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Episode 45: Michael McCarthy Police Interrogation

On June 25, 2015, a woman walking her dog on the shore of Deer Island in Winthrop, Massachusetts, discovered the remains of a 3 year old child in a plastic garbage bag.  After widespread media publicity, the child was identified three months later as Bella Bond. Her  mother, Rachelle Bond, and her mother’s boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, were arrested, and authorities confirmed that Bella had been murdered.

Rachelle Bond, 40, was charged with “accessory after the fact” in regards to her daughter’s murder, and pleaded guilty as the result of a plea deal, testified against McCarthy in his trial. She alleged that McCarthy had punched Bella in the stomach multiple times after claiming Bella was a “demon.” She said he was the sole perpetrator of the murder. Rachelle, a heroin addict and former prostitute, also admitted to concealing Bella’s death. She was in the car with McCarthy when he dumped her daughter’s body, but says she does not remember this happening, as she went on a drug binge immediately afterwards.

When people asked Rachelle where Bella had gone, she claimed the child had been removed by the Department of Family Services. This was a plausible excuse, as two previous children had been taken away in the past. In June 2017, Michael McCarthy was convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to life with possibility of parole.

Listen to the episode here.

More information about the Bella Bond case.

Episode 44: The Iceman Speaks

This episode contains excerpts from an interview conducted by the forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz with “The Iceman,” Richard Kuklinski (1935–2006) in Trenton Maximum Security State Prison, New Jersey, in 2002. Kuklinski was a mafia contract killer who was convicted for five murders, although to Dietz, he claims to have been responsible for the deaths of between 100 and 250 people.  Kuklinski was given the nickname “Iceman” for his method of freezing a victim after the murder in order to mask the time of death.

At 6’5″ and 270 pounds, the Iceman had a fearsome reputation among the mafia, but his wife and children in the suburb of Dumont, New Jersey apparently believed he was a successful businessman. In fact, by the early 1980s, Kuklinski was involved in narcotics, pornography, arms dealing, money laundering, and hijacking; he also worked as a contract killer for Newark’s DeCavalcante crime family. By the mid-1980s, he began to make mistakes and get sloppy about disposing of his victims. Kuklinski was arrested in 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988. After his conviction, Kuklinski took part in a number of interviews during which he confessed to many violent and disturbing crimes. Though some have expressed skepticism about the extent of Kuklinski’s alleged murders, police believe he killed at least several dozen people both at the behest of organized crime bosses and on his own initiative.

Listen to the episode here.

Watch the documentary on Youtube here.

Episode 43: Philip Chism Trial Testimony

This episode contains an excerpt from the morning of day 2 in the in the November 2015 murder trial of Phillip Chism, 16, who is accused of killing his Danvers High School math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, 24. Chism is being tried as an adult in the Salem Superior Court.

First a fellow math teacher, Todd Butterworth, describes the search for Colleen  when she didn’t come home after school on October 23, 2013. Her car was found in the high school parking lot. Butterworth explains how, during a search of the school grounds, he found Colleen’s large, distinctive school bag, that contained a pink calculator, wedged between some rocks near the woods. Near the bag, Butterworth said he also saw a pair of white gloves with blood on them and splatters of blood on nearby leaves.

Next, Stephanie Wennerberg, a police officer, described how she found  several pieces of blood-stained evidence were found in the woods by the school. She also found a bloody hand print during a search of the second-floor girls’ room. Finally, a canine officer, Justin Ellenton, describes how the he and his dog, Falco, searched for Miss Ritzer, and how Falco found a gray sneaker and a large green recycling bin with blood inside.

Later in the trial, the jury learned that, after his math class, Philip Chism pulled a hood over his head, put on a pair of gloves and followed Miss Ritzer into a second-floor girls bathroom, where he strangled her, cut her 16 times with a wire cutter, and raped her. He then rolled a large green recycling bin into the bathroom, put Colleen’s body inside it, then dragged it into the nearby woods. His motives remain unclear.

Listen to the testimony here.

Learn more about the case here.

Episode 42: Travis Walton UFO Abduction Audio

This episode contains the first interview given by UFO abductee Travis Walton after his apparent abduction from the Apache-Seagreaves National Park, Arizona, in November 1975. Walton is being interviewed by KOOL-TV reporter Jim Ryerson for the show Face the State on 11.11.1975.

This is one of very few UFO abduction cases that has been supported by multiple eyewitnesses. Travis Walton was one of a small crew of loggers clearing trees and brush when a UFO descended on them. Walton’s co-workers say that Travis was  struck and seemingly wounded by a beam of light that emerged from the strange aircraft. His co-workers drove
away in a panic. Later, they returned with search and rescue
personnel, but Travis had vanished. He did not re-appear for five days.

When he returned, Walton had an incredible story to tell. As he explains in this interview, he was taken on board the UFO and subjected to a number of unusual encounters and experiments. Back in Arizona, he thought only a few hours had passed.

At the time, the case gained widespread publicity. At first, when Travis was missing, police suspected the UFO story was a cover-up for a logging accident. When he returned, he was given a polygraph exam, which he failed. He gives the reasons for this in the interview, along with commentary by a polygraph examiner. Travis Walton and his coworkers have continued to insist their story is true.

Listen to the interview here

Interview Transcript (pdf)

More about the case

Episode 41: Paul Bernado Prison Interview

In June 2007, when he was 43, Paul Bernardo was interviewed by the Toronto Police Services Sex Crimes Unit about a number of unsolved crimes, including the disappearance of Elizabeth Bain. The crimes took place during the period in which Bernardo, along with his then-wife Karla Homolka, committed a series of sexual assaults, tortures, and murders in the Canadian city of Scarborough. Homolka signed a plea bargain for a 12 years sentence in exchange for her testimony against Bernardo (here, Bernardo complains that Homolka lied about her role in the killings and she was never polygraphed).

Before the police can get to their questions about the Bain case, they listen to Bernardo’s complaints about the way they have handled his case. The detectives are timid, tiptoeing around the subject, always polite, always trying to answer Bernardo’s concerns. He’s upset that police have said he claimed responsibility for crimes he never committed. Bernardo is agitated and rarely makes eye contact with the detectives. He speaks quickly, in a high-pitched voice, sometimes laughing incredulously, sometimes responding with sarcastic comments.

He rolls his eyes when police speak, grimacing openly when they say his complaints are out of the jurisdiction of the Toronto police service. Often, he shakes his head in disbelief and laughs incredulously. Bernardo has never been charged in the crime and Bain’s disappearance remains unsolved.

As usual, apologies for the poor sound quality.

Listen to the interview here.

Read the transcript here.

Watch the interview on YouTube here.

Episode 40: Justin Ross Harris trial testimony

This episode contains the testimony of 21-year-old Jaynie Meadows during the trial of Harris, known as Ross, for the death of his 22-month-old son Cooper. On June 18 2014, 24-year old Harris took his son to a fast food restaurant to get breakfast, then drove to his office at Home Depot, leaving Cooper strapped into a rear-facing child seat in the back of his car instead of taking him to daycare.

It was a very hot day. Around noon, Harris went to lunch with some colleagues, then picked up some light bulbs and put them in his car. Video surveillance footage shows that he did not look in the back of the SUV. Seven hours later, when he was driving home from work, he discovered Cooper’s dead body in the back of his car.

Child “hot car deaths” are not uncommon, and are generally considered to be tragic accidents–acts of negligence or, at worst, involuntary manslaughter. What made Harris’s case different was the prosecution’s argument that he killed his child deliberately because he wanted to live a carefree life. The State argued Harris was a sex addict who was visiting prostitutes and having affairs with multiple women. Harris’s numerous girlfriends and lovers testified to this fact in court, and police witnesses showed that, on the day of Cooper’s death, Harris had been sexting with at least six women, some of whom were under the age of consent. One of these women was Jaynie Meadows.

Jaynie is poised and confident as she recounts the course of her relationship with the persistent Harris, which took place mostly via text, phone, and chat apps. She testifies that she was an 18-year-old college student in 2013, when she first began engaging in online chats with Harris. Eventually, she says, she fell in love with him. “He told me he loved me every day,” she says. The prosecutor asks her to read aloud a text from Harris: “If Cooper wasn’t in the picture, I probably would have left my wife by now.”

Under cross-examination, Meadows begins to lose her poise and grows increasingly impatient with the prolonged questioning, often glaring at the defense attorney. Harris was found guilty malice murder and felony murder charges, as well as sending sexual text messages to a teenage girl and sending her nude photos.

Listen to the testimony here

Learn more about the case here

Episode 39: Julie Schenecker Police Interview

Colonel Parker Schenecker met in his wife Julie in Germany during the 1980s, where she was working as a Russian linguist. They had two children, and moved to Florida, where Julie became depressed and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

On January 27, 2011, when Parker Schenecker was overseas, daughter Calyx, 16, and son Beau, 13, were found dead by police at their home in Tampa. Julie was found drugged and semi-conscious after a suicide attempt. She was arrested on suspicion of their murder after an alleged confession. In 2014, 53-year-old Julie Schenecker went on trial for the murder of her two children. She pled not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of first-degree murder.

On the third day of the trial, jurors were played to an audio recording of Julie Schenecker’s interview with Tampa police in which she describes how she shot her children to death.  For the first time they were able to hear Ms. Schenecker, in her own words, describe how she brutally killed her two children. The detective interviewing her is thoughtful and compassionate; and it’s very clear that Ms. Schenecker is seriously disturbed, and still under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She admits that she has been planning to kill her children for many years, but she is also unsure whether they are currently alive or dead. She was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to two concurrent life terms in prison on May 15, 2014.

Listen to the interview here.

Find out more about the case here.

Episode 38: Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker Trial Testimony

This is testimony from Day 6 (March 14, 2016) of the Hulk Hogan trial, in which former wrestling star Hulk Hogan sued the gossip website Gawker and its founder Nick Denton for publishing a sex tape of him with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem.

On the stand, being slowly eviscerated by Hogan’s attorney Douglas Mirell, is 41-year-old Gawker’s editor in chief A. J. Daulerio. Despite his smart jacket and tie, Daulerio looks sleep-deprived and bored, and occasionally comes across as arrogant and supercilious. At the beginning of the proceedings, Mirell refers to testimony from a deposition in which Daulerio admits that he “enjoyed watching the video… because I found it very amusing,” and he was “proud” to have published it. When Mirell asks if he can imagine a situation in which a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy, Daulerio replies, “If they were a child.” “Under what age?” asks Mirell. “Four,” Daulerio answers. “No 4-year-old sex tapes, OK,” Mirell says. Daulerio later contends that he was being sarcastic.

But the Florida jury was not amused, and after a two week trial, they awarded Hogan $140 million in damages over the tape, and ordered Dauleria to pay a $100,000 personal fine for posting the tape on the internet. The trial led to Gawker’s downfall, and Daulerio’s bankruptcy.

Listen to the trial testimony here.

Watch the clip on Youtube.

Episode 37: Casey Anthony Police Interview

Casey Anthony’s interview with an Orange County sheriff’s sergeant and two detectives was conducted on July 16, 2008, in a conference room at Universal Studios. The interview concerns Casey’s infant daughter, Caylee, who was last seen June 16, 2008, but was not reported missing until a month later. Casey claimed she worked at Universal Studios and led the officers there, only to eventually confess that she had not, in fact, worked there for some time.

Casey claimed that Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny, the fictional Zenaida Fernandez Gonzales, but the detectives do not believe her. They plead with Anthony to tell the truth about what happened to Caylee. “None of us are sitting here believing what you’re saying because everything that’s coming out of your mouth is a lie,” Detective Yuri Melich tells Anthony. “Everything. And unless we start getting the truth, we’re going to announce two possibilities with Caylee: Either you gave Caylee to someone that you don’t want anyone to find out because you think you’re a bad mom. Or something happened to Caylee and Caylee’s buried somewhere or in a trash can somewhere, and you had something to do with it. Either way, right now it’s not a very pretty picture to be painting.”

Asked later whether Fernandez Gonzales accepted money, Anthony says, “I would not have sold my daughter. If I wanted to really just get rid of her, I would have left her with my parents and I would’ve left. I would’ve moved out. I would’ve given my mom custody.” When asked what Anthony wants her mother to give the media as a message to Caylee, Anthony breaks down as she says to tell her daughter “that Mommy loves her very much, and she’s the most important thing in this entire world to me, and to be brave. I truly, truly love that little girl, and miss her so much.”

Later that day, after authorities failed to find Zenaida Fernandez Gonzales in a database of Florida driver’s licenses, Casey Anthony was arrested on suspicion of giving police false information, obstructing an investigation and child neglect. The skeletal remains of Caylee Anthony were found in December 2008, not far from the Anthony home. Casey was  charged with seven counts in Caylee’s death, including first-degree murder. She could have faced the death penalty, but was found not guilty, and released.

Listen to the interview here.

Read the transcript here.

Episode 36: Charles Manson Parole Hearing

This morning, Charles Manson’s existential parole finally ran out.

In 1971, Charles Manson was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people – including the actress Sharon Tate – all of which were carried out by members of the group at his instruction. Manson also received first-degree murder convictions for two other deaths. He was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when California invalidated the state’s death penalty statute in 1972. His sentence was commuted to life. From Vacaville, he was transferred to California State Prison in Corcoran, where this hearing took place.

Manson was 62 at this 1997 parole hearing, the last one he attended. He stopped showing up because he knew the hearings were a charade, and he would never be released. His paranoid rant is eloquently phrased, but the phrases are disconnected and make sense only to him. Like the sermon of a hypocritical preacher, his rhythms are hypnotic but they have no foundation. “You can’t get into the real estate,” he says and one point, “because Pasadena is a submarine that’s run by Gerry Hoover, who’s over in the chapel, who comes from Columbia with the drug cartel saying he got money with two girls and he’s taking that pussy…”

The Parole Commissioner, Steve Baker, reads sections of a report from a psychiatrist who interviewed Manson, Dr. Wayne O. Evans, who wrote, “As usual, inmate Manson spoke in metaphor and allegory,and on occasion had to be reminded to be more linear and concrete. He has a clinical history of exercising control, manipulation, and power over his associates and followers, fueled by narcissistic rage for real or imagined slights … he exhibits some signs of schizoaffective personality disorder; once in a while he does revert to magical thinking and flights of fancy, but more in allegory and metaphor than in a delusional system. … He has considerable artistic ability, and should be encouraged to pursue such controlled outlets for this expression.”

Manson responds, “Whoever did that did a really good job, didn’t he? Yeah, that was a real nice report. I thought the guy had a lot of good things down there, pretty much. I’m a lot of those things. He’s making me look a little better than I really am, but whatever it takes is where I have to roll.”

R.I.P, Charlie.

Listen to the parole hearing here.

More information about the Manson case here