(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): (Introduction to show begins)
ERIC MEADOWS (WCAN Co-host): Good evening one and all. You are joining us again for another episode of Missing Pieces hosted by Todd Matthews and myself, Eric Meadows. We want to thank everybody for tuning in, you know we had one of our past guests that came on earlier, Holly from one of the other shows, and we want to thank her for calling. Tonight I want to bring Todd onto the line…Todd, how are you?
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I’m doing good, Eric, and you?
ERIC: I’m going wonderful. I’ll tell you what, I’m in really good spirits. What are we going to talk about tonight?
TODD: I think everything; how about that? We can do a review and maybe take some calls from some of our former guests or whoever has a question, but we’ve had a lot of episodes and we’ve got a lot of things upcoming, and I kind of saw an opportunity and I thought we could kind of review and update. You know some of the updates are not really enough to do an entire hour on so I thought it would be a good idea to maybe just look through some of the past shows and some of the future shows.
ERIC: Can we talk about you also?
TODD: If you like.
ERIC: For our listeners who would like to get involved with tonight’s show, the phone number that you can use is 1-866-921-2205. There are no emails; there is nobody that is going to be manning the machine upstairs so we’re just going to deal with the phone calls. Go ahead, Todd.
TODD: Okay, well you know we have a production meeting weekly, where you and I talk and some of our phone calls were getting so interesting, and sometimes they go over an hour, so I thought we could record this and it just looked like such a good opportunity to do it. Well, I guess we can kind of start and kind of weave our way through it. You know our first show was with Patty Beeken with ‘4 The Kids’ and I’ve been involved with ‘4 The Kids’ for a while now and I’ve not really got to talk with those guys a lot lately, there has been so much going on in my life, trying to put a lot of things together and the year is running out. It’s really difficult so I just try to support them publicly as much as possible, but it was a good show and they are continuing to make a lot of progress. They’ve had a meeting where a lot of the people from different parts of the country actually got together in Omaha, Nebraska, that’s where they’re based out of, and it went really well. Episode 2, it was the Killer Nashville Literary Conference, and I know that episode almost seemed out of place, at first, but Clay Stafford is really a good guy and he’s kind of a mentor in a way. I’d noticed that he is a public speaker and I learned a lot from him, and we did have the conference, and this was before the conference when we actually did the show. We did do the conference and it was a great success and a lot of law enforcement was there; a lot of people that can contribute to writers and influence and make things more realistic, use more realism and even real cases in their non-fiction content. I think it was really good. I made a lot of good contacts and people that I can actually call on now.
ERIC: Well that’s great.
TODD: So that really helped out.
ERIC: Let me ask you something; does law enforcement take anything away from that? Do they improve their techniques? Is it something that enhances them?
TODD: Oh, I think so. We exchanged a lot of ideas. I had a lot of them ask questions, “Well, what about this?” and “What about that?” I think it’s their way of maybe embracing technology a little more than in the past. I think they’re curious. I met a very nice sheriff of a nearby county and he was just a wonderful man I think that he is going to be somebody that I can call on, you know, just meeting him there at that conference, I know that I can call him and say, “You know, I’d really like to have your help on this.” You know he showed such respect, you know he showed me as much respect as I was showing him in his position, as he was me in mine own position.
ERIC: Todd, we have a caller already.
TODD: Oh, good.
ERIC: Go ahead caller. How are you?
CALLER: Hi, Todd. Hi, Eric.
TODD: Hello, Holly, I know that voice. You’re busy today.
CALLER / HOLLY: Pardon me?
TODD: I said you’ve been a busy lady today.
CALLER / HOLLY: I have been. I’m making more work for you.
TODD: Yeah, I have a feeling.
CALLER / HOLLY: I just wanted to mention some of the shows that you have done, and without interrupting your train of thought, did you want to just finish what you were going to say?
TODD: Oh, no, go ahead. If you’ve got an idea, I’m just a train that’s rambling.
CALLER / HOLLY: Aw, you never ramble, Todd.
TODD: Well, we’re just finding our way as we go, so we’re wildcarding it tonight, so if you’ve got something that you want to add or ask, that would be great.
CALLER / HOLLY: I think that all the shows have been really fantastic and very interesting, and I think for people to know where everyone has been at and what’s developed, is a great way. I think having that input gives them some idea of how much your hard work and the show’s hard work has made a difference in their lives, and what projects may be coming forward and different things like that. And you know one project that I’m very excited about is to see the national hotline come to Canada.
TODD: Yeah, and that’s going to happen, you know, and that’s great. We wanted that to happen so much and maybe we helped in some way, I don’t know, but we’ve done a lot of brainstorming, even on the air that night. [Notice from Missing Pieces: This particular show is no longer available.]
CALLER / HOLLY: Yes, we sure did, and the next day, with some calling, it was especially nice to speak with some people with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and they’re very excited about the project and I think once everything is submitted to them that we’ll be on a roll to be able to get some more information to them and how we’ll be able to develop it, even if we put it as a trial project within one of the provinces and see it develop from there. Because it’s a project that will be long-term, but of course the interest will be there and I think that being able to bring that interest forth will be extremely crucial.
TODD: Well, it will grow; like everything, it will grow.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yes.
TODD: You know I think it has to find its own way to grow and for the time being, we could just route the calls directly to you. And you know what? I was joking by saying that but I know you could do it. You definitely could do something like that. I think you could definitely help people on a one-on-one basis; there’s not enough of you to do it, but you’re already doing it, in some many ways, you’re already doing it.
CALLER / HOLLY: I get more through emails, but I’m usually easier on the phone.
TODD: Well, email is a great way to communicate because you can respond when you have the train of thought to sit down and do that. I talked to Eric last night and we talked about budgeting time, so many times I’m on the phone with somebody and I will completely do another task. I was talking to Kim Bruklis today, she’s our program manager, and I actually got out of my office at my day job, went and picked up lunch, came back and completely unpacked everything and she had no idea that this was even going on, and often I do that, you know, there are other tasks going on. I like the radio show because I’m actually sat down because I have to be still and quiet.
CALLER / HOLLY: Exactly. And as I had mentioned, the idea of doing a 24-hour radio marathon would be really great.
TODD: We would all go to sleep…no, I wouldn’t, I don’t sleep very often.
CALLER / HOLLY: Well, we’d work in hours…
CALLER / HOLLY: …and we’d develop something on that level where we’d be bringing more awareness and profiling some cases that really are coming to the forefront, such as when you had Wayne Leng on with the Pickton case (Episode 7), and just giving people more updates and information and keeping them informed.
TODD: Yeah, it’s definitely a good idea. I think we should do that at some point in time, have a long marathon, even if it’s not a 24-hour, even some type of extended format at some point in time and I know that’s something that we can put into our production meetings and talk about. I don’t know how feasible it is but I’m sure we can create some form of that. What do you think, Eric?
ERIC: You know something? I think something like this really would work. First, let me say to Holly, you put a grin on the pastor’s face, he kind of whispered to me, “See, it’s you, it’s Todd, and it’s Holly.”
TODD: We could do it from there, I mean, we can stay on the phone a lot, we’ve managed to stay on the phone a lot with Holly.
ERIC: You know something though? On a more serious note, as far as doing a marathon show, I think it’s something that would be really good if we can actually incorporate a lot of different people from a lot of different areas across the country…
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: …and including Canada, so it means that it’s something that we’re really going to have to work at to prepare, you know, to make it work.
TODD: Well, we’ll have to schedule shifts; I think we could do it though. I’d like to do it actually, you know, and actually be physically in the same location with you.
ERIC: That’s what we were talking about, Todd, is getting you guys up here and everybody pull a shift…
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: …during that particular day, to keep this marathon going, but you would be doing it live from the WCAN Studio.
TODD: Oh, I think that’s very possible. I’d love to do that.
ERIC: I think it would be wonderful.
CALLER / HOLLY: So we’re going to bring you in, Todd.
TODD: So that’s in the think-pot, Holly.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, that’s in the think-pot. And what I’ve heard and the emails that I’ve received have been nothing but positive so I thought that that would be a really nice Thanksgiving for you to know that your hard work is definitely paying off.
TODD: Well, it’s great, I mean to see people actually see a type of healing take place I think it’s just amazing. And there are dark days, I’m telling you, there are days that I wake up and think that nothing’s going to work and by the end of the day, after I start hearing from people, I think, “Ah, it’s all going to work out. It’s all going to work out again,” but there are ups and downs with a lot of this type work. Very sad days sometimes; sometimes you go to bed with tears in your eyes and there’s just nothing you can do about it.
CALLER / HOLLY: Well, that’s so true, Todd, and I think that when you are trying to find and get answers for loved ones and people who have faced such a horrific experience, they may not always have the answers for them, but I think if they know in their heart and can sort of understand that you’re doing your best and you’re trying, and it’s more than they’ve had before and they’re being validated and that there is some hope for them. And I think with that hope they can flourish, because maybe they might not find the answers to their case but they might decide to help someone else with their situation.
TODD: That’s the idea. I mean the care and attention is a lot.
CALLER / HOLLY: Obviously it’s grown and the awareness is much more different than it was 16, or even 15 years ago, let alone 5 years ago, so the education is always going to be ongoing and I think that the awareness and the education is sort of part of that role that you play. And your knowledge base is tremendous and you’ve always brought guests on that have a fairly good knowledge base too, so I think on that level, you’re going to see things go and the dark days will always sort of be there because of some cases that just are so horrific and you can’t believe that people would actually commit such horrific crimes, but they do and I think we just have to move on to realize that the more we bring awareness, we have a better chance to get those people caught and found and off the streets and somewhat treated, if they can be.
TODD: You know, sometimes you’re just sitting and trying to wrap your mind around the inhumanity that you’ve just observed, it’s just mind-numbing; it’s just incredible. You can’t even begin to take it in. I try to, and I don’t want to do this, but sometimes it creeps into your mind and you think, “Now what if that was my son? What if that was my younger son?” and you think it just short-circuits you. How could they possibly survive this, after this horrific event happens? I have such a respect for the people that still continue even after they’ve endured something like that.
CALLER / HOLLY: Well, I think too, it takes many special people in their lives to help them and go forward, and it’s that choice, again, to go forward in honor of their loved ones and in honor of what they’re trying to achieve and do. Because, at a grassroots level, it can be a very split and divided forum, but at the same time, when everybody networks together, miracles do happen.
TODD: Oh, it’s good to have friends scattered out across the globe, you know, you can never have too many of them.
CALLER / HOLLY: There are miracles, Todd, and I think sometimes you forget the miracles that you’ve witnessed. There have been several miracles but I think you just have to reflect on times back and remember the miracles that you’ve witnessed.
TODD: Well, that’s part of what tonight was about too, to try to really re-think them, because looking back at them, you think, “Wow, something really special happened that night, and they deserve a second talk, a second think.” But I’m hoping that I’ll get to meet you in person really soon. I won’t give the details to that, but I’m hoping that there’s going to be something that’s going to bring us to the same point and place in time in the near future; I’m really anxious to meet you and I’m looking very forward to the possibility.
ERIC: Holly, two questions, while we’ve got you on the air. Can you give our listeners your website?
CALLER / HOLLY: Sure, it’s Holly’s Fight For Justice; you just go to: http://fightforjustice.blogspot.com and hopefully it will become an official website soon. But it’s basically my story, which was featured in ‘Reader’s Digest’ and some of the pictures have been in ‘America’s Most Wanted’. So you just basically type in my name, Holly Desimone, and it kind of comes up in the search engine.
TODD: In the Google, especially.
ERIC: So I just type in Holly Desimone?
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, and it will come up or you can type in Holly’s Fight For Justice, and it will come up, because ‘Reader’s Digest’ is nationally online and they’re remarkable people so with that link, it goes directly to my site anyway.
TODD: And our former show with Holly is on Missing Pieces.info [Not available at this time.] We have part of it transcribed, but we do have a lot of the links to a lot of her information so you can directly find it there, so that’s no problem. There’s a lot of information there but we’ve got a lot of stuff to transcribe too.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, I have to start working on that too, getting all that…
TODD: You’re drafted. Okay? You’re drafted.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, we have to craft that piece of art, and of course, what’s your second question, Eric?
ERIC: My second question is what will it take to get this national hotline started? I mean, if you could make it happen with the right ingredients, what are some of those ingredients? I mean, right know we know that it has to reach a government level because it has to have that kind of funding, what is it going to take to make the government in Canada take a look at doing this and finding it as a viable tool?
CALLER / HOLLY: Well, definitely the model that RAINN has is very successful, and them being one of the top 100 charities and their credibility will stand quite well with Canadian politicians and I think that once some of the proposals and ideas of what I had for the national hotline with Scott Berkowitz (president and founder of RAINN), because I had the chance to speak to him and I’ve still got to develop all of that plan and email it off to him. It will have the support of the Canadian Resource Center For Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan (Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime) and everyone at his office, Kristen, Jenny, and they’re more than thrilled to possibly work with Scott and help develop it on that level. So I think we’ve got a starting point so once we get to that level, there will be some meetings and deciding who is interested, and this will be more into the new year because the holiday season because, of course, when we get closer to the holiday season, government shuts down so it’s a bit harder to do.
CALLER / HOLLY: And then because they have always had an interest in coming to Canada, it will be a bit more easier from the sponsor level, with the online support that they have, to possibly decide how they would want to implement it too, and they’ll have some input any say because they’re the developers of the major national hotline that’s been so successful in the United States and has helped so many survivors of child abuse and sex crimes, so I think their hard work and some of the people up here, and our hard work will see it successfully done. It might take a couple years but I’d rather see it formed very well and developed nationally and it will last, and at the same time, we’ll be able to make sure that it stays.
TODD: I think it will.
CALLER / HOLLY: Oh, definitely, I think it will, and I think if it was something that was rushed, Eric, and Todd, it wouldn’t be as successful and it’s a way, again, to hit the rural communities where there are not resources always available immediately in the middle of the night. It’s a way to reach out to some people who may not have thought they had help; it gives them some hope and I think that that would help in the other areas and possibility help solve crimes. I mean, the other part of that was the DNA database, which we had mentioned and I think it’s extremely important to see that we have national legislation for the DNA databank. And, also, I did a similar post, that in the United States and Canada, the police associations and police will start sharing more information, so I think this will help solve some of the crimes, possibly where they could have come to Canada or maybe someone’s gone down to the United States; so if the information sharing can be networked across the border then I think some of these crimes that Todd’s been working on, and some of these families, might have a chance to see their cases solved. We’re seeing more and more in the news lately a lot of cases, even 20 years old, being solved from DNA.
ERIC: You know something, possibly doing this marathon and making folks more aware of not just Missing Pieces, but also of the efforts of Todd Matthews and Missing Pieces and other organizations that are doing what he’s doing, you know that have actually pooled their resources and try to communicate and get folks to become more aware of what’s happening. Maybe this all-night marathon, if we can pull this off, is going to be the thing that really makes a lot of folks sit up and take notice. This is not just a flash in the night, a flash in the pan type thing that we’re thinking about, but it’s something that we really do need to consider doing. My concern is, are we going to be able to find the manpower that’s going to be able to help us advertise? I mean, word of mouth or via the Internet or other organizations willing to put links to help us to advertise such an event.
TODD: That, you’ll have no problem with.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, that’s what I say on that one. I think when people hear about it, they’re going to be so excited. I think that that really will be very easy to get advertisement.
TODD: Especially if you give it a 2-month leadway.
CALLER / HOLLY: They will be more than willing to do it. And maybe even some of those people will take part.
CALLER / HOLLY: I think that Todd, he definitely has networked with a lot of these organizations so I think he would obviously know too, but I know just through the networking in Canada, I think it could be done. I mean, it would be like sending out an Amber Alert.
TODD: Oh yeah, there’s no problem getting the people, especially with a couple of months leadway.
ERIC: Uh huh.
TODD: It will be so embedded in the blogs and in the news searches, it would be incredible; it would be no problem.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, I definitely...yeah, I agree with you there, Todd.
TODD: So we need to have one of these talk session nights, at least once a quarter, I think.
CALLER / HOLLY: (Laughs)
TODD: Yeah, because I think it’s going to be productive, you know I just have a good feeling about it. I thought, “This is going to be good. It’s time.” We’ve got a lot to review and a lot to think about and a lot of brainstorming to do, and this has been a perfect opportunity to do so.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you so much for having me as a guest and I surely hope that you guys will be able to do it and I’m more than willing to help in any way, and I know a lot of other people that email me will be so ready, and we’ll get the word going.
TODD: We’ll definitely get…and I’m hoping to see you soon, Holly, I’m really hoping to do that, and my favorite color is blue when you’re thinking of Christmas gifts. Okay?
CALLER / HOLLY: Okay.
TODD: I’m just teasing you. Hope to see you over Christmas; that will be present enough.
CALLER / HOLLY: Yeah, just seeing everybody will be really nice. So as long as I don’t bring snow with me, and -40 degree weather, I think I’ll be happy.
TODD: You just leave that there. (Laughs)
CALLER / HOLLY: (Also laughs) Okay, well you all take care and have a wonderful evening and thank you so much for the call.
TODD: Thank you. Goodnight.
ERIC: Thanks for coming on, Holly.
CALLER / HOLLY: You’re welcome.
CALLER / HOLLY: Bye-bye.
ERIC: Okay, Todd.
TODD: She’s a tornado, isn’t she?
ERIC: She’s definitely part of the family.
TODD: Oh, wow, yeah. And we’ve got so many others. There’s…I stay in constant, daily contact with Jill Bennett (Episode 3), too. I have for years and she’s making a lot of progress and she goes through a lot of ups and downs, frustrations; she goes to court with a lot of these people’s families and organizes these vigils. She really has her hands full and I feel sorry for her at times but her heart is really in it, so she’s coming along and I definitely want to try to get her back on here at some point in time.
ERIC: Give us a brief review on what happened with Jill Bennett.
TODD: Okay. Now, you know, she always creates these candlelight vigils to help remember like, Find Carrie Culberson, and links are on the website too, you know, people that have gone missing, to keep them back in the public eye. It’s something to keep the family uplifted and supported and feeling like people care, and these candlelight vigils, they really help. I mean, it does keep it in the public eye and I know it’s not as much of an effort as, “Okay, we’re out doing a ground search,” it doesn’t seem like that, but you know, just keeping it in the public eye is probably as important as that, I mean, it’s just as if you are doing a ground search.
ERIC: Now, Jill Bennett was instrumental in having a monument erected to Carrie….
TODD: Yes, to Carrie Culberson. And you know, that’s not just to Carrie Culberson, that monument is a beacon to a lot of different missing persons, and I think people see, “Wow, that’s something just for Carrie,” but it’s not; it’s absolutely not. I actually want to have something similar done in Georgetown, Kentucky, that’s where the body of the tent girl was found, and the way I stated it, I approached it wrong, I said, “I want to rename the section of highway in which she was found, in her honor. And that created a big 9-1-1 flurry, you know, “All our addresses are going to change!” and still 50% of the people supported it, even thinking that, you know. They did like a survey in the newspaper, but the state didn’t go for it yet. They keep referring me to the state, the state says it’s the county, the county says it the city, the city says it’s the state, but I really don’t want to see a rename, so much as a dedication, and to all missing persons; not just to an individual, but to all missing persons. I’m hoping that when people finally realize what the true goal is there, it’ll ring a bell and somebody will want to do that.
ERIC: Now, Todd, correct me if I’m wrong but it’s not about any particular missing person, I hear you say all missing persons but…
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: …the idea of having these dedications, maybe in the name of one or another, regardless of the name of the person, but it’s to bring attention to the fact that this is an infestation that’s taking over America, as we know it.
TODD: Uh huh. Absolutely.
ERIC: Okay. So now, has it reached epidemic levels yet?
TODD: You know, to some degree, in some places, yes, it does. Because very few people exist that do not know, or know somebody personally that is involved in this world in some way now. You know, I think a lot of it is the past too, you know, we’re just reviewing the older cases, but a lot of these memorials are in memory of an individual, in dedication to all.
ERIC: Well, you know, until Missing Pieces started, I have to be honest with you, I had no inkling or understand about missing people. You know, I’d seen the posters but I’ve never had to deal with it. In fact, the first show that we did, it was really kind of trying, it was a little bit rough, you know, this was not entertaining anymore; it was real serious radio, it wasn’t drama, it was really serious radio. You had a lot of emotion, a lot of…at least from me.
TODD: Well, that’s the trick about letting people see that; most people, by the time they realize what’s going on in this world, it’s too late, they’re involved in it in a way that they can’t get out of it. So, awareness for everybody, if nothing more than to prevent. Everybody might not want to read this daily if they have nothing wrong in their lives, but to be aware so they won’t become part of that world, because this is a family that everybody is welcomed into, but nobody wants to be here. It’s like, everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.
ERIC: Oh yeah.
TODD: But you definitely have a family here within the missing persons’ community; there’s definitely a lot of support out there, but you don’t not actually want to become a part of this community on an involuntary basis.
ERIC: That’s right.
TODD: And to support that community, and we never really ask for financial support, but there are ways to financially support some of these efforts, but just being aware and spreading the word, sometimes is more than enough…and prepare yourself.
ERIC: Now, we had talked about a lot of the things that made you into the person that you have become; if a person is feeling an inkling of getting into, or becoming a little more concerned or active in this particular field, is there any special expertise that they need to have?
TODD: Not really. A lot of it is just pure interest, a lot of the times. It’s just reading and being aware of things and now there’s more than enough reading material out there if you’re interested. And some people, you know I’ve actually been approached by people who had just sort of an unusual interest, almost a disturbing interest in this type of thing and I think it was…I don’t know, maybe the CSI effect, you know they were interested in that more than anything else. And I see a lot of hits on some of the various websites of which I’m involved, when some big episode of CSI goes out, but at least, it might not be the exact right information, but at least it is bringing information and people are looking to the Internet for the reality behind it and it’s educating, I think it’s bringing more of an awareness.
ERIC: Okay. Now, if people do go to your website and they want to become involved in this regardless of where they are living, is there a link?
TODD: Yes. There’s the cold cases website was one of the first, that’s one of my websites, http://www.coldcasesgroup.com, it’s a Yahoo discussion group and anybody can go there, anybody can join; the only time you’re thrown out is if you’re unruly or you’re a spammer. It’s 8 years old (since August 1999), over 40,000 messages have been shared there and everybody is welcome. You know if they want to lurk and not say anything, they just want to listen, you can search the older messages; a lot of news articles are posted there, and if you’re good you can stay there.
TODD: And we’ll definitely be able to offer a link, you can go to yahoo.com and put in ‘cold cases’ and you’ll find it. It has the same headers of murdered, missing and unidentified.
ERIC: What about the seasoned professional? Somebody who is involved with local law enforcement or somebody who has a private investigation license and wants to do some pro bono work?
TODD: Like Richard Ingraham.
TODD: Yeah, we had him as a guest (Episode 11) and he does that, and often he will…I see when people post on the cold cases discussion group, a lot of times, some of them…and there are professionals lurking in there. There’s law enforcement looking for certain pieces of information. There are private investigators…I’ll have somebody that’ll approach me, “Somebody just made a posting and I would kind of like to offer them some pro bono work but how do I approach them?” And then, if I know something about the person that’s posted, then I can advise them, “Well, I can maybe set you up to meet each other online,” you know, just kind of use the past knowledge of having known that person to help introduce them to each other to kind of tear down that…it’s hard to approach them with, “I want to work on your case, pro bono,” and then you think, “Are you a nut or what?” But knowing both people, you can actually validate both of them, you know, “Richard’s a great guy. I’ve known him for a long time.” And, “This person is real; they’re got a real case. You don’t have to worry about it being anything sinister. They work hard, they’re trying to get some resolution.” It’s a good opportunity to introduce people, legitimately.
ERIC: Okay. So, basically, your site is actually a hub for so many other outlets.
TODD: Oh, there are more than 2,000 members there.
TODD: So there are a lot of people and a lot of information. I have never had any problem, when I was trying to look for a certain piece of information and I was either too lazy or too overwhelmed to look it up personally at that point in time, or in a spot where I couldn’t, I’d say, “Does anybody have a little bit of information on this? I need it really quickly, if anybody can help me search this out.” I’ll be just overwhelmed with emails with people’s personal emails to me, and I’ll have more than I can possibly use, and it’s great. It’s a good resource.
ERIC: Let me ask you this; do you ever deal with the prison population?
TODD: I have.
TODD: I have. I have actually communicated with a serial killer in Florida, and it wasn’t a nice communication. But, in general, not really. But, you know, I’ve thought about it; I have a brother-in-law that’s actually in prison and I’ve had the opportunity to visit a prison because he’s there. It was more of a white-collar crime, you know, it wasn’t a violent crime, and I got to know people there, and I don’t want to advocate for prisoners because prisoners are obviously there for a reason, but I saw so much of a wasted life in so many people in those prisons. I wish they could have something that they could do but…it’s just such a waste. And I would like to, you know, there’s got to be a resource there.
ERIC: Uh huh.
TODD: You know there’s a lot of information; I’d like to have a way to actually reach into the prison population and try to get some answers to some of the crimes. I know, I’ve had people that have actually been ex-cons that have actually written to me afterwards, “While I was in prison, I heard information on a specific case. This prisoner did it.” And it’s kind of heard to process that stuff, you know you try to get it to the right people.
ERIC: Well now, how is it received? And once you’ve received that information, how do you get it across?
TODD: Well, a lot of times they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want anybody to know that they’ve said it, you know, and I have to make sure that what you’re telling me has got to be true, and I will try to contact the officials in that area and try to relate this information to them. And I’ve done it before in a couple of cases where I’ve actually passed the information along and hoping that law enforcement will pick it up the tip, and a lot of times it’s the credibility problem, coming from an inmate. How do I know that inmate is not trying to get back at somebody that caused him a particular problem while they were in prison? There are so many things, and you don’t want to be a part of that.
TODD: So I really put them through the 20 questions if somebody calls and has a tip for me, I make sure they’re telling me the truth before I pass it along and possibly cause somebody else irreparable harm. You have to really think about what you’re receiving.
ERIC: Okay. So I take it there have been times when you have discounted the information?
TODD: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s like, unless you can really…or maybe let them think that I’ve discounted it, and then maybe research it myself a little bit more, and then you find that it’s just totally untrue.
ERIC: How has the media been towards Missing Pieces?
TODD: So far we’ve had 2 different articles. I was actually contacted for other reasons, and so far they’re received it well and were willing to provide links. An Arkansas newspaper and a Las Vegas newspaper were more than willing to put a link and I didn’t really have to ask them; they were just willing to include it and I do see people coming this way from the Las Vegas area and the Arkansas area. It’s happening, you know, and I think they’re interested in it. I mean, this is not a flashy television show full of entertaining areas but it’s got a real purpose, it’s in the talkshow realm and it’s doing what it’s intended to do.
ERIC: Now I’m going to ask you another question that may or may not have anything to do with Missing Pieces. But when you perceive Missing Pieces as being on a Christian Internet radio station, what’s your first impression?
TODD: Well when the opportunity first came to do it, you know, and I’d had this in my mind to do something like this for a while, I thought, “Is that going to be the right format? Is It?” You know I had to think about it because I’m in the Southern Christian community where a lot of things you don’t talk about. You know you don’t talk about some things; some things are better left alone, you know, and I did listen to the station before I stepped further into this and I saw you had a paranormal show, which is…this is in no way a paranormal show, but it told me that there’s an open mind here, and I wasn’t going to have to format things too much in one direction to be able to accommodate…because this is real. These are real cases, real things, and it’s hard to sugarcoat things, but you can certainly take care of what you say, as far as slander and that type of thing, you know I think it helps keep that under control. It definitely helps keep that under control. And that’s what I needed, because with that wildcard aspect to it, it was just a little bit too much if you were on a no-holds-barred outlet, you know, there are no taboos and that can get a little risqué.
ERIC: I can only imagine. So then, coming on with WCAN, you saw it as an opportunity, not just for Missing Pieces, but for actually getting some results.
TODD: Oh yeah, definitely. Well, and think of what we’re doing. I don’t know if anybody realizes this or not, when we do an hour show, later I transcribe it, and usually an hour show is about 20 pages of text and it’s not easy to transcribe this information. We put it in a written archive. Quite often the written word is better than what you hear spoken because not everybody speaks at the same pace or clarity, because we edit it down and we put it in a more consumable manner and we’re able to put it into the Internet. The hypertext links are there. I can put descriptive pictures that you can’t show over the radio, and I think it’s a complement to the original. Some people are so vivid and so wonderful in their description of things that you’ve got to hear the voice. And I recently received the disc from WCAN, from you, where I can actually show some of the past shows, like Shari Greer (Episode 5), we’re hoping to have it actually on the website this week, where people can hear her show again. And she had a very vivid story; she has a murdered daughter, it’s an unsolved case, and she’s going through a lot of pain right now because she’s at an anniversary point. I see her posted on ‘Cold Cases’ and she’s got a lot of support on ‘Cold Cases’ but I see her reaching out in a lot of pain, and you know that this is a lady that needs a hug and it’s hard to hug over the Internet. But I hope that’s my way of being able to give her a hug, “Okay, we’re going to leave your show there for a while and hopefully people will hear it.” It’ll still be transcribed; I want it to be in text where people can find it easily in the search engine, it’ll show up really quickly in a search engine and hopefully some resolution will come through that.
ERIC: You know we had talked earlier about doing an all-night vigil or a marathon-type show…
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: …it would be great to get together with all of these guests.
TODD: Oh definitely. I think we need to do it like a candlelight vigil almost. Jill Bennett is the organizer of something like that and I’ve asked her before about doing some type of vigil, something special, but I hadn’t really thought about putting it together with the radio show.
ERIC: We’re really going to have to all get together, me, you and Holly, and then we can branch out from there and see how well it’s received and starting planning for this.
TODD: An online vigil.
TODD: I think it would be great.
ERIC: Yeah, it would really be nice to have a lot of these guests lined up to restate their stories and for them to talk about the progress that has been made.
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: You know, even if there hasn’t been any progress made, what their emotional state is right now and what they’re doing to make life a little bit better for somebody else.
TODD: Well I think, doing it in this format, it’s going to be easier than trying to create an hour. You know they can come in and say what they have to say in a period of time, and then move on to the person, and cut it down in shorter blocks and include as many more people as we can possibly get in there.
ERIC: You know, a few years ago, we did a…I guess you could say, a small convention at one of the local 4-star hotels around here, and we had quite a turnout, and I was sitting here thinking, maybe we can do a remote right from there.
TODD: That would be great.
ERIC: You know, it’s something to talk about, it’s something for our listeners to get ready to plan for, it’s not going to cost you anything.
TODD: And hopefully they’ll have some ideas to help streamline and plan this and we’ll get people that will email us and call us and let us know what their take is on that.
ERIC: Exactly. And what we’re hoping for more than anything, Todd, and I believe that you share the same belief, is that somebody, somewhere is going to come forward with some kind of information about something or somebody.
TODD: And I think it will happen, but the primary goal of what we’re doing really is we’re creating foundation bases, so many different things that we’re helping to organize this whole effort by doing this show; we’re one of the many organizers, I’ll say that. But even if we don’t have a visible direct success, what we’ve helped these people with on an individual basis, has been enormous. I think it’s really helped people to have an outlet, just to have the outlet, whether they get the results immediately or not, they have an opportunity to express their thoughts, and I’ve had a lot of comments about that and I think everybody is really happy with it. You know, there’s Laura Allen Hood, we’ve done a lot of media since her brother was featured on the show (Episode 6). Of course she’s always working, she’s constantly working on this.
ERIC: Is that the young many that left and never came back home?
TODD: Yes, definitely, and she’s had a lot of opportunity and I forwarded this show after we transcribed it, I forwarded it to a lot of the local media and I know they’re looking at it. You know I know they’re reading it so that’s there, so seeds have been planted, so I feel like a garden has been planted in Arkansas with Tony Allen and eventually something will sprout. And sometimes you just have to plant the garden and let nature tend to it and move on to the next one, and I think that’s what we’ve done.
ERIC: Has it always been easy to move on to the next one?
TODD: I have to, because everybody says, “Todd, you’re probably the most patient man I have ever seen in my life, because you’re so patient and you wait on things.” I’m not patient; I’m very impatient. If I didn’t have a lot of irons to tend, I would flip out. If I was waiting on one particular thing, you know I would really have a melt down; I couldn’t do it. I’ve got to have a lot of things going on or I just can’t deal with it, you know. If I was waiting on one little piece on one case, I couldn’t do it. It’s easier for me to just spread things out a little bit and cover as much ground as possible and occupy my mind. It works for me that way.
ERIC: I heard you talking to Holly before that sometimes, you know, at the end of the day it’s kind of hard to just go to bed and sleep peacefully. Why would there be a tear in your eye?
TODD: Well you see something and you think, “Did I do enough? Did I get everything in that I wanted to get it on that? Did it include this; did it include that? Will I have another opportunity to do it?” You know when I went to court with the Leoma Patterson case (Episode 10) yesterday, and we did get a small victory, we are going to get to re-exhume the body and we were all happy and when you sit down at the end of the day, you’re thinking, ”Okay, now we’ve got to deal with this. How are we going to do it?” Because one of the family members said, “Well it won’t be nothing but a hole once those bones are gone.” So I sat back and I thought about it and it’s something that I wanted to talk to the family about anyway, so I called them back; a lot of the family is in town now because of this court case yesterday, you know, actually going to court. I said, “I want to build a memory box. What I want you to do is, everybody that feels like they’ve not been able to participate in this,” because honestly there’s nothing for them to do, other than I can just send them on a task. “But I want everybody while they’re here together to celebrate this victory over this holiday, let it go while we’re waiting for the paperwork to come back so that we can exhume this grave,” I said, “I want you to get your memories together, write a note to your grandmother, your mother, your sister, you know however she’s related to you; photographs, copies of photographs, and we’re going to put them in a box, and when we take the body out of the grave, this Jane Doe, because it’s time to separate these two. Leoma is missing and this Jane Doe has to go elsewhere. I want to put the memory box in the grave because probably this will be the last time we probably open this grave.” We’ll have no reason to open it again, unless Leoma is back and we’ll have a new casket at that point in time. So I want them to still feel like they can go to this grave because a lot of times when you have a prisoner of war or a missing person that never comes home and they bury some personal effects of this person just so that they’ll have a grieving place, that’s what they do and I think the family needs to do that and they seem to have embraced that idea, for the most part, and I think that they’re going to try to do that. And we’ll have a real grave because a person that’s gone is only memories anyway, so that’s what we’re going to be building.
ERIC: Now, for our listeners, Leoma Patterson disappeared, what, 28 years ago?
TODD: In 1978.
ERIC: Okay, and the woman that was buried in her place, it was later found out that she is not Leoma Patterson.
TODD: Very recently. That case was…it was and still is, a handful. But we did get a victory in court and we’re going to get to move forward, and I don’t want to say that we did this, because they’ve known for nearly a year that this is not her from the original DNA test, and I won’t say that we’re going to take the investigation by the horns, but we’re definitely going to take the identification by the horns because even though they’ve reopened Leoma Patterson’s missing person’s case, that’s not helping the Jane Doe. We need to get a facial reconstruction. Now I want to build a case file for Leoma Patterson too, and we’ve already put one on Doe Network. We’ve actually got a case profile for both of these ladies. I’ve asked the family to get together; I need to know the stature of Leoma, you know they’ve never really had a formal opportunity to create…exactly how tall was she? Exactly what was she wearing the last time you met her? Exactly what type of jewelry did she have? You know all kinds of descriptive factors, and I want as much as I can get.
ERIC: Why is all that necessary?
TODD: Well, just to paint the clearest picture possible of this person in case she is a Jane Doe found somewhere else, you know. I’ve got to know very, very descriptive details…I want to know scars, everything, everything I can possibly get on this person to describe her down to a ‘T’. There is no detail too small. I want it all; clothing size, I mean it might sound silly, even down to the type of underwear this person might have worn, anything. We’ve got to have very, very descriptive details, very personal details that we can include in this case file to possibly match her with a Jane Doe if she has indeed been found as a Jane Doe. And that’s what I’m hoping to do. And then when we get the body exhumed, we can do the same thing; we’ll create a face, we’ve already created a tentative face that we did from a photograph at an angle, but we need something a little more definitive. We need clay to bone or even scaled images, where we can do a sketch that’s very detailed, and Dr. Bill Bass will help us with stature because it was a partial skeleton, so I need to know how tall this woman would have been. And the clothing found with the body, we’re definitely going to put that in the case file. The jewelry found with the body, we’re going to put images of that in with the case file so, hopefully, somebody is going to recognize that person and you just keep building on it and you keep pushing it. I want her in the NCIC and I’m not going to shut up until I get that done; she’s definitely going to be in there one way or another. The judge will allow us to go ahead and enter the DNA in the DNA database ourselves, usually it has to be done by law enforcement, but I’ve asked, I haven’t got, and we’ve got the DNA from the lab from the original tests and we’re going to make that happen and then the judge said, “Okay, do it. Make that part of the order.” So we’re going to do that and I think the family is really encouraged with that, at least we’re showing some progress, and they see something that they can see. There is more that is going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about and it’s hard to sleep on that at night, and I don’t want to ask the family to do that any longer. I want to give them something to do; something they can be physically involved in to help them deal with the fact that we may never find Leoma but we’re going to try and we’re showing positive efforts.
ERIC: Well now, I have a question to ask from the point of view of our listeners, because all of us have lost a loved one…
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: …who has passed on, why is it so very difficult for people not to get over and to move on?
TODD: Well, to have that place to go to, you know, traditionally most people are buried and you just have that spot where you feel like that’s where they are. You know, I lost a brother and sister early, early in my life and I grew up with my brother and my sister being dead, you know, so it was so common to me, I didn’t know that everybody didn’t have that. I mean I played near their graves, because it was a family cemetery, in fact I have the deed to it, and it’s been in our family for more than 100 years. And it wasn’t a macabre picnic, you know, we would eat there, you know when the family was mowing the cemetery, it’s just where you went; I didn’t think anything about being there. Death wasn’t really a scary thing anymore; it was just where some of us were and where some of us were here. I didn’t see death as the grim reaper. You get accustomed to anything, you really do, you know, they were simply just somewhere else. I had a living brother that was there with me and we had a brother and a sister, they were just somewhere else and I was always taught in growing up, “You’ll be with them later,” and that was embedded in my brain for so long, that’s just the way I come to understand life, you know, “Those are your brother and sister; you’ll be with them later.”
ERIC: So when a person has had someone snatched from them and they don’t know where they’re at, this is the part that’s difficult to get over?
TODD: Yeah, definitely, because there’s absence in your life, for one thing, and the not knowing, you know, “Where are they?” Like I’ve said before, I’ve heard people say, “I’d rather know that they’re dead than not know where they are,” and I can certainly understand that. Can you imagine thinking of what kind of atrocity is happening to my child, and if I just knew it wouldn’t happen because in the end, we’re all going to win, I mean, all these people that have lost a loved one, we’re going to win. I mean it’s never permanent. You know these things will be resolved at some point in time, in God’s time, it will be resolved, and we’re going to win. I mean we will be reunited at some point in time; we will, so it’s just dealing with the life that’s the difficult part, and selfish things. You know humans are selfish creatures and it’s human nature.
ERIC: You know, I asked you yesterday, when we had a production call, when did you wake up and realize that you had become this particular kind of caring man? When did you wake up and realize, “Wow, this thing is so much in me, I don’t know when the crossover was made, but I know that it has happened?
TODD: Well that cross over happened at such a slow pace that I didn’t realize it until it happened and that was the 10 years that I looked for the identity of the Tent Girl, because my father-in-law found the body, and it just snapped. I thought, and I think it was because of my brother and sister, that I could so relate to somebody being dead; she was dead but she wasn’t really gone to me, I was used to seeing somebody in a grave. So when I was finally able to find her family looking for her, that’s when I was left asking, “Now what do I do? Now what do I do?”
ERIC: Wow, the way you said that, you found the family that was looking for her.
TODD: And now they’ve become like family. These are people that I talk to very often in life, as often as I do other extended family members and, you know, they’ve truly become family. The Patterson family, with Leoma, they are family; I’m invited to Thanksgiving dinner there, they are truly family now and I don’t know how to explain it. I keep saying that I’ll never, ever let that happen to me again like with the Tent Girl, be so emotionally involved in it, but last night, I truly realized I will never get Leoma Patterson out of my heart, never. Whether she’s found or not, she is permanently there, and I think, “How dumb are you? Why in the world would you want to bring something to your heart that’s going to cause you pain, a fire that you can’t extinguish?” But it’s a love of these other family members, you know, I’ve got a new pain in my heart because of her but I also have all these people that I love now, and I guess it balances out. They’re an incredible family; I really think of a lot of all of them and we’re sharing a very interesting journey together and I’m proud to be in it with them.
ERIC: Why don’t you tell us about some of the other or tentative guests you have coming on?
TODD: Well, okay, but I want to tell you a little bit about Richard Ingraham again. We promised him a sketch with the Sandra Sollie case (Episode 11); I do have a sketch, it is in my inbox from one of the artists, it’s an initial sketch. I’ve not really had a chance to look at it yet but it will be presented to him where he can actually carry it back to law enforcement and try to decide if it’s going to be okay, but it’s a rough sketch and we’re going to see how that goes, so we’ll have that really soon. One of the next coming guests that I want to talk to you about would be Ryan Allred, and originally I had him slated for tonight but he had to work. Ryan is the brother of Vickie Bertram. This was the first body that I have every exhumed, was the body of Vickie Bertram; she fell 112 feet and no broken bones. Ryan saw me…and I grew up with him here in Livingston, Tennessee, and I didn’t know him really, but we’ve always heard the mystery of Vickie Bertram who fell 112 feet over a cliff. Was she murdered? Was she pushed? And Ryan came to me after seeing me on ’48 Hours’ because of the Tent Girl, in 1998, he came to me and said, “I need your help,” and he was a police officer at the time and said, “I need your help.” We ended up exhuming her body and taking her to the Body Farm and she did have fractures and even though we still don’t have a solid clear ending to that mystery, at least we do know. For more than 20 years they suffered, “How do you fall 112 feet and have no broken bones?”
ERIC: I was going to ask you that.
TODD: Well you can’t and it’s just not that easy. It’s just like, how do you get struck by lightning and not get scorched? I mean, and you just leave the family thinking that, you know, you don’t leave people like that. They obviously had a valid and we were able to resolve it and we did it ourselves. We had her dug up and we put her in a box, we took her to the Body Farm, we reviewed the skeleton and we at least got an answer and we brought her back home. The body was in disarray, and I don’t want to give away the show talking to Ryan, getting this directly from Ryan, but we were able to put back a body in much better shape than what we found in the bodybag that was in the grave. We’re soon going to have Libba Phillips (Episode 69), she founded ‘Outpost For Hope.’ She had a missing sister and she did find her sister; there’s a lot more to the story that than though, and I’ll leave that to her because she’s an upcoming guest on November 28th, (show aired November 20, 2007). Gloria Denton, mother of missing April Beth Pitzer (Episode 14), ‘A Mother Unearths Vital Evidence Investigators Missed.’ I’ll let her tell you that part of the story. Louis Smit, The NOMIS Project, this is a network of medico-legal investigative systems; it’s something that’s similar to the NCIC that kind of created this project. The Department of Justice is looking into this system; it could in time replace the NCIC, and I’ll let him tell us why he thinks that this could happen.
ERIC: That’s NOMIS, correct?
TODD: NOMIS. The NOMIS Project, and links are on the website so people can take a look at it ahead of time, and I hope to hear from people ahead of time. Elizabeth Sinor, she’s a stay-at-home mom, she is actually the coordinator of Project EDAN for me; I created Project EDAN for the people that have no faces and she is kind of the liaison with Project EDAN and the Doe Network and other organizations to help get the sketches to the people. She’s the right hand of EDAN. She’s also one of the co-administrators of the Doe Network along with myself and we try to help as many people as possible there, and she runs her personal website, Michigan Does, where she profiles cases directly in the Michigan area. So she’s great and we’re going to have her on.
ERIC: Now, let me say this for the listeners, all those of you that are interested in getting in contact with Todd Matthews, why don’t you give them your webpage address.
TODD: Okay, the webpage is missingpieces.info. [The link to the radio station is no longer available.] We keep a lot of the archives there. We’re going to have audio archives in some appropriate cases we’re going to have those on so there should be some really good audio, clear recordings that I can’t record here at home that way, so we’re going to have some of those on, and I think you’re going to enjoy them. See, I told you we could fill up an hour doing this.
ERIC: Have we done an hour?
TODD: We’re getting close. We’re getting really close.
ERIC: Oh wow.
TODD: But we’ve got so many…you know there are guests that you don’t even see on the website that I’ve kind of been talking to, and most of these people are people that I’ve known for a very long time and I know they’re going to be good people. Some people, I’m going to talk to a family member of Jonathan Thrasher and a family member of Kenny Strickland, both are missing. I don’t know which family member I’m going to talk to because I know so many of them in the family and I’m trying to think, “Who is going to hold up the best during this?” And I want to have a few conversations with them beforehand and see who is going to be the best spokesperson for this family. Who can I better relate to on this? And you wait for certain dates. Kenny went missing January 29th, 1992, so I’m thinking a January show for him will probably be symbolic for that family; I want to do that. But there are just so many things to talk about.
ERIC: Well I want to tell you the profound effect this show has had on me; it has brought a closer relationship between me and my grandchildren and, honestly, since this show it has started me to calling them every morning and we pray together, we really do, and it’s made a difference, if not in them, then at least in me. It really has.
TODD: Well then, you’ll pass it along to them. And think, you’re the one, you’re probably the one that the show has helped and without having to directly help; the best help that we can provide is, not having to help.
TODD: So, you know, we’ve got to think of that. If we have prevented anything, we may never know if we prevented anything but I like to think that the awareness has created some prevention, so the best work that we can do is the work we’ll never know about, and that’s okay. It’s fine with me because I never want to hear another Amber Alert again.
TODD: But we will be hearing these Amber Alerts and I think education is the best way, and rather than one of one, I think broad efforts like this show, is the best way.
ERIC: Well, Todd, I sure want to thank you for taking your time and for coming on WCAN and doing Missing Pieces. It truly is a wonderful show and I’m taking out the entertainment aspect but it’s a wonderful show simply because of the results that it is producing, regardless of whether we can see them or not. And I just want to say thank you and goodnight.
TODD: Thank you, Eric. Talk to you soon.
ERIC: I sure will.
TODD: Goodnight, everybody.