The usual suspects traveled to Orlando for CrimeCon ‘23 and took the stage for a special live episode – and we got you a front row ticket to the show! Our co-host and CrimeCon veteran, the one and only Paul Holes, leads the team in their live-show debut.Read Transcript
Yeardley: [00:00:06] Hey, Small Town Fam. How are you, guys? It’s Yeardley. I’m so glad that you’re here. We have such a cool episode for you today. So as most of you know, the Small Town Dicks team went to CrimeCon in Orlando, Florida for the first time this past September. Well, I should qualify that and say Paul Holes is a CrimeCon veteran. But it was a con debut for me, and Dan, and Dave. And on top of meeting hundreds of you there, our fabulous fans, in the hallways at our scheduled meet and greets which we loved, by the way, we did a live panel on stage with Paul giving us one of the cases he’ll never forget. And today, we’re bringing you that live recording.
[00:00:56] Now, you can either listen to it right here as is, like you always do, or you can bop on over to our YouTube channel at Small Town Dicks podcast and watch the panel in its entirety like you were in Orlando with us. What I love about this live recording is that you get a rare glimpse of your favorite detectives in the wild, unfiltered, and unedited. And of course, they’re fantastic. I am going to warn you that the case Paul gives us is about a child’s abduction and murder. But you know Paul. He is always sparing when it comes to the worst details in those kinds of cases. You’ll also hear a couple of unexpected moments of levity, which I promise you were not a sign of disrespect on anyone’s part.
[00:01:46] On the contrary, Paul’s story was so heavy, it seemed like everyone in that ballroom just needed to release the tension and breathe again. And when I muttered that the suspect was an asshole and Detective Dave made a comment about Lisa Simpson swearing, the whole room just burst out laughing. When I listened back to this recording, it’s clear it was just a moment that allowed us to regroup and keep going.
[00:02:14] Towards the end of our panel, Paul talks about the motives of serial predators and how they select their victims. And then we finish up with some really great questions from the audience that, of course, elicit equally thoughtful answers from the A Team. I am so glad you’re here. Now please enjoy Small Town Dicks live at CrimeCon, Orlando.[Small Town Dicks theme]
Yeardley: [00:02:44] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:02:46] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:02:47] I’m Dave.
Paul: [00:02:48] And I’m Paul.
Yeardley: [00:02:49] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:02:51] Dave and I are identical twins-
Dave: [00:02:52] – and retired detectives from Smalltown, USA.
Paul: [00:02:55] And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State Killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.
Dan: [00:03:01] Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.
Dave: [00:03:08] Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.
Paul: [00:03:15] Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.
Dan: [00:03:20] 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: [00:03:28] -out of respect for what they’ve been through.
Unison: [00:03:30] Thank you.
Moderator: [00:03:40] They were one of the first podcasts on the true crime scene to feature detectives telling their own stories of big crime happening in Small Town, USA. Please welcome for the CrimeCon debut, Yeardley Smith, Detective Dan, Detective Dave, and Paul Holes from Small Town Dicks.[Cheers and Applause]
Yeardley: [00:04:06] I’m so glad people came. This is really fantastic. We are so thrilled to be here. I’m Yeardley. I have with me the usual suspects. I have Detective Dan.[Cheers and applause]
Dan: [00:04:21] Hello, CrimeCon.
Yeardley: [00:04:23] I have Detective Dave.[Cheers and Applause]
Dave: [00:04:28] Happy to be here.
Yeardley: [00:04:30] And we have the one and only, Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:04:33] Hello.
[Cheers and applause] [laughter]
Yeardley: [00:04:38] This really is amazing. We’re so excited to be here. We have a very short time. So no time for banter. Okay, Paul, go.[laughter]
Paul: [00:04:47] No pressure, right? No, I am going to be talking about a case that I’ve never talked about before. And it’s a case that quite frankly, I’m probably going to struggle to get through. But I do want to just give the caveat that I’m not going to go into any graphic details, so don’t worry about that. But the circumstances of this case are hard to hear. And so just be forewarned, this is a fucked-up case and-
Yeardley: [00:05:15] Fucked up[laughter]
Paul: [00:05:19] -it’s going to be tough. But with that, I ended up reaching out to the victim’s mother, Stephanie, who I’ve got a very tight bond with, and she gave me permission to talk. You’re going to learn a lot about Stephanie and an amazing woman. So, with that, Xiana was born to her bio-mom, when bio-mom was in custody in prison back in 1992.
Yeardley: [00:05:48] And Xiana is the victim.
Paul: [00:05:50] Xiana is going to be the victim, yes. Xiana, because bio-mom was in prison, Stephanie took over raising Xiana. Xiana was raised in a very loving and caring household. Spent about four years being raised in Hawaii and then about two and a half years in Colorado Springs, or where I currently live, I know the quality of life that Xiana had.
Yeardley: [00:06:21] And Paul, does Stephanie have a biological relationship to Xiana?
Paul: [00:06:26] So Stephanie biologically is Xiana’s great aunt, but she is Xiana’s mom.
Yeardley: [00:06:31] Got it.
Paul: [00:06:33] And so I will always be referring to Stephanie as Xiana’s mom. In June of 1999, bio-mom wants Xiana. Xiana is now transferred over to bio-mom, who’s living in Vallejo, California.
Yeardley: [00:06:53] And this means that bio-mom has gotten out of prison.
Paul: [00:06:56] Bio-mom has gotten out of prison. She’s working for a cab company as a dispatcher and has a live-in boyfriend. I’m going to apologize to anybody in here who’s from Vallejo. But back in the 1990s, Vallejo was the armpit of the Bay Area.[laughter]
Paul: [00:07:15] High crime, lot of gang violence, a lot of drug activity, a lot of sexual assaults. And at the time, my sheriff’s office had entered into a contractual relationship with Vallejo PD for forensic services. So I spent a lot of time going up to Vallejo for crime scene processing, officer involved shootings, and everything else. Xiana is now in this environment in an apartment. At seven years old, she’s having to walk by herself to get picked up by the bus to go to school.
Yeardley: [00:07:51] And the bus stop is a good couple of blocks.
Paul: [00:07:54] Few blocks in this area. Neighbors within the apartment complex recall seeing Xiana. If she missed the bus, she would go back to this apartment complex. She’s locked out of the residence and she’s just sitting in the hallway with her backpack, crying. So obviously, there’s been a massive change in Xiana’s quality of life. In December of 1999, Xiana goes to pick up the bus and she’s never seen again. She goes missing. The boyfriend initially stated that he had dropped her off at the bus stop, but when he was interviewed later, he recanted. In essence, she was tasked as a seven-year-old girl to walk to this bus stop alone.
Yeardley: [00:08:54] Who does that?
Paul: [00:08:59] So of course, Stephanie, who’s living in Colorado Springs, and she’s got her two children, she relocates to Vallejo to help find her daughter. Of course, when a seven-year-old girl goes missing, there’s massive searches. There’s huge community support looking for Xiana, but Xiana just never shows up and months go by.
Yeardley: [00:09:32] Paul, how long has Xiana been missing before Stephanie moves from Colorado Springs to Vallejo?
Paul: [00:09:38] Stephanie is out there immediately.
Yeardley: [00:09:40] Right, right.
Paul: [00:09:43] And there’s a fair amount of media attention in the Bay Area on this case. Part of this is I should probably say, I’m not involved as this is going on. This is up in Vallejo. I’m just a line level deputy sheriff criminalist at the time, but we are sending out staff to try to help Vallejo PD with this case. But I wasn’t doing anything at this time. I was just more aware of this as the months seemed to tick by. Eight months go by, and now another eight-year-old girl goes missing. Same circumstances. She’s coming home from school, she’s walking, and she never makes it home. And so this is Midsi Sanchez.
Yeardley: [00:10:38] And you said she’s about eight years old?
Paul: [00:10:40] She’s eight years old.
Yeardley: [00:10:41] And Xiana was seven years?
Paul: [00:10:42] And Xiana was seven at the time when she disappeared. Four days later, Midsi is seen running and jumping into the cab of a truck, and she’s being chased by a white male. The truck driver pulls her into his cab, and this is at a truck stop, and sees this white male and understands something is wrong, obviously, and is able to get the license plate to the vehicle that the white male drove off in.
Yeardley: [00:11:28] Hats off to Midsi for being eight years old and having the wherewithal and the composure to escape and go to this truck and be like, “You got to let me in.” Incredible.
Paul: [00:11:40] It’s even more than that. Midsi had been shackled inside this man’s vehicle for four days. When he left the vehicle at that truck stop, he left his keys on the car seat. And this little eight-year-old girl is now taking the keys and she finds the right key in order to be able to undo the shackle, and then she just bolts.
Yeardley: [00:12:05] I love her.[applause]
Paul: [00:12:12] So the license plate number is called in, and the man is quickly identified and taken into custody. His name is Curtis Dean Anderson. Curtis Dean Anderson is a career criminal. When I ran his criminal history, because now, I’m going, “Who is this guy?” His criminal history what we call the rap sheet, 11 pages long. Including in 1985, he was arrested for rape, but then charges were dismissed because the victim was not able to be found. 1991, he had been arrested for abducting an adult woman, and he actually was convicted of that, served some time in prison. He’s in and out of prison. We have ultimately a very robust timeline on Curtis Dean Anderson because of his in and out of jail and prison.
[00:13:18] When I go up to Sacramento, California, DOJ, I see a crime analyst had built a timeline on her shelf. So, I’m now looking at Curtis Dean Anderson’s timeline and I see that he had been paroled to Contra Costa County in 1987. That immediately triggered something in me because our jurisdiction had a 1988 missing girl case, Amber Swartz–Garcia. I was going, “Here’s a guy who has abducted Midsi Sanchez and he was paroled into my jurisdiction the year prior to another similar age girl going missing.”
[00:14:03] After Curtis Dean Anderson was arrested for Midsi Sanchez’s case and he’s charged with kidnapping and other charges, of course, there is a thought, could he be responsible for Xiana’s case? And as Vallejo is now investigating this, people come forward and say, they saw him talking to Xiana several times in the days before she went missing at the bus stop. Curtis Dean Anderson worked for the cab company, that’s Xiana’s bio-mom worked at, and that the live-in boyfriend worked at.
Dave: [00:14:45] Paul, is there any indication that Anderson used that familiarity with the cab company and, “Hey, I work with your parents” to give him a little bit more access?
Paul: [00:14:59] There’s no witnesses to say on the day of the abduction that it looked like he had befriended her and said, “Hey, I’ll give you a ride to school,” or anything like that. But that’s a likely scenario. He probably was grooming Xiana to be comfortable with him in the days prior to when he taken her.
Dave: [00:15:19] For patrol cops, we’re on a perimeter. I see a cab roll through a perimeter and I am like, “Hmm, somebody make a phone call.” But you see cabs everywhere and they are driving anywhere and they can just go under the radar – [crosstalk]
Paul: [00:15:34] Blend right in.
Dave: [00:15:34] It’s not suspicious. It’s, “Oh, the guy’s just hanging out, waiting for his next fair.”
Paul: [00:15:39] Right, right.
Yeardley: [00:15:42] How old is Curtis Dean Anderson when you set your sights on him?
Paul: [00:15:48] At this time, he’s about 42 years old.
Yeardley: [00:15:53] Does he have a family? What’s his deal?
Paul: [00:15:56] He has a family. He had a son. His childhood, he’s always been on the wrong side of the law. His initial entry in his criminal history, he was sentenced to Youth Authority for burglary. He has numerous burglary charges, as well as a possession of deadly weapons, assault with deadly weapons, and also just trivial stuff. He’s just always doing something bad. But of course, now he’s going through the criminal justice process for the abduction of Midsi Sanchez.
[00:16:41] Stephanie, now that she’s in Vallejo and she’s recognizing, does he have Xiana? Stephanie ends up going in on a regular basis and is talking to Curtis Dean Anderson. And this is where now– I’ve made this phrase the sentence before, “Never underestimate the depravity of the human male.” Now the evil of Curtis Dean Anderson comes to light. Curtis Dean Anderson admits to abducting Xiana, but basically, he says, “I gave Xiana to this other man. She’s alive. I know where she’s at, but I’m not going to tell you.”
Yeardley: [00:17:26] And Paul, Stephanie is interviewing Curtis Dean Anderson in prison, right? Is she?
Paul: [00:17:32] She’s going into jail because he’s now being prosecuted for Midsi’s abduction. Not only having these face-to-face interviews, they end up doing correspondence. They’re writing letters to each other. You can see some of the excerpts. There’s over 100 pages of Curtis Dean Anderson’s writings. What Anderson is doing is he’s basically dangling Xiana’s safety in return in front of Stephanie to keep Stephanie engaging with him. He’s asking Stephanie to wear certain types of clothing because that’s what he wants to see her in. It’s almost like, The Silence of the Lambs with Hannibal and Jodie Foster’s character, that quid pro quo. He would give little tidbits of, “Here is a little clue about where you can find Xiana, but I want you to tell me more about you.” And so now, Stephanie is being traumatized more and more, but the strength she got from wanting to get Xiana back kept her going.
Yeardley: [00:18:46] Does Stephanie, at this point, still believe Xiana might be alive?
Paul: [00:18:50] Yes. That’s what Anderson is saying, “Xiana’s alive. Xiana’s alive. Do what I say, and eventually, maybe I’ll let you know where Xiana’s at.”
Yeardley: [00:19:01] Fucking asshole. Jesus.[laughter and applause]
Dan: [00:19:07] That’s an eight-year-old girl that just said that, Lisa Simpson.
Yeardley: [00:19:10] Lisa Simpson catches like a sailor. What can I say?[cheers and applause]
Paul: [00:19:32] And then the worst news possible. January 2001, down in Los Gatos area, which is south of San Jose, between San Jose and Santa Cruz, and the beginning of the mountainous areas, a construction worker finds a skull. DNA testing shows that the skull is Xiana’s. Stephanie, of course, wants to know where the rest of Xiana’s at. She calls me out of the blue and I have no involvement in this case up to this point, outside of having assigned some work to be done. Stephanie comes in and pays me a visit.
[00:20:28] This is about a year after Xiana’s skull had been found, and Stephanie was frustrated that nothing had happened with this homicide investigation. Curtis Dean Anderson had been found guilty of Midsi Sanchez’s abduction and other criminal charges and had been sentenced to 250 years to life. So, he’s done, right?[cheers and applause]
Paul: [00:20:55] But Stephanie wanted to know, for sure, that Anderson not only had abducted Xiana, but Anderson was also responsible for Xiana’s homicide, or was there somebody else involved? But as she was dealing with the agencies, in essence, she’s frustrated because the agencies are saying, “We’ve got other priority cases right now.” How do you have a higher priority case than abduction homicide of a seven-year-old girl?
Dave: [00:21:26] You don’t.
Paul: [00:21:26] No.
Dave: [00:21:27] Paul, that’s a lot like telling a girlfriend to calm down, right?[laughter]
Dave: [00:21:33] It doesn’t work out. Things happen.
Paul: [00:21:36] I don’t think I’m going touch that.[laughter]
Dave: [00:21:39] I’m guilty.
Paul: [00:21:40] [laughs]
Yeardley: [00:21:41] So Paul, just talk about that for a second– So because Curtis Dean Anderson is already in custody and he’s never getting out, the feeling can be, “Well, we don’t need any extra charges to attach to him to keep him in prison, so we’re going to move on to something that feels more current.” So, is that a bit of why Xiana’s case gets swept to the side?
Paul: [00:22:10] Yeah. This is a very typical thing that happens within law enforcement is that if you have an offender that has involvement in multiple cases, if he is convicted of one, oftentimes, work on the other cases cease. This is where there’s this detachment from the families. If we’re dealing with homicide or sexual assault, the families or the victims themselves are going, “Well, what about my case?” They want not only to have that conclusive answer, they want the justice. And here now, Stephanie is saying, “I want to know, for sure. And if it was Anderson, I want him found guilty of Xiana’s homicide.” It’s so important to the families. And us in law enforcement have a tendency to forget that and we have to do a better job.
Dan: [00:22:59] I also think that you’re putting all your eggs in one basket when you do that. There are appeals, there are things that happen post-conviction where maybe that conviction goes away. You could have been way out in front of this by investigating the case fully, doing your job. That’s what your job is.
Paul: [00:23:18] Yeah. I will say, I know some of these investigators that were on Xiana’s case, these were great detectives. They had a big job to do. This was a very busy agency. But then, Stephanie doesn’t want that answer and she’s now pushing. This is where you see a mom’s strength come forward. My highest priority after Stephanie talked to me– When she comes in, she is literally saying, “I want to see this, this, and this done. They collected these items out of Anderson’s car, “Can’t we do DNA on that because Xiana would put crayons in her mouth or she had black gloves with her.” It was December when she went missing. They found a black glove in Anderson’s car. So, she’s wanting to see evidence being processed. But my highest priority was to get all of Xiana back to Stephanie.
Yeardley: [00:24:15] And Paul, Anderson’s car had been taken for the case of Midsi’s abduction, and it’s a trove of forensic evidence. So, Stephanie is like, “Dude, there is so much stuff there. Why are we sitting on this?”
Paul: [00:24:29] Well, and this is where you think, Anderson had used this vehicle, had kept Midsi in there for four days doing all sorts of things inside that vehicle. Likely, this is what happened to Xiana in the same vehicle. She likely was shackled in the same vehicle. And so of course, her presence could be identified through DNA, through latent prints. That’s something that I did focus on, and I’ll talk about that in a second. But my priority is I want to try to see, “Well, is the rest of Xiana out there?” So Stephanie and I actually drove down together to where Xiana’s skull was found. Stephanie showed me the exact location. This is a place where Stephanie and her family go every year.
Yeardley: [00:25:21] Oh, is it like a–
Paul: [00:25:22] Almost this is in memory of Xiana. Can you imagine? So now I’m seeing this location. I have a sense, it’s very almost like mountainous type of terrain, heavy vegetation. So I start researching, “Well, what did they do during their search for Xiana out there?” Because having been involved in searching for bodies, it is not easy, especially in this type of terrain. But my hope was maybe there is something I could see and maybe resources that hadn’t been utilized. There used to be an entity out there called [unintelligible [00:26:01] with some high-end specialists, is there somebody like that we could bring in.
[00:26:08] But as I researched this area, part of with her skull having been found off the side of the road, there’s a good chance that she was just, what we call, a surface deposit. She wasn’t buried, but probably on the surface. Finding out what animals were in this area just crushed me. In particular, in this area, there’s wild boar. And wild boar are scavengers. When they come across other animal remains, they eat those remains, bone and all.
[00:26:47] So now, I have to tell Stephanie, I don’t think you’re going to get Xiana. And this is one of the hardest things I ever had to tell a family member. So I told Stephanie, “I don’t think you’re going to get the rest of Xiana.” And Stephanie asked me, “Well, why not?” I said, “I don’t think I can let you know exactly why.” She was like, “I want to know.” So, I told her. Stephanie, you could see it impact her, but she bowed up and she just said, “Okay, and then let’s move forward.” Again, she just showed this tremendous resolution. She had a singular goal. She wanted to know what happened to Xiana and she wanted to know who did it. And if it was Anderson, she wanted to make sure that he was held accountable.
Yeardley: [00:27:41] Paul, what did they find when they find the skull? Did it indicate how Xiana might have been killed?
Paul: [00:27:52] So, no, unfortunately, there was no information on Xiana’s skull that indicated her cause of death, which is not unusual, unless there’s a fracture from a blow, gunshot wound. Oftentimes, the skull just doesn’t reveal that. And without the rest of Xiana’s body, to this day, we don’t know, for sure, from physical evidence how she was killed, can speculate how she was killed. So now I turn my attention, just like what you brought up Yeardley, to all this evidence. And because this evidence had been collected under the Midsi Sanchez case and it had gone through trial and you had the FBI involved as well as the local agency, this evidence had been shot-gunned out across a variety of different entities.
[00:28:42] When you think about evidence, it will go to a local crime lab, it will go to the federal crime lab, it goes into different property rooms. When it goes to trial, some of that evidence goes to the DA’s office. The DA then makes a decision which items of evidence are going to be admitted into court. If it’s admitted into court, now it goes into the court’s evidence room. DNA extracts are being held in various different laboratories. So my goal was to try to untangle this fragmentation of all this evidence because any single item in the Midsi Sanchez case could have potential to prove Anderson’s involvement in Xiana’s case. Not only just his statements, but now to have that physical evidence. Now, this is where I am interacting with the investigating agency– Even though this case came to me by Xiana’s mom coming to me, now I’m inserting myself into this investigation.
Yeardley: [00:29:42] How do they feel about that?
Paul: [00:29:44] Any agency, when somebody from the outside comes in, they are a little bit resistant. I had a relationship with this agency though, and they at least took what I was telling them to their credit. But still, things seem to just not move forward. And now Stephanie decides, “I’m going to go pay a visit to the Santa Clara Sheriff,” the elected sheriff. This elected sheriff was a woman. And so Stephanie sat down with the sheriff and said, “Mom to mom.”
[00:30:29] Now, Stephanie, when I reached out to talk about this case, she made me promise I would say this that in addition to the mom-to-mom discussion, Stephanie said, “I want Xiana’s case to go to me, to this Paul Holes up in Contra Costa County.” The sheriff got very indignant. He’s not even a peace officer, which is wrong, but Stephanie believes that the threat of me and her wanting me to take the case on is what caused that sheriff to dedicate homicide investigative resources to Xiana’s case. I believe it was the mom to mom. So they end up digging into the case. Forensic testing gets underway. They’re also interviewing Curtis Dean Anderson.
Yeardley: [00:31:28] Who’s interviewing him?
Paul: [00:31:30] Santa Clara homicide investigators, as well as Vallejo homicide investigators-
Yeardley: [00:31:34] Got it.
Paul: [00:31:35] -at this point in time. Eventually, Anderson confesses, not only to the abduction of Xiana, but also to Xiana’s homicide. He gives some details, not all details, and I’m not going to go into, again, the graphic aspects. But he does say that he put Xiana’s body in a Navy duffel bag, went out to this location where her skull was found, and threw that over the edge. So a surface deposit.
Yeardley: [00:32:06] Do we know if Anderson held Xiana hostage the way he did Midsi?
Paul: [00:32:12] So Anderson had held Xiana hostage for a period of time in his vehicle, as well as in a room down in Santa Clara County, and I’m not going to go into any details about that. So Anderson ends up being sentenced. He’s convicted. He’s sentenced to 350 years for Xiana’s homicide.[applause]
Paul: [00:32:45] But of course, here’s a man who’s responsible for two abductions of girls. One is a homicide. And Midsi, if she hadn’t been so brave, likely would have been killed too. FBI special agents out of the Oakland office now start interviewing Anderson in prison. He starts talking about other homicides that he’s been involved with, saying, “Yeah, I killed a woman in this location. I don’t know her name, but she looks somewhat like this. I met her at this location and I killed her and dumped her at this location.” So, you have approximately six to seven of these types of cases that he’s saying he did over the course of several decades up in the Bay Area.
[00:33:36] To this day, none of those cases have been identified. That’s somewhat of a call to action. You can go to the FBI’s webpage, look up Curtis Dean Anderson, and get the details of these cases that he claims he did. But there was also another case that he confessed to. Remember that 1988 homicide, a missing girl, Amber Schwartz Garcia that I had going, “Hey, when I was up at DOJ, he confessed to abducting Amber.” She was out jumping rope in front of her house when she went missing. Claims that he took her down and killed her down in the Arizona outside of Phoenix area.
[00:34:23] One of the issues with Anderson is he’s somebody that is willing to claim crimes that he has nothing to do with. That’s his personality. He loved the attention. He was interviewed by TV reporters, and he really was just soaking up the idea that he’s getting this type of attention for these horrible crimes. I’ve likened him to Henry Lee Lucas, a bona fide serial killer, did his own homicides, but also was saying, “I did so much more,” and in reality, he didn’t. So that’s part of the complexity in evaluating Anderson’s statements is what truly did he do. So right before these agents were going to go back and interview Anderson again to get more details of these unsolved cases, so we could try to figure out which cases are his. He dies in prison, so now he’s taken his secrets with him.
Yeardley: [00:35:41] Paul, talk a little bit about, we know that Anderson abducted– He also murdered an adult woman?
Paul: [00:35:50] No, he didn’t kill her.
Yeardley: [00:35:51] He just abducted her.
Paul: [00:35:52] He just abducted her
Yeardley: [00:35:53] So there’s this idea that serial offenders have a certain type or a strike zone and they really stay within that. The strike zone being perhaps an age preference or Bundy liked dark haired college girls, that sort of thing. But you, as you were prepping us on this case, you’re talking about crossover offenders and how they experiment. I think it’s a really fascinating tidbit of information.
Paul: [00:36:23] There is a misperception and definitely was. I think it’s changing. But predominantly because of the Ted Bundy case– Ted Bundy case happened in the 1970s right when we were starting to truly understand what serial predators were. And that got so much public notoriety. He did have a preferred victim type, and so he would go after the same type of victim over and over again. So the thought was that these predators just lock in on a certain criteria and that’s all they’re going to attack. Well, that’s wrong. As we’ve solved more of these serial cases, most of these serial predators take advantage of opportunities, and they will offend across different age ranges, different genders, different racial characteristics. This is just the way they operate for the most part.
[00:37:24] A lot of people think that with Curtis Dean Anderson, he’s abducting these little girls that he would only be interested in younger girls. Well, no, these types offenders will also attack adults or vice versa. That’s where we see this, what’s called the crossover offending. When you have a series and you have victims that have different characteristics in the past, it would be, well, we got multiple offenders operating in the same area.” Wherein in reality, no, you could have the same offender. And of course, in modern era with DNA, we often are able to link these cases together. But in some of these series, we don’t have the DNA. So now we have to look at the behavioral characteristics, the MO aspects in order to see, do I have a same offender or do I have multiple offenders that are working in the same area at the same time?
Dave: [00:38:17] And Paul, that’s an exercise we had to use constantly on patrol and detectives that you don’t pigeonhole every case that you are thinking outside the box. It used to frustrate me to no end when we’d have somebody that say, “Oh, no, it’s a different guy. He got in through the window. The other guy just kicks in doors.” And I’m like, “That’s pretty big assumption. Come on, man, maybe it’s just a big door. You have to open your mind.”
Paul: [00:38:46] Yeah. Part of it is I bring up MO versus signatures. MO is what the offender does in order to commit the crime. MO can change based on the dynamics of the crime, based on the environmental conditions, based on what the victim does versus a signature is part of the offender’s fantasy. He’s committing this crime in order to get a certain type of gratification, and that’s he wants to do those behaviors. So MO can fluctuate. With Golden State Killer, Joseph D’Angelo, his MO changed pretty dramatically over the course of the series, but there was certain behavioral characteristics that original investigators were able to use in order to help link those crimes together during an era where you didn’t have DNA.
Yeardley: [00:39:39] Talk about the experimentation you told us about the scalping, that was a good example. You don’t have to tell them how—
Paul: [00:39:48] Sure
Yeardley: [00:39:49] You know what I’m saying?
Paul: [00:39:50] So offenders do experiment as well. They’re paying attention whether it’s– Back in the day, it used to be the true crime magazines. That’s pornography for the sexual sadist. That’s what they really got off on looking at, as well as they would get ideas on what they want to do. Of course, today, it’s the online world. But they also pay attention to what other serial predators are doing. A California DOJ profiler during a task force meeting on a serial killer, Roger Kibbe, was talking to the group. There was some discussion about, “Well, we have all these unsolved cases that may or may not be related to Kibbe because there’s differences.” She basically said she had worked a case in which you had an offender that had multiple victims and was doing the same thing across the series up until now they had a victim that had been scalped, and they go, “We’ve got another killer” because this other guy doesn’t scalp.
[00:40:52] When they finally solved that case, that offender said, “Yeah, I had read about somebody else scalping one of his victims, and I decided I wanted to try that.” So he tried it, and he goes, “It didn’t do anything for me.” So he went back to doing what he was doing. And so you see this type of experimentation. DeAngelo, Golden State Killer, through the first 15 attacks as the East Area Rapist, he varied widely in terms of how he was interacting with the victims. In one of the early attacks, he shows up with a padded baton and a handgun. In the 15th attack, he shows up with a hatchet. He’s trying different mechanisms. So this is just something that really complicates whether or not do you have an active series or not, or do you have multiple offenders versus a singular offender. And that’s where modern technology can give that answer. But this is where, at this point, Curtis Dean Anderson is dead. He was sentenced to a total of 550 years to life.
Dan: [00:42:09] That seems like a good start.
Paul: [00:42:11] Just a start. He should still be rotting in the cell that he was in. And two families got answer. But fundamentally, when you take a look at how this case played out, Stephanie and Midsi brought down a serial killer, and because of their efforts, he didn’t hurt anybody else after that.[applause]
Paul: [00:42:48] I talked to Stephanie recently, and I was hoping to see if I could get her out here to meet everybody here. This case is still too hard for her. But it’s in memory of Xiana. She had such a beautiful life and was in such a loving and caring environment. It’s just so sad that it was taken away.
Yeardley: [00:43:14] It’s unimaginable.
Paul: [00:43:17] If you want, if anybody has interest, these letters that Stephanie and Curtis Dean Anderson exchanged as Stephanie was desperately trying to find Xiana, they are available to be read. Stephanie and Kristi Belcamino did put a book out there, and if you want to just see the depravity of Anderson and the resilience of Stephanie, I would recommend taking a look at this.
Yeardley: [00:43:45] What’s the name of the book?
Paul: [00:43:45] It’s called Letters from a serial Killer by Kristi Belcamino and Stephanie Kahalekulu.
Yeardley: [00:43:54] Thank you so much for sharing that. I always say, for all of the missteps or agencies being overwhelmed, thank God, there are people like the three of you here on stage who never dropped the ball.[Cheers and applause]
Yeardley: [00:44:17] How much time do we have left? I can’t see that.
Paul: [00:44:18] It looks like we have about 15 minutes.
Yeardley: [00:44:20] Ooh, we got some Q&A time. Yahtzee, listen. That was good job.
Dave: [00:44:26] I got the first question.
Yeardley: [00:44:27] Oh.
Paul: [00:44:27] Oh, no.[laughter]
Dave: [00:44:30] What are we going to do about the water in in the Bay Area? What’s going on there with all the serial killers?[laughter]
Paul: [00:44:41] Well, this is I do get this question a lot. Of course, I was a cold case investigator. I really focused in on cases. A lot of my efforts were on cold cases from the 1960s to the 1970s. And within the East Bay, San Francisco, Santa Cruz area, as well as up north in Sonoma, we did have a cluster, an unusual spike in terms of serial predator crimes, and then it seemed to subside, particularly in my jurisdiction. Well, back in the day, there were easy pools of victims. You think about Edmund Kemper. He’s focusing in on females that were hitchhiking.
[00:45:27] Once our culture changed, and we don’t see as many females hitchhiking anymore, these predators go to a different victim source. Predators go to where the prey is at. Of course, we have the unusual types that will go into houses like a DeAngelo, but what I saw was a transition of the predators going to the street for the sex workers. And now you have victims that are voluntarily getting into these predator’s cars. So that was the easy prey. And today people are saying, “Well, there’s no way there’s serial killers out there because of all the technology.” Well, where are the prey today? It’s online. And whether it be adults or whether it be children, people like Anderson are in the computers.
Yeardley: [00:46:24] Detective Dave actually gives a fantastic presentation about online safety. Usually, he used to give this talk to community groups, parent-teacher conferences, and stuff like that. We did an episode on it on our other podcast, The Briefing Room. It’s so worth a listen. It will fucking scare you to death.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:46:46] These people are so wily, they’re so clever. And recently, you opened the new season of The Briefing Room with Roo Powell, who has her own show, Catching Predators. It’s remarkable and it’s such good information. So yeah, you’re right, Paul. The species who survive for good or bad, adapt. They’re massively adaptable.
Paul: [00:47:15] Right. And it’s just going to be a constant cat and mouse game. Particularly, those types offenders that are characterized as your more sophisticated and intelligent offender, your organized offender, they are adapting to the technologies and they’re going to exploit that. And now, law enforcement is trying to catch up, and then these offenders will find a different thing to bypass what law enforcement is trying to do.
Yeardley: [00:48:00] Let’s take some questions. How do you do that here at CrimeCon? How does that happen? Somebody pass the microphone.
Moderator: [00:48:07] Over here.
Yeardley: [00:48:08] There’s one. Shout it out, my friend.
Female Speaker 1: [00:48:11] Hello. I grew up in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Go ducks.
Moderator: [00:48:16] Go duck. Right.[laughter]
Female Speaker 1: [00:48:19] I am forever haunted by the murder officer Kilcullen. I was just wondering how you guys thought that if we had better mental health resources, do you think that officer Kilcullen would be alive and well with his family today?
Dan: [00:48:40] Man, this case just gets me every time. I think there are a lot of failures that happened on the front end of that case that ultimately cost Chris, his life. I think there are a lot of things that we need to address regarding mental health, people owning guns. There’s a lot of money that goes into mental health, and I think we need to maybe restructure how that money is spent. That’s my feeling. I’m not a mental health professional, but I have encountered numerous people in crisis, and there needs to be more being done for it.[applause]
Dan: [00:49:39] To the left.
Female Speaker 2: [00:49:41] Question for anybody on the panel. But Paul, you mentioned that in prior decades that offenders would read detective magazines and use it not only as pornography, but to learn new tips and tricks and how to avoid detection. I’m wondering one of the sessions that they have planned here for CrimeCon is about the ethics of true crime. That whole system that we’ve all become a part of where we feel like we’re here fangirling all the detectives and the media people, but clearly, there are people who are also fans of the criminals. I wonder what your thoughts are about the explosion of true crime media and how that might be impacting future criminals.
Paul: [00:50:28] Yeah. One of the things I want to address with that question is true crime is not new. This is the ultimate human trauma. I have another podcast with Kate Winkler Dawson, Buried Bones, where she talks historic crimes.[applause]
Paul: [00:50:42] And back in the day, masses of people would attend the court trials or would watch the executions hundreds of years ago. So this isn’t new. We just happen to have the persistence of information about cases online, and now that helps generate interest. Now as far as the ethics of true crime, this is where a message that I have always said when I have talked in front of the CrimeCon groups is understand true crime is real crime. We come out of real crime. We’ve seen the devastation to the victims, the victim’s families. We know what that really is.
[00:51:24] You in this audience could be sitting next to somebody who has been devastated by real crime. It is okay to learn about the case. Some of these cases are fascinating, and there may be an entertainment aspect to it. But never forget that somebody has been hurt by these cases. It’s okay to learn about the bad guy, but don’t glorify the bad guy, because even though you may hear about what Ted Bundy did or Gary Ridgway did or Dennis Rader did or Joseph DeAngelo did, I guarantee unless you’ve worked those cases, you have no clue in terms of how horrifying these people are. So fundamentally, I don’t have an issue with true crime, as long as the people who are consuming true crime, keep the right perspective that that true crime impacted somebody in a very negative way.[applause]
Yeardley: [00:52:35] Dave, you want to talk a little bit about– When we started Small Town Dicks, it was originally going to be just Dan and Dave and they were going to– There’s a lot of gallows humor in law enforcement. One of the ways they cope, it’s going to be a lot of that. They’re going to talk about their cases. We did a pilot. It was a disaster.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:52:55] Dan and Dave were in the hot tub at my house and they’re like, “It can’t happen this way.” It was also very slurry. There was a lot of scotch on board.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:53:07] But it became very victim centric and very– We must be reverent towards the work as well as the people who have been impacted. Do you want to talk a little bit about that.
Dave: [00:53:18] Sure. There’s a place for levity. Of course, I am funny to myself at least, but sometimes make people laugh.
Paul: [00:53:27] He tries.
Dave: [00:53:30] That’s my release valve for stress. I make a horribly inappropriate joke, usually not in the company of people, but I mutter something to myself. It’s how I release the pressure. When we recorded our first episode, A, we are shit faced-[laughter]
Dave: [00:53:49] Scotch. More scotch, have another. You’re telling this story that’s about two bodies being found in a freezer and I’m like, “This isn’t going to work.” And so Dan and I really took that to heart. Yeardley’s got a hot tub. I was like, “Let’s go in there and figure out how to unscrew what we just did today.”[laughter]
Dave: [00:54:12] I said, “I can’t be funny when we’re talking about this stuff.” My conscience won’t allow me to. I can’t sleep. I have my own battles with even having a true crime show about us telling these stories. That for me, it’s a way for us to relay how it hits a detective and a lesson’s learned and “Hey, this is when I made a mistake.” It really is. We’re trying to educate, and I think our detectives across the land who tell these stories, they need a release valve too. If we’re going to hammer on mental health, when do the first responders get to take care of themselves? This is just an avenue to do that.[applause]
Yeardley: [00:55:00] Question over here.
Female Speaker 3: [00:55:01] So I grew up in the Bay Area. I’m very familiar with Amber Schwartz Garcia’s case. I was little girl, same age as her. I was just curious, the two other girls that were missing at the same time as her, Ilene Misheloff and Michaela Garecht. Did they ever link him with these as well or was there any–? I’m sure they’ve looked into it.
Paul: [00:55:26] Yeah.He definitely was looked at. Of course, both of those cases are still unsolved. Ilene Misheloff and Michaela Garecht are two young girls that went missing. One in Hayward, one in Alameda County back in the 1980s. There is a handful of cases in the Bay Area of missing kids that are well known to anybody within law enforcement. So at this point in time, Anderson is somebody that was looked at for those two cases, but they couldn’t obviously close a case on Anderson. He didn’t confess to him. I’m not sure off the top of my head, if maybe his custodial status may have eliminated him from one or both of those. Another person that was looked at was Phil Garrido, the one who abducted Jaycee Dugard and kept her alive. In fact, Michaela Garecht’s mom showed up at the Garrido property wondering if Michaela was somewhere on that property. I was out there helping with the excavation, looking to see if Garrido had actually kids buried on his property. We didn’t find anybody.
[00:56:36] So those two cases you brought up are ones that are still being looked at. There’s a 1979 case out of Montalvin Manor, Tara Cossey, who also is still missing. So there’s still other cases, and we don’t know who’s responsible. Unfortunately, we haven’t found the kids Lisa Dickinson out of Walnut Creek, 1975 or 1976 in fact. So yeah, it’s tragic. These families I have personally seen where not knowing is the hardest part for these families. As tragic as knowing that your child isn’t going to come back, at least they know that and they don’t have the torture of not knowing.
Dave: [00:57:27] I think we’ve got one more to the right here.
Paul: [00:57:31] Yeah. One minute.
Female Speaker 4: [00:57:32] Hi, I’m recently retired law enforcement right around the same time all of you guys all retired.
Paul: [00:57:38] All right. You made it.[laughter and applause]
Female Speaker 4: [00:57:43] I noticed through the years of how policing has changed since the time that I went through the academy in the late 1980s to the academy now nowadays. I’m from New York, and our standards are different as every other state. But what do you think needs to happen with policing in order to get things right again? What do you think needs to happen?
Dave: [00:58:09] Stop lowering standards.[applause]
Dave: [00:58:17] It really is simple. Let’s put the right people in the right positions to train people the right way. Truly, you can fall back on this job just to let’s do the right thing. Just do the right thing. Don’t lower the standards. That’s how we have these methods right now is we’re lowering standards, and it’s because we are hemorrhaging folks in the law enforcement realm and we can’t get enough candidates. I’ve said over and over again, we got to stop lowering standards. This is how we got here.
Yeardley: [00:58:55] I think that’s it for our time. But before we go, Small Town Dicks, the new season, Season 13 dropped today. So don’t miss that.[cheers and applause]
Yeardley: [00:59:07] And I wanted to give our three fantastic detectives an opportunity to say one last thing to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us. Dave, we’ll start with you. Anything you want to say to the people?
Dave: [00:59:20] I want to say hi to Doug.[laughter]
Dave: [00:59:24] I met Doug last night. He’s a fisherman and I love him.[laughter]
Dave: [00:59:31] This is my first event at a CrimeCon, and I’ve just been absolutely blown away by everyone’s warmth and gratitude and how nice people are. It buoys my spirit as a former sex crimes and child abuse detective.[laughter]
Paul: [00:59:51] I’ve been at a fair number of CrimeCons, and I grabbed Dan and Dave by the collars and said, “You guys need to experience this.” Because it is such a rewarding experience for us. The people who have never attended, there’s a perception of CrimeCon, and we’re here to change that perception. I understand you in the audience. I’ve met so many of you over the years. As Dave said, the warmth, the empathy that this community has, we want everybody to understand that and we will continue to try to push that message out.[applause]
Paul: [01:00:37] Passes on.
Dan: [01:00:38] [chuckles] Thank you, Paul.
Paul: [01:00:40] [laughs]
Dan: [01:00:42] I would echo everything they said. It’s been a shocker to me. Last night at the meet and greet, I see a lot of familiar faces from last night. Some very kind faces, some great conversations that I had. I did not expect that. Typically, I’m the one taking photos of my wife with fans. It’s different when I’m in the photo with her that is-
Yeardley: [01:01:07] It is fantastic.
Dan: [01:01:09] -different.
Yeardley: [01:01:09] It is fantastic.[cheers and applause]
Dan: [01:01:11] Yeah. I can’t thank you guys enough. It’s been great. There was some anxiety coming into this weekend and I’m good now.[laughter]
Yeardley: [01:01:28] Thank you all so much. This has been fabulous. We’ll see you around.[cheers and applause] [music]
Yeardley: [01:01:46] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and me, Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. Our production manager is Logan Heftel. Our senior editor is Soren Begin, and our editor is Christina Bracamontes. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and the Real Nick Smitty. Our social media is run by the one and only, Monika Scott. Our music is composed by John Forest, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
Dan: [01:02:18] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, visit us on our website at smalltowndicks.com.
Yeardley: [01:02:25] Small Town Dicks would like to thank SpeechDocs for providing transcripts of this podcast. You can find these transcripts on our episode page at smalltowndicks.com. And for more information about SpeechDocs and their service, please go to speechdocs.com.
Dan: [01:02:42] And join the Small Town Fam by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @smalltowndicks. We love hearing from you.
Dave: [01:02:50] And if you support us on Patreon, your subscription will give you access to exclusive content and merchandise that isn’t available anywhere else. Go to patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcast.
Yeardley: [01:03:02] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [01:03:08] -in search of the finest-
Dave: [01:03:10] -rare-
Dan: [01:03:10] -true crime cases told-
Dave: [01:03:12] -as always, by the detectives who investigated them. So thanks for listening. Small Town Fam.
Yeardley: [01:03:18] Nobody’s better than you.
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