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(Introduction to show begins)

TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host):   I’m Todd Matthews.  This is Missing Pieces.  Tonight we have Donna Weaver.  Welcome, Donna.

DONNA WEAVER (Guest):  Hi.

TODD:  How are you doing?

DONNA:  I’m doing real good.  How are you?

TODD:  Oh, I’m doing great.  I’ve known you for quite a while.  We don’t always speak on the phone as we’ve done lately; we’ve spoken quite a bit.  Donna actually has a crime blog called ‘Women in Crime Ink’ and she’s been doing it for quite a while, I think, and she’s also an area director for the Doe Network.  And I’m pulling up the website, and I actually got to be a guest blogger on your website recently, and that was really a whole lot of fun and I hope it got a lot of hits.

DONNA:  It did and we loved having you.

TODD:  Oh, good.  Hopefully we’ll get to do it again soon, I’ve got a lot of things I’d like to talk about and maybe we’ll get to do it again really soon.  Now, what brought you into the Doe Network?  How did you get here?

DONNA:  I got here because of…my first husband, Gary, disappeared in 1983, two days before our first wedding anniversary, when our twin girls were just 6 months old.  He disappeared, he’s still a disappeared person who I believe to have been murdered…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …and I found ‘Cold Cases’ and you all, and got involved with that, and at the same time I was studying criminology and investigation and was asked to be an area director (for the Doe Network), and that’s how I got there.

TODD:  And you’re the area director for Guam, I think?

DONNA:  No, I’m the area director for the Caribbean, Bahamas Island…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …and the Caribbean region.

TODD:  Oh yeah, the Caribbean.  Pirates of the Caribbean.  (Chuckles)

DONNA:  That’s right.  Well, Gary disappeared on one of the largest Bahamian Islands, Andros Island.

TODD:  So, that was a good point to start with for you.

DONNA:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  So, did you ever have any luck with him?

DONNA:  Well, it’s an official investigation at this point.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  It took almost 23 years to open an official investigation into Gary’s disappearance and it’s now a homicide investigation under the jurisdiction of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.  I’m working with detectives there and the United States attorney here in Florida and it’s an open, active investigation at this time.  There is a suspect that has been identified and they hope to bring that to resolution soon.

TODD:  What all have you done in the meantime?  Now, you’ve been involved in that, you’re working with ‘Women in Crime Ink,’ you work with Pat Brown, the criminal profiler…

DONNA:  That’s right.

TODD:  Is all this because of your husband?

DONNA:  Pardon?

TODD:  Is all of this because of what happened with your husband?

DONNA:  Yes, it is.  It’s how I got into this.  When I started looking for Gary, and back in 2000, I did my first newspaper interview, and as a result of that interview, I had people approach from all over, asking me for help.  “How did you do this?  My loved one is missing in Nassau, or this island or that island, left the United States and we believe he’d flown there and never came home,” and in the course of my investigation with my own husband, I had met Pat Brown…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …who is a nationally-known criminal profiler.

TODD:  Had you approached her for help?

DONNA:  I did.  I called her.  As you can imagine over the years looking for Gary, I made probably thousands of cold calls and one of them was to Pat Brown and she was intrigued about my story; I was looking for a psychological angle on the perpetrator.  A couple years later, she came to Florida on a case and we met and she asked me if I’d worked for her, so here I am, five years later, after that meeting and we’ve been together ever since and I’ve learned a lot from her.  Of course, I get to be involved with her media projects and research for her books and it’s been a learning experience.

TODD:  Are you licensed investigator now?

DONNA:  Pardon?

TODD:  Did you get to be a licensed investigator?

DONNA:  Um, yes.  Yep.  Yep.  Recently.

TODD:  How long did that take?

DONNA:  That took a while.  I didn’t…I worked for a private investigative firm for a while, learning the ropes, you know, surveillance and things like that, and recently, about six months ago, I applied for my own license to work independently.  I wasn’t required to be licensed to work for Pat because I was her in-house investigator and she lived in another state, but I wanted to get my own license and use the resources that I could, you know, having the license here in Florida, so I did.  And I go to school, I haven’t finished yet, for my Bachelors in Criminal Justice, and I’m taking several other courses and workshops in psychology and psychopathy and some pretty interesting things.  Criminal profiling is a multi-disciplinary pursuit, it includes a lot of things, not just investigation, you need to know psychology, you need to know forensics, a lot of things, so that’s what I’m doing, I’m still studying.

TODD:  You know, profiling always interested me.  You know, if you profile a serial killer, and this is just my general thought, if I’m predicting in the media what his move would be, what his next move will be, what’s to keep me from changing my M.O. (modus operandi) if I’m the killer?

DONNA:  Okay.  Well, that’s not really how criminal profiling works…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …a lot of people are used to…the FBI started a behavioral profile unit several years ago…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …but they use a method of what’s called ‘inductive criminal profiling’ and that’s trying to predict behavior based on past patterns; whereas at the school, it’s called the ‘deductive criminal profiling’ and that’s and entirely different thing where you actually use forensics and evidence to get a behavioral analysis of a suspect.  And the thing with psychopathy is that no two offenders are going to be the same, so there really is no predicting anything.  What we try to do is to try to catch them, and in all honesty, it’s not…it’s a very difficult science; it’s still in its infancy.  It’s still growing but we have found success in analyzing crime-scene evidence and then trying to get our picture of the offender that way, rather than trying to cubbyhole an offender into a certain pattern of behavior.

TODD:  So, all this goes on, basically behind the scenes?

DONNA:  The FBI goes about it their own way, but it’s not very successful, so the subject of criminal profiling has kind of evolved out of the FBI method and seems to be a bit more successful.

TODD:  So, a lot of this is going on behind the scenes, it’s not really basically out in the open, this is something that you’re doing quietly?

DONNA:  Right.  It’s a lot of analyzing…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …it’s a lot of research, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, it’s a lot of work.

TODD:  And that’s the same with Doe Network, as well.  You know, people, they want to join, and then it’s not exactly what they think it is, they think it’s something that’s going to be real fast moving, and like you said, glamorous and exciting and everything is popping, and it’s not, you know, often things take a long time.

DONNA:  Exactly.  It’s a very slow process and it’s the doggedness and the persistence and the eye for detail that, as you know, is what makes the success.

TODD:  Now, the crime blog, how did you guys get together on this?  Because there are quite a few of you involved on this…

DONNA:  Yeah.

TODD:  …and I’d like to interview all the ladies with ‘Women in Crime Ink’ at some point in time.

DONNA:  I hope so.  We’re a wonderful group, wonderful group.  I feel very fortunate to be a part of such an extraordinary group of women.  We started with just a core group of us and then some of us brought in other people that we knew…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …and in some cases we were contacted by people that asked and wanted to be a part of it, and we’re now 17 members, and we come from all different spectrums of the criminal justice field.  We have several best-selling authors that write true crime.

TODD:  Well, you’ve got Vanessa Leggett, she’s a crime writer.

DONNA:  She’s a crime writer.  Vanessa’s is actually a fascinating story; she was jailed for protecting her sources when writing a book.

TODD:  Uh-hmm.  I remember that, I think.

DONNA:  Uh huh, it was very, very brave.  And we have some broadcast journalists.

TODD:  And one of those would be Michele McPhee, she’s an author and broadcaster.

DONNA:  Yeah.  Cynthia Hunt, a lot of people out west might recognize Cynthia Hunt.  Michele PcPhee is over on the east coast.  We have a cold case detective, Connie Park.  And we have Stacy Dittrich, she’s actually in the Sex Crimes Unit in the Ohio Police Department.  We have a psychologist.  We have a sex-crimes prosecutor, Robin Sax.

TODD:  I want to talk to her soon, hopefully, with the maximum sentence for the rape of a child; I’m hoping to work with you guys on that at some point in time, and we’re working on that for our 100th episode of Missing Pieces, so hopefully we’ll get to collaborate.  I’m really hoping that we can make an impact because we got a lot of feedback.

DONNA:  They’re involved in sex crimes against children.

TODD:  I’ve heard back from Kathryn CaseyAndrea Campbell, she looks fascinating, forensics specialist.

DONNA:  Yeah.  Yeah, Andrea does what you do over at Project EDAN.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  She does facial reconstruction and things like that.

TODD:  I’m hoping to see some of these ladies join us.  We’re actually broadening EDAN out a little bit; we have a forensic odontologist I’m looking to bring into the fold, and hopefully it’s going to be more than just forensics art, it’s going to be a group of volunteer forensic specialists, or specialists in this field.  You know we have a handwriting analyst (Peggy Walla), which is doing the real thing; I know a lot of people relate it to almost like palm-reading, but you know, it’s a little more than that…

DONNA:  Yeah.

TODD:  …and we did a show (Episode 66) with her and she’s great.  We were actually able to have somebody named as a person of interest in a crime because of her help, so it’s interesting.  It’s getting really interesting and the sciences are getting more and more precise every day.

DONNA:  Exactly.  Exactly.  That’s a good word ‘precise’…it’s getting very precise.  It’s not too easy for a criminal nowadays.

TODD:  No, we’re working hard on them.  And I understand this is your first…the first time that you’ve ever done an interview like this?

DONNA:  Yes.  Yes, it is.

TODD:  Now, how did you get missed in this?  You know, I don’t know how you missed doing one.

DONNA:  Oh, I’ve been asked.

TODD:  (Chuckles)

DONNA:  It’s not that I haven’t been asked, but I’ve been a little shy.  I’m more than willing and happy and not the least bit nervous to get up in front of a roomful of people that I can see, but I was a little nervous about doing it with people I can’t see, but…

TODD:  Well, we made a trade-off.

DONNA:  …I’m comfortable with you.

TODD:  We made a little bit of a trade-off.  I think we got to know each other really well just preparing for the ‘Mystery Man’ section in you blog, and of course I already knew you, but it just seemed like we got a lot closer during that.

DONNA:  Yes, and I’m glad that we did because it’s fantastic, absolutely fantastic what you’re doing and we’re real proud of you.

TODD:  Well, hopefully we’ll all make a lot more accomplishments soon.  I’ve got a lot of things that I want to share with your group and hopefully your group can share with me.  I know we’re going to have a very long history together, I’m hoping.  I’m hoping that it will work out.

DONNA:  Oh, I’m sure of it.  I’m sure of it.

TODD:  Now, I had one more question that I wanted to ask you in particular.  I won’t drag you out during the night.

DONNA:  (Chuckles)

TODD:  Now, what did you have to learn?  Now, I know you learned the investigative, you know, but you actually blog some too, right?

DONNA:  Yes.  I started blogging with Pat.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  We started as an extension of ‘The Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency’.  We have a blog called the ‘Daily Profiler’…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …and it’s a pretty broad spectrum.  We blog about cases in the news or things that interest us, or whatever we feel moved to write about.  Whereas ‘Women in Crime Ink,’ you know we stick pretty much to the topics of criminal justice and media issues, that’s how I started writing online contents.

TODD:  But you wrote from the heart because you had a personal connection to the content, but writing, when you first started writing, was this something that was a bit of a challenge to you?  Were you afraid of this?

DONNA:  Yes.  Yeah, and it still is [a challenge].  I look at writing as a whole other area of study.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  It’s not as easy as people think it is, as you know.  And I work with Pat on her written projects, you know, books and things, and I’m learning how to edit and then writing some of my own pieces.

TODD:  I’ve got to dabble in a lot of different things but, you know, I’ve done articles, and the radio show was at one point in time, something that seemed so difficult for me, I was afraid I couldn’t do it, and now I’ve got an opportunity…

DONNA:  You’re great at it.

TODD:  Well, I’m hoping, and I keep it raw.  I know a lot of people think we should streamline it more, but I don’t want to right now because I like it like this…very conversation, raw, low technology.  It’s all Internet based.  I don’t have to find a sound booth, you know, everything’s just really happening all around me while I’m doing this.  You know, the family is just going about their business around the house.

DONNA:  Right.

TODD:  (Laughs)

DONNA:  Well, that’s what makes it comfortable, I think so, and for guests too.

TODD:  Well, I recently had an opportunity to do a blog on a weekly basis, but I’ll tell you, it scares the hell out of me, it really does.

DONNA:  It’s not as easy as you think it is.

TODD:  I know.  It’s seems like, “Oh, I can blog,” and then you go look and you think, “I don’t know if I can blog or not.  Can I blog?  Can I blog with sense?”  And blogging is something that I’ve never really done before, it’s basically an article, but it’s almost like an article like you’re writing a letter to somebody.

DONNA:  Yeah.  But the thing with blogging is you can editorialize.

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  Blogging is supposed to be your opinion and how you feel about a certain issue or what you’re writing, you know, you’re supposed to inject yourself into the article.

TODD:  And then the columns are like…

DONNA:  If you are writing a fact-based…you know, for a newspaper or a book or a magazine something, you would want to keep it more unbiased.

TODD:  Objective, you know, you’ve got to step back a little bit.

DONNA:  Exactly.

TODD:  So, I should embrace this.

DONNA:  In blogging, you should be yourself, and relate your experiences and why you believe the way you believe about certain topics.

TODD:  I should embrace it because I write letters to people like you all the time, letters that I go back and look at and I think, “Wow, we really had a good connection there.  We really related a lot of stuff and I’ve actually used stuff from letters that I’ve written to people, friends like you, and used them in articles.

DONNA:  Right.  And so have I, because I’ve written so many letters over the years.

TODD:  I’ve had people that have actually read something in an article and they’ve come back and said, “That sounds just like something you told me in a letter once,” and I said, “You know, that’s where I got it.  It was from that letter I sent you.”

DONNA:  Well, letters are heartfelt and honest and that’s what blogging should be.

TODD:  It’s my raw material.

DONNA:  It’s not to say you shouldn’t check you facts, you need to have your facts.

TODD:  Well, it’s the raw material for a blog, I think, you know, and I think the radio show is going to help me with the blog that I’m going to be working on.

DONNA:  I think you’re going to do great with it.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard.

TODD:  You know, I want to do a good job; I want it to be world class.  But now, I’ve not had the educational background, you know, and I told the people, I can’t say exactly who I’m going to be working with yet, but I told them, I’m not extensively, formally educated, and you know I could get it, but I don’t think they want that.  Actually, I think they want…

DONNA:  Formal education isn’t a real-life education, as you know.

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  And with the things that we deal with every day, it’s the real-life education that’s really important.  On how to do with people, I mean, we’re talking about people who have suffered horrible loss and we want to make a difference in the system and in people’s lives and you don’t learn that in school.

TODD:  No.  No.

DONNA:  You don’t.  You learn in from the school of life.

TODD:  If I can just let that part come out and not worry about the other things…if I have as good editors there as I had with you guys working with the blog I did for you guys, I’ll be fine.

DONNA:  All of us are happy with it, it was a very good article.

TODD:  It should be fine if I could write what I think sounds good and then somebody can kind of take out the rhetorical…

DONNA:  Well, you write what you feel.  You write what you feel and your editor will take care of the rest.

TODD:  Well, fingers crossed, that it will all come through.

DONNA:  And in a little while, you learn how to do it a little better, to express yourself a little better.  It’s just practice.

TODD:  You get used to it, right?

DONNA:  I’m still learning.

TODD:  But, do you feel a little more comfortable doing it now?

DONNA:  Yeah, I do.

TODD:  The radio show, it used to scare me.

DONNA:  I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve learned a lot from the women at ‘Women in Crime Ink.’  They’re incredibly generous with their knowledge and their talents and we all help each other, but since there are so many writers, I’m a little nervous about it because they’re such great writers.  I mean, Diane Fanning, she’s an Edgar-nominated writer.  Kathryn Casey just won a star on ‘Booklist,’ which is an incredible honor, for her upcoming book.  These women are at the top of their game, you know, and here I am just writing my little blog articles, but they’re very encouraging and very generous.

TODD:  Well, I’m going to tell you, I’m going to be using the ‘Women in Crime Ink’ blog as a model.  I’m going to try to use that as how to teach myself to do what you do so well.  I’m going to watch you guys.

DONNA:  I know you’re going to do great.

TODD:  I won’t plagiarize, but I will…I am going to use you for a model.

DONNA:  Well, that’s a complement.  That’s a complement.

TODD:  You do such a great job.

DONNA:  Just be yourself and you’ll do great, Todd.  Look at what you’ve accomplished.

TODD:  I feel like I’m the Paula Deen of the crime world, you know, because I’m doing it just my own simple way, you know, you’ve got your own simple recipes for doing things, you’re not following a school-designed path, it’s…what I do, I do my own strange little way.

DONNA:  And it works for you and it…

TODD:  It works for me.

DONNA:  …works for the families that you’ve helped.  Look at how many people you’ve helped and given hope to, and that’s what counts and you shouldn’t change a thing.

TODD:  Well, I’m certainly going to try.  I want to see some real progress.

DONNA:  You know, I did it all on my own, and now I’ve moved on, and you learn and you grow.  Now I have an opportunity to do it on a different scale and that’s exciting to me to make a difference.

TODD:  Hopefully, I can…what I want to achieve with this radio show a little bit, I want to see if I can get you to do this for me to add onto this episode page permanently.  Can you write me a little something, like a timeline of what happened with your husband?  You don’t have to be really, really detailed, but something to kind of give everybody an outline of how you got started and where you’re at now.  Basically, what we talked about, but maybe a timeline so people can understand.  I think a lot of people are fascinated and not a lot of people know your story.

DONNA:  I don’t have to write a piece, I wrote a piece like that for the ‘Daily Profiler.’

TODD:  And then we’ll steal it.  (Laughs)

DONNA:  Yes, sure.

TODD:  I do want to post it here though; I think it would be good.  I think it would be good.

DONNA:  And I wrote it as the girl I was when it happened, because people say, “Well, if you know so much, how come you didn’t know this or know that?” and it was a whole growth process.  You know I wasn’t an investigator then.  I didn’t know anything about investigation and then I taught myself, kind of like you, I just started by the seat of my pants, you know, out of desperation.  I was looking for my husband, my best friend was lost, he was gone, and I knew that he wouldn’t have left of his own free will.

TODD:  Well, you were working on raw emotion and raw compassion, because you had to do something and so it was a fight for survival for you.

DONNA:  I learned a few tricks along the way and used it against my adversaries and it worked real well.

TODD:  Well, our lessons best learned are the lessons we have to learn, and I think you’ve done it well.

DONNA:  Thank you.

TODD:  I don’t think you would have chosen this path to get to where at because of what happened, I think we just sort of end up there.

DONNA:  I never had a clue.

TODD:  No.

DONNA:  I never had a clue that this actually happened to people.  I never heard of such a thing.  I grew up in a very sheltered existence.  I never knew these things happened to people.

TODD:  So, we’re sort of accidental experts on this type of thing.  You go to college, you do it on purpose…

DONNA:  That’s a good phrase.

TODD:  ..but we’re accidental experts.

DONNA:  Like you with ‘Tent Girl’,  I mean, that changed your life and now here you are, and what happened to Gary changed my life.

TODD:  You know, I do the school lectures, where I actually go to tell the kids that they need to go to college, and almost by example backwards, it’s like, a lot of them say, “I want to do what you do,” and I thought, “No, you don’t.”  Then I can tell them about some of the things that they can go into…forensic odontology, forensic anthropology, crime scene investigation, there are just so many different ‘-ologies’ that you can do, and do it on a professional basis so that you can get a guaranteed paycheck, you know.

DONNA:  Yes, if you want to do it to make a living…

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  …you’re absolutely right.  But then there is so much that people can do, look what’s being accomplished at Doe Network, that’s just amazing to me.  And every time I tell…you know, I try and talk another law enforcement professional into helping us out or…

TODD:  Uh-huh.

DONNA:  …or giving me a tip, or going to an old warehouse and finding a box and digging up that old report for me, you know that takes some talking to get them to do that.

TODD:  Yeah, you really have to double-talk them, you know, because we’re 100% volunteer at the Doe Network.

DONNA:  Well, you’ve got to just be honest.  You just be honest and tell them.  But when I tell them what’s been accomplished at Doe Network…

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  …they never cease to be impressed.

TODD:  A lot of times you have to put that in there really quickly.

DONNA:  It’s what…40 ‘solves’ now?

TODD:  Yeah.  Well, more than 40.  You have to get that in there really quick sometimes when you’re somebody that they think, “Oh yeah, you’re another one of those nuts calling me,” you know, but we’ve got an impressive list.

DONNA:  Well, when you put it in a context so that they can understand, like, “Look we’ve taken these cases, none of these cases were under nine years old, and we had little or nothing to go on, and our members brought these people home to their families, you know.”

TODD:  And that’s what I’m calling ‘Technology-Criminology.’

DONNA:  There’s not one agency that can boast that kind of success rate, and although it’s bittersweet, I can tell you from…you know I’ve been on both sides of the fence, you know, looking for the missing and then being a survivor of a homicide victim, and I can tell you for certain, for myself, it’s better to know one horrible thing than to imagine a hundred of them.  Every time someone is found and, you know, they find a child that’s missing, and they’ll find that child murdered, or young woman or man, and you find out the horrible things that they went through in the last moments of their lives.  When you’re a person that has a missing loved one, every time it’s kind of like you feel a hope that they’ll find them, and then you feel like, well, that’s one more thing to go through your mind, “Oh my God, did my loved one suffer that too?”  So that’s where it comes from, you’d rather know one horrible thing, than imagine a hundred horrible things.

TODD:  Do you think this helps you stay one step ahead of it?

DONNA:  I don’t think there’s anything more important than finding the missing and the unidentified.

TODD:  Does this help you deal with what happened with you, to help other people, like you’re staying one step ahead?

DONNA:  Yes, because I don’t feel so powerless.  I don’t feel so powerless and I know it can be done.  You know, I still haven’t found Gary.  I know that he was thrown away like a piece of garbage, he’s laying in a hole somewhere, but I’m going to find him and I’m going to bring him home and lay him to rest like he deserves.

TODD:  You really feel confident that’s you’re going to…?

DONNA:  I can’t change the past.

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  I can’t change the past.  I can’t change what happened to Gary.  And since we found out most probably that Gary was murdered and who murdered him, another family has contacted me and it’s most likely that their loved one, Jairo Sanchez, was also…most likely Jairo died right along with Gary, and now our two families have a bond, you know, a very strange, very strong bond.  We never knew about each other, and yet, we lived maybe 30 miles from each other, and we’ve suffered the same things for almost 25 years, and our two loved ones died together.  So that was really, really emotional, and knowing that they were suffering in silence because they were petrified of the people that, as was I, the people that most likely killed my husband, and to know that they were suffering like that and now we’ve joined together and we’re not afraid anymore.  You know we’re going to do this so that the person is going pay for what he did.

TODD:  Amazing trip through life, isn’t it?  Isn’t it amazing, all these hookups that you make in your life?

DONNA:  Yeah, it’s kind of weird.  You live this weird thing where you’re going through this for all these years, and you’re searching for someone, and then at the same time, you’re going to PTA meetings and…

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  …you’re living in the present and you’re looking, you know, because I had children, and I think when you have children, in my situation, I didn’t lose a child, that’s got to be the worst thing ever, but I lost my husband.  Our children, our twin girls were six months old and I had them to look after and I wanted them to have a normal life.

TODD:  Now, I hear that a lot with people in your situation that they try to create that air of a normal life, even though it’s not normal.

DONNA:  Right.  It’s a very difficult balancing act.  Well, I’m not going to give up on finding Gary, but I’ve got to…I don’t want my search for what happened to interfere with making our happy memories for the future, you know, my children deserve that, so it was difficult.

TODD:  Well, you’re keeping them in a normal life but you were…

DONNA:  A past, present and future kind of thing, you know?

TODD:  You were living like a dual reality, though?

DONNA:  You know, I was.  In my situation, you know, my life was threatened, my children’s lives were threatened, if we continued to search.  What made me keep searching was that nobody told me why I was in danger, so in my probably naïve way, all I could think about was, “If I don’t know what’s dangerous to us, how do I know I’ll be safe if I stop looking?”

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  So that’s why I kept looking because I wanted my children to be safe.  Now I know I had no reason, it was pretty much intimidation tactics.

TODD:  Yeah.  So, you’re not afraid now?

DONNA:  It makes me angry.  It makes me very angry, but I’m still keeping my focus on the goal, and that’s putting the bad guy in jail, and that’s going to happen.

TODD:  Well, you’ve got a lot of good friends now behind you that are right in the business, you know.

DONNA:  I do.

TODD:  And that’s a good thing.

DONNA:  And I have so much support at the Doe Network.  And, you know, I remarried, a wonderful man, and he raised my girls as his own, and we just lost him a few months ago, and I can tell you I was getting just as much support over that loss, I lost him to cancer.  I received just as much support from my family at Doe Network for that loss as I did for my loss of Gary, you know, it’s just a real family. 

TODD:  You know, I’ve had people ask me how I knew people before…

DONNA:  With those people behind you, you feel like you could do anything.

TODD:  Have you ever had people ask you how you knew somebody, and you think, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you how I know that person”?

DONNA:  Yeah.

TODD:  It’s crazy.

DONNA:  That happens on a daily basis, like you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.

TODD:  And it’s almost like you live a life like Batman, you’re this person, but you also have…

DONNA:  Yeah, like that, but not so glamorous.

TODD:  Well, no, it’s…you’re not swinging from the skyscrapers, but the phone does buzz and you do get a text message and you think, “I’m going to take care of this,” and you really can’t tell anybody exactly what you’re doing, you know, you just have to excuse yourself from the room and get up and leave and I have to sometimes step out in the car, take care of something and then go back in as if nothing happened.

DONNA:  And then go back into the birthday party or whatever normalcy, you know?  It is kind of strange.

TODD:  Yeah.  Pop back in, just like nothing.  If they knew what you were doing, it would be so odd, but it’s become normal.

DONNA:  It’s surreal.  It’s kind of surreal sometimes, but that’s why it’s important…it’s important to know that this could happen to any of us.

TODD:  Yes.

DONNA:  It really could, and I hope, you know, I sincerely hope that…I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through, and all the families that I’ve met, you know, how many people have suffered losses like this, you wouldn’t want anybody to find out the hard way, you know.  But, the truth is, it could happen…our lives could change with every breath we take.  We don’t realize it could happen to you, but it does.

TODD:  You know, we spend a lot of our lives trying to create prevention for this type of things…awareness and prevention.

DONNA:  Well, I believe in that too, because now that I’ve learned a lot of things, you know, raising my kids and it was like, “If you don’t have to go to the store at 10 o’clock at night, don’t go.  Go in the afternoon because…”

TODD:  You don’t have to live your life being afraid but you know you do have to use some common sense knowledge.

DONNA:  You have to live your life smart.

TODD:  Yeah, smart.

DONNA:  Live your life smarter.  Yeah.

TODD:  You know, you’re not hiding.  You know, a lot of people have said, “I don’t want to live a life of hiding,” and I thought, “You’re not hiding if you’re being smart.”

DONNA:  No.  That’s just like if you know you’re going to be down a long, lonely country road, you make sure your tires are good and you’ve got a good spare, you know.

TODD:  Well, you know, there are things I do, you know I have a pretty routine life as far as my work life, but I’m not exactly a predictable person, I’m not afraid, but I’m not dumb enough to be putting to such a pattern that somebody could be waiting on me at 6:15.

DONNA:  Right.  And like I told my girls, you just do little forethought and you do not put yourself in a dangerous position a lot of times.  You know, it’s not being afraid or modifying, but use a little common sense and you can put yourself…you can take care of not to put yourself in a dangerous position sometimes, because we all know these kind of predators, that’s why they call them predators…

TODD:  Yeah.

DONNA:  …they’re hunting.  They’re out there hunting, looking for their victim, so if you don’t make yourself prey, you’ve got a lot better chance.

TODD:  That’s absolutely the truth.

DONNA:  Uh-huh.

TODD:  Well, I’m hoping…next, and this is one of the other people that I ran into with your crime blog, Kathryn Casey, she’s one of the first ones that actually reached out to me, and we’ve had a conversation already by email and that’s who I’d like to work on next.

DONNA:  Oh, Kathryn’s wonderful, isn’t she?

TODD:  Yeah, she was really quick to reach out.

DONNA:  She was very fascinated by your story.  She likes back stories and things like that.

TODD:  Because there’s some advice that I think she can give me on a few other things and I think that if we really help each other and form an alliance, it’s helped me in the past, and I know it will help me in the future, so I’m going to work on her next.

DONNA:  It helps everybody and it helps those we help, that’s the whole point of this, is to tell the people out there that we’re trying to help, I mean, that’s why we do this, so that other people can learn from and benefit from our experience, and give every victim a voice, you know, or a victim’s family, and maybe, eventually, we can help stop this kind of thing from happening.

TODD:  Well, we can hope for that.  We can hope for that.  It’s a little depressing sometimes but we keep going, so we’ve not given up.  So how was your first interview?

DONNA:  Never, ever give up.  Never give up.

TODD:  No.  Was your first interview that bad?


TODD:  (Chuckles)

DONNA:  What do you think?

TODD:  I think you did great.  I think you did.  We kept it really…just exactly like two old friends talking, which is exactly what I wanted so…

DONNA:  Well, we are two old friends talking.

TODD:  Yeah, that’s what I wanted it to be.  That’s all I wanted it to be

DONNA:  I was just tickled that you asked me to do it and it wasn’t bad at all.  I just hope it doesn’t sound too bad.

TODD:  You might find yourself in a blog sometime.  (Laughs)  I’m pretty sure you will.

DONNA:  Well, I know a lot of good things are going to happen for everybody, and just the important thing is to pass that on and do good things for others, you know.

TODD:  Well, I’ll probably get Kathryn in a couple weeks.  I’m trying to work with like an expert and then a victim, and then an expert and then a victim, you know, kind of space it out, because I’m not only trying to get exposure that need it…

DONNA:  This time you got two in one.

TODD:  Yeah.  You know we’re trying to work.

DONNA:  Not that I’m an expert, but I’m trying.

TODD:  Well, we’ll get the people that need some direct advice and then try to get group advice, you know, like by example, like you said, you’re two in one, you need help and you’re giving help, so it’s working.

DONNA:  Exactly.  I’m still a student and, in a way, I’m a teacher, and I hope to be that way my whole life.

TODD:  Well, you’ll be in between like I’ve been my whole life, you know, I’m just right now getting to the point where somebody says, you know, after 20 years, you know somebody says, “We’d like for you to do this,” and that’s never really been that way for me before.

DONNA:  Well, you’re doing exactly what you want to do and you’re doing it well.

TODD:  I’m just not expecting to get what I want.  You know, I never did really expect to get what I want, and then when you start to get what you want, you’re thinking, “Well now, what’s wrong?”  You know, “Why am I getting what I want?  Something’s got to be wrong with it.  Nobody just hands you something on a platter and gives you something that I would call a dream job,” you know, it just doesn’t happen.  So, we’ll see.

DONNA:  We probably have to create our own dream jobs and that’s what you’re doing.

TODD:  Well, you have too, apparently.

DONNA:  We’re proud of you.

TODD:  Well, I’ll let you go for the night and we’ll get this all up and running so your folks can hear it, and it will be transcribed really soon and you can read it.

DONNA:  I’m excited.

TODD:  I’ve had fun with it.  I’ve enjoyed it.

DONNA:  Thank you.  I enjoyed it a lot too.  Thanks for having me.

TODD:  Well, thank you for being here.

DONNA:  We’ll talk real soon?

TODD:  We will.  We will.

DONNA:  Okay, great.

TODD:  All right.  I’ll see everybody next week and we’ll have another interesting guest.  Goodnight, everybody.

Gary Weaver's Vitals:
Date of Birth:  April 09, 1953
Date Missing:  December 09,. 1983
Age at Time of Disappearance: 30 years old
Missing From: Nassau, Bahamas
Height:  5' 11"
Weight:  160 lbs.
Hair Color:  Brown
Eye Color:  Brown
Scars: Large scar on right knee.

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Aired: May 06, 2008
Searching For Gary
Guest: Donna Weaver
Wife of "Gary Weaver",
Area Director for Doe Network
and Private Investigator
Searching For Gary

The following is the story of why I chose to pursue a formal education and career as an investigator. I tell it as the girl I was then, instead of from the professional point of view that took me many years to learn. I know exactly why those in the criminal justice field should not be involved in investigating a case in which they are a victim. Unfortunately, sometimes a victim has no other choice.

I met my husband, Gary, in December of 1981. One year later we were married, and the following spring we were blessed with the birth of our twin daughters. I was the luckiest girl in the world-I was in love and married to my best friend, and I had two beautiful, healthy, and happy babies. Like many new families just starting out, money was a little tight and when Gary was offered an opportunity to make some extra money fixing diesel engines in the Bahamas, it seemed like a Godsend. Earning $100 a day for 2 or 3 days work would be a big help to us.

I last spoke to Gary on the morning of December 9, 1983, when he called to say he was almost finished with his work and had just purchased his plane ticket at the airport in Nassau to return home the next day. We happily talked of the plans we had for after I picked him up at the airport. We were going straight to my Mother's of Twins club Christmas party where the babies would sit on Santa's lap for the first time- something Gary was excited about as he had been eagerly anticipating the girls’ first Christmas almost since the day they were born. And the day after that was our first wedding anniversary. We were laughing on the phone about the prospect of eating the top of our wedding cake with the babies- all of us with our fingers! I had another surprise for him- one of the babies had started to say Da-Da while he was away, and I couldn’t wait to see his face when he heard it for the first time. So many happy days ahead!

On December 10th I stood waiting at the airport gate with the babies next to me in their double stroller. Gary didn't come home on the plane that day, and I never saw him again. Gary disappeared without a trace, and the last time anyone saw him was 45 minutes after I last spoke with him on the telephone the day before.

I had very little information about who Gary was working for and where he was staying in the Bahamas. I called local police and then started making phone calls to every local, state, and federal agency I could find in the phone book. No one helped me. I was left on my own to find out what happened to my husband.

Local police, federal agents, and a Congressional investigator kept telling me to let them handle it, and when I persisted in questioning them, I was told to stop asking questions about my husband's disappearance because I was putting my children and myself in danger. They said that I could even be killed if I didn’t stop making phone calls and offering the small bits of information I uncovered on my own to investigators. Furthermore, they refused to tell me who would want to hurt us and why. I did not understand so I continued to plead, beg, and demand to know what happened to my husband and why my children and I were in danger-but to no avail. It was unbelievable- surreal, and the fear and uncertainty was intolerable. I felt I had only one choice. I had to keep trying to find out what happened to Gary because I could never be sure in my heart we would be safe, even if I stopped looking. Gary was my husband; I had a right to know what happened to him. More importantly, he was a person, he mattered, and his life was just as valuable as anyone else’s was; no one was going to act as if he never existed. No matter how long it took, or what obstacles were in the way, I vowed that I would never give up until I found out what happened to him; but because I feared for my children, I very slowly and carefully set off to pursue the truth.

Twenty-three years later I have almost all of my answers; and soon those responsible will answer for what they have done. It’s not over yet. At the moment we are awaiting a formal request from the Bahamian government to the Office of International Affairs in answer to an offer of assistance from the US Attorney’s Office. It appears Gary’s homicide investigation is one of the many cases delayed by the investigation into the deaths of Daniel and Anna Nicole Smith.

Although my family and I have suffered a terrible betrayal by persons who swore an oath of honor to uphold the law, through this experience I have also been fortunate to meet and know some of the most dedicated and talented people both in and out of law enforcement who are true heroes and champions of truth and justice.

To read about my search for Gary and how the first official investigation was opened 22 years after his disappearance click here. Then read about something incredible that followed the publication of Finding Gary here.

Special Thanks to
for transcribing this episode!