Christy was a young girl when her mom was murdered in what was said to have been a botched bank robbery. But it never sat right with her. Years later she had an epiphany, and she started to think her father was involved. She cajoled cops to start a new investigation, but it did not lead to a new arrest. A decade went by and Christy was able to convince a TV show to come in and take another look. With the help of local police they uncovered new evidence about the murder and the victimization of an underage girl, Jodi.
Special Guest: Captain Terri
Captain Terri has been in law enforcement for 23 years. Over the course of her career, she has been a dispatcher, a corrections officer, a patrol deputy, and a detective sergeant before being promoted Captain in 2014. One of her focuses as a law enforcement agent has been helping victims maneuver through the criminal justice system. She has a master’s degree in criminal justice.
If you want to support this podcast, go to patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcastRead Transcript
Yeardley [00:00:00] Welcome to Part Two of The Devil You Know. If you haven’t heard part one yet, we highly recommend you go back and listen, so you don’t miss a minute of how Captain Terri came to lead the third investigation into this decades-old murder, or how she was spurred on by the courage and persistence of Christy, the suspect’s daughter, and Jodi, the suspect’s alibi. This is the conclusion of The Devil You know.
When a serious crime is committed in a small town, a handful of detectives are charged with solving the case. I’m Yeardley, and I’m fascinated by these stories. I invited my friends, Detectives Dan and Dave, to help me gather the best true crime cases from around the country, and have the men and women who investigated them, tell us how it happened.
Dan [00:00:56] I’m Dan.
Dave [00:00:57] And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from small town, USA.
Dan [00:01:01] Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He’s now a patrol sergeant at his police department.
Dave [00:01:07] Dan investigated violent crimes. He’s now retired. Together, we have more than two decades’ experience and have worked hundreds of cases. We’ve altered names, places, relationships, and certain details in these cases to maintain the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dan [00:01:22] We ask you to join us in protecting their true identities, as well as the locations of these crimes out of respect for everyone involved. Thank you.
Dave [00:01:41] We get to this third investigation with 10 plus years in-between number two and number three, and you’ve now gotten to the place where it’s, “Hey, we’ll give it one last look, but if it doesn’t move forward from here, we’re going to have to put it on the shelf and put it away for goo?”
Terri [00:01:57] Yes. We did discuss having this television show come in, because the other thing that was going on in our agency, not only did we have a new sheriff, and I was a new captain, in charge of the investigative division, we had four or five new detectives who have less than a year or two on, and I don’t even have any experience myself doing a cold case. We talked about it. We said, “You know what? Let’s bring them in.”
Yeardley [00:02:22] Bring in the TV show?
Terri [00:02:24] Yes. What bringing them in did for us was, first of all, it made me cross off two weeks from my time and just only focus on that case. That’s real helpful, because if you guys know how it is, especially small towns, you’re moving from case to case, and the cases change every day, and so I put aside two weeks, and I took two of my other detectives, and we read the case file again and again, and then found things while we were going through the file, and then we met with the TV show and their investigators, and they gave us an idea of what we’re going to do. Okay, we’re going to re-interview 60 people over the next two weeks. That’s what we’re going to do. The case is probably going to be circumstantial, because that’s all we have left. I mean, there’s no aha.
Yeardley [00:03:11] You didn’t have a weapon?
Terri [00:03:12] Well, that’s the thing. We (chuckles) actually did have a weapon and we didn’t know it. (chuckles) Another thing that happened in the middle of the case. We have some photos of the scene, where Joyce was bludgeoned to death. That’s how she was killed. One thing about Mitch, the other important thing that we should talk about is he’s self-employed with his family. The family business was used specific tools, like a mechanic, they use specific tools. We were looking at that specific business to see if we could find a tool that they would have used that would cause these injuries. We looked and look for days. I sent detectives to the southern part of the state to talk to specialists in that field, to see if we could come up with something and we couldn’t. We come back, and I’m like, “Okay, let’s start again. There’s two distinctive kinds of wounds on the head. Let’s just look at this photo, now go on to the internet, and everybody look for these two distinctive kinds of wounds and what would make these.”
Finally, one of the detectives came out with this, it was called a Wonder Bar. Probably everybody has one, it looks like something that you’d use to take a tire off or take the rim of a tire off. It’s very common. We’re like, “That’s it,” because it has two different sides. It has a side that has some sharp edges on it, which would make the cuts to her face. It’s probably about an inch thick, and it’s steel. We also had some bruising that was on her face that appeared to have been made by this Wonder Bar. Again, there’s some ways that we could have gone about doing this case probably a little better. We all learn from things, we should have gone through all the evidence again. We had gone through the evidence looking for DNA, but we didn’t realize that I was going through these, and I’m not lying, that there are probably like 25 or 30 three-inch binders of information that we were going through. When I was looking through a binder that had to do with the 2002 case, nothing to do with the original case, and I found what is called a Wonder Bar. I found a picture of it. And I’m like, “Why do we have a picture of a Wonder Bar in the middle of this file?”
Well, turns out that in 2002, Jack, who is Mitch’s brother that we had originally talked about, was in law enforcement. He had a conversation with one of the original people that did the investigation back in the early 80s, and that person had come into their business and had looked around-
Yeardley [00:05:37] Into Jack’s business?
Terri [00:05:37] -into Jack and Mitch’s business, because Mitch works there, too. He picks one of these Wonder Bars off the wall, and he says, “This is what we think she was killed with,” which is interesting because I did not know that. There was a drawing in somebody’s notes that looks like an L, and it’s really a weird drawing. Nobody recorded this conversation that they had gone and talked to Jack and talked about this tool, not a word. Jack finally comes forward in 2002 and talks to one of my past lieutenants and says, “Hey, I kept this from the business, because this is what they told me killed her.”
Dave [00:06:18] And Jack’s in law enforcement at this point?
Terri [00:06:19] Yes.
Yeardley [00:06:20] Wow. Why did it take him so long?
Terri [00:06:23] Because, at first, he did not trust law enforcement. That’s why he went into law enforcement is because the case in the 80s was so bad that he did not like law enforcement. He did not trust anybody in our county. He did not trust anybody that worked in that small town, until he met the investigator that started working with Christy.
Dave [00:06:38] He just thought they’re going to bungle it again.
Terri [00:06:40] Yes.
Dan [00:06:41] You’ve got these two law enforcement agencies that have actually created reasonable doubt for each other.
?Terri [00:06:46] Yes. Well, keep in mind that Mitch is an expert at doing the poor me. Poor me, and I’m sure he did that with Jack as he did with all of us.
Yeardley [00:06:57] He’s the victim.
Terri [00:06:58] Yes.
Yeardley [00:06:59] Terri, you had said that these two agencies back in the 80s couldn’t even agree on a motive for the investigation. The City Police Department was focused more on Mitch and the county sheriff’s office considered this a robbery gone wrong.
Terri [00:07:13] Yes.
Yeardley [00:07:15] So, that assumes there was money missing from the Credit Union, right? Do you know how much?
Terri [00:07:20] It was roughly $3,000. The interesting part about that was that within 10 days of Joyce’s death, Mitch bought a new motorcycle. He traded in his old motorcycle and bought a new motorcycle.
Yeardley [00:07:34] For about $3,000?
Terri [00:07:35] It was more than $3,000, but the family thinks the other part of it came from the family business.
Christy [00:07:41] The other interesting thing, Terri, was the money that was left behind.
Terri [00:07:44] Oh, that’s true. Remember, I told you that this was a Credit Union, and that they have to go across the street to get their money from the bank? And they did. There was $15,000 still left in the open safe, that was feet from her body. So, if this really was the robbery that they said it was, again, another very important circumstantial thing was that there was $15,000 left there. Another important thing was that the Credit Union, we actually have Joyce walking the last person out and locking the door, and then going back and beginning to do the paperwork that has to be done at closing time. What we believe happened is that Mitch showed up, and he told Joyce, that before church, they were going to talk about whatever it was, so she allowed him to come in.
Everything was done, except that she was going to take the money that was in her drawer, that’s the money that was stolen, the $3,000, and put it into the safe, everything else had been done. She turned her back to whoever was in the Credit Union and started to put the money into the safe. There actually had been bank robberies, two different bank robberies within that first six months of that year. This bank robbery idea was okay because it did actually happen, but Joyce actually had to let the person in, because we know that when the Credit Union manager came to go and check for Joyce, that the door was open. Whoever was there, she let in, there’s no forced entry to anything.
Jodi [00:09:11] And it was overkill, too, right?
Terri [00:09:12] It was overkill. Yes, it was very personal. I mean, they rolled the body over and then began to continue to strike with the face down.
Dan [00:09:21] You mentioned the money, and that just leads me to another lead that was lost. Mitch has bought a motorcycle, which I suspect is his trophy of this crime. If you were able to go to that motorcycle shop and they still had the cash there, you might have potential blood evidence on the cash.
Terri [00:09:40] Except he wrote a check.
Dan [00:09:42] Oh, he wrote a check.
Terri [00:09:43] But the thing is, they never even looked at the motorcycle that he was seen driving away on. They never even looked at it. The other thing was, they never looked inside the trunk on the back. The motorcycle that he was driving was a very small motorcycle, and it had this huge trunk on it, which made no sense and that’s why it was so obvious that it was that motorcycle driving out of the Credit Union at that time because it was unique.
Yeardley [00:10:06] You’d recognize that motorcycle driving out of the parking lot of the Credit Union?
Terri [00:10:09] Yes.
Dave [00:10:10] And it’s a small town who rides that motorcycle.
Terri [00:10:12] Exactly. That’s one of the things they did in 2002 is try to find the motorcycle. But again, it’s years later.
Yeardley [00:10:19] Long gone.
Terri [00:10:19] Yes. When we started this case, we realized we’re going to go out to these 60 people, and the reason I say 60 people is because we had this whole other investigation. Remember, I told you they thought that it was a robbery. And they had a whole other suspect that we were looking at as well. Well, he died. So many people died. That was my problem. So many people died. Luckily for us, the people that were still alive, when we started knocking on those 60 doors, I guarantee you like 25 or 30 of them said, “We’ve known Mitch did this from the very beginning, we’re so happy that somebody is finally doing something about this.”
Dave [00:10:56] Again, that’s not surprising. We see these, especially in these cold cases where they’re like, “I knew he did it.” And it’s like, “Why didn’t you come forward?” “Well, I just didn’t think that my voice was going to carry any weight.” But you get 25 of those, it turns into this strong structure, this foundation for a circumstantial case.
Terri [00:11:13] That’s the other thing. We’re talking about a case that happened 35 years ago. When we talk to these people, their memory was so crisp, about that one thing, because it’s so traumatic. They remember that specific day, and they had specific information to give us that was so very helpful. Jodi was one of the first that we spoke with that gave us some really significant information. She locked down, Mitch was not home at the time of the murder, because Jodi tried calling him. That’s the other thing. Her whole testimony is specifically about phone records. People are like, “Why don’t they have phone records?” You see the phone records, I do have them, but they don’t look anything like phone records we have now, and nobody wrote a report about what they mean. And the people that could read them are all dead.
Terri [00:12:00] Now, I have no way to understand these phone records. The only thing I can go off of is what Jodi is telling me. It makes a lot of sense because between Jodi’s telling me that, and then Christy saying, “Yep, she did call every day.” And they did have this conversation every day. We were able to start putting together the pieces of a puzzle. I think we started out with 60, and when we went to trial, it was like 25 witnesses that each could give some solid evidence that pointed to the only person that could have done this crime was Mitch.
Yeardley [00:12:29] Basically, are you debunking his alibi?
Terri [00:12:32] Yes.
Dave [00:12:33] Jodi, you and Mitch had this regular phone call at 5:05, every night?
Jodi [00:12:38] Yeah.
Dave [00:12:39] Okay. I’ve got a couple of questions. First, when was the body discovered?
Terri [00:12:43] The body was discovered at 7:30 PM.
Dave [00:12:47] Credit Union closes at 5?
Terri [00:12:49] 5:00.
Dave [00:12:50] Joyce, was she responsible for closing?
Terri [00:12:53] She was and here’s some other information that we found out during this thing that was pretty important. This was the first and only day that Joyce had ever closed the Credit Union by herself. Her boss turned out to be sick that day. Based on other people’s conversations, we know that Mitch spoke with her that day, so it was kind of a crime that was like–
Yeardley [00:13:15] Right, who else would know Joyce would be alone closing up that day?
Terri [00:13:19] Exactly. Only he would know that.
Dave [00:13:22] So, Jodi, you call at 5:05, as you did every day, who picks up the phone?
Jodi [00:13:27] I spoke with Debra. That was the plan is if he didn’t answer the phone, then I would talk to Deborah, who is my best friend. So, it was easy to pick up the conversation and have a conversation, and then I would call back, too.
Dave [00:13:40] Oh, gotcha. Had he ever not picked up at 5:05?
Jodi [00:13:43] No, not unless we had it pre-arranged where he says I’m not going to be there because that way, nobody else would pick up the phone, and he try and be down in the basement so he could talk there without the girls knowing it. Or Joyce knowing about it.
Dave [00:13:58] How was Joyce discovered?
Terri [00:14:00] It’s church night, okay, and this family is really solid around church. The girls are waiting for their mother to come home. Dad says, “Well, your mom’s not home, so I’m going to leave.” And then when she gets home, she’ll take you to church. Well, she never shows up. So, the girls are calling from home going, “Mom didn’t show up to pick us up.” The people at church are going, “Where is Joyce? Where is Joyce because she should be here by now. She’s always there,” because she is a Sunday school teacher and they do church teaching that night. At that point, instead of Mitch, who is very close to where Joyce works, he drove right by it on his way there. He drove right by the Credit Union. He drove right by her car, which is right in the front parking lot and right to the church. Instead of going there and checking himself, he calls this Credit Union manager and asks her to go check. Now, mind you, she’s home sick, but he says, “Hey, can you go check on Joyce because she hasn’t shown up for church yet?”
Yeardley [00:14:56] That’s so fishy.
Terri [00:14:58] Talking about manipulating people. This poor lady now is traumatized for the rest of her life because she found the bludgeoned body of Joyce at the Credit Union.
Yeardley [00:15:06] I’m sorry, your dad is a piece of shit.
Dan [00:15:11] That’s somebody’s father.
Yeardley [00:15:12] Sorry.
Jodi [00:15:14] It’s nothing, we haven’t all said. (chuckles)
Dave [00:15:16] Christy, I’m trying to be sensitive to this, because I want to trash him, but it’s also your father.
Christy [00:15:23] Feel free. (chuckles) Of course, there’s a dichotomy of emotions that have been a part of this my whole life, I think, because I’ve always felt like I love my dad, but once I was old enough and realized the truth of who he is, it’s probably not the same as having a child where you would just unconditionally love them. The ownership is on him to be a good father, not on me. Despite that, I’ve tried to tell him, “Here’s what you need to do in order to be a good father” for the last 16, 18, 20 years that this has been going on. Certainly, if he were to ever come to me, and ask for forgiveness, and admit anything, I could work with that. I could forgive that, or at least try. That doesn’t mean, I would trust him, or ever let my daughter meet him, which she’s never met him, and she probably never will. But I understand, I’d have an unconditional love for him because he’s my father, but I don’t have an unconditional pardon for his behavior.
That’s why it’s not hard for me to want to see justice for my mother. I had some guilt about that because I pushed so hard for law enforcement to keep working on this, and I did work on some guilt issues about that. When I testified, it was terrifying to be in front of him and have to speak the truth, and I got a look, I got a very, very scary look, and I just literally shrugged at him and shook my head, kind of saying, “You’re the one who put yourself in that chair.”
Dave [00:16:42] I was going to say, “We’re here because of you.”
Christy [00:16:44] “I pursue justice for my mother, you’re the one who is on the other end of that.” So I get it. So you can feel free to editorialize, as you normally would.
Yeardley [00:17:07] Hey, Detective Dan.
Dan [00:17:09] Hey.
Yeardley [00:17:10] My cat, Zipper, wakes up at 5 in the morning, every morning, weekends included. I’m trying to teach her to tell time. So far, here’s how it’s working. This morning, she woke up at 4:45, instead of 5.
Dan [00:17:23] You’re moving in the wrong direction.
Yeardley [00:17:25] But I feel like if you could just have a chat with your cat, a whole new world would open up. For instance, if they didn’t seem to be feeling well, you could say, “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Dan [00:17:33] How handy would that be?
Yeardley [00:17:35] So handy. But until that happens, you definitely want to have PrettyLitter as part of your kitty cat arsenal because PrettyLitter has a health-detecting formula.
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Yeardley [00:18:34] Meow.
Dave [00:18:49] Captain Terri, the TV show doesn’t really become a part of this until you take over in 2015?
Terri [00:18:56] Correct.
Dave [00:18:57] And TV show comes along and then you guys are sprinting for a week and a half, two weeks?
Terri [00:19:01] Correct. At the beginning of 2018, that’s when we actually filmed the show for the two weeks.
Yeardley [00:19:06] Why the lag between 2015 and 2018? Oh, it took a while for them to say they would do the case. Right?
Terri [00:19:12] Well, and the other thing I kept hearing from the investigator is that the case file is so large that they’re having a hard time getting through it. You have to reach out to them first, then give them the case digitally, and then they have to read through it and then decide whether or not the case is viable because if they really thought that there wasn’t a circumstantial case there, they won’t take the case.
Dave [00:19:33] Right. They want a resolution for their audience as well, and don’t want to rehash something that if they’re never going to arrive at probable cause, there’s no sense in trying to get to beyond a reasonable doubt.
Dan [00:19:33] Can you walk us through day one, they show up at the department, you get the introductions, and then you guys are go on 0 to 100 just like that, like let’s bang this out like a punch list. We got to get this done, this done, this done.” Walk us through that process.
Terri [00:20:00] Correct. They come in with their team and they bring two investigators with them. I have two investigators that I assigned to them as well as myself. One of the first things that we did is we looked at DNA. There’s no DNA. This is not a DNA case. It hasn’t been DNA case since the beginning. It’s not a DNA case today. But luckily, they did that, that DNA testing was all of my budget.
Yeardley [00:20:22] They didn’t pay for that?
Terri [00:20:23] They did pay for it. That’s what I’m saying. They did the testing for us at a specialized place.
Dan [00:20:27] And this is what we run into working in a small town is these are giant hurdles that we have to overcome and it’s difficult for a lot of smaller agencies.
Terri [00:20:27] That’s one of the things I said to the sheriff when we were talking about this. I’m like–
Yeardley [00:20:39] Okay. I’m so sorry to interrupt. Can I just ask you one question before you go on? How come Christy doesn’t just go to the TV show herself and ask them to help out to speed things along? Does she have to go through your police department?
Terri [00:20:51] Yes. The request has to come from law enforcement because we have to share our files. That’s the thing. Most cases that are open cases are not shareable. So, it was a big thing. We had to go to the district attorney, we had to go to the county board and tell them this is what we’re going to do.
Yeardley [00:21:09] I see. When the TV show says, “Yes, we’ll take your case,” where do they start?
Terri [00:21:14] They’re going to bring us a new fresh perspective of the case. The other thing is, we all picked out the people that we wanted to interview. And then, we just took off and interviewed different people. The other thing that they brought to us was a weapons expert, which I told you that we had come up with this idea that it was the tool that we actually had the Wonder Bar, they actually brought in an expert from a crime lab that has done thousands of different murder cases. He actually was able to say, “Yes, in fact, this is the weapon. I believe it is a Wonder Bar. Not this exact Wonder Bar because there’s no DNA on it, but this is the type of weapon we think it is.” So, that’s really helpful to juries to say this is a weapons expert, not just for me to get up there and say, “Well, we were looking through the internet,” (chuckles) even though we were right.
Yeardley [00:21:58] And because it’s such an unusual weapon, it’s not like a bullet, where you can say it came from this kind of gun, blah, blah, blah,
Dave [00:22:04] You have an expert who has done probably thousands of comparisons of patterned injuries in related it to this is the type of instrument that would cause that injury, that kind of weight with a jury is huge.
Terri [00:22:17] Yes. It was very impactful, and it helped verify that we were on the right track. Then, we started going out doing these interviews.
Dave [00:22:25] What is that approach because now you’re interviewing people 35 years after the fact? Do you just say, “Okay, tell me everything that you remember about the crime?”
Terri [00:22:34] We did do that. But then at some point, we did actually let people look at their statements because as the investigator said, it’s been 35 years, we can’t expect them to remember everything and you say to them, with this refresher memory, and they say, “Yes, it does,” and it is very helpful. Some people needed that, some people didn’t, but it’s better than having them try to recall it and then giving you the wrong information. It was just learning how to talk to people again about something that happened a long time ago. Like I said, we’d knock on people’s doors, and they’d be like, “We’re so happy that you guys are doing this,” because mind you now, Mitch has lived in the same community. For all that time, he’s living at the same house, he’s working at the same business. All these people know him, they see him. And they’re like, “That man got away with murder.”
Dan [00:23:23] It’s the elephant in the room every time they see him out in public.
Terri [00:23:26] Yes.
Dave [00:23:26] I imagine it’s difficult to hide these newcomers who are probably in a black, stylish SUV rolling through talking to all the people in the town, I can imagine that the word starts to spread. It’s kind of like when we go to an apartment complex and be like, “Police are here.”
Terri [00:23:42] Yes. And that was the thing. Luckily for us, we stayed in one part of the county, and then only went into these other counties.
Yeardley [00:23:50] Right, intermittently to stay off Mitch’s radar.
Terri [00:23:52] Yes. It did stay off the radar for quite a bit of time. Again, when I met with Christy and Deborah at the beginning, I said, “I really don’t know that I’m going to get there.” I don’t know, because my district attorney, he told me right from the very beginning, because I had to get his approval too for them to come in. He said, “You’re not going to push me,” because a district attorney looks at a case and looks for case that they think, “Am I really going to be able to prove this.” And I said, “You’re right. I’m not going to push you.” I go into this knowing that I’m doing something that might be futile, but I’m going to do it one more time.
We started on Monday, we pushed all the way through Saturday. As we’re going through this, we’re writing little blurbs of information down, and we get to the end of Saturday and I was talking to the investigators. The one investigator, she pulled me aside, she’s like we’ve never had so good of a circumstantial case. She’s like, “This is really a good case, Terri.”
Yeardley [00:24:48] It must have been so gratifying to get validation like that from somebody outside the case who hasn’t been living with it for the past two decades.
Terri [00:24:56] It is. There’s ironic things that happen. We write on these boards to put up the different circumstantial evidence. It turned out that the beginning of the week, they ordered this one board, and it was too small. They’re like, “Well, we’re going to order a second board.” We put the first board up. By the middle of part of the week, now we’re pulling out the second board. She’s like, “We’ve never had anything like this.”
Dave [00:25:17] It’s like the pros and cons of the case list. It’s like, heavy on one side.
Terri [00:25:21] We definitely ruled out the other suspect. We had him ruled out totally.
Yeardley [00:25:26] Even though he’s dead.
Terri [00:25:26] Even though he’s dead, because we were able to look at some things that didn’t make any sense. Finally, the church people started to talk to us, and that was very helpful. One of the church people was very close with Joyce. Joyce had actually spoken to them the night before the homicide, and told that person, “Yeah, I know about Jodi and Mitch, and I’m going to confront him about this. And if he doesn’t change things, if he doesn’t say he’s going to stop it, I’m going to leave.”
Dave [00:25:53] Joyce had thrown down the gauntlet and actually told one of her friends that this is going to happen, and that’s critical. That’s why in domestic violence situations, always go to the best friend because they’re the ones who are going to give us the real secrets that nobody else know about. They’ll confide in one source, that is a goldmine after a crime occurs.
Yeardley [00:26:14] Right. That makes sense.
Terri [00:26:15] The friend that Joyce had talked to the night before she died. She had some feelings all along that it was Mitch. She said, from that night, she had feelings, but she had some run-ins with Mitch where he would say things to her, like, Mitch is like, “Why don’t you just let it go? She’s dead. Why don’t you just move on? Why do you keep bringing this up?” I think she saw the wolf at one time she saw him, and so she was concerned herself.
Yeardley [00:26:43] So witness intimidation?
Terri [00:26:44] Yes. I mean, these people are young. They’re all young people and in the church, and they just really loved and cared about each other. I think that was some of the scary part. There were other people that died that were so important. There was one person that had actually seen Mitch leaving the Credit Union at the time of the homicide on his motorcycle.
Yeardley [00:27:06] What?
Terri [00:27:07] Yes. Mitch actually confronted him numerous times. He was part of the problem because this person didn’t really know Mitch, but then Mitch made it so that he knew him and he was talking to him and he’s like, “You didn’t really see me.”
Yeardley [00:27:20] Oh, my God. Mitch is relentless. Of course, eyewitness doesn’t come forward.
Terri [00:27:26] Well, he did back then, but because the two agencies were arguing against each other, and they had done some things that actually made the eyewitness statements somewhat controversial. Anyway, he dies before I can even interview him.
Yeardley [00:27:40] The eyewitness dies?
Terri [00:27:41] Yes.
Yeardley [00:27:43] Oh, no.
Terri [00:27:44] But he actually told other people. Other people said, “Nope, this guy told me that he saw.”
Yeardley [00:27:49] That he saw Mitch leaving the Credit Union around the time they say Joyce was murdered.
Terri [00:27:54] Yes.
Yeardley [00:27:55] Yes. I love this eyewitness.
Terri [00:27:56] Remember, I told you, Mitch is a sex offender in my state. In our state, sex offenders are required to do certain things. I knew that if I went and knocked on his door, I wasn’t going to get talked to him. I had done some manipulation to be able to get to him by saying, “You need to come in and do a sex offender check.” Which I can do. I can have him come in and do that, which we did. It was working with another agency to do that. Now mind you, Christy and Deborah have no idea what’s going on. My thought is, I want to arrest Mitch when I got him away from the place that he lives. That’s my thing. In order to do that, I got to get my district attorney on board, because I can’t make an arrest. I promised him that I wouldn’t do that. I’m thinking about it. I’m like, “I got to do it. I just got to do it. I got to at least present the case to him and see if he’ll let me do it.”
The next day, I call him up and I said, “Hey, is there any chance I could get like an hour of your time tomorrow just to go over this real quick because I really think this is a good case. I’d like to talk to you about it. (chuckles) And he’s like, “Okay, but it’s the Super Bowl.” It’s the day of the Super Bowl.
Terri [00:29:06] He’s like, “So, I’ll come in two hours for the Super Bowl, but you got to be done before the Super Bowl.” I get it.
Dan [00:29:11] At this point, you think you have probable cause?
Terri [00:29:15] I do. I think I have enough. I call the investigator that had spoken to me before I left and I said, “Hey, is there any way that you can come tomorrow? Because I want to present the case to the district attorney. And I really think it’d be helpful if you’ll be here and tell him how solid the circumstantial cases that we have.” And she’s like, “Okay, I’ll come in.”
Yeardley [00:29:34] Is this the same investigator who helped you lure Mitch to you for his sex offender check-in?
Terri [00:29:42] Yes. The next day we met and before I met with the district attorney, I created a spreadsheet. It was like six or eight pages long and it had what each person could give us, which piece of circumstantial evidence each person can give us. I have something like 45 pieces of circumstantial evidence that put together that Mitch is the only person that could have killed Joyce. I put together a timeline now with people that actually could give us information about where he was at that time. He came in on Sunday.
Yeardley [00:30:14] The district attorney did?
Terri [00:30:16] Yes, and we all talked about it, and he gave us the blessing to arrest Mitch on Monday. He said, “This seems solid. Let’s go ahead and do it.” Now, again, the ladies have no idea what’s going on. On Monday morning, we have this plan already in place that Mitch is going to come down to this agency and have this meeting. Right at the very last minute they pull out.
Yeardley [00:30:38] Who pulls out?
Terri [00:30:39] The other agency. They say, “We don’t want anything to do with it because there’s a TV show involved.”
Yeardley [00:30:42] Oh, my God.
Terri [00:30:43] I know.
Dan [00:30:44] I’ve seen this TV show. They are professional. They’re reverent. It’s a really well done TV show.
Yeardley [00:30:52] Yeah.
Dan [00:30:53] There’s no sensationalism here. They really just want the truth. That’s it.
Terri [00:30:57] So lucky for me that I had put somebody on him right from the beginning of the day, like 5:00 AM, be at his house.
Yeardley [00:31:03] This is Mitch?
Terri [00:31:03] Yes, Mitch. I’m thinking, “Okay, I’ll just do a traffic stop.” Lucky for me, he stops at a store. We’re able to take him down in the parking lot, which is quite nice because it’s safer for us. He’s got his hands full of groceries and we’re good to go because you never know. I mean, we are talking about murder. We are talking about the man’s life and what could happen here. As he’s being arrested, one of the investigators says to him, “Do you know why I’m arresting you?” Mitch said, “No.” “I’m arresting you for the murder of your wife.” And he says, “You have to be kidding me.” We’re like, “We’re not kidding. But okay.”
Dave [00:31:38] Yeah. We don’t kid about that.
Terri [00:31:38] Yeah, that’s not really something we kid about. Well, obviously, we take him back to the sheriff’s office, and he does not decide to talk to us. But that’s okay because our case to solid now enough that we actually go to court the next day, and he is charged with the crime. At this point, now we can actually go and tell Christy and Deborah, that we have actually arrested their father and I can’t even imagine what you were thinking because I was thinking we would never get there. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with Christy, where I told her over and over again, “I don’t know that I’m going to be able to get there. I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to get there.”
Dave [00:32:16] In that an in-person meeting?
Terri [00:32:18] Yes.
Dave [00:32:19] Okay. Walk us through that, Christy.
Christy [00:32:21] As Terri said, I was just thrilled that they were trying, in my opinion, in a final way that was really right, that was comprehensive, and could probably never get any better. Whatever the outcome, I feel they tried in the best way possible. They didn’t refuse outside help. They welcomed it. I just felt like, I’ll be good either way. But I got a call on Sunday, saying, “Can you come up here? Can you be here tomorrow morning?” So that meant I had to drop everything on Sunday and put up there. And I thought, “Well, that’s maybe a good sign.” But you don’t know, maybe that means it ended so fast, because it went badly. You just don’t really know. So, I tried to stay hopeful, but open-minded. It was a little difficult to be on TV, because the bright lights and the cameras are moving around and they’re very good and they’re very respectful of the process and try not to be in your face, but you still can’t help be a little bit aware of that. So that’s kind of surreal, I think in of itself that I’d seen the show how many times and now I’m in this moment.
Yeardley [00:33:21] Now you’re in it.
Christy [00:33:22] The finale. Even at the beginning of the show, I was like, “I’m sitting next to someone so and so and she’s taking notes on my mom’s case, I can’t believe this is finally happening.” Here we are sitting there and they all walk in, including the sheriff and the investigators walk in. Terri was the one who was able to say that they arrested Mitch that morning, and ironically, you heard his response, my response was, “Are you kidding me?”
Dan [00:33:45] Probably a different delivery.
Christy [00:33:48] (laughs) Yes. And I’m more like, “I can’t even believe it. Are you kidding me?” When I heard his response, because, of course, that was recorded on the show, too. And I actually have a video of that of him saying, “You got to be kidding me.” But ironically, I responded the same way but from a different perspective.
Dave [00:34:00] I love that. And Jodi, when do you become aware of this?
Jodi [00:34:05] I’m in Florida on vacation, and Terri texts me and said, “Can you call me?” Right at that moment, I’m sitting on the beach, watching the sunset, and I’m just praying God, “Let it be over, let her call me and just say it’s done.” I actually wanted her to call and say that he confessed and it’s done that way instead of having to face a trial because who wants to keep having this ugliness keep coming up in your life, but she called me and said he was arrested. Then that was emotional for me, but I’m glad because I’ve known just because of everything and how my life has gone, that he’s the one who did it and they have the right person. I’m happy, but I also have anxiety because now I know that we’re going to be going to trial probably.
Dave [00:34:53] Yeah, and that’s where I always would tell people, “After the arrest, things are gonna slow way down. Just get ready, this is going to get drawn out. Now you have to start prepping for trial.” And that’s a big deal. What they’ve done already, though, is shot down one of what’s going to be the defense. Usually, there’ll be like, “Well, it wasn’t my guy was somebody else. We’ve shot that one down, because you’ve alibied out this other possible suspect,” which is helpful. But now we’ve got to get victims and witnesses to the point that they’re ready to testify. And it doesn’t surprise me that he never confessed. He was never going to confess from day one. He’s not the type of guy to do that.
Terri [00:35:32] Right after we had arrested Mitch, we go to court, and he, of course, has for a probable cause hearing.
Yeardley [00:35:39] What’s that?
Terri [00:35:39] So that is where I have to go and testify about why I arrested him. We got to the end of the probable cause hearing, the judge found probable cause. The other two judges that were from our county had already recused themselves because they had been either the district attorney or had been some attorney in connection with this case over the last 35 years. They both recuse themselves, so we had a different attorney.
Yeardley [00:36:03] That’s such an artifact of a small town, isn’t it?
Terri [00:36:06] It is.
Dave [00:36:06] But I also liked that they did the right thing. Was it pulling teeth to get them to recuse themselves?
Terri [00:36:10] No, actually, everybody pulled back and they’re like, “Oh, no. We want nothing to do with this.” The thing that’s so ironic, though, again, another miracle in this case that we got was that as soon as there was found there was probable cause, Mitch asked again, for a new judge. He gets one more chance, he gets one more judge because the other two recused himself. This was the judge assigned, he could ask one more time for the judge. I’m like, “Who could he possibly get?” I’m thinking he’s going to get one of the closer counties, but he ends up getting a judge from a bigger county, she had been a domestic violence and sexual assault DA right before she became the judge.
Yeardley [00:36:48] That doesn’t seem better for him.
Terri [00:36:50] That does seem better for me. (laughs)
Yeardley [00:36:51] Right.
Dan [00:36:51] No, I was going to say, “Oops.”
Terri [00:36:53] And he doesn’t get to change again. That’s it. That’s the one that’s who he gets. This could not be better for us because she understands everything. Again, we’re going to be talking to a jury, right? We’re going to talk to a jury and the jury is going to make the decision, except that he decides that he wants to trial to the judge.
Yeardley [00:37:10] Mitch wants a bench trial.
Terri [00:37:12] Yes.
Dan [00:37:13] He knows about what he’s done with his sex offenses. He knows he’s not likable to begin with, like, those are a couple things. Back in the 80s, it’s different, obviously, but now, the mindset on those offenses has completely changed. People are not going to like him.
Dave [00:37:29] And his request for this second look from a different judge, does that get him bound to this DV judge?
Terri [00:37:35] Yes.
Dave [00:37:37] I love it.
Yeardley [00:37:37] What’s DV?
Dave [00:37:37] Domestic violence. I love it. (chuckles)
Terri [00:37:40] I know. So did we. We heard like, “How could this get any better?” I mean, things were just lining up for us and we were so very happy. It took about a year to get to trial, which we did go to trial. We had many things happen in the midst of the trial. One of the other interesting things is they wanted to still blame that other person, that person was deceased.
Yeardley [00:38:02] The other person who was assessed back for like a minute?
Terri [00:38:05] Yes. There were people that were deceased, that had given information that Mitch was the suspect. So they asked that all information from deceased people be allowed in, which again, brought in our witness to Mitch leaving the Credit Union at the time of the homicide. We were able to bring in that information again. One more valuable piece of information that we got that we didn’t have before we arrested Mitch, is so you know how when you’re working a case, and we’re like trying to put this case together, and we’re on a short timeline to get to the preliminary hearing. I come in on a Monday, and we got to request from inmates to speak to us. We need to speak to a detective about Mitch. I pull my detectives aside, I’m like, “Do not waste any time with these people. We got way too much work to do to be messing around these inmates.”
In my mind, I’m skeptical. They want something, this is their thing, they know this is a big case, because this did get out as soon as it went to court. We get the first guy in there, and he starts talking to us, and he’s actually giving us details. Details we don’t even have. He’s talking about the weapon and nowhere in the criminal complaint that I really write about the actual crime, like going in and taking the money from her hand and all of this stuff. He’s giving all of those details. The inmates giving us details that I am jumping up and down. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, Mitch, talked to somebody. He didn’t confess to me, but he talked to somebody.” I was stunned.
What ends up happening is Mitch says that these guys, like how adults in custody or they get in the same block and they ask each other, “What are you here for?” Back in the day, whatever the inmate says that’s what it is. But not today. Now you call your girlfriend and you say, “Hey, Joe Blow says that he’s in here for this,” and then they get on the internet and they check. Well, the interesting thing is Mitch’s case still isn’t filed, but what’s in there is that Mitch is a sex offender. They start giving Mitch the business about being a sex offender. He’s like, “No, no, that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because I killed my wife,” and they’re like, “You’re full of crap. You’re not here for that. You’re a sex offender. There’s nothing about that.” And he’s like, “No, no, I’m here because I killed my wife at the Credit Union. And I did this.” And he’s giving them details.
Yeardley [00:40:23] That’s the confession.
Terri [00:40:24] Yes.
Dave [00:40:25] But now, the thing is, is that these guys, inmates, even though I fully believe these guys are telling the truth, there’s the inmate code dynamic that we’re dealing with here, that he’s got to get them derailed from thinking that I’m a pedophile. It needs to be, what I’m really in here for his murder. So, he has to feed them some information, because he’s on trial while he’s in custody a little bit with his fellow inmates. The other thing is, is that the prosecution is going to have to rehabilitate these inmates and make them credible in front of the judge, because a defense attorney is going to say, “Well, of course, you’re saying this, because Mitch has a lot on the line here, and you’re going to try to help the state because you want consideration on a lenient sentence.”
Terri [00:41:10] Well, at first, they said that they did want something in return. By the end of the conversation, they said that they didn’t want something. One of the guys says, “If this guy just killed his wife, I wouldn’t even be talking to you. But he’s a sex offender. He offends little kids, I don’t care, whatever he does to his wife, but I don’t want him out amongst my kids.” In his mind, the fact that he’s a sex offender is way worse than killing his wife. Obviously, it’s difficult using testimony from inmates because they are in a situation where they’re trying to make things better for themselves. In this case, though, I think they did want to bring up the information for reasons that they thought were good.
Dave [00:41:53] Well, and it just makes it more credible. They didn’t want anything. They do have a bias, but they also introduce information that was unknown to investigators, and it can be corroborated. It’s independent stuff that’s critical in these cases, especially in front of a jury, but the judge, I’m sure was tracking the whole way.
Terri [00:42:11] Yes. By the end of the day, we had a lot of evidence. We had a confession, even though it went through somebody else. We had the murder weapon, even though we didn’t realize we had the murder weapon, and we did. We had all of these witnesses. We came up with our own timeline where we had witnesses that could say, at this time this happened, at this time this happened and it was still based on good recollections. Like, “This is so important, I can’t forget it.” After between five and 10 days, it did go to the judge and she did find him guilty.
Yeardley [00:42:53] Hey, Detective Dan.
Dan [00:42:54] Hey.
Yeardley [00:42:55] How do you like my earrings?
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Yeardley [00:42:58] Aren’t they pretty? For our listeners, who can’t see them, they’re these beautiful little half shells in rose gold with a tiny little pearl at the center and I got them from Aurate.
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Dave [00:44:46] Couple of questions. Was there a change of venue or does this trial happen in the county where the crime occurred?
Terri [00:44:52] It happened in the county where the crime occurred.
Dave [00:44:54] And I imagine that was part of his decision in not wanting a jury because he’s already a registered sex offender around there. The rumors about what happened in the early 80s is probably circulated around this town. Like Dan said, there’s the elephant in the room every time Mitch, steps into a social situation. He’s in a restaurant and somebody is talking about him across the restaurant, I’m sure. The other question is, how long before the judge delivered her decision?
Terri [00:45:22] Well, she actually gave herself a certain number of weeks to do it. So, I don’t know if she had it done right away or not.
Dave [00:45:28] Yeah. Other question is Christy and Jodi, I’m positive, you guys, testified at this trial. Can you speak to your experiences on the stand and how that was for you as a witness?
Christy [00:45:41] Yeah, sure. Well, I think Jodi had said it, we really, really wished for a plea. I really, really did not want to have to go to trial. I can’t emphasize how many reallys I should put in front of that.
Christy [00:45:52] Did not want to have to go to trial. The idea of it was almost paralyzing, just terrifying. Having been through the john doe earlier in life, I did not want to have to get up in court and in front of him and speak to this, it would mess up. Somehow it was just very scary. I was totally willing to get any kind of conviction that we could get it all. The fact that several plea bargains were brought to the table, at least two with that I know of. He refused them both. I was very disappointed with that. Once the trial got underway, and luckily, I think we were both able to speak pretty early in the trial, so we didn’t have to sit with this for five days. That was another blessing is just the way that things went down and the schedule changed. We were supposed to testify later in the week, and we got to testify in the first two days.
My sister went first in the first day, and I got to go second in the second day. And then Jodi, I think you went in the first day. That was helpful, because we didn’t have to sit there anticipating and waiting for our moment. It was terrifying. I think I mentioned that before, it was terrifying, and I got very evil look for my father. After the fact, it was liberating. If I wasn’t forced to go through that, I wouldn’t have, and I don’t think I would have felt that liberation. I guess, now I’m a grown-up, transition from those fears of being a little girl on the stand and doing this to being a woman.
Dave [00:47:15] You mentioned this dirty look that you got from dad that I’m guessing you had seen before earlier in life. Was there a certain question, or was it just when you got called up to the stand get sworn in, and then you finally face your father?
Christy [00:47:26] I don’t know that it was a certain question, but I first was very focused on the district attorney’s questions which were first and those were the ones that surprisingly, were the hardest for me to answer. I couldn’t figure out how to put my hands and what to do. I just ended up clenching my hands around the chair and just holding on tight. I think that they were so hard to answer because I didn’t want to mess up. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to say something or regret. I didn’t add this or that later on, but then once I started being cross-examined by the defense, I started to really relax. And that’s when I was finally able to look my father’s way because I almost intended not to look at him at all.
As I was being questioned, inside my head, I heard, “Look at your dad,” and I was arguing with myself, “No, don’t look at your dad.” As I was arguing in my head about that, I said, “Just do it.” Like you need to do that. You just need to confront him and actually look at him. And that’s when he gave me the look is when I finally made my first contact with him.
Dave [00:48:19] Still trying to control you in some way.
Christy [00:48:21] Yes, that’s exactly the look I got, was anger that “you’re doing this to me” and trying to control the rest of my testimony.
Terri [00:48:30] Again, he’s the victim. Let’s remember now, this isn’t the guy that was in his 30s that’s sitting there. It’s 70-year-old man who looks old and they, again, play the victim. This poor old man–
?Jodi [00:48:43] In a wheelchair.
Terri [00:48:43] Oh, yeah. He had to use a wheelchair even though–
Dave [00:48:45] Of course. The weeks prior to being taken into custody, he’s able-bodied and able to move around?
Terri [00:48:50] Correct.
Dave [00:48:50] Shocker.
Dan [00:48:51] Something happened while he was in jail?
Terri [00:48:53] No.
Dave [00:48:53] No. He was never going to plead to anything.
Terri [00:48:56] The ladies were like, even if he just pleads guilty and there’s very little prison time. We just want him to say he did it.
Dave [00:49:05] What did he turn down?
Terri [00:49:05] He turned down 10 years, that would have been seven years. So, he would have had a seven years sentence.
Dave [00:49:10] Time served?
Terri [00:49:12] No, he would have had to serve seven.
Dave [00:49:13] Okay, good behavior.
Terri [00:49:14] Yes. But the other problem is with this case is it happened in the 1980s, and in our state, whatever the law was back in the 1980s is what they end up serving, so it’s a very small period of time, compared to what it is now.
Dave [00:49:29] Jodi, you had made a comment about this wheelchair. You had to get on the stand. Can you touch on your experience with that? And then the comment about the wheelchair is you’ve seen this before.
Jodi: >Well, speaking to the wheelchair, it’s part of the con games that inmates play where they make themselves out to be the victim and they think if they’re going to come in wheelchair, they’re going to get more sympathy. Again, the poor me thing that Mitch is very good at, and I’ve seen that inmate behavior working in the field for 30 years. Testifying was very hard for me. I cried through most of my testimony, I think. They had me read letters that I had given them after I went back and told them the truth in the early 80s. I gave them some of the letters between Mitch and I. Some of it was very vulgar, but in those letters is where he promised that he was going to marry me and be with me. I see why it was critical to the case. I had to face the monster, I hadn’t seen for 30 some years.
In my early 20s, and in my teens after he was arrested, I used to have nightmares that he was murdering me. I talked about my husband earlier, and he sat in the back of the room, when I’m testifying, he just kept mouthing to me, “I love you.” It’s like God gave me a man who finally loved me just for me, and not for what I could give him. He just loves me, and so I’m very blessed that way.
Dave [00:50:58] That’s great.
Yeardley [00:50:59] That’s amazing.
Dave [00:51:00] I think I know the answer to this already. Did Mitch take the stand?
Terri [00:51:03] No.
Dave [00:51:04] What was the atmosphere in the courtroom when the verdict was read?
Jodi [00:51:07] Well, for me, I told my husband I want to sit closest by the door, because if it’s not guilty, I’m making a beeline out of there and going back to my own state and never having anything to do with this again because I’ve had fear that he’d come after me. And then, I’m looking around the courtroom. I’ve worked in law enforcement, so I’ve been in courtrooms before and I’m like, “Where’s the door he’s coming in at?” I realized there’s one door for all the public and for the inmate to come in, and I switched places with my husband and made him sit closest to the door because he’s bigger. My husband’s like 6’9”, so he’s a big guy. I’m glad I did that, because if he would have came right in at the door, I was literally sitting right there. When the verdict was read, just so much relief, I can’t even say.
Christy [00:51:58] Yeah, that’s a good word for it, Jodi, is relief. I saw that in my entire family. There was no one ever in court on his behalf. Not one person ever came to sit on his side, if you will. So, the overall atmosphere was relieved by everyone, because everybody who was in there was in there for my mom. The judge, she was amazing. She took about, I want to say an hour and 15 to 20 minutes to deliver her verdict. She went through point after point, and witness after witness, and articulated exactly what the witness said, and what that indicated and how she interpreted that. Sometimes, she’d say it’s reasonable to conclude then, for example, when my mom told her friend the night before that she was going to make my dad’s favorite dinner and give him that ultimatum, then it’s reasonable to conclude, because we did have that dinner, it was reasonable to conclude that she did tell him, and so she went through in such detail. So, you started to get a feel for where she was going. You’re still hoping that it’s going to be guilty, but it’s like we still had to wait a long time to get there. But you had a feeling of where she was going based on the details.
Dave [00:53:06] And you’re also possibly waiting. I mean, the pessimist inside your head is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Terri [00:53:11] Yep. But never happened.
Christy [00:53:14] No, it did not. It was great, because the first thing she did was rule out why she doesn’t believe that it was the other suspect. She ruled that out right away. So that was helpful.
Terri [00:53:23] And she actually put the whole crime together. She said it like a story.
Jodi [00:53:27] But I think it was easy for the judge to tell the story because Terri laid it out so well, and the DA took what she had and laid it out so well, that it was evident for her.
Terri [00:53:42] We took one of the boards they bought for us, which is ironic, because we wanted to use it in court too.
Yeardley [00:53:46] That the TV show bought for you?
Terri [00:53:47] Yes. We had these cards that had each piece of evidence. There was like 45 pieces of evidence. We started at the top from the day that it happened, and we brought the board all the way down, so that at the very bottom, the only person that could have done this was Mitch because there’s no other person that has all of this within their control. Only Mitch could have that in their control. The judge looked at him and she said, “I know you did this, and this is what you did.” When you work a case, your life is like in it. I mean, to me, it makes sense that it’s him because you can’t see anybody else. So, to actually have somebody validate it and say, I’m sure that a jury would have validated it, too.
Dan [00:54:27] You look at it, and Dave brought it up earlier, it’s a puzzle. And even though you don’t have all the pieces, you can still see the picture. You know what it is.
Yeardley [00:54:34] Right. It makes sense. How much time did he get in the end?
Terri [00:54:38] Again, this is based on time back then in the 80s. So, it’s 20 years, so we think it’s going to be probably about 13. That’s what we believe.
Yeardley [00:54:49] We don’t know yet?
Terri [00:54:50] Well, it’s the calculation of good time and things like that.
Dave [00:54:53] Right, you’re sentenced to 20, but based on algorithms and the math, based on his behavior, there’s an adjustment made, so 13, he started when he was in his 70s, he’ll get out in his mid-80s, probably. What’s Mitch’s health like when he’s going into trial? I know he’s in a wheelchair, but that seems to be some theater.
Terri [00:55:12] He seemed like he was perfectly healthy.
Dan [00:55:15] You see the similarity with Joseph D’Angelo, the Golden State Killer, what he did, I mean, Paul Holes has told us, three or four days before this–
Yeardley [00:55:24] He’s chopping wood.
Dave [00:55:25] He’s chopping wood, and he’s riding his motorcycle 100 miles an hour down the freeway.
Dan [00:55:30] Yet when they put him in his first hearing, he can barely talk and he’s in a wheelchair. That’s the way these people are wired. It’s all about them, and how they can gather favor of others. They’re cowards.
Yeardley [00:55:57] Hey, Detective Dan.
Dan [00:55:59] Yeardley.
Yeardley [00:55:59] Hi.
Dan [00:55:59] Hi.
Yeardley [00:55:59] Let’s talk about Noom because I subscribed to Noom before they said they wanted to advertise on our podcast.
Dan [00:56:06] Really?
Yeardley [00:56:07] Yeah, I’d heard great things about their articles that help you figure out why you eat what you eat, and then you can change it to make the habits better. For me, I just wanted a diet that would give me a little more, okay, a lot more energy.
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Yeardley [00:56:41] I’m a Noomer, that’s what I’m talking about. So, like I said, Noom is based in psychology, so it teaches you why you do the things you do. And then, it empowers you with tools that you need to break bad habits, hello cookies, and replace them with better ones. Hello, mango.
Dan [00:56:56] And Noom is not a diet, it’s a healthy and easy to stick to way of life. No food is good, bad or off-limits. Noom teaches moderation and can be used in conjunction with many preexisting popular diets if you want.
Yeardley [00:57:09] That’s right. It’s all up to you. And if you’re thinking, “Well, heck, I’m strapped for time.” Noom just asks that you commit 10 minutes a day, and let’s face it, it’s you time.
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Dave [00:57:58] Mitch’s family was Team Mitch from day one, except for his brother, Jack. And then, Joyce and company are in their own camp. Once the verdict is read, and Mitch is convicted, how is the family dynamic? How did things evolve in the days and weeks after that verdict is read?
Christy [00:58:16] You’re probably not going to find this shocking, but I did. I really had hope that somehow some restoration on my father’s side of the family would occur, between my uncle and his other siblings. Even despite the truth, and despite the conviction, they still remain Team Mitch. So that restoration has not happened. It looked a little hopeful, but then I think it was a little bit contrived and the trust just wasn’t there between the brothers. So that hasn’t changed anything, unfortunately. I wish it would have, but on my mom’s side of the family, one of the most amazing things is her mother was still alive when this happened, so my grandmother. My grandfather had since passed, but she was still alive when this happened. Ever since I reunited with them back in my early 30s, my grandma pretty much would say the same thing every time I saw her because I didn’t see her weekly or anything. It was a couple times a year. She would say, “Why don’t you just arrest him?” She always knew he did it, too.
It was really great because the next day my aunt, my mom’s sister, and I got to go the next day after his arrest and speak to her. She was still in an assisted living home. She mentally was very astute still. She didn’t recognize me because she couldn’t see me, and she doesn’t know my voice like she does her daughter’s. She was able to comprehend that he was finally arrested and she died just a few weeks later. On her side of the family, for her sister’s sake, and my other cousins, it’s brought a lot of closure and relief to them.
Dave [00:59:44] Well, for her to have her child’s killer put in jail, I can’t imagine.
Yeardley [00:59:49] Yeah. Amazing that she hung on until that happened, but not that surprising.
Dan [00:59:55] Did jack testify against Mitch?
Christy [00:59:57] Yes.
Terri [00:59:57] Yes, he did an amazing job.
Dave [00:59:59] Does Mitch give Jack dirty looks?
Christy [01:00:02] More like the other way around, I think. (laughs)
Terri [01:00:03] I think so, too.
Jodi [01:00:06] Mitch would never make eye contact with me.
Yeardley [01:00:07] Really?
Jodi [01:00:08] The whole thing, and I was glad of that.
Terri [01:00:09] He never looked at hardly any of us. Even when I testified the whole preliminary hearing, I stared at him the whole time, he’d never look at me.
Dave [01:00:16] Well, he tries to intimidate his daughter, Christy, and you have these other people confronting him. It’s all this confrontation. Sex offenders are cowards. They’re used to being able to manipulate, now they can’t anymore. Now they don’t know what to do. I love that dynamic. The investigators from the show and the expert, did they testify in the trial?
Terri [01:00:40] Only the expert did. The way this show works is that the investigators are always with another investigator so that they don’t ever have to testify.
Yeardley [01:00:48] I don’t understand why people from the TV show can’t testify.
Dan [01:00:52] Not they can’t. They just don’t.
Yeardley [01:00:55] They don’t.
Dan: It boils down to convenience. They don’t want to have to subpoena all these people from the show and have them come back if there’s a trial, because it’s a lot of money to fly people across country and put them up in hotels. Now the expert, that’s important stuff, and the expert from the show, will testify in the trial. But it’s not necessary for these other people to testify it. Terri, if you’re there next to him, and this other investigator asked a couple questions during that conversation or that interview., but Terri’s there,-
Yeardley [01:01:25] To witness it.
Dan [01:01:27] -to witness it to hear everything that was said. She’s going to cover in her report. It’s all good.
Terri [01:01:31] That’s right.
Yeardley [01:01:32] Okay. And does Jennifer, Mitch’s second wife, testify?
Terri [01:01:36] Yes. She testified as well and gave us some really beneficial information about things that happened during her time period.
Yeardley [01:01:43] About his character.
Terri [01:01:44] And some things that he said to her that made her know that that was the truth as well.
Yeardley [01:01:49] Right. Christy, you had said that, first of all, he used an alias when he met her. She was very young when they married, then she only believes the information that Mitch gave her. At what point does she find out that he’s a registered sex offender?
Christy [01:02:05] I think he disclosed that pretty early on. Again, Jennifer also thought the technically 17 almost 18 didn’t know to look otherwise.
Yeardley [01:02:14] She didn’t realize that Jodi was 11, 12, 13. She thought, “Oh, well.”
Christy [01:02:18] Mm-hmm.
Yeardley [01:02:19] Right. Got it.
Dave [01:02:20] Captain Terri, I’m sure you’ve dealt with that before. I will find in these situations where you get a new case on a sex offender, and they’re already a registered sex offender. You go to their new girlfriend who, of course, has children. And you say, “Do you know he’s a registered sex offender?” “Oh, yeah. He said that he had sex with a girl when she was almost 18.” It is like clockwork, that tail is out there in the sex offender world. Here’s how to mitigate being a registered sex offender. Here’s how to make people okay with it. It’s because you were wrongfully charged and you just mistook somebody’s age. It’s a cover story that is pretty typical.
Yeardley [01:02:59] That girl was a month away from being of legal age.
Terri [01:03:02] Or you didn’t know their age until it was too late.
Dave [01:03:04] Right. You got arrested anyway.
Terri [01:03:06] Yes.
Christy [01:03:07] Another thing about Jennifer is she with me did a lot of these trips up north and was there supporting me when I had to do my first recording and all of my recordings, and did them herself as well, like I said, but every year on the anniversary of my mom’s death, once she realized the truth, she would write her own letter.
Terri [01:03:26] She did. She sent me emails every year.
Yeardley [01:03:28] What do you mean?
Terri [01:03:30] She would send me an email every year on the anniversary, saying, “I hope that you’re well. And I just want to remind you that we are still hoping that we’re going to get somewhere with this case.” As much as it’s been Christy’s life, Jennifer has been supporting Christy, and so supportive of law enforcement. I feel a little bit scared for her. I’m glad that it’s all over now, because she lived with Mitch for so long, and she knew. It’s very apparent that she knew that he did this to Joyce. She was such a help and support for you, because in the beginning, remember, we’re still going, “We’re not really going to help you,” and she’s still pushing you to keep contact with us. She’s still doing it for us. Like every April 28, there’s that email for me to remember.
The thing is, when we decided to use that TV show, then there was a couple years where they weren’t sure how their season was going to go, and so then I was getting emails and stuff. I’m like emailing Christy and Jennifer and telling them, “Hey, we’re still looking at doing it. We haven’t forgot.” Deborah, too. Deborah lives further away, so it’s more difficult for her. I can talk to her on the phone, but she can’t get up to where we live quite as often. The three of them were constantly always in contact saying, where are we at with this, we hope we’re going to be moving in the right direction.
Christy [01:04:46] Right. Those years that I felt like, “Okay, I’m just not going to do anything or try,” she’d still write it on April 28.
Terri [01:04:52] She would.
Yeardley [01:04:52] That’s amazing.
Christy [01:04:53] Which kept me holding on maybe until the next year where then I’d reach out again.
Terri [01:04:57] Well, it would always remind me. It’s hard, if you see this case, it’s still sitting on the corner of my office and it takes up a whole corner. It is not something that you can forget, but that Jennifer email puts the personal touch on it. That’s the thing. This wasn’t originally my case, it was somebody else’s case, but it is my agency’s case, it is my agency’s responsibility to try to figure it out. It’s traveled through many detectives’ offices. Finally, we’re going to be able to put it away.
Christy [01:05:23] Yeah, when the TV show aired about my mom’s case, I got some messages from people I don’t know, just reaching out saying, “I’m struggling because of my sister’s murder,” or, “My cousin is struggling because of some other relatives murder. Do you have any advice?” Really, I just wrote back, “Just don’t stop.” That’s one of the things the sheriff said to me. He was thankful for me being such a squeaky wheel. I didn’t realize like I said that law enforcement, they feel bad when they sit and listen to you, and they feel like they can’t help you, but they actually do care and want to listen to the victims. And so, victims, I think often, the feedback I got, when that happened was that they don’t feel empowered to talk to law enforcement directly.
Yeardley [01:06:02] Well, it’s like Dave was saying, when I said, “How come these 25 people that you ended up having testify in the actual case?” And they all said, “Oh, yeah, we know he did it.” How come they didn’t come forward? And Dave says, “Well, that’s so common, where people think, yeah, my voice isn’t going to make a difference.” But you’re saying it actually does make a difference. You’re all saying that.
Dave [01:06:22] You take it in total. Like I said, you get to piece all this stuff together. And you get the complete picture of what people have gathered, through their own experiences with Joyce and Mitch and circumstances, you put it all together, and you get the puzzle. When it’s deconstructed, it just looks like a jumbled mess.
Dan [01:06:43] I would say that a case like this, a circumstantial case, you have to have a prosecutor is really bought in, they have to believe in the case. Otherwise, you’re not going to get anywhere. It sounds like the aggregate of you strong women, provided that to your prosecutor, like he bought in, he believes you, and it’s got to be empowering to be believed.
Jodi [01:07:04] It’s empowering, that Terri believed and treated me truly like a victim because I carried so much shame for so many years, and really, the day the judge said, “He’s guilty,” I mean, it just lifted, like a burden off of me. I said it after the case. Finally, the shame, is where it belongs. It belongs on him. I’ve carried shame with me over this for so many years. Now it’s where it needs to be. It’s where it should have been all along.
Yeardley [01:07:35] That’s well said. Yeah.
Dave [01:07:38] How’s inmate Mitch?
Terri [01:07:39] Inmate Mitch is in prison and he appears to be fine.
Dave [01:07:42] No more wheelchair?
Terri [01:07:44] I haven’t got to check in on that lately.
Dave [01:07:45] Gotcha.
Terri [01:07:46] I did want to say how much I appreciated that Small Town Dicks did allow Jodi and Christy to come and talk today. When people go through this kind of hearing and this kind of a journey, as we’ve just talked about, they’ve had several times to talk about their feelings with me. When you go to trial questions are very focused on what is exactly what we need to prove the case. Even when we interview them, oftentimes we do that where we focus very much on what it is that we need, but at some point, they need to speak. I appreciate you giving them the opportunity to let their voices and their opinions and their perspective of this be heard because it hasn’t been heard yet. What you’re hearing today has not been in the media. The ladies have not spoken about this before today because at that time when the trial happened, and the arrest happened, they weren’t ready to speak. I appreciate you giving them this venue to speak.
Dave [01:08:51] I think I can speak on behalf of Yeardley and Dan, we’re humbled and honored and respect what you guys have been through. Like Dan said, “I’m sorry for how law enforcement treated you 30 years ago.” We’ve evolved, thank God, but I’m just incredibly humbled that you guys felt comfortable to share your experiences and your story with us. I’m really humbled, and thank you.
Jodi [01:09:18] Thank you. The other thing is, too is we stand before you as survivors. We’re not victims anymore. But there’s many victims that are still out there that haven’t had a chance to tell their story, that haven’t had a chance to deal with what’s happened to them. I hope for anybody who’s listening out there that they know that they can be a survivor and they need to just start talking to people.
Dave [01:09:41] Well said.
Yeardley [01:09:42] That’s amazing. Christy, is there anything you’d like to add?
Christy [01:09:45] Yes, thank you for having me come. I tend to, as I mentioned earlier, I think I can be a little more logical than emotional to get through things. That’s just how I’ve learned to be, so I was a little scared to com-
Jodi [01:09:57] And share.
Christy [01:09:58] You’ve all made it very very welcoming and comfortable and feel very safe. So thank you very much.
Yeardley [01:10:05] Ah, It’s lovely to hear.
Terri [01:10:06] Very proud of this girl.
Dan [01:10:07] I’m proud of all three of you.
Yeardley [01:10:08] Yeah. As Dave says, we’re deeply humbled to have you, and Captain Terri, you’re just one of our all-time favorites. This has been an incredible conversation. Thank you so much for being so open, so candid and so gracious. Thank you.
Terri [01:10:23] Thank you.
Dave [01:10:24] Thank you.
Yeardley [01:10:31] Hey, Small Town Fam. Well, Dan and Dave have left me holding the bag. I am the bearer of bad news, which is, this marks the end of season six. I know, I know, it stinks. But we’re a tiny team and we have to take a break in order to go out and gather new cases for season seven, which will begin in early September. In the meantime, you can still hang with us on Patreon, where we will continue to drop delicious snack-sized nuggets of content every week. Our Patreon content is actually often really funny, and always quite different from our main episodes. Like you’ll get behind the scenes conversations with our guests, world’s dumbest criminal stories, extended suspect interviews, as well as access to our main episodes ad-free. Our Patreon subscription is just $5 a month, which is roughly the cost of one golf ball, which means Dan and Dave are going to have to share. You can find us on Patreon at patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcast. We hope to see you there. But if not, no worries, we’ll see you in September and also on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram because we love hearing from you.
Last but not least, we want to acknowledge the 2020 has been devastating and ugly in so many ways, there are no words. So please stay safe and well out there. We’re grateful for your listenership. And truly, nobody is better than you.
Yeardley [01:12:02] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and co-produced by detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate produces are Erin Gaynor and The Real Nick Smitty. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. And our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
Dan [01:12:31] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, visit us on our website at smalltowndicks.com, and join the Small Town Fam by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @smalltowndicks. We love hearing from you.
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 [01:12:58] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country.
Dan [01:13:04] In search of the finest rare true crime cases told, as always, by the detectives who investigated them.
Dave [01:13:11] So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley [01:13:13] Nobody’s better than you.