 1975 Fromme was interviewed on tape at the Sacramento County Jail by Dr. James Richmond to evaluate if she was mentally competent to give up counsel and represent herself at trial.  Dr. Richmond’s determination read:

Miss Fromme acknowledged having experimented with LSD and marijuana in prior years. She said that newspaper accounts of how heavily she had used drugs were patently false. She estimated that she had used LSD approximately 30 or less times, and she stated that she had never experienced any severe psychiatric disturbance from such use. She said that she had used marijuana lightly, perhaps one joint per week, in no steady pattern. She said that the effects from it were even lighter than from the LSD. She denied any residual memory or intellectual deficit from the use of either … 

As the examination continued she loosened up emotionally, showing a range of emotional expression in keeping with the present situation. She smiled appropriately periodically. She displayed no overt anxiety or depression, and there were no signs of a psychotic thought disorder. She was attentive, comprehended my questions without difficulty except for occasional words with which she was not familiar, and her responses were quick, pertinent, and appeared candid. Her statements were consistently rational. She appeared to be a most sensitive and intuitive person, acutely tuned in to social issues …

Fromme was not allowed to represent herself in court, and, as a result, she refused to cooperate with her own defense. After a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to life imprisonment, and released on parole on August 14, 2009, after serving nearly 34 years.

Listen to the psychiatric evaluation here.


Episode 26: Dalia Dippolito Police Interview

On July 31 2009,  Mohammed Shihadeh notified police in Boynton Beach, Florida, that we was concerned that his ex-girlfriend, 26-year-old former escort Dalia Dippolito, was plotting to kill her husband of six months, 38-year-old Michael Dippolito. Shihadeh was enlisted by police as a confidential informant, and instructed to put Dalia in touch with a “Mexican hitman” who asked for $5000 to kill Mike Dippolito. The hit went ahead the following day, and Dalia returned home from the gym to find police tape surrounding her house. She was informed that her husband had been shot and killed, and she burst into tears, appearing inconsolable.

Listen to the police interview with Dalia Dippolito about the “murder” of her husband. She’s asked who she believes might be responsible, and comes up with a number of plausible suggestions related to Mike’s criminal conviction for fraud. However, at the end of the interview, the police reveal to Dalia that the “Mexican hitman” was actually an undercover police officer, Widy Jean, and that Dalia’s meetings with him were taped by police. Listen also to the police interview with Michael Dippolito about the bizarre things that he’d experienced since being married to Dalia, such as an attempted poisoning with antifreeze.

Dalia Dippolito, who denied the charges, claiming she thought she was practicing for a reality TV show, had three trials. In her first trial, deliberations lasted for about three hours before a guilty verdict was returned. This verdict was later overturned due to a sleeping juror. In her second trial, a jury of four women and two men deliberated for a total of about nine hours before a mistrial was declared. In her third and final trial, in July 2017, she was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Listen to the interview with Dalia Dippolito here

Listen to the interview with Mike Dippolito here

Watch the interview on Youtube here

Episode 25: Elizabeth Wettlaufer Confession Part 3

In the final hour of her confession, Wettlaufer talks about how she felt after the murders were over. She says she would laugh afterwards, “which was really, it was like a cackling from the pit of hell.”

Wettlaufer tells the detective that she feels both guilt and shame about what she has done, which is why she has been finally driven to confess. When asked by the detective what she might say to her victims’ families, she exhales. “What can you say to them that would matter? ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough,” she says. “I should have gotten help sooner. I took something from you that was precious and was taken too soon.”

She makes apologies to the families of specific victims, although not to those of “mean” patients like Maureen Pickering.  Wettlaufer also tells the detective that she had confessed her crimes to others over the years, including a priest, and a close female friend, yet none of them reported her to the police. The detective asks her why she thinks that is.

“Maybe they didn’t believe me,” says Wettlaufer. “I don’t know. Maybe they just thought I was doing something that the patient wanted.” Perhaps this was a case of bystander apathy, or perhaps others felt Elizabeth was simply exaggerating. Perhaps they felt they, too, would get in trouble if they spoke up.

Were it not for her confession, Wettlaufer’s crimes would have gone undiscovered. Eight people in nine years is not a large number in a nursing home for the elderly, where no-one returns home, where patients die all the time, and where sudden deaths are not unusual.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole eligibility for 25 years.

Listen to the final hour of the confession here.



Episode 24: Elizabeth Wettlaufer Confession Part 2

In the second hour of Wettlaufer’s confession, she goes into more detail about her crimes. Elizabeth, who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, says she would hear a voice telling her to kill – not in her head, but in her heart. At first she thought it was either God or the Devil. After a while, she realized it was part of her, and this was a just a way to get out her stress and anger with her patients, and with the world.

“It seems so stupid now,” she says.  Every so often, she clambers to her feet and tries to clear her head. Sometimes she slurs a little; she has taken two Vicodin given to her by her doctor, but claims she is clear headed and knows what she is saying and doing. She describes the urge to kill that came on during her nursing shifts like a “red surge” of pressure in her chest, a compulsion that went away only when she’d injected someone with an overdose of insulin. “I thought this was something God, or whoever, wanted me to do,” she tells the detective.

As a nurse, Wettlaufer must have know that an insulin overdose is a grueling, painful way to die. She admits she knew what she was doing. She also admits that she picked some of her victims because they were “mean” and difficult to look after, and she did not like them.

She notes which patients seemed peaceful and who fought the injection. And she speaks for longer whenever the victim is one she found frustrating to care for. She complains, of the male patients she killed, that they were “grabby,” reaching for her breasts and butt. And of Maureen Pickering, a 79-year-old woman with dementia, Wettlaufer says, “She was a handful. She just got harder and harder to look after and, one night, when I had to look after her … I was starting to get the feeling, that surge again. I thought, I don’t want her to die, but if I could somehow give her enough … to give her a coma or change her brainwaves, maybe make her less mobile, less hard to handle.”

Listen to the second hour of the confession here.

Watch the confession video on Youtube

Episode 23: Elizabeth Wettlaufer Confession Part I

Elizabeth Wettlaufer has been brought for an interview with a police detective after she revealed incriminating information while under the care of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Wettlaufer had been a registered nurse until September, 2016, and was in rehab, as she tells the detective in this interview, for an addiction to Dilaudid (a concentrated opiate-based pain medication). She eventually confesses to killing eight patients over a period of nine years.

Wettlaufer, 49, is an ordinary-looking woman, significantly overweight, in a red T-shirt and comfortable slacks. At the beginning of the interview, she sits quietly with her hands on her thighs and a pink purse on the table beside her as she waits to make her confession. “Sorry about that,” says the detective, when he finally joins her. “Too many people moving and shaking around here, and you can’t really keep track of who’s doing what … ”.

In this first hour of the interview, the detective is friendly and encouraging, and Elizabeth responds openly, appearing grateful to finally get the chance to tell her story. She first trained as a religious counselor, she explains, but went into nursing when she found it difficult to get work in the field. She was married for a while with no children. After her marriage failed, she met a woman online who moved to Ontario to be with her, and they moved in together. Eventually, this relationship also failed, leaving Wettlaufer alone with her cats.

Wettlaufer tells the detective that when she began working as a night nurse, she would steal doses of the Dilaudid from her patients. “I was always putting this pressure on myself to be a really good nurse and do everything perfectly,” she says. After taking half a pill, “that pressure was gone.” She began killing patients in 2007 and stopped in the fall of 2015; she killed three men and five women, ranging in age from 75 to 96. She returned to rehab in 2016 after having been assigned to work with diabetic children. “I was afraid that I might get that feeling of wanting to give them insulin overdoses,” she tells the detective. Faced with her breaking point—“I panicked; those were just kids”—she quit her nursing job and checked into Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which is where she finally made the statements that led to her eventual discovery by the police. “I needed help with whatever this was,” she says. “I didn’t want this to keep going on.”

Listen to the part one of the confession here.

Watch the interrogation video on Youtube

Daniel Engberger, The Killer Nurse, Slate, July 24 2017.