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As you know, we take pride in celebrating the diligent work law enforcement performs everyday on Small Town Dicks. But sometimes, it’s the selfless act of a well-meaning citizen who saves the day. And that’s what happened on the day we pick up this case and an older couple decided to step-in when they saw something wrong. This story has everything – a car chase, a remote cabin full of hair-raising evidence, a suspect on the verge of a terrible crime, and, most importantly, a little girl who is alive today because two people decided to do something.

The Detective: Detective Jamie

Jamie has been in law enforcement for over eight years. She worked patrol for two and a half years before landing in her position as a detective, where her primary caseload is child abuse and sex crimes. Jamie is a member of her county’s Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), Inter-Agency Deadly Force Investigative Team (IDFIT), and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Task Force (CSEC). She loves reading, concerts, and beach vacations.

Read Transcript

Yeardley:  Hey, Small Town Fam. It’s Yeardley. How are you guys? I’m so glad you’re here. So, one of our newer guests, Detective Jamie, returns today with a case about an attempted kidnapping that takes law enforcement down a rabbit hole of depravity and premeditation the likes of which Hollywood horror films are made. I personally can’t watch movies like that. Oh, no. Mm-mm. Whether they’re Sci-Fi or The Silence of the Lambs, I am much too squeamish. And maybe I even cling to the hope that Hollywood is exaggerating about what’s happening in the shadows. Although I have to say, after 14 seasons of Small Town Dicks I know better. And I know that sometimes monsters are real, such as the offender in this episode where the evidence police uncover is so disturbing and abundant that even the detectives are taken aback.

 The silver lining is that the other stunning part of this investigation comes from two Good Samaritans who saw something that didn’t sit right with them and instead of shrugging it off, called police immediately. The ripple effect was huge. Here is A Vile Plan.

[Small Town Dicks theme]

Yeardley:  Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.

Dan:  I’m Dan.

Dave:  I’m Dave.

Paul:  And I’m Paul.

Yeardley:  And this is Small Town Dicks.

Dan:  Dave and I are identical twins.

Dave:  And retired detectives from Small Town, USA.

Paul:  And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State Killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.

Dan:  Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.

Dave:  Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.

Paul:  Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.

Dan:  And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved-

Dave:  -out of respect for what they’ve been through.

[In Unison]:  Thank you.

Yeardley:  Today, on Small Town Dicks I wonder if I should even say it. What if I don’t even say the usual suspects? How about I just go? Hi, today on Small Town Dicks, I have Detective Dan.

Dan:  Hello, everyone. [Yeardley laughs] High energy.

Yeardley:  High energy. I have Paul Holes.

Paul:  Hi.

Yeardley:  [laughs]Really, really upended the boat here. And I have the one and only Detective Dave.

Dave:  Hey, hey.

Yeardley:  Hey.

Paul:  Hey.

[laughter]

Yeardley:  Oh, it’s like that shell game where you don’t know what cup the little pebble is under. [laughs] These are all scrambled. And Small Town Fam, we are so pleased to welcome back Detective Jamie.

Jamie:  Hello.

Yeardley:  Hello. It’s great to see you again. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jamie:  Yeah, I’m happy to be back.

Yeardley:  And for our listeners, you’ll remember, or if you’re a first-time listener, I’m happy to inform you that Jamie gave us a case earlier this season that we called Duped. It’s a great one.

Dave:  And Jamie and I were actually briefly partners at the same agency before I retired. So, Jamie, it’s great to have you back.

Jamie:  Thank you.

Yeardley:  So, Jamie, tell us how this case came to you.

Jamie:  All right, so this was in June 2022. It was a typical Monday, at like 04:15 in the afternoon. So, I am just watching the clock, waiting to go home. It’s a nice day. It’s in the summertime. There is a radio that we keep back in our detective office, so we can just keep an eye on what’s being dispatched and what our officers are doing. And my ears perked up because I heard dispatch broadcast a call about these caller’s chasing someone who tried to kidnap a child. So, that’s what I heard. That was the only information that came out. I remember a second call to 911 was made about two vehicles chasing each other and running stop signs.

 And I remember we made this joke about, what are the odds of this actually being real versus a road rage-type situation and someone is just prank calling us basically. We don’t get these calls in our small city very often. Someone trying to take a child and vehicles chasing each other, that’s just not something you hear every day. The original callers to 911 is a married couple in their 50s named John and Susan. They called 911 and continued to provide dispatch with updates on their location and the suspect vehicle that they were chasing. And they were headed east, out of our town towards more of a back road’s country area. We’re still listening to the radio, like, is this real?

 And then finally, Susan is on 911 saying, we watched this guy try to grab a small child, and then he jumped back in his vehicle, and we’re chasing him. Susan is providing updates about chasing this suspect vehicle all over our town. I later learned that John and Susan had their two small dogs in the backseat, that they were just getting thrown around in the backseat as they’re trying to keep up with this guy because they know that they just witnessed an attempted abduction and he cannot get away. They had bad tires. Their tires were very bald. They’re spinning out on gravel as the suspect vehicle is crossing the center lane, trying to get away. So, of course, as all of this is happening, dispatch is broadcasting to every single agency in the state, probably about what just happened.

 So, every officer in the area, from our state police to our deputy sheriffs, are responding. As this is happening and more information is coming out from the 911 callers. Lieutenant George and I look at each other, and we’re like, “This is 100% happening.” Like, there’s no doubt now that this is real. And no one had located this little girl yet. Nobody knows where she actually is because all of the officers are busy trying to catch up to this mini citizen pursuit.

Yeardley:  And, Jamie, just to be clear, this is an attempted abduction, correct?

Jamie:  Yes. Susan was able to confirm that he didn’t actually grab that little girl, so she is not in the vehicle with this suspect.

Yeardley:  And do you think that the abduction is thwarted because John and Susan rolled up on the guy trying to snatch the girl, and he realized he had witnesses?

Jamie:  A 1000%, yes, yes. Absolutely. So, I cannot emphasize enough how much of a team effort this was between every single agency coming into town and trying to find this suspect vehicle. There was an off duty neighboring agency lieutenant who lived in our city, and when he heard all of my agency’s officers, he knew that he was the closest one to where this was last seen. So, he’s taking off lights and sirens, trying to find it. We’ve got troopers coming in. They are just flooding with law enforcement. After what felt like hours, it was like 10 minutes of searching all of these back roads, the suspect vehicle was finally spotted, and a short pursuit ensues. Police officers are lights and sirens behind him. There’s absolutely nowhere for this person to go. It’s flooded with law enforcement.

 The suspect slammed on his brakes so hard and just comes to an immediate stop in the middle of the road. And the officers behind, they had to slam on their brakes. They had to try to avoid hitting each other, hitting the suspect vehicle, it just was so abrupt that it just ended. So, officers, troopers, deputies, everyone’s there trying to coordinate getting into position for this high-risk felony traffic stop. And commands are being yelled at to the suspect, but they’re not getting a response from inside the vehicle. There’s no movement from inside the vehicle. So, after several minutes of trying to figure out tactically how to approach this car, they’re putting spike strips up ahead just in case the suspect decides to flee again in his car. They’re angling other cars. So, eventually they approach the vehicle and they find the driver deceased.

 He has a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It probably happened immediately when he anchored the car and came to a stop. My assumption is during the chaos of the other officers slamming on their brakes, trying to avoid each other, the adrenaline, the chaos, like, everyone on the radio, they probably didn’t hear the gunshot.

Dave:  You got sirens going on. I mean, there’s just so much. And it’s inside of a vehicle, so you’re probably not going to hear the gunshot, and what’s our suspect’s name?

Jaime:  Our suspect’s name is Joseph.

Yeardley:  How old is Joseph-ish.

Jaime:  He’s late 20s. I think he was 29. So, everything is happening so fast that I got in my car, and I decided I’m going to go to where this originally happened, see if we can find this little girl. So, that’s my job. I’m the child abuse detective. I’ve done forensic interviewing training. I need to go find this girl. But as I’m driving out there is when all of this is taking place, and they’re airing over the radio that, “Oh, they found the suspect and he’s deceased.” And now, I mean, there wasn’t really doubt in my mind that this was true before, but I’m like, this guy just got in a pursuit, anchored it, and shot himself. Normal people don’t do that. He was doing something very, very bad.

 So, we were able to find this little girl’s house. Her name is Nicole. She was downstairs in her bedroom watching TV, just another Monday, like nothing had happened. Her mom was okay with me going down there and chatting with her and just getting some initial details. I didn’t want to traumatize her further, but it’d be nice to have just, a little bit of backstory of what we can get at that moment. So, Nicole told me that she was walking from her house down the street to her friend’s house, and her friend was not home. So, Nicole started walking back home when she noticed this car pull up in front of her, and a really big guy jumped out of the car in front of her. Nicole then saw another car drive by simultaneously as this happened.

 Nicole said the guy never touched her, and he just immediately hopped back in his car, and she ran away. Nicole is eight years old, and Nicole told me that her parents had taught her about stranger danger, so she just took off running to her house.

Dave:  And how far away does Nicole’s friend live from Nicole’s house?

Jaime:  It was right around the corner. It was probably six or seven houses down. And Nicole was two houses away from her own house. She was walking home. She was two houses away when this all happened.

Dave:  That’s all it takes.

Jaime:  Yeah. So, Nicole seemed to be in really good spirits. I think she was scared, but she’s eight. She obviously had no idea of the gravity of the situation and what almost just happened to her. She thinks just some guy popped out and scared her and she ran home and everything’s fine. Nicole’s mom was home when this happened. Nicole’s dad showed up later. I think for them too, the shock of what we were telling them, they didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. Obviously, they were so grateful that nothing happened and so thankful that these people, John and Susan, had intervened and saw what happened. But I think they were still like, “Oh, well, our daughter’s here.” Nothing bad happened.

Yeardley:  Jamie, did you actually tell Nicole’s parents how the pursuit ended with Joseph taking his own life?

Jaime:  Yeah. And I think that put it all into perspective of this guy was up to no good and my daughter was the one who he had targeted.

Yeardley:  If the suspect is dead by the time you contact Nicole, is there a need for an investigation?

Jaime:  Absolutely.

Yeardley:  All the detectives are smirking at me. [laughs] It’s probably a dumb question.

Dan:  The immediate concern is public safety. Like Jamie said, normal people don’t do this.

Paul:  And the fact that Joseph committed suicide, I mean, he didn’t even go hands on with Nicole. You have this attempted abduction, but why is he taking his life? Now that law enforcement is pursuing him, what else has he done?

Dave:  Right. And where does he live? And is anyone locked up in a closet in his house? You have to dig in and find out where this guy’s been, what he’s up to, what his motives were. And those investigations where you know it’s never going to end in an arrest because you have a deceased subject, you end up doing the most work on.

Yeardley:  Why is that?

Dave:  You have to check every box. We’re thinking about public safety. So, I want to know everywhere that Joseph has been in recent days and weeks, where does he lay his head to go to sleep at night. I want to know what’s in that house and what he’s into. Certainly, going to get on his computer and figure out what he’s been up to online and what he looks at, what he searches for. There’s so much more that goes into this. You just don’t have a suspect to interview at the end. But the investigation is the same.

Dan:  I mean, all the things that we do as detectives, if you don’t do all those things, and in worst case scenario, there’s a little girl locked up in a basement somewhere and you just stopped your investigation because suspect killed himself. I mean, it just can’t happen.

Dave:  Yeah. The circumstances really lend themselves to more suspicion on my part. I go, like, “Why is this guy anchoring his car and blowing his head off?” There’s something bigger out there.

[Break 1]

Jaime:  So, what we learned from John and Susan is that they lived in the neighborhood, and they are on their way to the store when they see what they thought was a suspicious vehicle parked near an area where children were getting dropped off by a school bus. So, they thought that was kind of weird. But then they watched as the suspect vehicle made a U turn and started following what ended up being Nicole, who was walking alone. And, it’s a typical neighborhood street, but she was alone. There was nobody else walking down that street with her or in sight. So, John and Susan felt really uneasy about it, so they decided, let’s turn around, let’s go follow that vehicle. So, luckily enough, the house directly across the street from where this happened had the most amazing cameras.

 So, this entire attempted abduction was caught on camera. When John and Susan come around the corner to turn to where Nicole had walked off to, they see Joseph jump out of the car and stand in front of Nicole. That’s when Joseph looks up and sees this car coming around the corner. He jumps back in his vehicle. John and Susan drive by to where Nicole had ran and they’re yelling out the window to Nicole, “Hey, did you know that guy? Is that your dad?” And Nicole said, “No, I didn’t know him.” So, John and Susan were like, “Oh, shit.” U turn, chase after this guy because they just witnessed an attempted abduction, and this guy cannot get away.

Yeardley:  And you’re actually able to watch all of this happen on the security footage from the house across the street?

Jaime:  Yes.

Yeardley:  That’s incredible.

Jaime:  On camera, you see this white Camry speeding back through the view of the video camera. It’s John and Susan taking off back after this suspect.

Dave:  I love John and Susan. You got to listen to your instincts. I love that they did that. There is so many examples, and I’m guilty of it myself where you’re like, “Eh, it’s probably nothing.” It’s so easy to do that. But these folks just taking an extra two minutes of their trip saved this girl’s life. 100% saved her life.

Jaime:  Absolutely. And whether you believe in coincidence, religion, spiritual, whatever it is, what happened that day was so amazing because Susan did not want to go to the store. John made Susan go with him. And when they left, Susan thought this was weird. And John was like, “Eh, it’s fine.” Susan made John turn around. So, all this comes together that they were in the right spot at the right time to save this little girl’s life.

Yeardley:  So, what does your investigation reveal about Joseph and his lifestyle, etc.?

Jaime:  So, Joseph’s vehicle was transported back to the police station for us to go through it. I went through his car personally, and everything you can imagine that a kidnapper would need. He was so prepared. There were condoms. There were these pre-made, handcuffed zip ties attached to the passenger floorboard, like where you would move your seat back and forth. So, I imagine if Joseph would have gotten Nicole in the car, he would have zip tied her hands. And then there was a blanket in the passenger floorboard. He just would have thrown this blanket over her to conceal her from view. There was duct tape on the handles inside the vehicle, so you couldn’t access the door handles. There were knives in the trunk. There were garbage bags, hand sanitizing wipes, a gas can, and then this horrifying goat skeleton mask. And it had huge horns, like what you would get from a Halloween store and you would wear to scare people. It was super creepy.

Dave:  It sounds like pagan symbology.

Paul:  It’s a satanic symbol. When we did our live episode at CrimeCon last summer, I talked about Mitch Bacom. Bacom had a tattoo of the same thing.

Dave:  I totally picture it. And I think that’s also the Mitch Bacom thing was in my mind. Because I know that Paul has talked about the imagery that gets associated with some of these offenders and what they’re into. And when Jamie said the goat mask, I was like, I think I can picture this. It’s super creepy. Yeah.

Paul:  But it’s informative, when I think about this, why is he putting the mask on? Joseph is now wanting to become this creature as he’s committing this evil act on this little girl. So, this is how, in many ways, how Joseph is identifying internally and that this creature is something that he’s seeing about himself, and he was about to commit all sorts of horrifying sexual acts, possibly torture. And Joseph is purposely wanting to inflict fear into this victim. There is a sadistic aspect, but this is also part of his fantasy.

Jaime:  Yes, absolutely. So, pulling all this stuff out of the car, it’s very surreal for me. I’ve never had a case like this before. These are the stuff that you hear about, you hear on podcasts, but I was, like, pulling all this stuff out of the car. I was like, holy shit. Like, this was bad. This could have been so, so, so bad. So, the next day, we find out where Joseph is from. About three hours south of us is where Joseph lives with his mother, Tina. Another detective and I, we drive down to Joseph’s location. Fun fact, on my three-hour drive, any guesses on what I listen to?

Dave:  Probably Spice Girls or something.

Yeardley:  Taylor Swift.

Jaime:  No. No. People, you’re so humble. No. I listened to Monster Part 1 and Part 2.

Yeardley:  That episode is from Season 2, you went way back.

Jaime:  I did. I was like, let’s listen to this episode because it’s very similar. This is exactly what was going to happen to my case. And it was just a little– it was pep. I needed some motivation.

Dave:  We appreciate that.

Yeardley:  We sure do. So, Jamie, now you’re in the town that Joseph is from. Where do you start once you get there?

Jaime:  So, now we’re going to go talk to family, friends, employers, relationships, anybody who can give us some background on Joseph. From what we learn from Tina is that Joseph was a loner. He was very socially awkward, very standoffish, kept to himself. He didn’t have any friends. He spent a considerable amount of time in his room playing video games, searching the Internet for serial killers and their victims. Like, his Google search history was just full of Wikipedia from serial killers. And then looking up all of their victims later from digital forensics. He was exploring the dark web for child pornography. Tina told me that Joseph battled with depression, but he was able to maintain a part time job for a local parks and recreation department.

Dave:  Again, they put themselves around children, try to be around children all the time.

Jaime:  Tina did not think Joseph was one to ever own a gun. She didn’t think he liked guns or even knew how to use guns. And she’s never known him to have any romantic relationships ever.

Yeardley:  Did anybody say, “Oh, yeah, he was always a weirdo?” You know how people sometimes say, either we never suspected he was just plain Joe, or they go, yeah, if it was ever going to be anyone in this neighborhood it is going to be that guy.

Jaime:  The description’s like, loner, outcast, awkward, depressed, plays in his room on video games, zero friends. To me, those are all red flags. If you told me, he did it, I believe you but I think in his family, in his circle, I don’t think they were thinking much in that direction. They just thought he was a loner and just socially awkward. And Joseph had no criminal history either.

Dave:  How is Tina holding up, knowing that her son had executed himself a day prior?

Jaime:  She was definitely in shock, and I was trying to take it very, very gently with her because I also wanted to search Joseph’s bedroom, and so I didn’t want to scare her or freak her out. It was a very sensitive subject because she seemed like a very nice lady, and her son just died, and I spared her a lot of details about what was in his car and what he did.

Yeardley:  Why did you do that?

Jaime:  I felt for her, she needed to hold on to the good memories she had. Her husband had died, so Joseph’s dad died a few years prior after a long battle of some medical issues. And so, I think that’s where Joseph started declining. That’s what Tina said in her mind. I don’t know. She just seemed really nice, and I just felt bad for her, honestly. This was a horrible situation. And she was so, so thankful that he didn’t take Nicole. Like, she asked about Nicole and was like, “Is that little girl okay?” And she showed a lot of sympathy. So, I know she wasn’t okay with anything that Joseph did, but she was very torn because her son just died and killed himself. And she has no idea what just happened.

Dave:  When you asked for consent to search Joseph’s room, what was her immediate reaction?

Jaime:  She was fine with it.

Yeardley:  And what did you find?

Jaime:  Not a lot was in his bedroom. He had a computer and desktop in there, but we learned that he had pulled the SATA hard drives from his computer, and those were no longer in the computer.

Yeardley:  So, he took the memory chip, basically.

Jaime:  Yeah, the hard drive that would contain all of the naughty things he was doing on there.

Paul:  Did Joseph’s mom, Tina, have free access to his room?

Jaime:  She never went in there.

Paul:  But she physically could, right?

Jaime:  Yeah. Yeah, she could have, but she just left him alone.

Yeardley:  What did Joseph’s room look like?

Jaime:  It was fairly clean. It looked like someone spent a lot of time in there, but it definitely looked like he had cleaned up.

Yeardley:  And when was the last time Tina had seen Joseph?

Jaime:  So it had been about four days since she last saw him. Joseph told Tina that he was going to go rent a cabin at the coast, complete opposite direction of where my agency is. But her understanding was he was going to go rent a cabin for a couple days and just get away and relax. And he was into photography, and so that’s what she thought he was doing this whole time. So that day, I’m down in this city. During that day, Detective Robert, our forensic analyst, was going through Joseph’s cell phone, and so he was able to identify a very remote cabin that Joseph had rented for the past week in a very remote area about 45 minutes south of my agency and where this crime occurred.

 I remember the description of this cabin was, like, “No Wi Fi service,” perfect for solitude, remote area, no neighbors. And so, you’re starting to pick up on. Oh, my God.

Dave:  That’s the thing is, if you drive 45 minutes south of our city, you are in the middle of forest. Truly, this is seclusion deep in the woods.

Jaime:  Right. No cell service. I lost cell service when we were on the way there. Like it was the boondocks, really. So, obviously, there’s a huge concern, what we’ve talked about previously, that what if there is another girl there? What if there’s another victim in a cage, locked up in the basement? What if there’s a second bad guy? Like, what if Joseph had a partner who knows what’s going on? So, we obviously need to get down to this cabin.

[Break 2]

Jaime:  So, we located this cabin on a very large piece of property. But after searching the whole property, we didn’t find any additional victims. There were no other people there. There was no second bad guy. It was just an empty cabin.

Paul:  Was there any evidence that Joseph had even been inside this cabin?

Jaime:  Yes. So, Joseph had been in that cabin for about four days prior to trying to kidnap Nicole. He had just been hanging out there. There were receipts of food. He had food everywhere. But what was in this cabin was the stuff of nightmares. Just picturing what was in his car and then thinking about this cabin is x20. It was a one-bedroom cabin with a loft area too. So, there were two beds one’s up in the loft, where he was clearly sleeping. And then there was a second bed down on the first floor. The mattress had been moved into the bathroom, which was really weird. I don’t know why this mattress was in the bathroom, because it was just standing up on its side. It’s not like you could lay the mattress down and have someone lay on it.

 I don’t know what it was doing in there. So, we pulled it out. And I’ll spare you the details of everything that was found inside the bathroom, but it was clear that’s where Joseph was going to spend the majority of his time with his victim. There are more condoms, sex toys of all sizes, weird BDSM-type objects, like a ball gag. There was this homemade strangle device, more duct tape. There were more of those premade handcuffed zip ties. And then behind the toilet, there was a camera, which was attached to the tripod in the bathroom. The windowsill had rope, pliers, an electric shaver, trauma shears. And then in the bathtub itself was a sleeping bag, a tarp, and a pillow.

Jaime:  So, we’re just going through this, obviously, picturing what was in store for the little girl that got brought here, whoever she was going to be. It was terrifying, but it also felt fake at the same time. Like, in my mind, I’m like, I’ve just never seen anything like this. This is just something that I feel like I would see on TV. Like, this is just so nuts to me.

Dave:  Quick question. Joseph has been at this cabin for four days. Were you able to find out how long he had this cabin rented for?

Jaime:  I think it was, like, a week.

Dave:  So, plan on a few days of torture. Terrible things were going to happen to this little girl. And then I think we can all assume what’s going to happen after that. That tarp probably has something to do with it.

Paul:  You just see from the items that Joseph had in his car. First, he set the car up to be able to control this victim, to hide to the victim being shackled down low and being covered, but then to have the knives, garbage bags, disposal, possibly the ability to start a fire with the gasoline. This is to either light the car on fire or to help get rid of the body. Then you extrapolate that to the cabin and all the items that are there. Joseph has rented this cabin for a week. There’s more there than what is needed for just one little girl as a victim. To me, it sounds like he may have been going to go on a series, and for whatever reason, he didn’t get a victim for the first four days.

 Jamie, are you able to place any movement after he’s at the cabin? Is he driving around to different towns? Because it almost sounds like he could be out there trolling for victims and just never got the right opportunity until he ran across Nicole.

Jaime:  Absolutely. So, we were able to build a timeline of what Joseph has been doing. And so, it was about three months prior to this whole incident taking place that he starts searching for Airbnb’s in various cities. And it’s about one month prior to when the crime occurred that he finally locked down on a city, and he locked down on this cabin, this remote cabin. So, Joseph booked and paid for this cabin for seven days. He started Google searching gun laws in my state and the fingerprinting process, because the very next day after those Google searches, he went and bought handgun. About a week after he bought the handgun is when he checks into this Airbnb cabin. And then we start seeing payment history for movies. He went to the movie theater and he was buying pizza.

 So, he was just hanging out in this area. He’s got notes in his phone. One note was documenting apparent times and locations. So, I think they were bus scheduled drop offs, because they would say things like, 1533 this intersection.

Yeardley:  You think those were city buses that he was keeping schedules on?

Jaime:  They were school buses.

Yeardley:  Creepy.

Jaime:  He’s just in preparation. I think he’s building up to what he’s about to do with Nicole. He’s on the hunt. He’s looking around, but he’s also planning it. Also found on Joseph’s camera roll, where he was taking photos of unsuspecting children for months. Just kids walking down the street, and Joseph would just take a photo of them. There was also another note in his phone titled schedule that seemed to detail what Joseph planned on doing once he successfully abducted a victim. And then the most disturbing part, I mean, obviously, there were some sexual things that he was going do that were horrendous to even just read. But the most disturbing was he included mind games, like, he was going to fake a car ride, and then he was going to pretend to leave.

 He’s mentally trying to play with this little girl and scare her. I think there were at least two days full of schedule, so he was planning for at least two days with this girl. So, what Joseph had done from when he woke up to when he attempted to abduct Nicole, Joseph was watching several rape videos on his cell phone, probably coming from the dark web. And then based on his timeline and then cameras in the neighborhood about half an hour before the attempted abduction, Joseph’s vehicle can be seen driving around this area. Joseph can be seen directly behind a school bus in this general vicinity. About a half hour later is when Joseph attempted to abduct Nicole.

Dave:  The fact that Joseph is doing this in broad daylight is really bold, and it gives you some insight into where this guy’s mind was, how bad this would have been.

Jaime:  What scares me the most thinking about it, is that Nicole was on her way to a friend’s house. Her mom thought she was going to go play with her friend for probably a couple hours. And so, when Nicole gets there, her friend’s not there, and she starts walking home. If Joseph had been successful, police would have been behind the ball by several, several hours, because I bet by the time mom thinks to figure out where her daughter is, it’s been a couple hours. Then they’re going to go probably do this little search party within the family. Then they’re going to call police. And now police have to figure out, you know, hopefully we would go check that person’s camera about what happened.

 Okay, even if we get this camera footage of this successful abduction, you don’t have a vehicle plate, you have a description, but Joseph is not from the area. So, where would we have even started? You know what I mean? Like, we would have been hours behind, no suspect information. And who knows how far away he could have gotten. He probably could have gone out of the state by then.

Dan:  You got a BOLO and an Amber alert with a vehicle description and a little girl’s description and maybe a clothing description on Joseph.

Dave:  Right, a two-to-three-hour head start in a vehicle. Jamie’s right. Going north or south, Joseph could be at a state line within three and a half hours.

Yeardley:  Any amount of time that Joseph had a jump on law enforcement would have been devastating, especially because I think he was going to take Nicole to that cabin he had set up, like a torture chamber.

Paul:  And the reality is, with stranger child abductions, you’ve got an hour after that child is abducted because typically the kids are killed within that hour. So, by the time law enforcement is even notified, Nicole would have been dead. And now you’re looking for a body.

Yeardley:  Huh.

Jaime:  Yeah. Very, very scary. So, after this happened, we sent out a release to all law enforcement agencies in the state, or at least the states in our area, talking about, hey, this attempted abduction just happened. Here’s the vehicle license plate, here’s the suspect, all of his name, his description, age, all of that. Do you have any similar cases? Do you have anything that we should know about or that we can help you solve basically? Are there any other cases out there? So that’s when I get contacted by our state’s FBI office. One of their higher ups is like, “Hey, I’m in charge of these missing children abduction-type cases, and we want to talk to you about your case.

[Break 3]

Yeardley:  It must be a big deal when the FBI reaches out and says, “Hey, we want to talk to you about your case.”

Jaime:  Yeah. I was like, I’m so excited. Yes. Like, let’s talk to the FBI. We did this huge conference call with members of our local FBI office, and then the behavior analysis unit, which I was just starstruck, and they read all my reports. I felt like I was initiated into the FBI for a minute.

[laughter]

 They started talking to me all about the pathways to targeted violence of violent offenders, you know, school shooters or mass shooters, and how they kind of like child sex predators. Like, they’re not creative. They all just fit in a box. They’re all relatively the same. And so, they’re talking to me about all these phases of these pathways to violence and how Joseph was checking every single box, such as this ideation where he’s getting this fantasy and he’s starting to want to do this, the research and planning.

 And he started buying all of these objects on Amazon, like a year prior. So, a lot of things we found in the cabin we were able to link back to his Amazon account. So, in the preparation phase, they talk about how that’s usually when these offenders get this burst of energy. Like they’re super excited and they’re happy. And I was like, that’s exactly how Tina, Joseph’s mother, described him, was that he typically has this glassy look and he’s depressed and he hangs out in his room. But like, a week before he left, she’s like, we were cooking together. He came out of his room, you know, his eyes seemed brighter. He was in a good mood because he knew what he was about to go do. And I’m just fascinated, taking all of this information in.

 And then, you know, they talk about the breach, which is recon and Joseph planning, and that’s him going out and scoping out all of these different locations and the timetables of these bus schedules. And then there are 90% of these offenders have suicidal ideation. So, it was no shock to them at all that as soon as Joseph got caught and anchored the vehicle, he killed himself. So, it was just very fascinating listening to them and talk about getting this person’s fingerprints and blood into the system to see if there’s any other cases out there that we could possibly solve. Joseph lived in a couple different states. He had gone on some road trips previously. The FBI said that they’re going to help me look into these things and put him in their national database.

 So, blood and fingerprints were collected at Joseph’s autopsy and submitted to CODIS. I know of at least one agency that reached out to me in our state that said, “Hey, this big bushy haired guy broke into a house and sexually abused a child that was sleeping in her bed. Do you have the blood and fingerprints? Because we want to test it against our case, because we have evidence in that case.” And so, I only have one agency where I know that they’ve reached out, but we have submitted all of that stuff into our state lab. And as far as I know, based on all of the digital analysis, everything that the FBI did for us at least as of now, we haven’t found additional victims.

 I’m hoping that because based off all of his preparation and his manuscript, I think this was Joseph’s first time. I think at least I’m hoping it was his first attempt and he just failed.

Yeardley:  It’s just all much too close for comfort. Jamie, what became of John and Susan?

Jaime:  So, John and Susan were honestly the true heroes of this case. I feel like it’s every police officer’s dream to save someone’s life. That’s why we get into this line of work. We want to help people. We want to save people. Like, Dave has talked about before, we are more reactive than proactive. And for this to happen in front of these random citizens just happened to be on their way to the store, and they decide to intervene and chase down this person truly saved this girl’s life. I mean, we all know what was in store for her, even if she doesn’t. But our department recognized John and Susan for their actions and how they averted a huge tragedy and basically changed this girl’s life forever.

 So, John and Susan were presented with a letter of commendation from our small town, who will just forever be grateful to them. John and Susan were also nominated and selected to receive our state’s Distinguished Citizen Award at The Annual Peace Officers Association Awards banquet. So, this is statewide now. This happened just a couple weeks ago. I went to the award banquet to represent my department and support John and Susan. It was incredible. So, so many police officers in our state got awards for being involved in mass shootings or their investigation or whatever. And, everyone cheers and claps, and they give a summary of what they did. So, when this Distinguished Citizen Award is ready to be presented, they give a summary of this entire case. John and Susan went up to collect their award and there was a standing ovation.

 I got goosebumps. I started tearing up because it was so amazing, so well deserved. Everyone in this huge room recognized and understood what they did and how this saved Nicole’s life. It was incredible to watch.

Yeardley:  That’s amazing. I love that.

Dave:  Yeah, I got the goosebumps when you said it.

Dan:  Chicken skin.

Dave:  Good God. I hate when you say that.

[laughter]

Paul:  I got a little perklempt myself.

[laughter]

Jaime:  It was fantastic. They’re talking about officers in these shootings or these pursuits. They’re giving all of these awards and everyone’s like yeah, that’s cool. And then John and Susan get their award, and everyone just stands up just the loudest clapping, the loudest applause. Really happy to be there.

Yeardley:  Yeah. That’s fantastic. I believe it goes back to what Dave was saying and what you were saying too, Jamie, about a number of things had to come together in order for John and Susan to be at the right place at the right time. Susan didn’t want to go to the store. John makes her go. John doesn’t want to follow the car. Susan says, we must. And to Dave’s point about how I think a lot of us these days feel like, should I get involved? What if I’m wrong and the person I’m getting involved with is furious at me? Do I want to handle that? that sort of thing. So, the fact that they had this instinct and just followed it is pretty remarkable, I think. And fuck yeah, go guys. That was amazing.

Dan:  I think, as a police officer, probably why John and Susan got such a great reception at this awards banquet is because us as police officers, we’re just not used to seeing regular citizens intervene. When you have somebody who genuinely intervenes and it saves a little girl’s life in this situation, Nicole, that is remarkable to us because we’re not used to it.

Yeardley:  Sure. I think you’re absolutely right.

Jaime:  And they could have easily just called 911 and stayed with the little girl and they would have done the right thing.

Dave:  It would have sat on the call screen as a suspicious conditions call until the next officer was available to go do an area check.

Yeardley:  Or until Joseph actually abducts another victim successfully. And then it’s far worse. I’m curious, Jamie, how, as a woman investigating sex crimes and child abuse, when women are often the victims, where does all of that live inside of you?

Jaime:  I mean, it’s a little daunting, you know, going out at night, dating, putting yourself in vulnerable positions. Because I hear all of these stories about these women going out with their friends on a Friday night, and I’m like, I do that and something really bad happens to them. I’m like, at what point could that have been me?” I see myself in a lot of these situations that these women are in and it’s almost just like, okay, if it happens, when it happens, which is a scary thought because it’s just so prevalent. I feel very jaded. I feel like everyone out there is a sex offender.

Yeardley:  Would you say that since you became a police officer and particularly a detective, have your friends said you’ve changed? Have they said, like, you didn’t used to be that way? You used to be more carefree?

Jaime:  Yes, I think I’ve noticed it myself. And I point it out but, even my sister we’re really close. We’ll be in a situation, and I just automatically think the worst of it. And she’s like, wow. Like, I wouldn’t have thought about that. You’re thinking, like, criminals and bad people everywhere. But, yeah, I feel like I’ve lost some of that fun personality, that carefree, glass half full optimistic part of myself. Maybe it’ll come back soon.

Yeardley:  That’s such an interesting case. And what I like about it is, first of all, that Nicole is safe. And hats off to John and Susan. We need more citizens like that. But it goes back to my question of if your suspect is deceased, how much of an investigation is there? And really glad and impressed that you just go to the mat anyway because you find out all this information about this person, which obviously will inform other investigations going forward, even though Joseph ends up having shot himself in the head. I just think you can’t overstate crossing the t’s and dotting the I’s in your line of work in particular. So, thank you.

Jaime:  Thank you.

Dave:  Nice work, Jamie. I’m proud of you.

Dan:  Yeah, good job.

Paul:  Jamie, absolutely fascinating case. Thank you.

Yeardley:  Yeah, it was great.

Jaime:  Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

[music]

Yeardley:  Small Town Dicks was created by Detectives Dan and Dave. The podcast is produced by Jessica Halstead and me, Yeardley Smith. Our senior editor is Soren Begin, and our editor are Christina Bracamontes and Erin Phelps. Our associate producers are the Real Nick Smitty and Erin Gaynor. Gary Scott is our executive producer, and Logan Heftel is our production manager. Our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell. And our social media maven is Monika Scott. It would make our day if you became a member of our Small Town Fam by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at @smalltowndicks, we love hearing from you.

 Oh, our groovy theme song was composed by John Forrest. Also, if you’d like to support the making of this podcast, hop on over to patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcast. There, for a small subscription fee, you’ll find exclusive content you can’t get anywhere else. The transcripts of this podcast are thanks to SpeechDocs and they can be found on our website, smalltowndicks.com. Thank you SpeechDocs for this wonderful service. Small Town Dicks is an Audio 99 production. Small Town Fam, thanks for listening. Nobody is better than you.

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