F.L.I.P. Mysteries: Women on the Case
They are a team of women who band together online to track clues and solve cases across the country. They call themselves FLIP, which stands for Female Legal & Investigative Professionals.
In our premiere episode we follow the team on its case that leads to its formation: the tell tale t-shirt that revolves around the mysterious murder of a woman in Baltimore, Maryland. The newly formed FLIP team identifies the victim from the details on the shirt, helps the Baltimore police renew its efforts to solve what is now clearly a homicide, and now a family is also able to put its mother and sister to rest.
Then we follow the team to Quincy, Massachusetts (Boston area) on a ticking clock case. FLIP must find the culprit who has been leaving notes and kidnapping threats on the porches of homes where families live with small children. Employing a handwriting expert, internet researchers, and seasoned investigators, the FLIP team incredibly is able to catch the stalker hours before he strikes.
(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I’m Todd Matthews. This is Missing Pieces and tonight we have with us an old, old friend of mine, Vicki Siedow. How are you doing, Vicki?
VICKI SIEDOW (Guest): I’m apparently very old.
TODD: Oh, you’re ancient. You’re ancient. You’re older than me so you’re old.
VICKI: Everybody’s older than you, puppy.
TODD: Well, in fact, Vicki’s quite a lovely lady and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her once in LA and she dragged me all over town and she introduced me to some very wild people, or showed them to me from a safe distance, but she’s a really nice lady. She is a private investigator, among many other things; she wears a lot of hats. And one thing I want to ask you is, what is a F.L.I.P.?
VICKI: Ah, a F.L.I.P. Well, this particular F.L.I.P. stands for Female Legal and Investigative Professionals. It’s a group of women that I put together, I’ll tell you, it’s a Yahoo group.
VICKI: Yahoo groups are a lot of fun but we noticed that sometimes the boys were making a big ruckus and…the boy P.I.s on the P.I. list, and the girls, we decided that we wanted a little peaceful place to be by ourselves at times. So I started this group just so we could hang out together and what has ended up happening, I guess should have been predictable, I didn’t think of it at the time, but it turns out that most of these women, maybe because they’re Moms and so forth, most of them have some sort of non-profit that they either created or that they help out quite a lot, things like that. They do a lot of do-gooders stuff and so what ended up happening is we started helping each other out on cases and projects.
VICKI: So it sort of evolved that we turned into sort of a SWAT team of ladies that have been marauding around the country via the Internet and we’ve helped out a lot of law enforcement, as well as public, with missing children, cold cases, and you know, all sorts of things.
TODD: Well, you slipped a couple of these ladies to me a couple of times.
VICKI: That’s true.
TODD: Well, more than a couple of time, actually. Sometimes I would look for something really specific, like a handwriting analyst, and you know what, you had one.
VICKI: This is true.
TODD: And it worked out really good.
VICKI: Yeah. It’s fun for us, too. I mean, we do a lot of pro bono work, of course we all have to make a living and we have our businesses and many of us are women-owned businesses, a lot of us are single moms, or they’re wives and mothers and grandmothers and so forth. So we try and make a living, but then we try and help out a little too, and well, of course, you’re kind of almost the mascot on the list. You probably don’t know it, but everybody likes you pretty well, so people are usually quite happy to help you out if you need something.
TODD: Well, I’ve been able to get in really easy, I think, maybe I’m a filter. You know if I’ve brought somebody to your door, they need some medication or something or they need some type of help, and I’m not going to bring somebody to you that I have any misgivings or worries about, so everybody’s taken everybody that I’ve brought at face value, and Peggy Walla, in particular, has helped me more than we’re even able to say media-wise right now, but she did work on a case, and we did alter the course of the case beyond what we can even tell in the public yet, and I think it could be even several more months before it’s unraveled completely, but I think that people would be surprised about how much of a difference a handwriting analyst makes.
VICKI: It’s amazing. I, honestly, when I first…well, the case that I met Peggy on, she was on my list…
VICKI: …and she seemed like a nice lady and I was looking at obtaining a handwriting analyst and thinking, “Hmm, smoke and mirrors, but whatever.” (Laughs)
TODD: Yeah, I did too.
VICKI: And this case, well, we ended up filming this case. It was remarkable because she said, “Oh, well, there’s handwriting, let me get in on this,” and I thought, “Well, what can it hurt?” Oh, my gosh! She absolutely took the whole thing over and cracked it and upside-down the other; I was amazed. I was totally amazed. I mean, everybody worked real hard on that, and there was a lot of contribution, but she was the case-cracker on that particular case.
TODD: If anybody other than you had brought me a handwriting analyst, I wouldn’t have given them…and I shouldn’t be this way, actually, like you said, smoke and mirrors, I would have thought, “Oh, palm reader,” you know, anything, anything but what this person really was, but you know, I thought, “Vicki wouldn’t have sent her if this wasn’t something real.” And I looked, it’s a real science, we did an entire program over it with Missing Pieces; it is a true, valid science.
VICKI: It’s true, and we have more than one handwriting analyst on the list and they’re really good; I couldn’t believe it.
TODD: Well, the thing is, she and I will probably end up going to court with this one particular case. One, because I thought, “They’ll never buy it if I bring this to law enforcement. They’ll never do it.” So we actually kind of did them ourselves and since I commissioned it, my name is on the document so if it ever comes to fruition on that particular case, she and I will be in court, I’m sure. On the good side, not on the bad side, but we’ve got a lot of explaining to do as to why we took the course of action that we did, but you know, proved that it was a hunch and it worked, and it was true.
VICKI: Well, I’ve worked several cases since then with her and I can’t think of an instant where she wasn’t extremely helpful. She’s just been wonderful. And I have to apologize to the handwriting analysts to the world, because I was thinking, “Hmm…” you know?
VICKI: But, wow! You know, even just some of the people, some of the other ladies on the list, for instance, have sent her in copies of some little handwritten note, just blindly, she doesn’t even necessarily know who she is doing it from, and it doesn’t matter what they wrote, what words they used particularly. And she’s even able to find things like physical ailments.
TODD: She did me.
VICKI: One of the ladies, she said, “Oh, you have a sore on your left arm that’s not healing,” or something like that, and she was like, “Whoa!” you know. But this happens a lot with her; she spots these things quite often.
TODD: Well, she predicted…and I don’t care to say it, I don’t have a lot private in my life anymore, but she predicted a stomach ailment off a private reading that we had and you know what, she didn’t name the particular stomach ailment, but I’ve been having problems with my stomach, and at the time, I hadn’t. It could be because I’m 38, you know, things are changing, but she did say something and you know she explained it to me in a way where it wasn’t just like some strange voodoo, there were some true science, and she showed me the true science behind it, in a condensed form basically, but I saw the validity. She didn’t have to prove it to me, but just that one time, and I got it.
VICKI: Yeah. It’s pretty remarkable. I’m not going to say that it’s 100%, but it’s every bit as accurate as anything else any other investigator does.
TODD: You know, what is 100% accurate?
TODD: Nothing. There’s nothing.
VICKI: Todd’s 100%.
TODD: Just our love, as always. And you know, Vicki and I both have very, very, very difficult lives now. Before the show, we had our little whine session, where we complained about all the things that thwart our plans during the day; but we do, we do have a very, very difficult life that we have to live where we’re juggling a lot of things, and needless to say, we’ve lit the candle at both ends and in the middle.
TODD: And it’s good to have somebody to complain to at times. Usually my email goes out at 1 o’clock in the morning, and she picks it up later in the day, and by the time she reads it, I’m trying to catch a nap and we’re just passing, you know, we’re on opposite ends of the country on different coasts. So, where are you located exactly, your business?
VICKI: I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.
TODD: You’re business, where is it actually located in California?
VICKI: I’m in La Crescenta, California, which is basically Los Angeles, Glendale.
VICKI: And we cover pretty much, well, depending what it is, of course, between me and my gals, we cover anything on the planet, but just as far as my Siedow & Associates business, it’s mainly Southern California and I have a bunch of guys who do the surveillance and all the usual suspects. We do that. I like the surveillance. I like locating people. I do a lot of work with fraud, elder abuse, and nursing home abuse, quite a lot of different things. I’m a little eclectic, but when I get something that captures my attention, you know I make it a study and I make sure I get to be good at it. So the things that I can do, I do pretty well, and the things that I don’t do, I’m not an ego-driven particularly, so I just tell the people, “Well, I’m not the best at this, but I happen to know who is and so we’ll get them to do that if you don’t mind,” you know.
TODD: And that’s the way it works, I mean, and you play with the boys on this too, so the boys can play with you in the business world, right?
VICKI: Well, yes.
VICKI: Absolutely, in the business world, and actually, even with F.L.I.P., we do have some sort of auxiliary members, you would be one of them actually, really, because there are, you know, a few of these ladies’ husbands or certain guys that have helped us out and so forth, and so they’re not on the F.L.I.P. because we have a rule about that, and this particular group is run rather as a democracy. We take a vote, “Okay, does anybody mind having guys on the list?” They go, “No, we like guys, but we just want to be alone here. We’ve got to have some spot that’s our own,” so we don’t let them on the list, and the girls have promised not to share the email address that uses the list, with their husbands or whatever, and that sort of thing. But, other than that, we actually do find that we work cases with them and it works out just fine.
TODD: So, just estrogen only for F.L.I.P., but the rest of the time, everybody can play.
TODD: Well, we actually had some luck; we batted some things, and I want to tell everybody, I’m not a private investigator, but there are times that I might have a resource that can help somebody like Vicki, and vice versa. Usually, I’m going to somebody like Vicki for help, because she does have the expertise and I have very little time to waste if I’m trying to find something and I know what I’m looking for, but having a hard time picking it out, you know there’s an expert like Vicki and like Peggy Walla, in particular; I keep mentioning her because I know her. I actually added her to Project EDAN, and Project EDAN is the forensic art project that I have…
TODD: …and it’s not only forensic art, there are professionals there, and you know, she had a particular craft, which was the handwriting analyst, so she’s actually become somebody that we can possibly lend out to law enforcement, and most law enforcement are like, “Hmm,” and I think they really see it as a palm reader, so we put all of her honors and titles behind it, and I think actually, they see FBI have offered some validity to it, obviously there is something there.
VICKI: It’s actually…once they…sometimes she’ll just do a little, you know, sample of one of the officer’s handwriting…
VICKI: …and in fact, on one case that we worked together, that you will see on TV soon, she…this isn’t part of what you see, but she actually…after the skeptical law enforcement officers ended up solving the case based largely on a lot of her work…
VICKI: …they actually were trying to hire her to screen all the applicants for law enforcement positions for that particular jurisdiction.
TODD: Well, I’m hoping that’s the result, when you peddle somebody, like you’re peddling you guys, but on the Internet, well, if they did this and this and this for me, well you think, “Well, you possibly could hire them to do their craft if you have that type of budget,” but you know, there are some non-profit gifts that you give back to the community and hopefully they’ll help actually, because we’ve all got to eat, you know. We’ve all got to have lives and we’ve all got to eat, and if there’s a budget for that type of thing, people like you should be hired to do those things if at all possible.
VICKI: Yeah, I think we just…you know one message I really have that I think is important, and I think you…I haven’t even discussed this with you, but I think that you and I kind of embody that whole thing too, as much as anyone does; I think that the new wave of things with law enforcement and government, is that they…it used to be that law enforcement, you know, cops didn’t like P.I.s, and that was it.
VICKI: They didn’t want to work with us and they wanted us to butt out, and I’m finding this new wave is much more open and they’re much more Internet-savvy, and the truth of the whole thing is that there are a lot of things law enforcement can do that we can’t do, but there are a lot of things that we can do as private citizens and private investigators that they can’t do. When we work together with them, then we fill each other’s gaps and it’s just remarkable; we close cases. And the cops, some of them don’t want to do it at first, you know, but when they find out, “Wow, I can actually clear this case,” and I don’t care if they take credit for it; nobody cares whether I got credit or not.
TODD: It gets it off their desk.
TODD: Because, one thing that we don’t have to deal with, is the jurisdictional boundaries. We don’t have these jurisdictional boundaries, and hoot, what are they going to do, fire us?
VICKI: Well, there’s that.
TODD: Okay. Go ahead.
VICKI: But there are certain privacy laws and things that, you know there are laws that protect people from unreasonable search and seizure and so forth by the police, I’m not going to, obviously, unreasonable search and seize, but I’ve got a lot more latitude about what I can say and do, and yet, I have to make sure that I am still private citizen and I don’t exceed, you know, my authority, and I don’t go running around, like on TV, P.I.s do go running around shooting people and stuff, and I don’t go pick their locks and ransack their apartments while they’re away or anything, but there are a lot of things that we can do that the law enforcement don’t do quite the same way. And I’m finding a lot of the Internet databases even, many of them either don’t have them or aren’t as familiar and proficient with the whole invisible web; they don’t have the time. They’re out there, you know, I may have…I may complain that I’ve gotten all these cases open here, but I’ve talked to officers, especially with the identity theft guys, my God, they have hundreds of cases open at any given moment, they don’t have time to do what we do, you know. And so, if we can give them a little leg-up and say, “Okay, here I happened to figure out where this lady lives,” then that gives them the little extra help so that they can actually clear a case and have a win once in a while, you know.
TODD: Well, a lot of what we do is like discreet observation, just a little thing that they don’t really have time to sit down and try to do. I’ve been called an amateur for like 20 years now and I’ve seen people that are amateurs have success after success after success. You know, we don’t have the P.I. license, but I’ve been calling them ‘technology criminologists,’ ‘techni-criminologists,’ you know you’ve got to have something, you know. It’s almost like genealogy, you know you don’t have to go to school to be a genealogist, but some people just have a knack for it, and some people have a searching knack to match things up or to be just another micro-profession, I guess.
VICKI: Well, and it’s interesting because, you know, again, I’m going to get labeled sexist here, but I find that a lot of women have a lot of attention to detail that is very helpful in that sort of thing.
VICKI: And I know when you and I met, you know, doing the Doe Network and Cold Case stuff, I was completely blown away by those civilian women…
VICKI: …who could sit there and do those matches, for days on end, and I would look at those people, going, “Okay, is this unidentified really this missing person?” I would be going, “What are you talking about? What about the ears?” I couldn’t…
TODD: Oh yeah.
VICKI: …have the eye for that.
TODD: Well, sometimes they go way out there and you kind of have to reel them in and say, “That’s not really realistic,” you know. I’ve had people tell me, “It has to be her because I get cold chills when I see this,” and I thought, “I don’t really think that’ll buy us any merit with law enforcement if we tell them that, ‘Well, it has to be.’”
VICKI: Well, it probably won’t, but I will tell you, when I worked on the Wynn case, and I went…I looked at that and I went, I know exactly how to do this, and I began it, and within just a couple of hours, I found the family, and when that screen loaded and I saw those people there…
VICKI: …oh boy, did I get chills, you know.
TODD: Oh yeah, and you know it, and there’s a validity to the chill thing, you know. We actually worked on that case and that’s the first time we really, really truly got together and you’ll see more about this Wynn case; I’ll tell you a little bit more about it in just a minute, but we really…you know we were passing things back and forth, and I made a phone call for you; you didn’t really need me to make the phone call for you, you had the connection, but the people were in the right place and the right time to perform these functions and it worked.
TODD: And we did get an answer with the Wynn case and, hopefully, when are they going to get to watch a little more detail about the Wynn case?
VICKI: Well, actually, this Wednesday night at 10 p.m. on ‘Women’s Entertainment Network.’ Actually, I think it’s 10 p.m., Pacific and Eastern time, and 9 p.m. in the Central…you better check the listings because all these different cable and satellite companies do their own thing. But on ‘Women’s Entertainment’ on Wednesday evening, they’re going to have a premier of a new program that is based on the F.L.I.P. group. And I’m pretty excited about because, even though I knew the stories to these cases, and I ran these cases, and I knew everything, and I worked on the show forever, when I watched that, I mean, boy, it was like I’d never seen it before, I could hardly wait to see what happened next. It’s a pretty good show; I’m really excited.
TODD: Well, it’s funny when you watch something that you’ve been part of the filming, and then when you see the whole thing put together that was originally just in your mind, you know it’s strange to see that, but it’s Wednesday, August 6th, at 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central. I’m seeing a couple of other airdates on this website that you sent me, so I’m hoping that there’s going to be some kind of repeat of it fairly quickly.
VICKI: Yeah, there will be.
TODD: “The premier episode follows the team through this case that leads to its formation. The telltale t-shirt resolves the mysterious murder of a woman in Baltimore, Maryland.” And you’re going to see the rest of that story there. This also crossed over into the Doe Network a little bit and you helped us out with that. It was sort of a co-partnership with that, and hey, it worked out. It involves a Jane Doe and a t-shirt that reveals the whole story.
TODD: But that’s still unsolved, though, is it not, still?
VICKI: You know, it is. And it is unsolved, as far as who did the murder. They found the body, and I think it was 5 or 6 years…
VICKI: …that she was an unidentified, and there was…during the whole evolution, I believe it was…who was it? I believe it was Bobby (Robert Lingoes) and one of the ladies, they started putting together a database of people who wore prosthesis…
VICKI: …or had tattoos, or things like that that would be easily identified, and during the process of doing that, one of the ladies who is in the show, actually, she submitted this one case to Bobby because the woman was found wearing a t-shirt that was really distinctive, and Sheree (Greenwood) was a silk-screener herself, and so she recognized that this was some limited-edition thing and it might lead us to the proper person. So, she turned it over to Bobby, and Bobby called me and said, “Well, I’ve tried all these cop tricks to figure out who these people are and it’s not coming up with anything, and maybe you’ve got something,” and so that’s kind of where the story takes up. It was…you know Bobby and I had…he’s a great guy, and he and I have worked many things back and forth over the years and periodically I’ll get a call from him going, “Hey, you know, we need help with something,” generally for a cold case, and either I or one of my gals will hop in and give it a little nudge, get it moving again, and then he’s off to the races.
TODD: And that, sometimes, is all it takes; just a little thinking outside-the-box. And not to dis law enforcement, they do a great job, and most of the time, they take care of everything they need to take care of, it’s that small quantity that goes into cold cases that we do see and it seems like the big cloud that looms. But they do need help from time to time, and they often reach out to the public, usually for just a tip, but then sometimes there are people that can give you just a little more than just a tip; they’re seeing something like Sheree saw something special about that shirt and the way it was silk-screened, and it gave her a little insight and she was able to suggest possibilities that is kind of like a domino effect.
TODD: You got a little more data and that was able to help you nudge it a little bit more; it is, it’s like somebody putting together a jigsaw puzzle with partners.
VICKI: Yes. It really is, and every little teeny bit, and it was funny, when we went to film, so many of the people who participated were…their attitude was, “Well, why do you need me? I only did a little bit.” And I go, “That was a missing piece.”
TODD: Just a little bit.
VICKI: So every little teeny thing, they didn’t think it was anything, some of them, you know? And yet, when they saw the actual final product, they were like, “Whoa, that was an exciting case! I really didn’t know.”
TODD: Yeah, because they didn’t know. A lot of times, you know when I’m picking information from certain people, they only have to need to know information just for a certain part, and then when they actually see when the whole thing is laid out, they had no idea that it was such an ominous snake that we were piecing together.
VICKI: Yeah. Well, that’s part of it. I know like for instance on the Wynn case, you know, Sheree found the shirt, and Bobby fiddled with it, ran it through DMV and so forth and then he called me, and I did my little thing. And the way that this TV show ended up coming about, was that you actually introduced me to the producer and she wanted someone to do one particular case…
VICKI: …and it was the Wynn case that she thought sounded really intriguing and I said, “Well, I’ll meet with you but I think it’s a pretty boring case.”
TODD: I remember you telling me that; you thought it was boring, but I thought, “You know, I don’t think it’s so boring.”
VICKI: My little part was only two hours maybe, it’s me just sitting at my desk, and I said, “There’s no TV in that.” And so we went out to lunch and talked, and while we were talking, I happened to mention that I have this F.L.I.P. group and…
TODD: And that was it.
VICKI: …and that’s where it took off, and we ended up using the case that I thought was boring, and Donna was right. I have to tell you, I had no idea what a fascinating case this was until we starting trying to pull it all together for the research. Because, after I discovered who the woman was, I called you because you were the person who was used to contacting family members and you knew how to deal with them in a very caring way. And I thought, you know, you have all this experience with it, and it really wasn’t exactly a Doe Network case, but it was all Doe Network members…
VICKI: …and so I thought, “Oh well, let’s just do it this way; give it to Todd,” and then, from then on, I never heard another word until we had a positive match.
TODD: Yeah, I mean, it’s sort of like, you do your thing and then you move along, and a lot of people think it all happens at once, and you know, a lot of producers, when I first talked to Donna Kanter, when I first heard from her, I think she was expected something that would happen a lot more quickly, and you know, I was dragging each little thing up, and I know I confused her by showing her a piece of this and a piece of that, but she did hone in on this particular case and she found some interesting…I didn’t know what to do with her…
TODD: …other than just, maybe, because I…you’re there in LA…
VICKI: Well, I’m here in LA, yeah, exactly.
TODD: …so I figured you could deal with her a lot better than I could. (Laughs)
VICKI: Well, it worked out pretty well, I guess, and you know you’ve got your things going on that are pretty good and important and wonderful, and this has been really fun for us and I hope we get to do some more shows because we have a lot of interesting stories to tell.
TODD: Well, you do. You do, and hopefully you’ll let me be an honorary F.L.I.P. chick sometime…
VICKI: Well, heck, yeah!
TODD: …on you little television show.
VICKI: Oh, you know, you already are, it’s just we haven’t made the shirts up yet.
TODD: I ain’t got my ponytail yet; I’ve have to get my ponytail.
VICKI: I think you’re going to be coming out to visit us here pretty soon?
TODD: Yeah, I’ve got a couple projects I’m working on that are starting to blossom a little bit. If it doesn’t kill me, it should help make me better, but I’m thinking right now, and you know, because like I said, we’ve had private conversations, it’s been…there are no weekends anymore. Everything, every catastrophe that happens to your family during the week, there’s no time to deal with it and you cram it all into the weekend, so I began to dread the weekends, because it’s horrible. You know, you try to think, “Oh, I’ll do that this weekend,” but can’t do it this weekend because the weekend is already ate.
VICKI: Yeah, and honestly, it affects so much with what we do, especially, you know, like I say, I’m a single Mom, I’m self-employed, I’m trying to support my family, and I’m trying to work hundreds of hours of pro bono cases, cold cases…
VICKI: …and so forth, and then you know, somebody wants one little thing…
VICKI: …you know, “What do you mean, you want me to feed you?”
TODD: Yeah. Well, we had a heck of a time today when we were trying…we failed like three times over the weekend, because I had to go off on a tangent this weekend, but today, and I know you had your hands full, but we made time to do it, and I’m glad we did. I think this is how it should have worked out. These telephone interviews/conversations take place when the universe decides it’s time, and I don’t try to fight it anymore, I did try to find a schedule, and when the time is right, we have a wonderful conversation, like we had today, everything comes together the way it should and I found that that’s the best way to work it. Let God work it out, and it works out just fine, and I think we had a good phone call.
VICKI: I think we did, and I just want to validate you for everything that you’ve done. It’s been a total adventure for you. I know you enjoy it and I know you burn yourself out, but you’ve done an incredible job with Doe Network, with EDAN, with so many things, with your Discovery project, with your other little projects that are turning big, and even, like I said, the ladies that did the concentration with the faces for hours, I couldn’t do it…
VICKI: …and all of the law officers that have been kind enough or insightful enough to see a possibility that, “Wow, we can do more, working together,” I mean, I think that all of the group, my gals on the group, they’re just so selfless. They pitch in like you wouldn’t believe. Whenever a call goes out on the group and somebody says, “Hey, we’ve got a missing kid,’ immediately, there’s a dozen or so people that go, “Okay, I’m near there, and I’m here,” and they form a little group off to the side and they work the case together.
VICKI: And it’s like, everybody is willing, even though nobody has any more energy or time, each little bit, like we were talking about, I spent a couple of hours discovering who Brenda (Wynn) was…
VICKI: …but that makes a huge difference down the road with every bit that you did, and that Bobby did, and that every single person…there are the law officers and so forth, and now the family at least knows, you know, it adds up to some much if people can just do this little bit. You know I’m so proud of my gals because most of them have, you know, some of the girls that are in the show…Lori Wilkins in Georgia, she teaches RAD kids classes, which is ‘Rape and Aggression Defense,’ she teaches kids self defense so that they’ve prevented quite a number of stranger-abductions based on this training, so she trains kids on that, in her ‘spare time’…
TODD: Oh, there is none of that, not really, it’s your compassion.
VICKI: …you know, she’s a Mom and so forth. And Tina Elkins is out there in Georgia too, and she’s a really good surveillance operative too, and whenever she doesn’t have another surveillance job, she goes out in her car and she finds a registered sex offender, and she does a little surveillance on him…
TODD: Just to check.
VICKI: …to make sure…yeah.
TODD: Takes their temperature.
VICKI: Just make sure that they’re behaving themselves, and if they aren’t, she does a little film, takes it into the police department and says, “Here, you might want to talk to this guy,” you know?
TODD: Well, she might be an interesting lady to interview for a future show.
VICKI: She’s fabulous, and you probably have interviewed Peggy, I would imagine?
TODD: Oh, yeah. Yeah…twice. We had to, there was just no way to work out the situation, without having to go ahead and do it, but you know, I never really paid a lot of attention. You know I did to each of them as far as documented, and when I talked to Donna, because she talked a number of times, we talked about the Baltimore case, the Wynn case, and she would ask me very specific questions about a certain date, and who we talked to, at what time, and what they said, and I didn’t remember. And I know she thought I was crazy, but I didn’t remember.
VICKI: No, I know.
TODD: We had a heck of a time digging that information out for her, you know, you and I were digging through emails that were a hundred years old, things that we didn’t think to document, but you know, what I learned from that, I do better at documenting now, because now I know that somebody might ask that question. And that’s how I develop as media director at Doe Network, I try to help tweak the tools on the Doe Network to match what the media was asking me; like the chronological and geographical databases, we tweaked them and created them because somebody will say, “Well, how many cases are in Indiana?” Well, I didn’t know and I was trying to go back there and count them, and I thought, “Wait a minute…I have a better idea. How ‘bout we do this?” And, you know, that’s how this show has developed, your show, F.L.I.P. Mysteries, this is how it came together, and it did become interesting when a lot of people were involved in it.
VICKI: Yeah, it really does, and it really…you know people think that being a P.I. is so exciting and glamorous, and it’s really just like police work; it’s mostly just drudgery, it really is. And, you know, people come up to me all the time when they find out what I do, and they go, “Oh gosh, I’ve always wanted to do that,” or “I always thought I’d be great at that,” or “People keep telling me I’d just be the best P.I.” and I hear that from literally three-fourths of the people I talk to, especially the women. And I’m saying that they’re not all right, but I don’t think that they all realize that my behind is glued to this chair, 20 hours a day.
TODD: Oh, they have no idea. A lot of times, they…look, I go to school, I do a lot of school lectures, and they tell me what they want to do. You know, first I say, “Who watches CSI?” and I get all these hands that go up and they say, “That’s what we want to do,” and I say, “Now, the very blunt reality of it is this,” and I start telling them about it and I say, “Now, I don’t want to discourage you from it, but I don’t want you to go and put your whole life-goal toward it and realize, ‘Uh oh, this is not what I want to do.’”
VICKI: Yeah. And any job you have, if you it’s something you love and you can excel at it and you have fun at it, but don’t believe everything you see on television.
TODD: No, and hopefully, with what I’m working on, we can actually change that a little bit, because flashy cars and big budgets and science-fiction resolution, it’s going to be changed, it’s something I’ve been trying to work on with Dick Wolf. There’s not a lot I can say about it right now, but we did get a green light on a project and hopefully we can show you the gritty reality of how these things really take place and that the good guys don’t always win. Good always will win in the end, and it might be the very end, but you know the good guys don’t always win that shootout, you know, not always.
VICKI: Yes, and I’m looking very much forward to your project. I think we…most of our projects have that in common; I think we present things in a very real light, and it’s not reality TV, it’s a little more sophisticated. I don’t want to say bad things about reality TV, but I think it’s a little more dignified; it’s very professional, but you know, we’re real people, and I think, from what I understand about what you’re going to do, it’s going to be a really exciting show.
TODD: It’s scripted. It’s scripted, but I’m going to be there, and I’ve set various forms and fashions, I’m not allowed to exactly say where and what I’ll be doing there, in front of or behind a scene, but I’ll be there to help keep it real.
TODD: And I’m as real as it gets. And I think that when people watch you and then me with this, there ain’t nobody going to want to be us. (Laughs)
VICKI: Yeah, exactly. Because I know that that’s one thing that Donna…Donna has been very good about getting my vision, and you know, we worked it out to where it’s really something I’m proud of and I feel good about, because my ideas, my most important ideas were that I wanted to show us are we really, really are, and so, while we’re working this case and the clock’s running, we happen to help our kids dye their Easter eggs while we’re on the phone trying to figure out who the bad guy is. (Laughs)
TODD: Ain’t that the truth. I cooked spaghetti while I was doing this interview, you know, that’s what happens, because you have things that you have to do.
VICKI: And that’s what we all have to do because we’re all multi-tasking like crazy, so I think we actually capture that in this program, because it actually shows us as the real people we are and, you know, we’re all pretty much middle-aged ladies, and nothing fancy. Don’t expect ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ believe me.
TODD: Well, it’s the reality of it, you know, you’re not going to do this in high heels, that’s just the truth.
VICKI: Although, if the show is picked up on Sirius, we’re thinking about cosmetic surgery. (Laughs)
TODD: I’ve had a tuck, but it was for a medical reason, but I had to have a tuck, but it looks pretty smooth on one side. I have Bell’s Palsy and had to have basically an eye lift, to put everything back to where it’s supposed to be so, yeah, it’s not that bad.
TODD: You’ll work on it; we’ll work on it.
VICKI: Yeah, we’ll work on it when we’re rich and famous. But just I wanted people to understand what this is like, both of our shows, I think, are very much more real, and I think that that’s an important thing, and I think that people can see that every little bit that they do does help, and that we are all real people, and that just because you’re a single Mom or whatever, doesn’t mean that you can’t do something that will help and will make a difference in someone’s life. A really big difference, when you add it up with all the other people just doing a little bit. And with the police willing to work with us, we can add these little teeny helpers to that, and that will make it easier for them to clear these absolutely, deadly, huge caseloads that most of them have, you know. They don’t have the time and resources to do it as well as they would like to, or as quickly as they would like to, without a little bit of…you know, a little nudge from the public. It’s kind of my ‘attaboy’ thank you for being out there and working as hard as you do as a cop all the time, so that I can sit here at my computer safely and do my thing, and if I can give you a little help-up once in a while…
TODD: Yeah, that’s what we should do, you know. We owe that to our society if we want it to be safer, but now, both of these shows took years to develop, literally.
VICKI: That’s true.
TODD: Literally, and I don’t think that people realize that this just wasn’t swung together, this took ‘hurry up and wait;’ giving up; it ain’t going to work; it is going to work; no it ain’t; yes it is; no it’s not; we’ve been through it. We’ve been through it.
VICKI: Isn’t that the truth? Yes.
TODD: Four years ago, I met you this has all transpired in the meantime.
VICKI: Has it been? I thought it was much longer than that.
TODD: 2004. It was in 2004.
VICKI: I thought I knew you forever.
TODD: Well, we’d known each other, but when we first met it was in LA.
VICKI: Oh, when we physically met?
VICKI: Yeah, okay. I thought, “Wait a minute…”
TODD: Yeah, it was long before then. I think we were working on about 8 years.
VICKI: And, you know, that’s the funny thing, is that most of my best friends are people who I’ve never met…
VICKI: …or just met once.
TODD: And you know them better; you know their voice on the phone when you pick it up, and it’s just…most of my friends are far away from here.
VICKI: Yeah, it’s really interesting. I mean, what a world it is now where we can create worldwide effects, you know, with all the cheap phone rates and the Internet and all this, we can all work together around the whole planet. It’s just really exciting, I mean, if you take a look at the possibilities, it’s pretty limitless.
TODD: Well, and I think, the only downside, I think, of this from law enforcement is, some of them have so embraced the volunteers, that they embrace the wrong ones too, I’m afraid, that constitutes some bad encounters. I, in particular, if you Google around, you can see that Todd has a stalker, Todd has somebody that tries to cause him a lot of problems; I won’t say her name, but I’ve had a lot of…it’s one of the reasons why I’m no longer have this show live, because we had somebody that liked to call and call and call and call, and you finally have to just stop, you know. And it’s just like crazy stuff and destructive and mindless things, and I don’t know what they even want. I don’t know why…why they would even try to cause so much problems. I don’t know if they’re needing the attention that bad…I don’t know.
VICKI: We can’t help everybody, and you know, and unfortunately we have to triage, just like they do in a medical emergency, you know, if you’ve ever done SERT training, you know you have to go, okay, you think you can actually help this one, but you don’t have time and resources to help absolutely everything. We’re working on one case now that is, I really think we’re getting close to getting where we need to be with it, but it’s going to be huge news and the thing that’s taking so terribly long, and could end up stopping it, is just funding and energy, you know, because we’re doing it pro bono, and every time we do something, all of us have to pass the hat to make the expenses.
TODD: Yeah. Well, it’s easier to give time than it is when you’re actually trying to invest more money, and a lot of times, it’s the money that we really don’t have.
VICKI: Yeah. Well, I’m actually in the process of setting up a non-profit, that’s going to hopefully help with that, and when that happens, I’ll let you know more about it, because we’re setting up a source of funding, hopefully, for people who need a little bit of help with cold cases and things. And also, when we help the police, you know, we’re doing that for free and even just to cover our out-of-pocket would be real nice.
TODD: Yeah, just to eliminate that, you know, cover phones, and luckily we’re got these neat phone plans now where you get unlimited packages where you can actually have long conversations like this one, and it works out. I’m in a rural area so I don’t get to take advantage of these unlimited plans too easily and Broadband Internet, you know, I’m just now getting to where I can get Broadband Internet.
TODD: It was DSL, now I’ve got true Broadband, and it takes to get into a rural area. I remember the first show, I was on dial-up; I don’t think I could go do that again.
VICKI: Oh, no, no. Nobody can. It’s insane.
TODD: There’s no way I would do it.
VICKI: It’s like taking a wagon train across the country these days.
TODD: But a lot of us, you know, found our place on that wagon train.
TODD: We really did. We really did. So, as technology grows, unfortunately the crazy people grow with the their technology so, you know, you take it as you get it.
VICKI: Yeah. It’s really hard even for somebody like me, and I know sometimes I’m really impatient with people that I probably shouldn’t be because, you know, it’s like one more person who is, you know, they’ll hound you, like you say, and sometimes the things they want, they’re just a little bit not with it completely, and you can’t help them, and yet, how do you tell them? And what do you do? And I get tired and impatient with that.
TODD: Well, usually the help that they want is…what they’re asking for and what they need are two different things.
VICKI: Yeah. Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m saying.
TODD: And I get people that will email me; they’ll see things that this person does and it’s pretty obvious from the language and the way it’s written, you know that something is wrong with that person, so…and they’re like, “What is it with this person?” And I say, “Just read it. I don’t know what to tell you; just read it and just go with it.” There’s…I can’t explain it, it doesn’t make any sense, and usually it just ends up hurting that person more, because, in their effort to try to hurt somebody else with their mindless ramble, it’s actually pushing people away. I mean it’s showing exactly what they are. Why would anybody talk like that, you know? I don’t know.
VICKI: Well, I can hear your frustration and I think there’s another good reason for you to come on out and hang out with us here and all of us movie stars…
TODD: Well, you can’t get away from people like that though; they’re cyber-based. The best thing I can do is just basically, this is the most attention I’ve showed that person in a long time, you know, I don’t answer emails, I don’t reply back to anything, I just like let it go; it’s the best way to take away the fuel. But, you know, I have people that keep on telling me, “Do you know this?” and it’s like, “Yeah, I know.” I do know that person is out there and I’m ignoring them. I don’t know if they’re dangerous or not, but you know, I kind of let them go, but this is to let everybody know, I do know that that person is out there and I’m not real concerned with it. I’m annoyed at times, but…
VICKI: I hope I didn’t stir anything up here. I don’t want you to get all this stuff going again.
TODD: Oh no, it won’t. It just takes the tiniest little thing anyway, so it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, but you know, hey, we vent during these conversations. So, I think we’ve had a good one.
VICKI: I think so.
TODD: And I hope everybody watches your show, Wednesday, and I’m sure it’ll be re-run, and we’ll put the re-run dates on the page for this episode of Missing Pieces, as we know it, and Vicki, I’m sure she’ll keep in contact with me by email and let me know when things change. A full transcript of this show will be available, so hopefully, it’ll help.
VICKI: I hope so. I hope we can all keep helping, and it’s adding up.
TODD: It is. And I’ve been looking forward to doing this one with you for a long time. I’ve been wanting to do a show with you, it’s just the reason that had to come about to do it, and this is it.
VICKI: Well, I’m glad we did it and I’m looking forward to seeing you. And thank you for all you do, I know you’re spreading it pretty thin, but you’re covering a lot of territory for a lot of people and I appreciate it.
TODD: Well, I think we all are, I think, and you’ve done a lot for me.
VICKI: Thank you.
TODD: So, much love to you in LA, and hopefully I’ll see you soon.
VICKI: All right, sweetie.
TODD: All right. Goodnight everybody.
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