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(Introduction to show begins)

TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host):  This is Missing Pieces.  I’m Todd Matthews and tonight we have Jan Smolinski.  Hello, Jan. 

JANICE SMOLINSKI (Guest):  Hi ,Todd.  How are you doing?

TODD:  I’m doing really good.  I actually got to meet Jan last month, in August, in Baltimore, and her husband, Bill.  It was great to finally meet you guys.

JANICE:  Oh, it was nice meeting you, Todd, too.  It’s been what…a couple years since we’ve been talking…

TODD:  Yeah.

JANICE:   …through email and on the phone?

TODD:  At least.

JANICE:  And finally meeting in person, it was nice.

TODD:  Yeah, it was.  It seemed like we had such a short time.  We were there for a DNA conference of sorts but we had time to catch up, and it seemed like we really had time to talk about a lot of things.  I think everybody knows that you’re the mother of missing Billy Smolinski.

JANICE:  Right.

TODD:  And according to your website, he’s been missing for 1,490 days, 17 hours, 13 minutes, and 8 seconds.

JANICE:  Right.  Yes.  And we are making headway in the case though, and I think, soon, we will be finding him.

TODD:  You think so?

JANICE:  Yeah, well, according to the authorities, they’re getting close, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed and hopefully we’re going to bring him home.

TODD:  Wow, after all this time.

JANICE:  Yeah, well, they had a big dig for him about a month ago and they dug about 150 feet by 150 feet, 8 to 12 feet deep, and four back hoes, and local, state, and federal authorities were digging for him.  We were able to stand over and watch for a couple hours and see exactly what they were doing.  Just recently, this past Friday, they searched a house, and they had a warrant to search a house, and I don’t know exactly what they retrieved, if anything, but it looks pretty promising that I think that they’re getting pretty close and we may be able to bring his remains home soon.

TODD:  Wow, that’s a lot to deal with.

JANICE:  Yes, it’s…you know it’s…I only hope that for other missing persons’ families who feel their missing loved one is a homicide, we need to get answers.

TODD:  Now, we taped our first conversation more than a year ago.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  A lot has happened in that period of time.


TODD:  Now, you’ve got a quilt, and I got to see the quilt.  Tell me, what inspired you to create this quilt?  Tell me a little bit about the quilt.

JANICE:  Well, through the University of Northern Texas, I was asked to be keynote speaker in Fort Worth, Texas, and then in Baltimore, Maryland.   I felt that if I was going to speak in front of coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement, that there had to something more powerful than just to talk about the missing and unsolved homicides.  So I had one of my friends come over to the house one day and I was discussing it with her and I told her that I needed something besides asking people to donate t-shirts or…just something different.  So, she said, “Did you ever see the AIDS quilt?”  And when she said ‘quilt,’ that was it, a star was born, and I just started expanding from it, and I thought, “You know, what a way to get the faces out,” so I’m asking everyone if they want to put their missing loved one or unsolved homicide onto this quilt; it’s a 10-inch square.  And that way, coroners, medical examiners, law enforcement, and persons of authority may see this and they would  put a face to a missing person or an unsolved homicide, and it worked, you know, they were hanging there…you saw them, Todd.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  And during the intermission time, they would look at these faces and I think it kind of touched home to them and to give them the ability to go back to their department and take it seriously.

TODD:  It was.  It was amazing to see and the quilt is in more than one piece right now.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  You had it hanging in different sections and you’ve got quite high hopes for this quilt, you know.  Where do you want to see this quilt end up?

JANICE:  I’d like to see this quilt end up in Washington, DC.  It’s huge, just like the AIDS, and it can be done.  I have…well, right now, I have two women working on them and we have a larger quilt and two smaller ones, and there’s another one in the making right now, and that will be going to Denver, Colorado with my husband and myself.  We’re going up and I’ll be speaking in front of families in Colorado, Denver, of unsolved homicides, and families of missing persons, and they’ll get to see these faces also.  And I would really have liked to have some Colorado people on there, but I don’t, as of yet.

TODD:  Oh, I think you will.  When are you going to Colorado?

JANICE:  We’ll be going on October 3rd, and this meeting will be on October 4th, so it’s not too far.

TODD:  Well, you’ve offered me a spot on the quilt for the Tent Girl.


TODD:  I got my material.  I bought it in Kentucky.  I’ve got a special pattern that I like because it looks like the ‘60s, you know, from the Tent Girl.  Now, I’ve got a pretty good size piece of cloth here.  Now, where would I start?  What do I need to do first?

JANICE:  Well, there will have to be a 10-inch square…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  …and within the 10 inches, you use 9 inches to work on.  The extra inch, to make 10 inches, will be used to be sewn into the quilt.  So, within that 9 inches, a face of the person would be great and then you would put essential information in there…when the person went missing, or if it’s an unsolved homicide, you know, when they were deceased.  Let’s see…what else?  How old they were, what state they’re from…city and state.  Let’s see…what else?

TODD:  Do they have a website for that person that could be added.

JANICE:  Absolutely.  A website, yes.  And the age, I think I said that.  Also, maybe a little message to them would be nice.  I have the quilt here, on the quilt I have, let’s see, I’m looking at it right now, and I have Reza Jou, his 19-year-old, pre-med student daughter (Donna Jou) went missing at San Diego State University on June 23rd, 2007, and his little message to her was, “My lovely Donna, my grief, rage and searching continues.  If it takes my entire life, so be it.  I will hold on until I take my last breath.  With my love, yours always, your Dad, Reza.”  And, you know, it’s really touching when people look at these little messages, and it’s special.

TODD:  Now, it looks like most of these people use an iron-on type transfer.

JANICE:  Right.

TODD:  And that seems to be pretty easy to do and you can design this on the Internet and actually print out on a regular printer with some iron-on transfers that you can get at Wal-Mart and it’s pretty easy to do.  I’ve got a little help; we’ve got a mutual friend in the St Louis area, Ra’Vae Edwards, and she’s helping me out with the Tent Girl’s patch design to put on this and I can’t wait to get it added to it

JANICE:  I can’t wait to see the Tent Girl on there also.  There’s one little thing about the iron-on transfers…they’re great, and I have some iron-on transfers, the only thing is, in time, they peel.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  But, I mean, they’re acceptable and I’m very careful with these quilts to make sure that they’re taken care of, so I’m trying not to let them peel.  There are also quilt pieces that are made…actually, the best scenario would be if the person was missing or an unsolved homicide, if you could get a piece of clothing from that person and cut your 10-inch square out.  Like, I’m looking at one now from Grace and Gracie , and they have material from them, and they put on a doily and little roses and they have a picture of Grace and Gracie, and they have Jericho, Vermont, June 6th, 1978.  And it says on the bottom, “What happened to Grace and Gracie?” and that’s kind of a little special touch that they put on it for them.  Let’s see what else…the ‘Boy in the Box’ is here.  We have Stephen Lankester Cox, November 18th, 2004, and his Mom is Sherry from Georgia, and she put her extra special touches on his and I think his was taken from a t-shirt.  (Missing Pieces – Episode 68)

TODD:  Some of these are quite elaborate, I saw, you know, they really put a lot of time in it, but you don’t have to be an artist.

JANICE:  No.  No, exactly.  You know you don’t have to put…whatever you feel, it’s just to get their faces out there and their information.  Every single one is unique and the iron-on transfers are fine, you know.  Whatever, it’s just another way.

TODD:  Well, you know, we talked about when I saw the quilt, first thing I thought about was, “Wow, if this was on line,” because you and I have actually talked about the possibility of a virtual quilt because the quilt is going to be so huge.  It’s just like a world map, you can scroll across the whole world, but you can’t get a map the size of the world.  But online, you can scroll across, square by square, the entire planet, and I’m hoping that maybe we can help you do something like that where there’ll actually be a virtual version of this quilt.

JANICE:  Hey, Todd, that would be great.

TODD:  And that’s not easy, but we’ll do it.  We’ll figure out a way to do it.

JANICE:  Yeah, it’s got to be done.  You know the person that’s working with the website right now and John Murray, and if you could explain it to them and get things going there, that will be great.  I think people are afraid because they, you know they just don’t know what to do and it’s very easy.  And I was just talking to Vicki Barnard, and her son Ahren went missing, (Missing Pieces – Episode 42), and she was very nervous about making hers, but she did a great job, and it’s really not that hard.  And you know, with mine for Billy, I actually got one of his shirts and I cut a 10-inch square out of it, and what I did with mine was, because I was kind of lazy, I went  to an embroidery and printing shop and I made a template of what I really wanted on there and he put the picture of Billy and he embroidered the information that I asked him to embroider and he gave me a special discount because of, you know, what has happened to Billy.  So I think, maybe, if someone wanted to go that route and they just explained to the person that was making the piece, what had happened to their loved one, they wouldn’t charge a real lot.

TODD:  I think, maybe, more people made it a more complicated process than what it really was and you know, I was thinking more, these really look good and I was thinking it was beyond my ability to create one, but it’s really not.  And I’m sure anybody can actually go to your website and email you if they had a specific question or a problem that something wasn’t working out.

JANICE:  Oh, absolutely.  If they want to email me, all you do is go through or my regular email address is and that will get to me.  I’ll walk them through the process or I’ll send them the instructions.

TODD:  So, hopefully, everybody heard it here and we’ll post your instructions on this interview so that people can see it and we can get the ball rolling sooner.  And I’m thinking, for a virtual quilt, if anybody…to save an extra step, if anybody that hears this and actually wants to participate, when you make your quilt square and before we mail it to you, of course, in the instructions on your website, if you could scan it.  If you could actually take a regular flatbed scanner and actually scan it, that would probably be a huge time-saving step in the process of creating a virtual quilt.  So, hopefully, people can do that

JANICE:  That would be great, yeah.  And we can get this up and running and, you know, with this Quilt of Hope, you know it’s not just my project.  If anyone wants to take this project on themselves also, go for it.  You know we could connect them and Washington, DC, you know, I’m not hogging it.  I just feel that it’s a worthwhile cause and I think that it’s just another way of getting things out there.  I know the AIDS quilt really made a difference, so this is the quilt for the missing.

TODD:  I can definitely see people coming together in different areas of the country and pulling together their own huge piece of this extremely big quilt and bringing things together.

JANICE:  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

TODD:  That would be neat.

JANICE:  I would really foresee that and there are so many missing persons and unsolved homicides in this country, there are enough people around and there are enough to put on this quilt to make an enormous statement down in Washington, DC, and I’m hoping that maybe within a couple of years, we could have it done.

TODD:  Now, during these past two lectures that you’ve just completed, you know the one in Baltimore and the one in Texas, you’ve had an opportunity to reach out to some people in law enforcement, have you learned some things during this?

JANICE:  Have I learned some things?  What do you mean?

TODD:  Well, during the process, you know, when you were actually reaching out to law enforcement and explaining your situation and how you feel, did you bring anything back out of that?

JANICE:  As far as their reaction?

TODD:  Yeah.

JANICE:  Oh, I would say so, yeah.  I think the authorities that were at both conferences were actually, I think we were talking to the wrong people.  They were there caring ones that really wanted to learn and so their attention span was there and I’m hoping that maybe they’ll go home and they’ll talk to other people in their departments and spread the word, and I think it can be done.  And I think…you were there, Todd, didn’t you feel that there was an enthusiasm?

TODD:  Oh, absolutely.  There was compassion, understanding, enthusiasm, but there were also people expressing the lack of tools or knowledge of certain subject matter…communication, you know, and I think that all those areas are being worked on, and you know just the process of bringing everybody together.  People have new contacts.  I’m definitely talking to at least a dozen new people through this, and you know I’m getting stuff back from them, so there are a lot of connections.  In a way, we’re making another quilt, a quilt of people, in a way, by making all of these connections.

JANICE:  You are really right, and I know it.  You know, when we were in Baltimore, I was in the computer room, and one of the detectives came in and sat by his computer and he was talking on his phone to his department and he said that he had to get DNA from this certain person and send it into the lab and he said, “Also, when I come home, I have a lot of things to tell you that I learned at this conference.”  So, he was enthusiastic and I think that it’s just going to spiral from there.  And, you know, maybe someday, we’ll bring our missing people home and in the future, people won’t have to go through what our families are going through now.

TODD:  You know, I’ve wondered why certain law enforcement agencies didn’t do this or didn’t do that, but while I was there in Baltimore, I saw people discover, “I didn’t know I could do that,” or “I didn’t know that was possible.  I want to do that too,” you know, when they were talking about their cases and I was really glad that, but it also lets me know that we have a lot of work to do telling people about these resources, and that’s what we do.  You and I, we’ve spent a great part of our lives doing that and it seems like I don’t think we can over-saturate the public and law enforcement with this data.

JANICE:  I really feel the same way too, and anyone that’s willing to listen, I know it’s a subject that people don’t want to hear, but it’s a subject that they really need to hear, and that we’re not a CSI society and, you know, that it’s a simple procedure.  You know, with the new NamUs project that’s coming out, and just take the simple mouth swabs that the law enforcement can take and send it into the labs, we could have matches and some families not have to go through this horrible nightmare every day.

TODD:  You know, I was afraid that we were…and this is quite literal, I thought maybe we were beating a dead horse telling everybody the same stuff over and over and over and over, but you know, I’ve discovered we’re not; we need to keep beating, we need to keep saying the same things over and over because you have to repeat it time and time again.  People are still hearing, people are still learning, every day.

JANICE:  You’re always reaching out to a new person, and also sometimes it takes two or three times to hear the same thing.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  You know, these are new programs, and even, I know this myself, when I heard about the NamUs program, or when I heard about the DNA Database, and CODIS, and mouth swabs, and you know I did have to try to sit down and ingest it.  It takes time, but it is new technology and it will work.

TODD:  Well, you know, the unidentified side of NamUs has been up since 2007, July officially, and the missing persons going from the data database to the final database, probably in December of this year; that’s the goal that we have, but there are still a lot of connections to be made, but by December of this year, so many people like you should be able to go on to the computer and enter your missing loved ones into the final system.  And that’s going to be a very huge step, I think, of empowering the people to help themselves.

JANICE:  It really is.  And do you think that the first part of the NamUs program, with the law enforcement entering the information, is that basically like an NCIC?  Like information that would be entered into NCIC?

TODD:  Yeah, a lot of it, but beyond.  It’s actually…NamUs is a little beyond NCIC.  You know it encapsulates that and more.  One of the disappointing things I’m seeing, and it’s a learning process for coroners and medical examiners too, with the unidentified that have been put into the system, you know, I know they have the skull, because I’ve seen a reconstruction, but I’m seeing the dental data not being entered into the slot, and that needs to be there.  I’ve seen descriptions of clothing and articles found with the remains, that I’m seeing on websites, official state police websites, but they’re not putting in this detail into the NamUs system, and we’re hoping to encourage that to be as detailed as possible.  But it’s going to take a lot of work, it’s going to take a lot of maintenance; it’s not going to be something we can throw out there and it’s going to be the cure to end everything.  It’s going to be something that needs a huge amount of maintenance.

JANICE:  Well, that’s right, and right now it’s not mandated, right?  It’s just up to every individual?

TODD:  Yeah.  Currently, right now, it’s not a mandate, but you know, I’m seeing more states going more in that direction to force issues, but you know, when the people are empowered to enter their own missing persons, that might be better than a mandate because you’re able to go in there and then law enforcement have to respond somehow when it goes in to validate your son is missing, “Here’s all the information, I entered it myself,” because it’s going to go in their mailbox to actually validate.  What would be the excuse not to validate it when it’s actually one of their case files?  So, you’re getting to do part of their work for them, you know, part of the footwork, and nobody can stop you from doing that.  You will be allowed to do that, but they have to validate it and put it online.  So, sometimes law enforcement complains about not enough manpower and resources, well we’re giving them the opportunity to let you do part of it, but they’ve still got to check your work.

JANICE:  And you know what?  That’s great, both ways.  It helps law enforcement and it also helps missing persons’ families and unsolved homicides’ families because you know you have to do something; you have to be involved, and this is a great way to be involved and I think it will make us all feel better.

TODD:  It will.  You know, the first responsibility will be with the family, at that point, to try to put it into this database and it’s never too late, you know, so if it’s something that’s not discovered until down the road, then it’ll be a resource, you know.  I know people, at first, thought it could replace volunteer efforts like Doe Network, but it’s not intended to.  You know I’m a member of Doe Network, as well, and it’s not intended to replace the Doe Network, it’s intended to put clean data out there so that the organizations like Doe Network can have good clean data to work with, have a good clean source to report information or findings back to.  So I’m doing everything I can to make a good relationship between Doe Network and NamUs, I get to work with both, so the more connections I can make to help get good data back and forth, the better.

JANICE:  Absolutely.

TODD:  So, we’re going to make it work, or kill myself doing it.  I mean, it’s going to happen.  We’ve got to make it happen and I’m really confident.

JANICE:  Oh, it’s going to happen.  That’s right.  And with faith, I always say, “With faith, it always happens.”  You know it’s moving along pretty good there.

TODD:  I know I’ve got someone committed to it.  I know now.  You know, I met some of the people in the Justice Department, fairly high-ranking officials, and I have no doubt now, if I ever had a doubt, I no longer have a doubt that they are committed to making this work.  I think it was just a matter, before, of, “Is it possible?”  And now they know it is possible.  We’re doing it.

JANICE:  Boy, is that encouraging, or what?  That’s great.

TODD:  Well, we have the technology.  You know, at one time, it was more of a dream than technologically possible, but now, it is technologically possible and we have plenty of hands, lots of enthusiasm on the part of families to actually get their data in there, and this way, you know there are families that say, “Well, nobody will helps us.”  And I can say, “Well, the first stop is with you.  You can put this data in there.”

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  And that empowers the people.

JANICE:  It really does empower the people, and no matter how many years these people’s families a missing loved one has been missing, they always have hope.   You know, knowing that the DNA is in and the information is in the proper database, they may get an answer some day.  And I know they’ve gone every day thinking about their missing loved one and wondering where they are.  I’m there all the time and mine is only 4 years.  I just spoke with somebody this afternoon whose Dad has been missing for 34 years; I can’t even imagine that.

TODD:  I know but, at one time, "Mine is only 4 years.”  Doesn’t it feel strange to hear yourself say that?

JANICE:  Oh, absolutely.

TODD:  “Only 4 years.”

JANICE:  I’m so glad we can’t foresee the future, because if I knew what has had to have taken place these 4 years to get to the point that we are now, it’s every day, hard work.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  And, you know, it shouldn’t be that way.

TODD:  Yeah, if you knew in the future what you were going to have to do, and how far along you would get, and how much work it takes to get that far along, you know it can be quite overwhelming.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  So, you’re right.  It’s good not to see the future.

JANICE:  No, it’s not, right.  But, you know, I think, like we were saying, with the technology, and we’re educating…so many people throughout the country are educating law enforcement, coroners, and medical examiners, and I think they’re going to catch on, little by little.  And, like Bill Hagmaier from Virginia had mentioned to me, because at one time I said to him, “Everything’s at snail’s pace,” and he said to me, “No, Jan, it’s not at a snail’s pace, it’s at a gracious speed,” so…

TODD:  Well, that’s a good way of looking at it.

JANICE:  (Laughs)

TODD:  Emily Craig, Medical Examiner in Kentucky, she always says, “Baby steps.  Baby steps.”  Because lots of times, I’d say things like, “Why can’t we do this?” and she said, “Well, maybe one day, we can.  But you’re not going to be able to force anybody to do that, it’ll take time.”

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  And, you know, I’ve seen it happen now.

JANICE:  Yeah.  And you know, it is moving forward, like we said, slowly, but as long as it moves forward and not backwards, it’s going to work.

TODD:  The past couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of changes, so fingers crossed, and like you say, with faith and hope, it’ll work.

JANICE:  Well, you’ve been working at this for what…30 years?  No, 20 years.

TODD:  Twenty…I’m not that old.

JANICE:  I know you’re not.  Sorry.

TODD:  That would put me at 8 years old, but it’s been 20 years, but that’s the technology of it.  You met me in person, I’m not that old.

JANICE:  So, you’ve been working at this for 20 years.

TODD:  Yeah.

JANICE:  That’s a long time.

TODD:  And I’m encouraged now to see what I’ve seen in the past 2 years, equals maybe a decade of another period of this 20 years, so I know, I know what I’m seeing is advancement, and it’s picking up, it’s picking up at such a fast rate now, I see real hope and real change finally.

JANICE:  Finally.  And I really feel that it’s probably the Internet that had a lot to do with it.

TODD:  Yeah, the communication.  Everything revolves around the communications.  Every job that I do, and I work with a lot of different things, even outside this world, everything takes me right back to an email.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  And it’s that ability to instantly communicate with somebody on the other side of the planet that has changed everything.  More than actually the web itself, it’s the ability for us to exchange information at such a rapid speed.

JANICE:  Oh, that’s amazing.

TODD:  You know, without the Internet, I would probably never even know who you were.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  I’d never know you had a missing son.

JANICE:  No.  And so this forces law enforcement and coroners and medical examiners to react to these reports differently, because at one time, the reports that I’m hearing is they had the remark, “No body, no case,” they didn’t have the Internet, so everything kept so quiet, but now, people are talking and they’re pretty much forced in a corner where they really need to learn about this.

TODD:  Well, and you know, time will change too, you know, the next generation is going in while the last generation is going out, they’re going to bring technology with them that’s commonplace today.  You know, I’ve got a 7-year-old that’s very, very, very familiar with the…he’s where I was 6 or 7 years ago at the computer, he’s already there, so it’s being bred into this now, this email and Internet culture, so this ability to communicate is coming forward and it will change.  I know there are going to be huge changes.

JANICE:  Boy, that sounds good.  That’s music to my ears.

TODD:  At last.

JANICE:  Yeah.

TODD:  And I hope it’s going to make personal changes.  You know it’s going to make changes across the board for the cause as a whole, but I’m seeing people that I know personally, like you, and so many others, that I’m hoping for them on the personal level, because you do know them and you’ve grown to care about them, and you want to see them receive a personal level of revelation.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  You know, I want you to get what you’re looking for, as much as I want the cause as a whole to change.

JANICE:  Exactly.  You know, it becomes like family.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  You know, well I know you feel the same way, that you always have this on the back of your mind, “What can I do next to try to reach out?” and it’s the same with me.  I know the law enforcement are handling Billy’s case very well and they don’t want me to really interfere with their business, and I’m not going to, but I need to reach out to others, as you do, and many others in this country, and to do that, I think it’s rewarding.

TODD:  Well, you’ve hooked up with the right crowd now.  I know at first you didn’t exactly hit it off on a good note with law enforcement, when you were first becoming a part of this world, but now, big difference between a person that was actually…you were actually arrested.

JANICE:  Yeah, I was arrested.  Yeah, criminal charges.

TODD:  And now, you’re speaking to some of our government’s leaders.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  Big change.

JANICE:  Yeah.

TODD:  Big change.

JANICE:  Right, and you know, it’s amazing to see what’s happening, but you know I think the law enforcement…I really don’t know what happened…in dealing with two law enforcements who just didn’t know about the national database and filling out NCIC numbers properly and doing their work the way it should be.  The other one arresting me was, I’d say, a little bit of corruption, but…

TODD:  But, you know, that needed to happen, I think.  I think it needed to happen to make things be able to go…sometimes you have to get to the bottom before you can bounce back, and I think that was a statement…

JANICE:  Exactly.

TODD:  …when you got arrested.

JANICE:  Uh-huh.  Yes, it really was.  And, you know, with journalists jumping on board and helping find out that one of those charges was false, and the state attorney just throwing the charges out.  You know, I mean, how could you be arrested with criminal charges or trespassing, first degree, for hanging a flyer of your son?  You know, you just can’t do that and put it aside; what they wanted to do was scare us, but you know you can’t scare someone when you’re looking for your loved one.

TODD:   I think that one of those blessings in disguise was that…when that happened to you.

JANICE:  Right.

TODD:  It might not have felt like it at the time, but you know, He works in mysterious ways…


TODD:   …and I think that it gave you an opportunity.

JANICE:  Oh, it really did.  And to meet so many fantastic people out there, you know, in a strange way, I’m grateful.  Now, I want to bring Billy home, and I miss him, and it’s sad on that end, but on the other end, to see so many caring people, and dedicated people, it’s just…um…what’s a word that you could call it?  Just…bittersweet?

TODD:  Yeah.  That’s a good one, because it was.  I know it didn’t feel good at the time, but it opened a lot of eyes.

JANICE:  It has opened a lot of eyes and I hope I said that in the right way because, you know, the first couple of years was…you know there was a time where…and I know a lot of people could associate with this, when Billy first went missing, I could not walk into a mall.  It took me from August until…September, October, November, several months, right before Christmas, I sat in the parking lot looking inside; I couldn’t get out of the car.  I could not go into the mall and go shopping, because I felt it was a luxury…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

JANICE:  …and I didn’t deserve a luxury, I had to find my son.  But then I knew I had two grandchildren and I had to get them Christmas presents so finally I did get out of the car and force myself then, and little by little, you have to take those baby steps.

TODD:  Well, you have to live.  You still have to live your life.

JANICE:  Yes, you do, but you know, it’s hard.  I think everyone has to deal with it in their own way, but yet they have other family members they have to take care of and to focus on, and I think maybe that’s where they should go.  Like I have my daughter, I have my grandchildren, I have my husband, and my son-in-law, and then friends and family, you know, extended, and you also have to pay attention to them.   They don’t want to lose you.  They’ve lost another family member, either the missing or unsolved homicide, and they don’t want to lose another one.

TODD:  If anybody wants to go back and listen to the previous episode, we’ll put a link here in the transcript so that people can go back and see the difference between Jan then, and Jan now, and it’s a big difference.  It’s a different situation and I think I’m seeing a more positive Jan now, even though you weren’t negative, but I hear so much more hope in your voice now.

JANICE:  Oh, there really is, because you can see the difference, and I always end everything ‘always hope,’ and there is always hope.  And I don’t want anyone to…I know there are really bad days, but then the next day, look forward.  You know there’s always something you can hold onto and grab that.  And there are authorities out there that will listen to you, and if you get one that doesn’t listen, go to another one, you’ll find one.

TODD:  Keep going.  Keep going.

JANICE:  Just keep on going, right.  And, you know, when we wanted to hang flyers of Billy in the correctional institutions in Connecticut, and the first person we went to…we have a jail in our town, and I asked the woman if we could put a flyer in, and she said to me, “There’s no room on the wall.”  No room on the walls?  You know, that’s ridiculous.  So, what we did was, we laminated some flyers and we went up to the Deputy of Corrections in Connecticut, now that’s almost right to the top, and we made an appointment and sat down and talked with him, and we reasoned with him, and he understood and he hung the flyers in the correctional institutions and probation office, and that’s where some of tips are coming from.

TODD:  Ideal spot, and there was room, right?

JANICE:  I’m sorry?

TODD:  There was room.

JANICE:  Oh, there was absolutely room, yes, there was.

TODD:  Hmm.

JANICE:  If people, if they would just take a few minutes, you know, and do that kind of work, it makes a world of difference.

TODD:  Well, I’m looking for an update from you after October 3rd, when you go to Denver, and hopefully we’ll do another quick one with you here and get an update and see how things have changed from that.  I know they’re going to, and we can end this one with, ‘always hope.’

JANICE:  Always hope.  Thank you, Todd.

TODD:  Thank you and you take care.

JANICE:  You too, Todd.  Take care.  Bye-bye.

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Guest: Janice Smolinski
Mother of missing William (Billy) Smolinski, Jr.
September 23, 2008
Always Hope
Please View Episode 19 For More Information On This Case.
Special Thanks to
for transcribing this episode!