We are coming to you a day early because of the Thanksgiving Day holiday – we wanted to be sure you had something binge-able as you prep your turkeys, or drive to grandma’s house, or wait for you plane, or take a nice walk. Whatever you’re doing, Small Town Fam, we wish you a warm and happy holiday!
In today’s special bonus episode, Yeardley discusses what her three favorite episodes have been over the course of the show. She offers some commentary and then shares her favorite for your enjoyment.Read Transcript
Yeardley [00:00:02] Hey, Small Town Fam, it’s Yeardley. How are you guys? Well, it’s Thanksgiving here in the United States. I want to tell you all, how genuinely grateful we are at Small Town Dicks, that you are part of this incredible, lively, wonderfully engaged community. We couldn’t ask for anything more. You guys are the best, and thank you.
This week, we have another mini hiatus. But before you lose your minds, this hiatus is only a week long. And then, we’re back with a brand-new episode. If you recall, during our last mini hiatus, you got to hear what Dan and Dave’s favorite episodes from our catalog are. And now, it’s my turn, and I just want to go on the record and say, “What’s your favorite episode?” is the worst question ever.” It’s the worst. I don’t know how you’re supposed to choose. I get this question in every interview I do about The Simpsons. And now, here it is again. Argh.
[00:01:02] As I was listening to our back catalogue, I narrowed it down to three contenders. Working backwards, we’ll start with number three. I chose Crime and Punishment from Season 5. This is a conversation we had with a man named Trevor Walraven, who was tried and convicted of killing someone when he was 14 years old. Trevor did 17 years of his 25-year sentence, and then he was released. I remember before we sat down to do this interview, I was a little nervous about sitting across from a person who admits to executing an innocent man. But I have to say, Trevor was likable, deeply remorseful and candid with us. It was not at all what I expected. But now, two years later, when I listened to this episode, I find myself listening with less trust, to be perfectly honest, which has nothing to do with Trevor and I believe everything to do with my having been steeped in true crime stories like this one 24/7 for the last two years. There’s a consequence for that. And in some ways, it’s made listening to this episode again even more complicated now than it was when we first sat down and recorded it. Here’s the soundbite.
Speaker: [00:02:22] Where’d the gun go?
Trevor: [00:02:23] I don’t know where it went.
Yeardley [00:02:29] Did you throw it away?
Trevor: [00:02:30] When I got home, I’m not 100% where I put it. I don’t know if I put it back in a cabinet. I don’t know– I threw the keys at one point away somewhere, and I don’t remember.
Yeardley [00:02:43] The car keys?
Trevor: [00:02:44] Yes.
Yeardley [00:02:45] Oh.
Trevor: [00:02:45] But that was when I came back. So, I actually don’t know what happened to the gun. It was never found, but I don’t know what happened to it.[ominous music]
Yeardley [00:03:02] Second on my list is an episode also from Season 5, called Mother’s Day, where we had Dan and Dave’s mom on the podcast to talk about what it’s like to be the mother of two detectives. I love this episode for the playful banter between Dan and Dave and their mom. It was also really fun and interesting to see Dan and Dave, two men I love and respect deeply, through someone else’s eyes. Someone who knows them better than anyone else, I think. And every time I listen to this episode, I am humbled by the vulnerability of Dan, Dave, and their mother. Here’s a listen.
Mom: [00:03:44] I had an experience with them that I was with Dan, and they needed to call Dave when David was a detective and Dan wasn’t yet, and a baby had died. That night is when I realized that my sons had grown up, that they were men. It was really emotional for me. I watched the two of them interact when no one was around. I was standing back and they were discussing the pictures and they were waiting to get okay to go inside the apartment. I was watching them, I was about five feet away from them and I was listening to them interact and it was like, “Wow, these boys are men. They’re not my babies anymore. They’re grown men.”[ominous music]
Yeardley [00:04:32] And finally, finally my first choice and I only choose because my partners in crime, Gary, our producer, and Ben, our book cooker and cat wrangler, are holding my feet to the fire and making me choose, big fat eyeroll, though I do love this episode. I have chosen the Devil You Know from Season 6. Fan Favorite, Captain Terri, is our guest on this episode. And she brought with her that day, two badass women named Christy and Jodi. Both were victims and victors in this case. Every time I listen to this episode, I am bowled over by the strength and character of these women. I also remember how much fun we had on that day. These women were so fun and funny, and open, which isn’t at all what I expected from Christy and Jodi in particular, considering the depravity of the crime they describe in this episode.
[00:05:32] The Devil You Know was originally released as a two-parter, but we are smushing them together for you today to keep you company a little while longer as you drive to that family thanksgiving, or to keep your company if you’re just off to work today, or doing laundry, walking the dog. My point is wherever you find yourself in the world today, thank you for bringing us along. I want you to know we never take it for granted. Now, please settle in for The Devil You Know.[music]
Yeardley [00:06:10] This is part one of two episodes that tell the story of a case that was investigated three separate times over three long decades. Captain Terri returns to the podcast to tell us how she led the third and final investigation into this unsolved murder, which rocked her small town in the 1980s and had long gone cold at her police agency.
The two other guests voices you’ll hear are Christy and Jodi, who started out as victims and ended up as victim advocates for other survivors. If not for the persistence of these three remarkable women, this case which surely have remained cold and unsolved to this day. This is Part 1 of The Devil You Know.[intro]
Yeardley [00:06:57] 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 [00:07:22] I’m Dan.
Dave [00:07:23] And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from Small Town, USA.
Dan [00:07:27] Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He’s now a patrol sergeant at his police department.
Dave[00:07:33] 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 [00:07:49] 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.[music]
Yeardley [00:08:05] Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan [00:08:11] Good morning.
Yeardley [00:08:12] Good morning. So good to see you.
Dan [00:08:14] Likewise.
Yeardley [00:08:14] We have Detective Dave.
Dave [00:08:16] Happy to be here.
Yeardley [00:08:17] So happy to have you. Thanks for showing up.
Dave [00:08:19] Absolutely.
Yeardley [00:08:20] [chuckles] And Small Town Fam, I hope you’re sitting down, because we’re super excited to have one of your fan favorites back with us. The one and only Captain Terri.
Terri [00:08:30] Thank you for having me again.
Yeardley [00:08:32] Thank you for being here. So, as you will remember, Captain Terri brought us Zero Hour and The Bitter End. If you haven’t heard those episodes, we highly recommend you go back and listen, because they are amazing.
Dave [00:08:46] Powerful.
Yeardley [00:08:47] Really powerful. So, Captain Terri, you have brought an amazing case with you today. And two guests with you this morning. I’m just going to let you take it from here and tell us all about how this case comes to you.
Terri [00:09:04] So, I brought with me to talk to you about this amazing case, two amazing women, Christy and Jodi, who were part of the case and very instrumental in the case.
Yeardley [00:09:16] Christy, welcome. We’re so happy that you’re here.
Christy [00:09:18] Thank you for having me.
Yeardley [00:09:19] Thank you for coming. And Jodi, so great to have you.
Jodi [00:09:19] Thank you. I’m honored to be here.
Yeardley [00:09:23] Thanks for joining us.
Terri [00:09:24] There are other women that were also instrumental, but I was lucky enough to bring these two with me today. We are going to talk about a case that started in my area, April 28th, early 1980s. So, in the afternoon hours on April 28th, in the early 80s, there was a call of a deceased woman found inside of a credit union, and a credit union is much like a bank. But back then, they were very new. They didn’t actually keep a lot of money at credit unions. They actually kept their money in the bank and went to the bank across the street and got the money and brought it over to the credit union.
When the manager gets to the credit union, who is a female who was sick that day, she walks into the credit union and there’s the counter there, and there’s a couple of desks behind the counter, and then there’s a floor safe and we’re talking like maybe three by three. It’s a small safe, it sits on the ground, and she can tell that the safe is open. But obviously what she sees first is she sees a lady laying in front of the safe blood everywhere. She actually thought she had been shot because there was so much blood and so much injury to her.
[00:10:30] She walks over into the office there and calls the police. They come out and find the victim laying there. She has some injury to her face, you could tell right away that it appears she was trying to go towards the safe. And somebody struck her from behind, and then when she fell to the ground, they began striking her on the back of the head. There’s quite a bit of blood, not as much as I would have originally thought but it was a bloody mess.
I knew this case was open for a long time and that we had quite a large amount of information about it. And that had actually been investigated twice.
Yeardley [00:11:04] So, it was unsolved.
Terri [00:11:05] It was unsolved. So, this case involves three investigations. It was originally investigated in the early 1980s. And then it was investigated again in the early 2000s. So, when it came to me around 2013, I actually started looking at the case again, that’s where Christy came into this. Christy is the daughter of victim Joyce.
Yeardley [00:11:27] And Joyce’s the woman who is found dead in the credit union?
Terri [00:11:30] Yes. So, Christy and her sister, Deborah, and her stepmom, Jennifer, had come to the sheriff’s office and spoken with me. Christy has for most of her life, been trying to get us to solve the case for her family.
Yeardley [00:11:49] Oh, boy. Christy, how old were you when this happened?
Christy [00:11:53] I was only 11 and a half when this happened. The initial investigation lasted for a few years. And my sister and I went through a lot of grueling interviews and intimidating experiences with law enforcement throughout all of that time, but one of the primary initial suspects was my father, who was now our only caregiver that we had left. And so through that time, we never thought he did it. We never thought he could have been the one who did it. Police tried to get us to implicate him, but we were essentially his alibis. So my sister and I served as his primary alibis, and we never gave that up. We never wavered on that, all through the 80s and growing up.
And it wasn’t until I was separated, living on my own. And I got to age 32, and even though it was more of a gradual process, like those percolator coffee machines, it was a gradual process coming to the surface like that. But once that happened, it was like a sudden light switch in my whole being, in my mind, in my heart and everything, that just went off literally, like my world turned upside down and everything made sense.
Dave [00:13:00] Is this a situation where you’re pulling memories, and little facts and circumstances that when taken in the hole, you finally go, “Aha.”
Christy [00:13:07] Exactly. It’s sort of like, I can look back at those little moments here and there that didn’t make sense. That’s exactly what it was like, it was just a culmination of all of those points of awareness that resulted in finally being able to understand what really happened.
Yeardley [00:13:24] You said, originally, you and your sister Deborah, were his alibi. What was the alibi?
Christy [00:13:30] We testified that he was home at the time of the murder.
Yeardley [00:13:33] And did the murder take place late at night?
Christy [00:13:35] The murder was supposedly taking place shortly after 5:00 PM. So, we testified that he had come home from work, and then he was at home. I had a chance to read my childhood statements. And looking at my statements when I was 32, I can see myself starting from the initial interview. So, this happened on Wednesday and I think I was initially interviewed on Saturday. And I said very general things, like, I’m not sure what he was doing, I think he might have been home. And then I see my statements evolve over time, too. And at 5:07, he did this, and at 05:13, he did that. And six months later, I’m reciting something that I didn’t even know that Saturday because we had a lot of coaching. And that’s one of the aha moments that I realized, and I’m not talking subtle coaching. I’m talking, we went into our bathroom because of his fear of our home being bugged. And he would turn on the shower and run the water and the fan. So, we could talk and he would ask us things after being interviewed. “What did you say? Here’s how you can answer it better next time.” Once I grew up, I realized that wasn’t even subtle coaching.
Yeardley [00:14:39] And that was from your father?
Christy [00:14:40] Yes.
Dave [00:14:41] At the time of the actual crime, you’re 11 years old-ish?
Christy [00:14:45] Yes.
Dave [00:14:46] And do you recall your father’s effect or his posture on this? I mean, most husbands whose wives were just killed would be leading the charge to find out who did this. What was his role in the investigation?
Terri [00:14:59] I can answer that question. And I think what I get from all of the reports and from talking to people is that he did not act like his wife had just died. Instead of coming to the police station and saying, “I want this solved,” when they asked him to come down and give a statement, he said, “Should I bring an attorney?”
Dave [00:15:17] That’s a red flag.
Terri [00:15:18] Yeah, they’re like, “We’re just trying to solve your wife’s murder here. All we need to do is get some general information from you.” And right from the very beginning, he was very, “I’m not going to talk to you without an attorney.” And he didn’t want the children to be talked to without him being present for that.
Christy [00:15:33] And we didn’t talk about her after that. It was one of those things, we were sort of under the impression it’s too painful for dad. So, we never talked about her. We never went to her gravesite.
Yeardley [00:15:41] Really?
Christy [00:15:42] No, he never took us there. He never took us to the gravesite. And we actually only had a funeral and we didn’t see the burial. But I knew the cemetery that she was buried in because her sister owned that cemetery. So, I knew where it was, and there were some other friends and family members that were also buried in that cemetery. So I had sworn to myself that whenever I first had my license, and the first day I ever had the car by myself, I was going to drive to the cemetery and find my mom and visit her grave.
[00:16:11] One day when I had an orthodontist appointment, after I left the orthodontist appointment, I was able to take the car that day, I didn’t go back to school and I went to find her grave and I couldn’t find it. I searched the entire cemetery frantically, I just became increasingly distraught. And I finally gave up and I just sat down next to a tree and just cried. And then I drove home. And my dad was very mad because school had called, saying that I had skipped school. And he was very mad, of course, because I took the car and skipped school, but he saw my face, he could tell I’ve been crying. And when I explained where I’d been. He stopped being upset about me skipping school, thankfully, but that’s when he told me that we’ve never had enough money to buy a headstone. So, she was buried there, but we didn’t have enough money to buy a headstone.
[00:16:54] I would continue to go to the cemetery. And later on, I ended up seeing one day, all of a sudden there’s a headstone there, for my mom that I found. I guess, it’s important to realize that during all of this, we became estranged with my mother’s side of the family, because he kept us away from them, too. Later on, when I was 32, I was reunited with my mom’s family. And that’s when I learned that they had just gotten sick of waiting for him to pay for it, and so they went ahead and provided her headstone. And it’s a beautiful headstone. They did a good job.
Dave [00:17:24] And your father’s name?
Christy [00:17:25] Mitch.
Dave [00:17:25] So, Mitch is checking some boxes for me. As far as the typical controlling, isolate from one side of the family, control the information that gets out, control who gets talked to. I’m certain that Captain Terri, you recognize this. In retrospect, maybe you weren’t aware of it at the time. But now, all the things make sense about why this investigation gets stonewalled right off the bat.
Terri [00:17:48] Well, and that’s what I wanted to talk about just a little bit and give you some information about the first investigation that happened in the early 80s. So, I don’t know how it is here where you are at, but where we’re at, they’re small agencies that have their own police departments that work inside of counties. So this happened in a small town that had its own police department, and then there was a county sheriff’s office. So, originally, the small town officers came and responded to the call. And at some point the sheriff’s office shows up to, to help because that’s normal, homicides don’t happen normally in our county. This is very unexpected, especially when it looks like it could be a credit union robbery.
[00:18:29] At that point, they all show up. And we all look back on older cases, and some of the things that they did, and I don’t understand why they didn’t do some things, there was a lot of things that we would have done now, like searched homes and searched vehicles, none of that was really done. I’m not exactly sure why. The thing that’s so ironic about this case is that most of the officers died by the time we got to our investigation.
Yeardley [00:18:56] Which you started in 2013, right?
Terri [00:18:59] Yes, by that time, I had actually met with several of them through the years and talked to them about the case, because I was trying to figure out how do we have this unsolved homicide. And I had known that Christy and Deborah were out there seeking justice for their mother. How does this happen? So I go back and I look at some of the documents from back then. And it appears that the police department was going in one direction, and the sheriff’s office was going in another direction.
Yeardley [00:19:28] How do you mean?
Terri [00:19:29] Well, the City Police Department was focusing more on Mitch, and the county sheriff’s office was focused on the robbery. And they were almost fighting against each other to the point where the district attorney is putting letters out saying, “You guys are making this case worse for us because you’re not working together.” And one agency is feeding the newspaper details and so it’s really difficult. It gets so messed up. I don’t know if you have John Doe hearings here. But they had John Doe hearings back then–
Yeardley [00:20:04] Why is it called a John Doe hearing?
Dave [00:20:06] You can remain anonymous to some degree.
Terri [00:20:08] Right. Correct. They can call people in and ask them to give testimony in front of the judge just to get information because people weren’t willing to talk out in the open.
Dan [00:20:20] So, Christy, earlier when you were speaking you were talking about testifying and a statement that you had made? So, are you talking about testifying in this John Doe hearing?
Christy [00:20:29] It was constant. We were interviewed a lot. But, yes, we also had to be interviewed with John Doe, which was also very intimidating. And I remember the judge now looking back with very, very nice, but as a child, we were sitting there saying, “Uh-huh, yup, Uh-huh.” “Please say yes or no.” And it felt so intimidating. [laughs]
Dave [00:20:47] Well, they’re sitting above you?
Christy [00:20:48] Yes. It really felt intimidating.
Dave [00:20:50] Those situations are set up for a purpose.
Christy [00:20:52] And we had a psychological inkblot questions. I just remember being terrified to answer the wrong way and see something that I’m not supposed to see.
Terri [00:21:02] So this happens in April. And what ends up happening is all this time there’s this whole secret undercurrent that’s going on in Mitch’s life that the whole community does not know about. And that comes out in the fall of that year.
Yeardley [00:21:18] Back in the 80s when Joyce was killed.
Terri [00:21:20] Yes, it comes out that Mitch has been sexually assaulting Jodi, for quite a while.
Yeardley [00:21:26] Jodi, that lovely Jodi?
Terri [00:21:28] Yeah. And that is the catalyst that then brings him into the police department, gives them a reason to actually arrest him and bring him in. And Poor Jodi doesn’t have any clue about what’s going on. Jodi is best friends with Deborah and Christy, that’s how she knows the family. And she is a young girl that’s being sexually assaulted by Mitch. And she believes that she’s in love with him because that’s the kind of grooming that he’s done with her. And she holds so much of this case because she has a relationship with Mitch, that involves some telephone calls that occur pretty consistently throughout the day. And the very first time that they interviewed Jodi, which she can talk to you about her feelings about that. But I just want to say that back then, the way we treated victims very badly. And Jodi was treated horribly, and not only by law enforcement, but by the news media.
Jodi originally tries to give Mitch an alibi. And then afterwards, she realizes, “I can’t do this. I can’t be the alibi.” She realizes that Mitch isn’t the guy that he says he is. So, Jodi, if you want to talk a little bit about that.
Jodi [00:22:50] Yeah. So my parents divorced when I was 11, and went off and did their own thing. So, as kids we’re left, take care of ourselves. And so I’ve broken up because of that. I think that Mitch saw that brokenness in me, and saw the vulnerability in me and I was susceptible to it. And I’d spend the night at Deborah’s house, and we were best friends. And it stood out where he would wrestle with me and pinned me to the ground and joke with me. And he was always hanging out more with us, as young girls and preteens, then it seemed like he hung out with the adults. We all went to the same church together. There was a lot of me spending the night there. And he was kind of like our youth leader in our church, so he would talk to us about problems that we were having.
[00:23:37] I remember he talked to us about not having sex before we’re married and all that. And then one day, he handed me a note in church. And it was kind of a riddle, it said something like, “I’ve got a good recipe for mush, you and me.” I think I’m like 12 or 13 at the time. And I got that and I thought, “I don’t know really how to respond to this if he’s just testing me, or if it’s just kind of a joke.” And so I just answered back. “I’m not very good in the kitchen, but I think I can handle the recipe.” And handed it back to them. And next thing I know, he’s coming to where I’m babysitting, and that was where he kissed me the first time and it started out all very slow. And it got to the point where it was a sexual relationship. And that was in October of the year before Joyce was murdered.
Yeardley [00:24:34] And how old is Mitch when this is going on?
Terri [00:24:36] He was in his 30s, and Jodi was 11-12.
Dave [00:24:41] In my world of sex crimes and child abuse, we talked about checking boxes earlier, and he’s checking all of them is access, isolation, testing the waters with physical contact, like the wrestling, he’s doing the grooming activity of jokes, probably some inappropriate conversations, trying to treat you more like an adult than he is trying to act like a kid. And then he tests the waters with this riddle, just to see how you’re going to react and you recognize it that he was testing you for something. And then it starts out slow with a kiss, simple sexual contact.
Sex offenders are really good groomers, they get the trust of the community. He’s a youth pastor, and now he’s got access. They put themselves in positions to offend. So, he’s in a perfect position to offend. The way we look at it as you’re completely manipulated and groomed in your victim. For them, they try to treat it as a relationship, so you’re comfortable with him, that there’s some affection there and that you won’t disclose to someone else because if he’s discovered, that’s the end of his world.
Terri [00:25:44] You think that would be the end. And that in lies the problem. He ends up being arrested for that, and they do end up trying to talk to him about Joyce’s murder, using the sexual assault to Jodi. It was the early 80s. I can’t tell you how disgusted I am with the sentence that he got.
Yeardley [00:26:02] What was it?
Terri [00:26:03] It was two years probation. And he spent like maybe a month in jail.
Yeardley [00:26:07] Oh, my God.[music]
Dave [00:26:21] So, Jodi, I don’t want to get into the specifics of the contact you had, but I’m assuming it was more egregious than a kiss?
Jodi [00:26:28] Yes, it involves sexual intercourse and other things for over a year. And I did think of it as a relationship. I had a hard time seeing myself as a victim for many years because even the night when he was arrested for what he was doing with me, my dad sat me down at the kitchen table and said, “You’re nothing but an adulterous.” So, I always saw myself as being the bad person. And ironically, I ended up going into law enforcement. And through reading complaints of people, I was booking and whatnot, I was like, I was groomed, I was sexually abused. And through that, then I sought counseling and found a lot of healing that way.
Dave [00:27:12] In our state, that type of activity that you’re describing, given that you’re of a certain age, just the kiss in our state, that guy would get 75 months in prison, serve every day of it, up to a including, the more involved sexual contact would be 300 months in prison, 25 years, and they all stack on top of each other. I mean, you’re describing stuff that he would never walk free in our state, nowadays. Back in the 80s, it might be one of those slap on the hand, “Hey, don’t do this again.” And everyone looks at the child as a complicit party in this. Thank God, we’ve evolved, and now recognize how ridiculous that posture was. But we still have parents who will do the victim-blaming, like you’re a party to this criminal offense when really you’re just being taken advantage of. It’s disgusting.
Dan [00:28:07] Terri and Jodi, you had mentioned the media earlier.
Terri [00:28:10] Yep.
Dan [00:28:10] Victim blaming, I’m guessing?
Jodi [00:28:12] Well, I was obviously a virgin back then. And like the newspaper, one of the things that I remember them saying was, he was with a promiscuous teenager. And I’m like, “Promiscuous?” I honestly didn’t even know how to have sex. I didn’t even have the health in school or whatever. So, promiscuous, I’m like, no, that’s what I became afterwards, because I thought the only way I could get love in my life was to have sex. And so I had many painful relationships for a lot of years after that. And fortunately, I met my husband who is amazing, and our relationship is built around love, and not sex.
Dave [00:28:53] How did this disclosure happen? It sounds like this is discovered after the murder. But this relationship, as they call it, had been going on for several months or up to a year. How did this come out?
Jodi [00:29:06] Through that whole year, I know my sister and my brother would say things to my dad, like there’s something going on between Mitch and Jodi, you need to do something. And my dad would always put it off as like a crush. “You have a crush, you need to stop.” I found out years later actually this year that a girl that I was babysitting at the time reported to police that he was at the house.
Yeardley [00:29:30] She reported that Mitch was at the house while you were babysitting her?
Jodi [00:29:33] Yeah.
Yeardley [00:29:33] Oh, wow.
Jodi [00:29:34] So that opened up that part of the investigation. And then they came and got me at high school and brought me to the police department. And they did the good cop, bad cop thing where one was very nice to me and one was pretty harsh. Wouldn’t let me see my dad, and at that time, I did give Mitch an alibi because I thought I loved him. And so I said, I knew that from the newspapers that Joyce had died shortly after 5:00. So I said, “Oh, no, I talked to him on the phone that night,” because we did have this code where I would call at like, 5:05 every night. And he would make sure he was the one who answered the phone in the house. So we could talk without anybody knowing. But I was babysitting that night and I know he didn’t answer the phone, but I said he did.
Dave [00:30:25] Also, you’ve been groomed. And there’s loyalty to this situation. We know that victims of abuse, sexual or physical, they talk when they’re ready to talk, and they feel safe to talk. And this is one of those situations where it’s kind of a gotcha like, “Hey, we got to ask you about this, and you’re not ready to talk about that.”
Terri [00:30:47] Right.
Dave [00:30:48] So, you’re not going to come out and just be like, “Alright, now that you guys got me, here’s what happened.” You got to get to the point where you’re able to give that kind of information.
Terri [00:30:56] I know you did an episode called Disclosure where you talked about how children disclose. And I can tell you that Jodi did not get any kind of person speaking to her that way. Nobody spoke to her in a kind way. We don’t have transcripts or copies in or you can actually listen to the interview. But I can just tell you that based on the reports and things that I read, that she was not spoken to kindly, she was not looked at as the victim. She was taken advantage of, by law enforcement because of her age. And I feel badly about that.
Dan [00:31:25] When I hear good cop, bad cop for that interview, it’s infuriating.
Terri [00:31:28] It is.
Dan [00:31:29] That is not the time to be doing good cop, bad cop. And I apologize on behalf of law enforcement and male detectives. I’m guessing they were both men.
Terri [00:31:39] Yes.
Yeardley [00:31:39] And on top of that, you’re dealing with Mitch, who is willing to take his own daughters into the bathroom and make sure that they answer questions the way he wants them to answer them. So, it’s absolutely understandable that you would provide an alibi because this man has a very firm grip over the young women in his life.
Terri [00:32:00] And you guys will both understand this, Dave and Dan, when I tell you this. The other problem with this case is it revolves around a church. And Mitch has manipulated the people in the church like those sex offenders do, to see him only as a good person. And that’s part of the problem here. So, the whole alibi, besides the alibi that’s going on at home is then that Mitch goes to church that night, and he ends up being there when Joyce’s body’s found, but he has manipulated the whole thing.
When they tried to talk to them in the early 80s, the church came in around Mitch and they would not talk, they would not give information. That was the problem with the first investigation is that it closed down and became cold because the church surrounded Mitch. When I talked to them, 35 years later, they just didn’t want to believe that they let the wolf in. And that as the sheep, they didn’t see him, and now stepping back, they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, the wolf was among us and we didn’t even know it. And we allowed him to prey on our children.”
Yeardley [00:33:10] Sure. That’s a pretty shameful revelations. Pretty painful.
Dave [00:33:13] Was anybody else found to be a victim of Mitch’s sexual assaults?
Terri [00:33:18] One of the things we did think was that we would find other victims that some other people would come forward, like from that church group. We never did. It’s not going to be just Jodi, but we didn’t find anybody, but it’s real difficult for victims to come forward.
Dave [00:33:34] Maybe they’re not ready.
Terri [00:33:35] Correct.
Yeardley [00:33:35] Over the many decades of this investigation, did you ever find victims of Mitch’s sexual abuse outside the church?
Terri [00:33:42] Yes, he ends up having another juvenile victim, spend some more time in prison for that victim.
Dave [00:33:48] So that begs the question, is there a statute of limitations on some of these sex abuse crimes?
Terri [00:33:54] In the 1980s, there was, yes, our laws. Whatever the law was at the time is what the law is. So back then, there was no child sexual assault, there was only sexual assault. So, the statute of limitations would have run out after the felony’s sexual assault statute ran out.
Dave [00:34:09] So you can’t convict him up of those things, but it builds a pattern of behavior, and it paints a picture of he was a predator.
Terri [00:34:15] Mitch was a predator. That’s one of the things that I look at this case and all the stuff that we’ve talked about, the domestic violence, which I know that we haven’t talked at all about any physical domestic abuse to Joyce, but there was some obvious abuse going on there. And then the abuse to Jodi, the sexual assaults to Jodi. And then just the way that he manipulated the whole community, the whole church.
Dave [00:34:41] How big is your town where this happened?
Christy [00:34:44] Well, at the time, my graduating high school was a combination of five different towns.
Dave [00:34:49] Maybe better ways, how many traffic lights are in your town?
Jodi [00:34:52] There was only two back then, two or three. Three.
Terri [00:34:55] Between the two towns because they were right next to each other.
Yeardley [00:34:59] So two towns next to each other, and you had a total of three traffic lights.
Terri [00:35:03] Yeah.
Yeardley [00:35:04] That’s pretty small.
Dave [00:35:05] So everyone knows everyone. And presumably most of the town became familiar with this whole situation.
Terri [00:35:11] Yeah.
Dave [00:35:12] So, how did Mitch end up getting arrested?
Jodi [00:35:14] So he was also my dad’s best friend
Yeardley [00:35:16] Mitch was your dad’s best friend?
Jodi [00:35:18] Yes. And the day after the police interviewed me, we were supposed to all meet for pizza that night.
Yeardley [00:35:25] Who’s we?
Jodi [00:35:26] Christy’s family, my family, and other people from our church. And my dad brought me home, sat me down to the table and called me the adulterous and he said, “Now you’re staying here, and I’m going to meet Mitch at the church.” This is before the police have arrested him. And so Mitch meets him at the church. Well, the church is like a mile from our house. And he gets somebody to come stay with me and says, “You make sure she stays here.” “Well, I’m not having that.” And so I take my motorcycle to the church. And I remember Mitch telling my dad, “My love for you is genuine,” telling my dad that, not me. He’s telling my dad that and why my dad isn’t beating the crap out of him. I have no idea. I do have to say, though, that my dad did ask for my forgiveness later in life. And I think he carried that failure to parent with him for a lot of years.
[00:36:19] Mitch asked my dad, “Can I just take Jodi downstairs and talk to her in the basement?” And my dad again says, “Yes.” And so Mitch takes me downstairs and we get in the child’s classroom. And I’m thinking he’s going to tell me how much he loves me and it’s okay. I think that was my first perk in the percolator as Christy talked about that something’s not right here, because he said, “What did you tell the police? I need to know everything you told the police.” And I told him, “I love you, and I gave you an alibi. And I told him that I was talking to you that night.” And there was no profession of love for me or anything like that. It was just what did you tell the police and he was angry at me.
Dave [00:37:03] Christy, I’m having a conflict. Mitch is your father. I hate him for all these things that he’s done to Jodi, on top of what he’s done to your mother. But at the same time, I recognize this is your father, like the conflict that you must be feeling throughout all this. When you became aware of what was happening with Jodi, what was going through your head?
Christy [00:37:24] Back then, I knew what was happening with Jodi. But, again, I didn’t really understand sex yet. But so he has to talk to Jodi, as she alluded to, they had these pre-arranged times, I guess, they would talk and he would talk on the phone in our basement. And I remember walking upstairs and my mom was at the stove cooking, and she asked me, “What’s your dad doing?” And I didn’t want to tell her because I knew it should upset her and I knew it’s not right. I didn’t really know much more than that, but I knew enough to know that. But I did tell her and she was very gracious. She would never talk negatively about him in front of my sister or I. But I think my sister saw more of their relationship because I was the lucky one, I was younger.
[00:38:07] He used my older sister to act as a reason to be with Jodi. And so I got to stay and hang out with my mom. But my sister would go ride in a car with him, where she’d watched them sit in the front seat together as she’s in the backseat and watch them be a couple, essentially. And so my older sister definitely saw the brunt of this. But the night that he was arrested, we were all supposed to meet, like you had mentioned Jodi, and Jodi and her family never showed up. And so we went home, and my dad said to us, “I could be arrested tonight.” And, of course, I presumed he meant for my mother’s murder. And he said, “I could be arrested tonight. So if anything happens, call your uncle right away. And you don’t have to say anything,” in that kind of thing. And sure enough, about a half an hour later, it’s about 10:30 at night and the police come to our house and they arrest him.
[00:38:57] And, of course, I’m still thinking it’s about the murder. And then I got along with my sister taken into questioning that night separated, of course, with good cops and bad cops on both sides for us, both, and no other representation really. I mean, I think there was a social worker there, but no family or anything but then we were questioned quite late in the evening and, again, it was all about the murder. So, it wasn’t until the following day that I realized it had anything to do with Jodi.
Dave [00:39:21] What’s the timeline here?
Christy [00:39:22] Six months.
Dave [00:39:23] Six months to his arrest for what he was doing to Jodi?
Terri [00:39:28] That’s right. And so after the arrest for the abuse to Jodi, they try to use that to get him to confess, but he doesn’t. And as I said to you, then the community has all kind of closed around him. And because Jodi has originally said one thing, and then said something else, and because of the way that they interviewed her, and didn’t give her the time to explain. She does end up going back to law enforcement and saying, “Look, I did tell a lie. And this is why I told the lie. But now I’m telling the truth. That’s the only time that I ever lied, was that time.”
Jodi [00:40:04] And that’s also because after he’s arrested, I also find out that he’s having another intimate relationship with another woman.
Yeardley [00:40:14] A juvenile or an adult?
Terri [00:40:16] An adult.
Jodi [00:40:17] So all of a sudden, it’s like the realizations coming on to me that he’s just used me. I’m like, “I need to come clean and tell everything,” and keep in mind for the last year, I’ve been lying to everybody because you can’t go meet a grown man. You can’t say, “Dad, I’m going to meet Mitch.” So you’re lying, and this so not how I was brought up. I really wanted to be that good Christian girl who doesn’t lie. And so I’m like, “I’m just going to come clean, tell them everything I know.” And I did that. And then I also testified in the John Doe hearing, as well.
Dave [00:40:56] Truthfully, or–?
Jodi [00:40:58] Truthfully.
Dave [00:40:58] Okay.
Terri [00:40:58] She was truthful every time after the first interview.
Dave [00:41:02] Got it.
Dave [00:41:16] So, Jodi, back then, and even within the last several years, I know certain detectives that would just dismiss this second approach to law enforcement where you’re like, “Listen, I was untruthful the first time, but now, I’m ready to tell the truth.” And it’s this kind of archaic way of officers and detectives not understanding the disclosure process.
Yeardley [00:41:39] Because victims disclose when they’re ready and not before.
Dave [00:41:42] Right.
Terri [00:41:43] And you also have those two different agencies, two different theories going against each other. So they do this now for like three years. And at the end of it, it’s done. They fought against each other for so long. They’ve created things that don’t fit together for so long, that then the case goes cold, and it’s closed. Half of it stays in the small town and half of it stays at the county.
Yeardley [00:42:08] And that’s it. It just sits there for like 20 years going ice cold and unresolved?
Terri [00:42:13] Yes.
Yeardley [00:42:14] So, how does it get picked up again?
Christy [00:42:16] So, at age 32, that’s when I first reached out to thought enforcement proactively. And at that time, I contacted Captain Terri’s office. She was not captain at the time. This was back in the early 2000s. And I had never– I guess even realized that I had the ability to ask them to keep working on my mom’s case, I didn’t realize I had a voice as a victim, and that they would feel obligated to listen to me. So once I realized that, I basically never stopped hounding them. So they did conduct a second investigation at that time. And that primarily focused around me wearing a wire and confronting my father, which was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole life.
Yeardley [00:43:01] How do you even do that? It’s just terrifying even to imagine.
Christy [00:43:05] I think I became fairly skilled at being dissociative when I have to be and compartmentalizing. So, as much as it was scary, not doing something felt scarier and I couldn’t rest without justice for my mom. So I just did it. You just go through it. So, it was really hard and I knew it wasn’t going to work because I became aware of antisocial personality disorder, psychopath, whichever term you want to use for it. But my father just does not feel empathy. I learned that finally that he’s not the same as other people, he doesn’t feel the same. He doesn’t feel guilt, he doesn’t feel remorse the same way. So, I knew trying to elicit some kind of confession was not going to work, but that’s all that was being offered at the time in this investigation as far as choices and a path was concerned. And so I said, “Okay. Does it have to be me? Can it be anyone else? Anyone else but me.” But I finally just went in and did it.
Yeardley [00:44:02] Was he suspicious?
Christy [00:44:04] I think so. Yeah. Luckily, he didn’t ask me to show anything or lift my shirt or prove you don’t have a wire on. But I do think so, I think he was always suspicious. I have not talked to him since late 2001, without the context of wearing a wire. And that’s only been maybe a handful of times now. But each time he didn’t kick me out, because that wouldn’t look very good. He threatened to when I kept pushing things pretty far, but he never actually confessed. I mean, his behavior would sound weird, and be obvious, maybe to detectives and to other people. But it wasn’t objective, conclusive non-circumstantial evidence.
Dan [00:44:41] How do you break the ice in a situation like that? Do you just come out and say it? Like, “What happened to mom, dad?”
Christy [00:44:47] Well, that’s pretty much the coaching I got from the detectives at the time was, “Hey, I’m grown up now. And it’s time you’re going to answer for this, I realized things that I didn’t realize.” So basically, I told the truth. I just approached it with telling the truth and you owe me answers. And I didn’t get anywhere.
Dave [00:45:02] So I have a few procedural questions. In our state for me to wire up a witness or a third party, I have to write a very specific warrant to intercept interpersonal communications. Is that the case in your state?
Terri [00:45:16] No, we are one-party consent. So as long as one person knows that they are being recorded in the conversation, that’s all it takes for us. So anybody can record anybody, as long as one person in the room knows that the recorder’s on.
Dave [00:45:29] Damn.
Terri [00:45:30] It is nice. It’s very nice.
Dave [00:45:31] It’d be so nice.
Yeardley [00:45:33] So Christy, you’re wearing a wire kicks off the second investigation?
Christy [00:45:36] Yes.
Yeardley [00:45:37] Terri, are you part of that at this point?
Terri [00:45:40] No, the detective that’s working the case at that time happened to be one of my mentors for a long period of time. He brings everything together, which is a monstrous amount of stuff. And they actually had another person that they were looking at that they thought could have done the bank robbery because it was a bank robbery in their mind because the money that was in Joyce’s hand was missing. So, one agency was looking at it as a robbery and one agency was looking at it as a husband that killed a wife. So, then my mentor gets it, once key talks to Christy. And he talks to the district attorney at the time and the district attorney says, “The only way this is going to go anywhere, is if you get a confession, that’s in his mind. That’s the only way it’s going to work.” So, he works with Christy, as she talks about doing the taped conversations, which we know is not going to work with this kind of a person.
Christy [00:46:33] Yeah. Like I said, although great efforts were made for probably almost close to three years in the second investigation, they were still looking for the smoking gun. And they were worried about double jeopardy.
Yeardley [00:46:46] Dan, Dave, why don’t one of you tell our listeners just to be sure exactly what double jeopardy is?
Dave [00:46:51] Well, you can only be tried once, so you only get one shot at these guys. You can’t have a situation where you arrest someone, you charge them, you go through the whole process, go through a trial, they get acquitted. Later on, you get more evidence, and now you go, “Well, now we got enough to convict him. Let’s go through another trial.” That’s not how it works. The government gets one shot at you on a prosecution.
Yeardley [00:47:15] And is that true with all crimes, murder, burglary, robbery, everything?
Dave [00:47:21] Yeah. It’s part of your constitutional rights.
Terri [00:47:23] That’s right. And they didn’t want to take the risk with a circumstantial case. So it went cold again, and it got closed and it went cold again. So, I continued to follow up with law enforcement whenever there was a change in the leadership. Whenever there was a new Captain or a new detective, and I would continue to follow up, but they just kept saying, “There’s nothing more we can do.” So I had almost given up and I had at that point decided I got to let this go. And I had people in my life who loved me very much telling me let it go. You can’t do anything. So stop, stop trying.
Dave [00:47:56] That’s easy for people to say.
Terri [00:47:58] And so around 2013-2014, that’s when Christy reaches out to my agency again. And that’s when the third investigation starts, based on an idea that Christy had. And I’ll let you talk a little bit about that, Christy.
Christy [00:48:11] Sure. So, I’ve had well-intended people saying, “Please stop, you’re just going to hurt yourself, if you keep pursuing this, you have to find a way to let it go.” And I kind of tried to do that. And it’s not like I obsessed about it constantly. I couldn’t just stop, I couldn’t just let it go. So, every now and again, I’d still reach out to the law enforcement agency up there. And then I started to watch another true-crime reality show. It’s a show that just focused on cold cases, and I just sat there so jealous. I’d watch every episode, I just wish that they could help with my mom’s case, I just wish that they could help. But I still felt that there was a reach because those cases are somehow different than my mom’s case. But then they shared an example, on the show of how easy it is to break one pencil. Look at this pencil as a piece of circumstantial evidence. I can just break it like that, no problem. I put two of them together, I can still break. I put 20 of them together, and you might break one or two on the outside, but it’s so strong when you have so many pieces of evidence there.
[00:49:11] And that’s how the whole idea that a circumstantial case is like a dirty word. It doesn’t have to be that way. They can actually be very strong cases, depending on your perspective. And that motivated me again, to try one more time. And now there was different leadership in place there as well. So, I actually put together a formal proposal, requesting that they reach out and work with this team.
Yeardley [00:49:33] Reach out and work with the TV show team?
Christy [00:49:35] That’s right. My first visit with them, I got completely shut down. They said, “No, we do not want to sensationalize this case.” I tried one more time after that. And that’s when Captain Terri was in the room for the first time.
Yeardley [00:49:46] And who didn’t want to sensationalize the TV show or the police department?
Terri [00:49:50] The police department. You have to understand that, it’s true, unsolved cases are not things that you want to talk about because it’s a failure. It is. In some way, you feel that you failed. And in this case, our agency has tried twice now. And I’ve heard about this case, like I said, I had talked to some people about this case. And for all of us, it’s even a bigger failure, because we’re all like, “He did it. He did it.” We’re all screaming like, “He did it.” It’s not like this is a person that we’re never going to find and we need DNA. It’s not like that. It’s like we all knew and they even knew. So, we don’t want to sensationalize this case because we know who did it, but we can’t get him.
Dave [00:50:29] Well, you’re going to have a television show come in and expose all the ways you fail. And not the good work you did. It’s all the bad work you did?
Terri [00:50:38] Well, that’s what you would think at that time, too. We have to release all the documents from before. And first of all, I don’t know how many of you have ever looked at some cases from the 1980s. The way they did cases back then is very different than now. Like instead of putting dates on the top of the sheets, like when the interview happened, they don’t put anything like that. They only put the name and it could be like John Smith, you got nothing else. Who is this? And living in a small town, a lot of people have the same names, you have to go back to these people.
And honestly, this is some of the stuff I did was I said, “Did you live in this area at this time?” They were like, “Oh yeah,” I’m like, “Okay, you’re the guy I need to talk to.” So when we did finally decide to do this case, what ended up happening was Christy had come to us. That Sheriff at that time was not open to it. The sheriff changed. And at that point, when I was promoted to be in charge of the investigative division, I went to the new sheriff and I said, “Let’s do this. Let’s just try one more time.” I told Christy and Deborah, “I’ll try, but this will be it. Either way, it’s going to be done.”[music]
Yeardley [00:51:53] Christy, where’s your sister, Deborah, in all of this? You seem to be the catalyst going back to law enforcement? Can you speak to that, or?
Christy [00:52:00] Yeah, she is further away. So she was not as engaged or involved, but she was willing to go and record with me one time with my father, which was helpful. I mean, it didn’t yield much, but at least I think it helped her even just be able to confront him as well, just to go through that experience. As hard as it seemed after the fact it was good to have confronted him. And then she was definitely part of the third investigation.
Terri [00:52:28] So, let’s talk a little bit again about the second investigation and what we got out of that before we move on to the third real quick. So, the second investigation, like I said, was focused on just dealing with the case as far as getting a confession. And that just didn’t happen. But what we did get there is that the detectives at that point, reached out to Christy, reached out to Deborah, and they reached out to Jodi again. And they all came together and started talking. We never would have got to where we were if they hadn’t opened up the 2002 investigation.
[00:53:02] The other thing is Jennifer, who is Christy’s stepmom, she was really involved with that, too at the time, she tried to record some conversations. So we did have those conversations, but the one thing that did happen is they tried to use some other family members, and those other family members told Mitch that he was being recorded.
Yeardley [00:53:20] What?
Terri [00:53:20] Yeah, so we tried to reach out to his family and get them involved in it. And so then they told him that we were recording and so that kind of took away the recording part of it.
Dave [00:53:30] It’s not shocking at all to people in law enforcement that that would happen. It didn’t shock me at all. People circle their wagons around one camp or the other. They just make their mind up and they’re like, “Nope, I’m not open-minded to that. It happened the way I think it happened. And I’m in his camp,” and they let the cat out of the bag.
Dan [00:53:49] Well, what about you, Christy? Did Mitch ever come back to you and ask you about wearing a wire?
Christy [00:53:54] No, Mitch has not contacted me. He wasn’t that way anyway in the first place. But basically, it split our family apart. It fractioned our family into the people who wanted to believe he was not capable of doing this. And somehow it would still need to stay with their existing beliefs, despite the new information. And to this day, his older brother, he was in law enforcement, and highly successful in law enforcement.
Dave [00:54:19] This is Mitch’s brother.
Christy [00:54:21] Yes. And he actually was inspired to go into law enforcement after my mother’s murder because of how the police treated everything and the disparity he saw between the agencies and things. When I called him when I first realized this in my 30s, he was right there for me, and he never wavered. And he’s lost his entire family because he’s taken aside of the truth. Mitch’s brother wasn’t even allowed to go to their own mother’s funeral because he took the side of the truth.
Terri [00:54:45] He plays a very important part, in this case, too.
Christy [00:54:48] So, our dad told us that Jodi approached him, she walked into his room naked. “What’s a man supposed to do?”
Yeardley [00:54:56] That’s what your dad said?
Christy [00:54:58] Yes, yeah. That’s what we learned as a 11-year-olds, that that’s how men are. And when I in the early 2000s, while things were percolating, the first thing that I realized about him was that he was a pedophile. I didn’t realize the murder until after I first understood what is a pedophile and that my father, actually is one. And once I realized that, and I was talking to him about the second juvenile offense that occurred.
Yeardley [00:55:23] The one after Jodi?
Christy [00:55:24] Yes, yeah. And he said the same thing about the first one, I said, “I’m not going to allow you to tell me that this is somehow not your fault, like you did back with what happened with Jodi.” And he repeated the exact same thing. “What’s the man supposed to do?” I’m like, “Tell her no, tell her to get out of your room.” I think that’s when he started to realize I was no longer under his control.
Dave [00:55:43] Right. Mitch realizes you’re not buying his bullshit anymore. This is right out of the sex offender playbook.
Terri [00:55:50] I know, I’m telling you. And that’s how I knew him. I monitored sex offenders in the early 2000s. That’s been my thing for most of my career is monitoring sex offenders in my agency. So I spent a lot of time dealing with Mitch as a sex offender. I walked through his home, I go out with a probation agent on Halloween. But Mitch is textbook sex offender, I mean, he is one of those ones where it’s like scary. Everything that we learn about, everything that we don’t want to believe that the wolf really is, it is.
Dave [00:56:20] It’s one of those if Hollywood came up with one of these scenarios and he started checking all these boxes, I’d be like, “Well, I mean, that’d be like wish-list of sex offender behaviors, but he’s got all of them. Every single one of them, including the, “Well, she seduced me.” Victim-blaming like, “This was her idea. And I’m the victim here.”
Terri [00:56:40] Yes. And when he tells us that story, Jodi does that the night of his wife’s death.
Yeardley [00:56:45] Oh my God. You mean he says the night that Jodi walks into his bedroom naked, is the same night Joyce is murdered?
Terri [00:56:53] Yes.
Jodi [00:56:54] And he says that I’m 18 years old when it happened.
Christy [00:56:57] Yes. I always believe that Jodi was 17 just about to turn 18 and it’s just a technicality. That’s what I’ve always grown up believing. I was protected from reading the newspapers back then. I’m in my early 30s, so I decided I’m going to find out what was reported about my mom’s murder. I had to go to the State Capitol because it was on microfiche, and I started looking in the 1980s timeframe. And if it was reported for about a year in the paper and I looked through every single article that I could find. And I literally almost got sick, when I read Jodi’s age in the newspapers, because I realized, “Oh my gosh,” it wasn’t a 32 year old with an 18-year-old. It was a 33-year-old with an 11,12, 13 and 14-year-old.
Yeardley [00:57:41] I can’t. That’s so young.
Dave [00:57:43] And I’m assuming this is a situation where prior to actually physically abusing you that he’s spent a period of time grooming you, is that right?
Christy [00:57:53] Yes. I was just stunned and shocked. It’s so strange. My dad could have told me the sky was purple and I would have believed him even though I saw blue.
Yeardley [00:58:01] Sure. Jodi, what was it like for you at school, once the paper treated you so unfairly in the news was out? I can’t imagine, it was easy for you.
Jodi [00:58:12] It was hard. I ended up moving to my mother’s, which was luckily a straightaway. So that was good, but I was still pretty broken. So I turned to alcohol to try and deal with that. When Christy talked about learning about the sociopathic personality and the psychopath, well, I wasn’t that. I had a conscience and so the realizations are coming in, for years, I took on that guilt, like maybe if I wasn’t in the picture, Joyce would still be alive. And it wasn’t until after the second investigation that Christy and I talked, and I got a lot of healing from both girls, Christy and Deborah because they said you know what, if it wasn’t you, it would be someone else. I still recall Christy saying that to me and that was so meaningful to me because I didn’t think of it that way. In law enforcement, you learn that a pedophile is a pedophile, they’re going to be that way. I don’t see much of a cure for it.
Dave [00:59:12] Right. You weren’t just the lucky one.
Jodi [00:59:14] Right. But I was the lucky one. And I’ve always felt like, I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor because, you know what, there was a time when he brought me out in the woods, he got angry with me because I was confronting him. And I’m lucky to be alive and I know that because I was a liability to him. I know that now. I didn’t back then.
Dave [00:59:34] Just before or after the murder?
Jodi [00:59:35] This was after the murder, shortly before he was arrested.
Yeardley [00:59:38] You really thought that out in the woods, he might kill you?
Jodi [00:59:41] I don’t know. And so, I was as like, “You said you were marrying me and aren’t you going to talk to my dad? I had even asked him before, even the night of the murder, and this is something I should say, too, because the night of the murder, we all went out to the house to Christy’s house. My dad, my brother, my whole family went, a lot of people from our church because it was a Church Night. And I remember not seeing Mitch, but I remember all of us crying, Deborah and Christy, and all of us were crying about Joyce being murdered. And I was wondering where he was, but they took him down in the basement, our pastor did and some of the men from our church. And then at one point, he came up and was in the living room and I looked at him and I said, “Are you okay?” And he got this look on his face that I will never forget. And he said, “Well, I’m footloose and fancy-free.”
Yeardley [01:00:33] [gasps]
Jodi [01:00:34] And that’s what he’s saying to me at the same time, he’s probably telling them, “Poor me, my wife was just murdered.” But Mitch, he was cold to Joyce. He said things to me about her that were just brutal, that no man should say about their wife.
Yeardley [01:00:47] God. And Christy and Jodi, tell us a little bit about what Joyce was like.
Jodi [01:00:53] My memories of Joyce was that she was very quiet that she loved her daughters, that she loved her husband, that she loved Mitch. And I remember many times when I’d go there to spend the night, she’d be sitting on the couch doing needlepoint and she did not deserve this. She did not deserve what happened to her at all.
Christy [01:01:14] Yeah, by all accounts from what adults have told me, she was very kind, very loving. Just had a warm, loving smile about her and the bluest of eyes, I remember being told that by somebody too, that she had very, very strikingly blue eyes. As her daughter, I remember just doing typical things that mothers and children would do. Waking up really early to make cinnamon rolls or going berry picking. [chuckles] Or we did a lot of canning together. And yes, she loved to embroider and I have a lot of her work in my home still. But she was very kind, she helped teach some Sunday school at the church. And I remember too, my sister and I, every Easter had our traditions with her. She had that over the holidays, the traditions that she would carry, so it was definitely a big loss.
Jodi [01:02:00] And Christy, didn’t even have kind of a sense of foreboding back then because didn’t she send you and Deborah card?
Christy [01:02:09] That’s right. On Valentine’s Day, she wrote my sister and I, this wonderful letter in essentially summarizing it, it said, “Mothers and daughters don’t always have enough time together. And I haven’t told you enough how much I love you.” And I think she had a sense from what I’ve been told to that something may be coming.
Dave [01:02:26] And that letter comes a couple of months before she’s killed.
Christy [01:02:28] Yes, yeah. So my sister and I lost our mom at such a really critical time in our life, as you might expect as a 11 and 13-year-old going through puberty, for example. All of that, it was just a really, really rough time for us to lose her. And then we didn’t really get to grieve her properly either. We got thrust right in from losing her at that time into being central in the investigation of her murder. And it was just a really difficult thing to go through during that time.
Yeardley [01:02:59] I can’t imagine. So, I have two questions. Terri, you said that Jennifer is Christy’s step-mom. So Christy, how long after your mother was murdered, did your father remarry? And two, I’m so curious about a woman who marries a man who’s been suspected of murdering his first wife.
Terri [01:03:21] Good questions. So, as you know, after he was arrested for Jodi, Mitch had a small punishment, but it was more like four or five months of jail time with Huber.
Yeardley [01:03:29] What’s that?
Dave [01:03:30] So in some states, Huber says that any person sentenced to county jail with Huber, basically means they can go out during the day on a work-release program, either for employment or to go do community service.
Yeardley [01:03:43] That’s like not being in jail.
Dave [01:03:44] Yeah, you’re just staying overnight.
Christy [01:03:47] And my sister and I went to live with Mitch’s older brother during that time. So he did get to leave to go to work but he was in jail for about four to five months. So that caught him out somewhere around spring and right when he got out is when he met Jennifer. But he met Jennifer through a high school friend in a town much farther away, that did not know about my mother’s murder because news didn’t spread the same way but very well known locally, but not by Jennifer. And he actually used an alias when he first met her. He used a fake name. And so for a while she thought he had a different name than Mitch. But then she only knew what Mitch told her. So, it was poor Mitch poor Mitch. And he was treated so badly by law enforcement that he was going to sue law enforcement. And at one point, he actually did initiate a lawsuit against law enforcement for being treated poorly in naming some of the poor treatment that allegedly my sister and I were given. When we didn’t really hold up to being able to testify to that, he did drop the lawsuit. So, she had no idea.
Terri [01:04:51] And she was very young.
Christy [01:04:53] She was actually 18. And they got married when she was 19. So, she was at by eighth-grade graduation, my mom died in sixth grade, and she was there as his wife in eighth grade. So they got married in less than a year. She moved up to where we lived really soon, and then moved in with us and then they got married. But she was 19 when they got married, and now he would have been 34 or so, 34, 35. So she didn’t know who she was marrying until it was way too late.
Yeardley [01:05:19] How long did that marriage last?
Christy [01:05:21] About 20 years. I want to say, when I first came to my realization of who he is, and what he done, I tiptoed around bringing it up to her because we were very close. She was only seven years older than me. So even though I looked at her as a stepmother figure, she wasn’t a decision-maker. It was always my dad’s decisions about things and she was more of a friend. And so as I got older and older, we became more friends. So one day I just finally broached the topic with her and she was so relieved because she said, I was thinking that too.
Yeardley [01:05:53] That your dad killed your mom?
Christy [01:05:55] Right. Jodi, you had mentioned how he was cruel to my mother and Jennifer, experienced a lot of the same types of cruelty and control and fear from him. And I know, one of my mom’s best friends had finally expressed that to like the night before her murder.
Yeardley [01:06:13] So, it took a lot for Jennifer to leave your dad.
Christy [01:06:15] Yes. And she was brave to leave. I remember that night she left, I called home and I didn’t know she was leaving because I lived six hours away. I didn’t know she was leaving. And I would have found out probably the next day. But I did not know that and I called home and I couldn’t get ahold of her. And I knew generally what was going on, and so I figured she tried to leave. And I wasn’t getting an answer. And I was so scared about it, I actually called the local town police department to tell them how scared I was that my father could have done something to Jennifer. And so they went out to check and then I got a call from law enforcement, they who helped her get out and leave and stuff.
Yeardley [01:06:52] Your welfare check actually helps Jennifer get out safely.
Christy [01:06:55] I think that was already going on. The welfare check, it was just what I initiated, law enforcement was already working with her to get her out.
Yeardley [01:07:02] Oh, lovely.
Dave [01:07:02] We’ve learned this in this podcast and just anecdotally on true crime shows, the leaving, that’s the most dangerous timeframe for domestic violence victims to get out. And I don’t even know if there was domestic violence, physical domestic violence, but just the leaving, especially with someone like Mitch is that he controls everything in his life, and you don’t do things to him. He does things to others.
Terri [01:07:27] And it’s so ironic because when we did third investigation, we found out that is what happened here. Mitch found out that Joyce was going to leave and tell–
Dan [01:07:39] She was going to tell about Jodi.
Terri [01:07:41] She had talked to somebody and there was a discussion about Jodi and Mitch’s relationship, and that if he did not in that relationship and work on their relationship that she was going to leave, and we didn’t find that out until the third investigation.[music]
Yeardley [01:07:59] That was the end of Part 1, and coming right up is Part 2.[music]
Dave [01:08:13] 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 good?”
Terri [01:08:30] 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 [01:08:55] Bring in the TV show?
Terri [01:08:56] 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 [01:09:43] You didn’t have a weapon?
Terri [01:09:45] 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.”
[01:10:47] 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 [01:12:09] Into Jack’s business?
Terri [01:12:10] -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 [01:12:50] And Jack’s in law enforcement at this point?
Terri [01:12:52] Yes.
Yeardley [01:12:52] Wow. Why did it take him so long?
Terri [01:12:55] 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 [01:13:11] He just thought they’re going to bungle it again.
Terri [01:13:13] Yes.
Dan [01:13:13] You’ve got these two law enforcement agencies that have actually created reasonable doubt for each other.
Terri [01:13:19] Yes.
Christy [01:13:19] 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 [01:13:29] He’s the victim.
Christy [01:13:31] Yes.
Yeardley [01:13:32] 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 [01:13:46] Yes.
Yeardley [01:13:47] So, that assumes there was money missing from the credit union, right? Do you know how much?
Terri [01:13:53] 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 [01:14:07] For about $3,000?
Terri [01:14:08] It was more than $3,000, but the family thinks the other part of it came from the family business.
Christy [01:14:13] The other interesting thing, Terri, was the money that was left behind.
Terri [01:14:17] 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.
[01:15:03] 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 [01:15:43] And it was overkill, too, right?
Terri [01:15:45] 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 [01:15:54] 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 [01:16:13] Except he wrote a check.
Dan [01:16:14] Oh, he wrote a check.
Terri [01:16:15] 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 [01:16:38] You recognize that motorcycle driving out of the parking lot of the credit union?
Terri [01:16:42] Yes.
Dave [01:16:42] And it’s a small town who rides that motorcycle.
Terri [01:16:45] Exactly. That’s one of the things they did in 2002 is try to find the motorcycle. But again, it’s years later.
Yeardley [01:16:51] Long gone.
Terri [01:16:52] 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 [01:17:28] 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 [01:17:46] 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.[laughter]
Terri [01:18:33] 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 [01:19:02] Basically, are you debunking his alibi?
Terri [01:19:05] Yes.
Dave [01:19:06] Jodi, you and Mitch had this regular phone call at 5:05, every night?
Jodi [01:19:11] Yeah.
Dave [01:19:12] Okay. I’ve got a couple of questions. First, when was the body discovered?
Terri [01:19:16] The body was discovered at 7:30 PM.
Dave [01:19:20] Credit union closes at 5:00?
Terri [01:19:22] 5:00.
Dave [01:19:23] Joyce, was she responsible for closing?
Terri [01:19:25] 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 [01:19:48] Right, who else would know Joyce would be alone closing up that day?
Terri [01:19:52] Exactly. Only he would know that.
Dave [01:19:54] So, Jodi, you call at 5:05, as you did every day, who picks up the phone?
Jodi [01:20:00] I spoke with Deborah. 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 [01:20:14] Oh, gotcha. Had he ever not picked up at 5:05?
Jodi [01:20:16] 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 [01:20:31] How was Joyce discovered?
Terri [01:20:32] 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 [01:21:29] That’s so fishy.
Terri [01:21:30] 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 [01:21:39] I’m sorry, your dad is a piece of shit.
Dan [01:21:42] That’s somebody’s father.
Yeardley [01:21:45] Sorry.
Jodi [01:21:45] It’s nothing, we haven’t all said. [chuckles]
Dave [01:21:48] Christy, I’m trying to be sensitive to this, because I want to trash him, but it’s also your father.
Christy [01:21:55] 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.
[01:22:47] 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 [01:23:15] I was going to say, “We’re here because of you.”
Christy [01:23:17] “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.[laughter] [music]
Dave [01:23:41] Captain Terri, the TV show doesn’t really become a part of this until you take over in 2015?
Terri [01:23:48] Correct.
Dave [01:23:49] And TV show comes along and then you guys are sprinting for a week and a half, two weeks?
Terri [01:23:54] Correct. At the beginning of 2018, that’s when we actually filmed the show for the two weeks.
Yeardley [01:23:59] Why the lag between 2015 and 2018? Oh, it took a while for them to say they would do the case. Right?
Terri [01:24:04] 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 [01:24:25] 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 [01:24:37] 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 [01:24:52] 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 [01:25:14] They didn’t pay for that?
Terri [01:25:15] They did pay for it. That’s what I’m saying. They did the testing for us at a specialized place.
Dan [01:25:20] 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.
Yeardley [01:25:28] Can I just ask you one question before you go on, Terri? How come Christy doesn’t just go to the TV show herself and ask help? Does that request have to come from your police department?
Terri [01:25:41] 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 [01:25:59] I see. When the TV show says, “Yes, we’ll take your case,” where do they start?
Terri [01:26:04] 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 [01:26:49] 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 [01:26:54] 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 [01:27:07] 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 [01:27:14] 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 [01:27:24] 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 [01:28:12] It’s the elephant in the room every time they see him out in public.
Terri [01:28:15] Yes.
Dave [01:28:17] 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 [01:28:33] 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 [01:28:39] Right, intermittently to stay off Mitch’s radar.
Terri [01:28:42] 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.
[01:29:18] 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 [01:29:38] 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 [01:29:46] 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 [01:30:07] It’s like the pros and cons of the case list. It’s like, heavy on one side.
Terri [01:30:11] We definitely ruled out the other suspect. We had him ruled out totally.
Yeardley [01:30:15] Even though he’s dead.
Terri [01:30:16] 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 [01:30:43] 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 [01:31:04] Right. That makes sense.
Terri [01:31:05] 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 [01:31:33] So witness intimidation?
Terri [01:31:35] 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 [01:31:56] What?
Terri [01:31:56] 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 [01:32:10] Oh, my God. Mitch is relentless. Of course, eyewitness doesn’t come forward.
Terri [01:32:16] 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 [01:32:30] The eyewitness dies?
Terri [01:32:32] Yes.
Yeardley [01:32:33] Oh, no.
Terri [01:32:34] But he actually told other people. Other people said, “Nope, this guy told me that he saw.”
Yeardley [01:32:39] That he saw Mitch leaving the credit union around the time they say Joyce was murdered.
Terri [01:32:44] Yes.
Yeardley [01:32:45] Yes. I love this eyewitness.
Terri [01:32:46] 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.”
[01:33:38] 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.[laughter]
Terri [01:33:55] 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 [01:34:03] At this point, you think you have probable cause?
Terri [01:34:05] 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 [01:34:24] Is this the same investigator who helped you lure Mitch to you for his sex offender check-in?
Terri [01:34:30] 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 [01:35:04] The district attorney did?
Terri [01:35:06] 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 [01:35:28] Who pulls out?
Terri [01:35:29] The other agency. They say, “We don’t want anything to do with it because there’s a TV show involved.”
Yeardley [01:35:33] Oh, my God.
Terri [01:35:33] I know.
Dan [01:35:34] I’ve seen this TV show. They are professional. They’re reverent. It’s a really well done TV show.
Yeardley [01:35:42] Yeah.
Dan [01:35:42] There’s no sensationalism here. They really just want the truth. That’s it.
Terri [01:35:47] 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 [01:35:52] This is Mitch?
Terri [01:35:53] 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 [01:36:28] Yeah. We don’t kid about that.
Terri [01:36:29] 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 [01:37:06] Is that an in-person meeting?
Terri [01:37:08] Yes.
Dave [01:37:09] Okay. Walk us through that, Christy.
Christy [01:37:10] 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 [01:38:11] Now you’re in it.
Christy [01:38:13] 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?”[laughter]
Dan [01:38:35] Probably a different delivery.[laughter]
Christy [01:38:39] [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 [01:38:51] I love that. And Jodi, when do you become aware of this?
Jodi [01:38:54] 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 [01:39:43] 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 [01:40:22] Right after we had arrested Mitch, we go to court, and he, of course, has for a probable cause hearing.
Yeardley [01:40:29] What’s that?
Terri [01:40:29] 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 [01:40:53] That’s such an artifact of a small town, isn’t it?
Terri [01:40:56] It is.
Dave [01:40:56] But I also liked that they did the right thing. Was it pulling teeth to get them to recuse themselves?
Terri [01:41:00] 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 [01:41:38] That doesn’t seem better for him.
Terri [01:41:40] That does seem better for me. [laughs]
Yeardley [01:41:41] Right.
Dan [01:41:41] No, I was going to say, “Oops.”
Terri [01:41:43] 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 [01:42:01] Mitch wants a bench trial.
Terri [01:42:03] Yes.
Dan [01:42:02] 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 [01:42:19] And his request for this second look from a different judge, does that get him bound to this DV judge?
Terri [01:42:26] Yes.
Dave [01:42:26] I love it.
Yeardley [01:42:27] What’s DV?
Dave [01:42:28] Domestic violence. I love it. [chuckles]
Terri [01:42:30] 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 [01:42:52] The other person who was assessed back for like a minute?
Terri [01:42:55] 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.”
[01:43:44] 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.
[01:44:25] 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 [01:45:13] That’s the confession.
Terri [01:45:14] Yes.
Dave [01:45:15] 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 [01:46:00] 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 [01:46:43] 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 [01:47:01] 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.
Dave [01:47:43] Couple of questions. Was there a change of venue or does this trial happen in the county where the crime occurred?
Terri [01:47:49] It happened in the county where the crime occurred.
Dave [01:47:51] 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 [01:48:18] 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 [01:48:25] 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 [01:48:38] 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.[chuckles]
Christy [01:48:49] 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.
[01:49:39] 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 [01:50:12] 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 [01:50:23] 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.
[01:50:58] 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 [01:51:16] Still trying to control you in some way.
Christy [01:51:18] 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 [01:51:27] 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 [01:51:39] In a wheelchair.
Terri [01:51:40] Oh, yeah. He had to use a wheelchair even though–
Dave [01:51:43] Of course. The weeks prior to being taken into custody, he’s able-bodied and able to move around?
Terri [01:51:47] Correct.
Dave [01:51:47] Shocker.
Dan [01:51:48] Something happened while he was in jail?
Terri [01:51:50] No.
Dan [01:51:50] No. He was never going to plead to anything.
Terri [01:51:53] 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 [01:52:02] What did he turn down?
Terri [01:52:03] He turned down 10 years, that would have been seven years. So, he would have had a seven years sentence.
Dave [01:52:08] Time served?
Terri [01:52:08] No, he would have had to serve seven.
Dave [01:52:11] Okay, good behavior.
Terri [01:52:12] 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 [01:52:26] 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 [01:52:38] 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.
[01:53:30] 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 [01:53:55] That’s great.
Yeardley [01:53:56] That’s amazing.
Dave [01:53:57] I think I know the answer to this already. Did Mitch take the stand?
Terri [01:54:00] No.
Dave [01:54:01] What was the atmosphere in the courtroom when the verdict was read?
Jodi [01:54:04] 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 [01:54:56] 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 [01:56:03] And you’re also possibly waiting. I mean, the pessimist inside your head is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Terri [01:56:09] Yep. But never happened.
Christy [01:56:11] 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 [01:56:21] And she actually put the whole crime together. She said it like a story.
Jodi [01:56:24] 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 [01:56:38] We took one of the boards they bought for us, which is ironic, because we wanted to use it in court too.
Yeardley [01:56:43] That the TV show bought for you?
Terri [01:56:44] 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 [01:57:24] 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 [01:57:31] Right. It makes sense. How much time did he get in the end?
Terri [01:57:35] 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 [01:57:47] We don’t know yet?
Terri [01:57:48] Well, it’s the calculation of good time and things like that.
Dave [01:57:51] 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 [01:58:10] He seemed like he was perfectly healthy.
Dan [01:58:12] 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 [01:58:21] He’s chopping wood.
Dave [01:58:22] He’s chopping wood, and he’s riding his motorcycle 100 miles an hour down the freeway.
Dan [01:58:26] 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.[music]
Dave [01:58:55] 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 [01:59:14] 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.
[02:00:08] 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 [02:00:41] Well, for her to have her child’s killer put in jail, I can’t imagine.
Yeardley [02:00:46] Yeah. Amazing that she hung on until that happened, but not that surprising.
Dan [02:00:52] Did Jack testify against Mitch?
Christy [02:00:54] Yes.
Terri [02:00:55] Yes, he did an amazing job.
Dave [02:00:57] Does Mitch give Jack dirty looks?
Christy [02:00:59] More like the other way around, I think. [laughs]
Terri [02:01:01] I think so, too.
Jodi [02:01:02] Mitch would never make eye contact with me.
Yeardley [02:01:04] Really?
Jodi [02:01:05] The whole thing, and I was glad of that.
Terri [02:01:07] 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 [02:01:13] 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 [02:01:38] 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 [02:01:45] I don’t understand why people from the TV show can’t testify.
Dan [02:01:50] Not they can’t. They just don’t.
Yeardley [02:01:52] They don’t.
Dan [02:01:53] 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 [02:02:23] To witness it.
Dan [02:02:24] -to witness it to hear everything that was said. She’s going to cover in her report. It’s all good.
Terri [02:02:29] That’s right.
Yeardley [02:02:29] Okay. And does Jennifer, Mitch’s second wife, testify?
Terri [02:02:33] Yes. She testified as well and gave us some really beneficial information about things that happened during her time period.
Yeardley [02:02:40] About his character.
Terri [02:02:42] And some things that he said to her that made her know that that was the truth as well.
Yeardley [02:02:46] 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 [02:03:02] I think he disclosed that pretty early on. Again, Jennifer also thought the technically 17 almost 18 didn’t know to look otherwise.
Yeardley [02:03:11] She didn’t realize that Jodi was 11, 12, 13. She thought, “Oh, well.”
Christy [02:03:16] Mm-hmm.
Yeardley [02:03:17] Right. Got it.
Dave [02:03:18] 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 [02:03:57] That girl was a month away from being of legal age.
Terri [02:03:59] Or you didn’t know their age until it was too late.
Dave [02:04:02] Right. You got arrested anyway.
Terri [02:04:03] Yes.
Christy [02:04:04] 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 [02:04:24] She did. She sent me emails every year.
Yeardley [02:04:26] What do you mean?
Terri [02:04:27] 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.
[02:05:10] 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 [02:05:44] 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 [02:05:49] She would.
Yeardley [02:05:50] That’s amazing.
Christy [02:05:50] Which kept me holding on maybe until the next year where then I’d reach out again.
Terri [02:05:55] 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 [02:06:21] 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 [02:07:00] 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 [02:07:20] 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 [02:07:40] 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 [02:08:01] 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 [02:08:33] That’s well said. Yeah.
Dave [02:08:35] How’s inmate Mitch?
Terri [02:08:37] Inmate Mitch is in prison and he appears to be fine.
Dave [02:08:39] No more wheelchair?
Terri [02:08:41] I haven’t got to check in on that lately.
Dave [02:08:43] Gotcha.
Terri [02:08:44] 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 [02:09:49] 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 [02:10:15] 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 [02:10:39] Well said.
Yeardley [02:10:40] That’s amazing. Christy, is there anything you’d like to add?
Christy [02:10:42] 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 come-
Jodi [02:10:55] And share.[chuckles]
Christy [02:10:55] You’ve all made it very very welcoming and comfortable and feel very safe. So thank you very much.
Yeardley [02:11:01] Ah, It’s lovely to hear.
Terri [02:11:04] Very proud of this girl.
Dan [02:11:05] I’m proud of all three of you.
Yeardley [02:11:06] 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 [02:11:21] Thank you.
Dave [02:11:21] Thank you.[music]
Yeardley [02:11:28] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced 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 [02:11:56] 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.
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Yeardley [02:12:23] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country.
Dan [02:12:29] In search of the finest rare true crime cases told, as always, by the detectives who investigated them.
Dave [02:12:37] So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley [02:12:39] Nobody’s better than you.