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Episode 173: Riley Crossman Murder Case

This episode contains testimony from the trial of Andy McCauley for the murder of his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, Riley Crossman. The crime took place in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, a small working-class community blighted by Opiods and other drugs. Riley and her boyfriend, Hayden, always stayed in close contact by text and social media, even “sleeping together” at night on Facetime. On the night of May 7, 2019, at 11:01 p.m., Riley was in bed when something disturbing happened. She sent Hayden a text that said, “Andy’s in my room and I’m scared,” but Hayden had fallen asleep.

Riley’s dead body was found May 16 by Tuscarora Pike in Berkeley County, West Virginia. There was drywall compound all over her body and on foliage around her. Several contractor-weight trash bags were also found with the body. Contractor Andy McCauley, 43, a man with several prior felonies, was partner of Riley’s waitress mother Chantel. He denied involvement in the murder, but his alibi for the night of Riley’s death collapsed under scrunity. McCauley was convicted in November 2021 and sentenced to life without parole.

This episode contains trial testimony from Andy’s ex-girlfriend Denise, his mother Brenda, and his nephew, Christopher.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 172: Chandler Halderson Murder Case

This episode contains the long, grueling interrogation of Cat Mellender, 21, the girlfriend of 23-year-old Chandler Halderson. As she testified at trial in January 2022, Cat had always believed that Chandler was a recent college graduate who worked for an insurance company, volunteered as a rescue scuba diver, and was had recently been offered a job in Florida with SpaceX. But when Chandler’s parents, Bart and Krista Halderson, went missing in July 2021, his web of lies came undone.

Chandler had not graduated from college, did not have a job, and was not going to Florida. His father was getting suspicious, and making a lot of phone calls. Chandler knew he was sunk. But instead of confessing, he shot his parents to death, carved up their bodies, tried to burn them in the fireplace, and kept them in the ice chest before dumping them on Cat’s mother’s property. Evidence of the double murder was described during the trial: an eager flock of vultures hovering over the woods, and the smell of what one neighbor assumed was pork on a barbecue.

Chandler Halderson was found guilty of the two murders in March 2022, and was sentenced to life without parole.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 171: Spray Tan Murder Trial

    In November 2007, Adam Kaufman, a prominent Florida real estate salesman, woke to find his wife Lina, 33, draped by the neck, dead, over a magazine rack by the toilet in the couple’s ritzy waterfront home. There was suspicious bruising on Lina’s neck, although the marriage was apparently untroubled.  A year-and-a-half later, the Miami-Dade County medical examiner ruled Lina’s death a homicide by mechanical strangulation, and Adam was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The defense argued that a spray tan Lina got the day before may have caused her to pass out and slump over that magazine rack, where she was strangled to death by gravity.
Adam Kaufman was acquitted; experts concluded that his wife’s death, although unusual, was most likely caused by a preexisting heart condition. This episode contains testimony from Farrah Corenblum, who had a relationship with Adam after Lina’s death; Melissa Fedowitz and Rina Azulay, Lina’s close friends; Rachel Kaufman, the wife of Adam’s twin brother, Seth, and defense attorney Bill Matthewman, who objects that the prosecution is trying to portray Adam as “a rich Jew who didn’t grieve enough.”

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 170: Four UFO hotline calls

These are four calls to the National UFO Reporting Center, directed by Robert Gribble. The first call is a conversation with an alleged abductee in John Day, Oregon, who claims to have been abducted in June 1976 by four entities with large black eyes and dumped in an empty parking lot. On the face of it, the story is plausible, but the abductee is disoriented, intoxicated, and clearly unreliable. The second call is from a gentleman named Robert Estes, who, in September 1978, encountered a UFO and its occupant who said to him, “Bob, what do you think of this?” The third call is from a witness who describes an incident that occurred in Klamath Falls, Oregon in January 1979, and the fourth relates to a UFO landing in Yukon, Oklahoma in August 1978. The hotline host, Robert Gribble, is always gentlemanly and polite, no matter how bizarre or unusual the caller’s account.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 169 Lyle Menendez’s Girlfriends

Lyle and Erik Menéndez were convicted in 1996 for the murders of their parents, José and Mary Louise (“Kitty”) Menéndez. They claimed the murders were self-defense after years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

Traci Baker, a witness for the defense, was Lyle Menéndez’s ex-girlfriend. She testified to witnessing Kitty’s bizarre and aggressive behavior.

Jamie Pisarcik, a witness for the prosecution, was also a girlfriend of Lyle’s. She remained supportive after the murders, but when Lyle confessed that he and Erik did kill their parents because their parents had abused them, Jamie disbelieved him and withdrew her support.

It took 7 years and 3 trials to find Erik and Lyle guilty. They’re currently both serving sentences of life without parole in the California Department of Corrections.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 168: Rachelle Waterman Trial

On November 13, 2004, the charred body of teacher’s aide Lauri Waterman, 48, was found on the back seat of her minivan on a remote area on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. Her body had been beaten, and police concluded the death was a murder.

The perpetrators, as police soon discovered, were two young men, Brian Rodel and Jason Arrent, who were both in sexual relationships with Lauri’s daughter Rachelle, 16. An honor student and a champion volleyball player in the small town of Craig, Alaska, Rachelle had a blog called “My Crappy Life” in which she wrote about how her mother was ruining her life by complaining about her clothes, her weight, her boyfriends and her recent interest in Wicca.

The morning after the murder, Rachelle’s teachers found her demeanor not normal for someone whose mother was missing. Brian and Jason both testified that Rachelle had often complained to them about her mother’s abuses, telling them she wanted her mother dead. After a mistrial, Rachelle was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in July 2011, and sentenced to three years in prison. She was released in 2014.

This episode contains testimony from four of Rachelle’s school friends about Rachelle’s demeanor on the day of her mother’s death: Katrina Nelson, Kelly Carlson, Amanda Vosloh, Stefanie Claus.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 167: Fidel Lopez Murder Confession

On September 20, 2015, after being called to an apartment in Sunrise, Florida, police found the naked body of Maria Nemeth, 31, was found disemboweled; the apartment had been destroyed, and on the floor were tequila, blood, human tissue and guts. The perpetrator was Maria’s boyfriend Fidel Lopez, 24, who said that he and Maria had got drunk on tequila and Maria wanted to have “rough sex” in the closet.
During their intimacy, according to Fidel, Maria went crazy and asked him to penetrate her with various objects. Afterwards, he said, she became sick, started bleeding and went to the bathroom, where she had trouble breathing.
Later, he confessed that during sex, Maria called him by her ex-husband’s name. He became enraged, assaulted her with broken bottles, a hair-straightening flat-iron, and finally pulled out her intestines through her vagina.

Lopez admitted to charges of murder and sexual battery in order to avoid the death penalty.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 166: Mormon Doomsday Cult

It’s difficult to keep things straight in this complex and ongoing case, but here’s the short story. Lori and Charles Vallow were members of the LDS church who lived in Arizona with their five children from Lori’s four previous marriages. In 2015, Lori became obsessed with a series of apocalyptic books by Chad Daybell, an LDS renegade who documented his unconventional spiritual beliefs through pamphlets and podcasts. In 2018, she attended one of Daybell’s seminars, and was immediately drawn into the cult. Daybell said he’d lived 31 different lives on various earth-like planets, and believed in zombies and demon possession. According to those present, Chad referred to the photogenic Lori as an “eternal being” of 21 separate lives, only five of which had occurred on this planet. The couple then vanished for 58 days.

In July 2019, Lori’s husband Charles was shot and killed by her brother Alex, who claimed self-defense. In October 2019, Chad’s wife Tammy was found dead in the couple’s home. Two weeks later, Chad and Lori eloped to Hawaii and got married. Shortly thereafter, the police were called to Lori’s home in Arizona to check on two of her children, Tylee, 16, and J.J., 7, who hadn’t been seen for some time. The children’s  belongings were located in a storage locker, and documents were found that showed Chad and Lori had become convinced that Tylee and J.J. were “possessed,” and had become “zombies.” Eventually, their remains were found at Chad’s home, buried in a purported pet cemetery.

On May 25, 2021, Lori and Chad were charged with the first degree murders of Tylee, J.J., and Tammy.

The recording is a police tip from an anonymous caller, who was briefly married to Lori’s brother Alex Cox. She describes how Alex and his sister Lori were sexually demonstrative towards each other, how Alex was highly jealous of Lori’s boyfriends, and how their parents talked constantly about their sex lives.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 165: The Gainsville Ripper Trial

Danny Rolling was convicted of murdering five students in Gainsville, Florida, over four days in late August 1990 (he claimed to have killed eight people in addition to committing numerous rapes). The Gainsville murders were particularly horrible; after raping and stabbing them, Rolling mutilated and posed the women’s bodies. Rolling was tried in 2004 and pled guilty to all charges.  He was executed in 2006.
This episode contains trial testimony from Lillian “Bunnie” Mills, a self-styled country and western music producer, who was Rolling’s girlfriend from 1988 until 1989, and helped him with his prospective career as a country music and gospel singer. She also took him for counseling and tried to help with his anxiety and restlessness.
Lillian’s testimony is followed by that of Paul Schwartz, a longtime friend of Rolling’s third victim Christa Hoyt, 18, a student and dispatcher with the county sheriff’s office. On August 27, 1990, Christa failed to show up for work, and deputies were dispatched to her residence. Her landlord, Elbert Hoover, takes the stand next and describes how he noticed that someone had broken the fence leading to the back of Christa’s apartment. At the end of his testimony, he breaks down in grief.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 164: Depp vs. Heard; Ben King takes the stand

On April 25, 2022, during the Johnny Depp defamation trial, Depp’s attorneys called on Depp’s butler, genteel Ben King. Until this point in the trial, Depp had been portrayed as a “drunken, cocaine-fueled menace who beat women.” King presented a different story. Depp’s butler, who managed the home where the couple stayed in Australia during the 2015 filming of the fifth instalment of the “Pirates” franchise, described how Depp’s then-wife Amber Heard threw a vodka bottle at him, smashing his finger against the edge of a bar in the house. King testifies that he found Depp’s severed fingertip in a tissue on the floor of the bar along with a broken bottle of Stolichnaya vodka. Amber Heard was defeated in her defamation suit, and the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages.

Listen to the episode here.