The Sword and Scale true-crime podcast is an immersive audio experience covering the dark side of humanity and human nature. Our stories delve into the worst of the worst and include murder, rape, dismemberment and cannibalism. No crime is too brutal and no victim is too pure. The worst monsters are real.
Since the founding of the United States, in every generation, in every field of business, politics, sports and society, we’ve watched in shock as corruption, deceit and desire bring down heroes, titans and those we thought we could trust.In the aftermath, we’re left with too many questions, how did this happen? Who is to blame?Subscribe to American Scandal today. www.wondery.fm/scandal
51-year-old Ruth Pyne is found beaten and stabbed to death in the garage of her home in Highland Township, Michigan. Her immediate family members become the focus of the investigation, and one of them has a questionable alibi. Indirect evidence begins to pile up, and a jury is left with the following question: at what point does circumstantial evidence overcome reasonable doubt?
On July 21st, 2006, an entire family seemingly disappeared from their home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. When police searched the residence, there were no signs of a break-in. Nothing was disturbed, and nothing of value appeared to be missing.But there was no sign of Neil, Rachel, or Lillian Entwistle.
Everyone loves the idea of having the perfect family and keeping everyone close together. Go to work, come home, play with the kids, eat dinner together. Unfortunately, that isn’t always how things go. In 2015, the Bever family was the perfect example of this. The family of nine stuck close together within the four walls of their home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.But, stick a family together long enough, and eventually someone will blow their lid. On the evening of July 22nd, 2015, Robert and Micha...more
We all love to talk about all of the things we’re going to do to better ourselves… all of the changes we want to make. Maybe we’d like to focus more on our families, start a business, or go back to school. Whatever the case, these aspirations often remain nothing more than that… aspirations. We put them on hold for so long that we forgot about them. This is the story of 26-year-old Laura Ackerson, a young woman who was taking those steps. She was determined to build a brighter future...more
When you have a problem, you hire someone to fix it. That's what you do. Sometimes you don't have the benefit of Yelp reviews though...
During the early morning hours of September 22nd, 2010, 13-year-old Alexis Mitchell awoke to the sight of her father looming over her and wearing a Halloween mask. His hands were around her neck, but he let up after she elbowed and bit him. Either having passed out or fallen asleep again thinking it was all a dream, Alexis eventually woke again up to the sound of screaming.
On Sunday, October 4th 2009, Milford Police Sgt. Kevin Furlong was dispatched by 911 to 4 Trow Road in Mont Vernon. There had been a home invasion. Inside he found Jaimie Cates with multiple stab wounds and injuries and the body of her mom Kimberly Cates with numerous slashing and stab marks. Who would have done such a thing to this poor family?
31-year-old Nicole VanderHeyden was substitute teacher and mother of three. She lived with her boyfriend and father of her infant son, Doug Detrie, in Bellevue, Brown County, WI. The Green Bay metro area. Her body was found naked and strangled in a farm field on May 21, 2016. Her skull was fractured and she suffered blunt force trauma to the left side of her head breaking and dislocating her jaw as well as injuries to her esophagus, trachea, and neck consistent with strangulation. Her clothes we...more
Some crimes are so extreme that they defy the laws of nature. Ending the life of your very own mother, for example, is so unfathomable to most that it may be the most vile crime imaginable. The story we tell you here goes well beyond that. Strap in..
This will be, BY FAR, the most frustrating podcast you listen to (perhaps ever). We here, at Sword and Scale, have had some pretty frustrating interactions with emergency operators, but nothing can prepare you for this audio gem.We also tangentially cover the brutal and completely senseless killing of an entire family. They were the Van Breda's and they lived near 10 Allemann Street.
Some tales of human depravity are just unimaginable. Are they the actions of a monster, or simply a monstrous act? Sometimes the lines are not quite so clear, and perhaps monsters are not only real, but existing all around us, and hidden in plain site.This is the story of a young boy named Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips, an even younger girl named Maddie Clifton, and a waterbed.
What exactly is "God's Plan?" Do you know? Some people think they do. Jonathan Hearn and Sabrina Limon thought "God's Plan" included having an illicit affair and killing Sabrina's husband.
Part 2 of the Natalie Bollinger Murder...
A teenage girl is stalked by a homeless man and suddenly goes missing two weeks later. WARNING: This is part one of a two-part episode. Part two will be available on 3/18 on the regular feed or you can get it now for just $5 on Patreon.com/SwordAndScale. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT Google this story. It will ruin the story for you. Trust us.
When Jane Bashara was found strangled to death in the back of her SUV nobody knew what to make of it. Things like this simply didn't happen in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, a wealthy community of million-dollar homes. The Bashara's, now empty nesters in their mid 50's, also were not the type of people who were found murdered in a parking lot. They were the type of people who volunteered for charity when they weren't hanging out at the country club.No one suspected that th...more
The human mind can go to such depths of depravity that, for the average well-adjusted person, it’s hard to even imagine. Kevin Ray Underwood’s mind was so far gone that his sexual fantasies started to include cannibalism.When 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin went missing, both of her parents lives were utterly destroyed. Little did they know that Jamie was literally just a few doors away in the same apartment building, and they were likely sitting there the moment she was killed.
So many leaves...It doesn't happen often, but the intersection of Psychosis and Psychopathy is a scary place. A place where all things that are good, break down and all that's left is pure darkness.Matthew Hoffman lived in such a place...
CENTAUR... you have awoken. Don't let them kill you.Final episode of 2017 and Season 4. Enjoy...
Love is often expressed with gifts such as flowers and chocolates, but those same gifts can be used to manipulate, control and threaten in the hands of a stalker.That is a lesson that Alice Ruggles learned the hard way from her obsessed ex-boyfriend Trimaan Dhillon who couldn't handle her rejection.
Nothing quite says fear like a machete. In this episode we bring you to distinct stories of some of the most barbaric and utterly inexplicable attacks with a blade to poor souls who did nothing to deserve such brutality.The first story comes from Apex, North Carolina, where an 18-year-old girl named Priyanka Kumari is savagely attacked on her way home from school. The second comes from South Florida of course, where 17-year-old Jose Amaya-Guardado is ganged up on and killed by his classmates at ...more
The death of a little girl named Jodi Parrack send a small town into a spiral of shock and disbelief. Everyone goes looking, but when a reserve police officer named Raymond McCann suggests looking in the cemetery all eyes turn on him as the primary suspect.
A volatile wannabe gangster, a rural farm and four missing young men... the events that lead investigators to a 12½-foot-deep makeshift grave in Bucks County, Pennsylvania are so bizarre that they hardly make any sense.
We conclude with Part 2 of the Scrivo Murder Case, a story which deals with elements of mental illness, grief and the relationship between a mother and a son.
For our landmark hundredth episode we cover a story that has all the elements our listeners love to hear. A graphic and gory case of body parts being foundscattered across a roadway, and the unbelievable tale of how the case then unfolds from there will leave you scratching your head.
Underreported and underdiscussed, male sexual child abuse is a topic that is often brushed under the rug due to social norms and the child's fears of being labelled a homosexual or future perpetrator. Data from various studies indicates that the problem is much more widespread than initially thought, but because such a small percentage of victims ever come forward, the data is skewed. In this episode we delve into this topic and discuss it freely and openly.If you want to tell us your ...more
"We lock our doors at night to keep the outside world, to keep evil out, right? ...but what happens when evil has a key?" Those were the words spoken by Nation Hahn, a man who knows first hand how evil can deceptively find its way into your home without warning.
Becoming a parent can be one of the most joy-filled experiences in one's life. It has been a long-standing tradition for friends, family and neighbors to all gather to celebrate this special experience with a baby shower. In the last decade or so, a new trend called "gender-reveal parties" has emerged for expectant parents to have another opportunity to celebrate. But when the celebration of a new life is suddenly visited by death, a new bundle of questions emerge.
There's a lot that can go wrong in this organ we call the human brain, which we don't fully understand. It's important for all of us to be much more aware of the red flags so that we can prevent tragedies like this one from happening.We examine this phenomenon of "Gangstalking" and "Targeted Individuals" and the case of a young lawyer named Myron May. We're joined by graduate professor of forensic psychology Dr. Vanessa Holtgrave.
Escapism is something most of us are guilty of. We retire to our TV shows, video games, podcasts... One would not assume that even the most esoteric escapes could be dangerous, but for two gay men in the mid 80's living in rural Northern Georgia, that would be a dangerous assumption.This is the story of a place called Corpsewood. The handbuilt manor castle in the remote woods was meant to be a solitary retreat for Dr. Charles Scudder and Joseph Odem, but instead it would become th...more
Randy Stair secretly identified as a female for years. She ditched her given name for the pseudonym Andrew Blaze and also ditched the YouTube channel she had worked on for a large part of her life to pursue animation. The cartoons she created were dark, angst-ridden creations derived from an existing Nickelodeon character that she was infatuated with and believed existed in some otherworldly plain which she planned to be welcomed into after murdering three of her coworkers.&n...more
The highly polarized political climate we're living in colors our view of the world in one way or another. Sometimes it's hard to see the big picture and true underlying human tragedy when we're too busy judging the beliefs of others. This is a story of four people who died tragically, seemingly for no reason, in a supermarket, in the middle of the night.
The love of a mother is something many of us take for granted, but when it's not present during the early formative years the results can be disastrous. This is what Edmund Kemper suggests happened to him. A serial killer who enjoyed murdering coeds in the early 70's, Kemper is not your average lunatic. He has the IQ of a genius and has spent years self-analyzing his actions. We hear from his own words and delve into the extreme nature of his crimes.
We kick off this week's episode with some much needed updates about what's been going on behind the scenes, fist of which is Sword and Scale Rewind, hosted by Lynette Carolla and Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, which launches on June 14th. It's the after-show for this podcast, so every episode of Rewind will cover an episode of S&S, starting with Episode 1. Make sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts so you don't miss a thing. Secondly, we get into the other big thing that's happening right now and the...more
When Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Claudia Rowe, author of The Spider and The Fly, decided to write to a serial killer, she wasn't prepared for how it would change her life. In her quest to understand the nature of cruelty, she ended up discovering much more about herself. Kendall Francois murdered at least eight women and hid the rotting corpses in the home that he shared with his mother, father, and younger sister. A large foreboding figure who emanated a pungent odor, he demands that Ro...more
Matthew Hahn is bright, eloquent, friendly and just generally the kind of person you like immediately. He's the kind of person that will tell you everything about his life within seconds of meeting him, but only if you ask. He's an open book which is unusual, because once you hear his story, and your jaw drops to the floor with the disbelief that what you're listening to is not is tall tale, but a reality that this person you're speaking to has lived through, there's one other fact you have to a...more
When a 14 year old boy named Philip Chism goes missing in the middle of a school day, his mother thinks the worst and calls 911. Little does she know, that her son isn't the only missing person from Danvers High School that day. A 24-year-old math teacher is missing also. She is Phillip's teacher which raises some immediate questions, but after finally solving a mishap with the school's 140-camera security system, police are able to come up with a theory as to what happened that day. Another big...more
Over the course of a normal school day, a mystery unravels. At first there is chaos, confusion and much worry, but soon all of that anxiety melts into a river of loss and agony as friends and family members find out the truth. This first part of a two-part story is sure to keep you riveted, at the edge of your seat, and pulling your hair out waiting for the next part.
The 20 year anniversary of one of the strangest tales in modern American religious history is quickly approaching. On March 26th, March 26, 1997 Marshall Herff Applewhite led a group of 39 devoted followers to their final destination. In their minds they were headed to a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp Comet where they would be taken and transformed into perfect angelic alien beings, a state in which they would live forever. We're joined by Benjamin E. Zeller, Religious Historian and Author o...more
There are few things more horrifying than the idea that your children can be taken from their beds, from their own home, while there's an adult sleeping inside, yet that's exactly what happened on the morning of Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We, as a modern society, have systems in place, technological marvels, to prevent and deter these things from happening. However, in this case, the very system that was used to try and rescue the children ended up leading to their deaths. Thi...more
There is a place that humanity has created where the rules of society mean nothing. This place is a void of laws and social norms. The scariest thing, is that there is a doorway to this dark place in every home, in some cases we carry this doorway with us day after day. It's a place called The Dark Net. In this episode we're joined by Jamie Bartlett to discuss this dark and sinister place, along with the human psychology that created it and makes it particularly nefarious. We also touch on the s...more
Love can be a wonderful thing. It can make the world around you seem like a magical place. But sometimes, love can go wrong. Very wrong. In this season opener we examine several cases where love failed and darkness took over culminating in various murder-suicides.
When you dial those three numbers on your phone, you expect that someone will help you. However, as with all matters involving humans, sometimes things can go wrong. In this season-finale episode, we speak with 13-year emergency dispatch veteran Ricardo Martinez from the Within The Trenches Podcast. We talk about what goes into doing this job and what happens when the wrong person does it.
This is the PARTAY episode! People love parties. Some people love parties so much that they're willing to do just about anything to have one. Tyler Hadley loved parties this much.
The stories we like to tell the most here are those of serial killers and homicidal maniacs. Those archetypes can be somewhat predictable, if not downright boring. We like to focus instead on everyday people, just like you and me, who find themselves suddenly in the midst of a monster. A monster who looks just like them. This is part two of the two part story of Phillip Markoff, a young and handsome Med student from New England, who came to be known as The Craigslist Killer.
You've been pulled over by a bevy of police cars and taken to an interrogation room. What happens next? In this two-part story, we'll first examine what it's like to be in the shoes of someone who has gotten themselves mixed up with the wrong end of the law, and next time we'll tell you what it is they did to put themselves there... 6dv7nye5
Halloween is a fun time of the year when we dress up like ghosts and goblins and attempt to scare each other with haunted houses and horror films. However the scariest things don't come with candy in plastic pumpkin containers. instead, the scariest things are all around us: People, and the depravity they are capable of. On this episode we tell two stories: one of a 10+ year old case and one of a 10 year old girl. Victoria Martens and Brianna Lopez were born to the wrong parents, and their s...more
The idea of leaving the hustle and bustle behind, and disappearing into the woods to live off the land, can be appealing. Yet few of us would actually attempt to give this idea any more than a fleeting thought. In this episode we examine three cases of people who dropped off the face of the planet to indulge this bizarre way of life, and each one of them was a criminal. The stories we'll discuss are Christopher Thomas Knight, Colton Harris-Moore and the most famous hermit of all Ted Kaczynski...more
Finally, an update episode! This one fills in the details of what has happened with the Justin Ross-Harris, Holly Bobo and Aaron Hernandez cases, with special guest Cathy Ruson from CourtChatter.com. We also get schooled by a listener on crucial pieces we missed in the Andrea Yates story. We talk to friends of the Blancharde's who knew them best, and cap off the show with a living legend in the field of true-crime: none other than former host of Dateline's To Catch a Predator, and new host of...more
This is a bizarre tale. Part gruesome murder tale, part love story. Yes, you read that right.. None of of the Gainesville Ripper story makes much sense, but it made an entire university of 30,000+ students panic and leave their studies and futures behind, for the sake of their personal safety. This story also challenges our ideas of what crime-journalism is and should be. "Guilty until proven innocent?" ...that's not a well-recognized concept these days. And the media and public are quick ...more
The border town of Brownsville, Texas is one of the poorest places in the continental United States. Wracked by crime in the form of drug-use and prostitution, this small town, in the middle of nowhere, is also the home of many historical structures. One such structure was located on 805 E. Tyler Street, and it housed a horrific triple-murder which changed the community of Brownsville forever. We are joined this week by Laura Tillman, author of the book The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder...more
A subset of our audience really has an issue with episodes that feature any crimes being done to children. That's understandable, since they are the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. But there are cases, however rare, where the "monsters" are the children themselves. In this episode we explore three cases in which children killed, seemingly for the sheer pleasure of it. Beware though, you may not ever want to have children after this episode.
A recurring question in the criminal justice system is whether the death penalty is moral, right or just. Everyone seems to have a fairly strong opinion regarding it, but almost no one has any any first-hand experience with the process. The idea that such a severe punishment to be conducted in secrecy, behind closed doors, may seem archaic and somewhat medieval. In this episode we talk to a man named Dr. Bill Kimberlin, who did something few others would. He actively attempted to attend an e...more
Have you ever wondered why most violent crimes are committed by men? Apparently so have several criminologists, who have conducted several studies to examine this phenomenon. Today’s show is the exception to the rule: two stories of women committing horrible acts against the one person they swore to love for the rest of their lives. The stories of what Christy Sheats and Cheryl McCafferty did to their husbands will have our male audience looking at their significant others a little differentl...more
Sword and Scale isn't just a podcast. We also have a website (swordandscale.com) where we post daily stories of dark deeds done by the most evil and devious amongst us. To highlight this point, we've chosen two stories that we've previously covered in articles on our website. The first is extremely fascinating, the second is extremely violent. Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino was a popular destination for tourists in the Lake Tahoe area, until it was blown to bits by one of the most complex bombs...more
As a Florida resident and native, I am disgusted by the events of the past weekend in Orlando. Thus, I decided to cover the two senseless shootings and also throw in a third recent and horrifying story that proves Florida really is a terrible place to be. In traditional Sword and Scale style, rather than just go over the details of the Christina Grimmie murder, the Orlando gay nightclub massacre, and the murder and dismemberment-by-chainsaw of Tricia Todd, we tell you these stories from a new a...more
Cara Marie Holley from Roanoke Virginia was just 18 years old when she went missing from her home on July 7, 2010. Two days later her body was found in shallow grave several miles away. The killer was arrested almost immediately because he was using her credit card and driving her car around the very town where he killed her. The worst part of this story is that Cara knew her killer Carey Shane Padgett. They went to high school together and were friends, but there was something very wrong with ...more
Something is very wrong when two children can disappear from society for two years and not a single person notices or cares. This is the tale of how violence breeds violence and the most vulnerable among us are the ones who suffer because of it. The horrors that occurred in the residence of Mitchelle Blair are ones you won't likely soon forget.
When someone secretly means to do you harm, there's a good chance they will succeed. When you are a celebrity or public figure of some kind, you become much more vulnerable to attack because of the nature of public life. Your whereabouts are often tracked and your habits and vulnerabilities are a matter of public record. There are people out there such as Ricardo Lopez who wish to do harm, for whatever demented reasons their sick minds have constructed. Many times they do succeed, but this i...more
Sometimes the monsters are not only in our homes, but they are the ones closest to us: our mother or father, brother or sister. To a young child living in an environment where a depraved individual lurks can be terrifying. In this episode we will experience that terror from the perspective of that young child who is powerless to change their situation. We speak to three survivors of domestic child abuse and child sexual abuse and hear their unfiltered stories of their terrifying experiences. Mo...more
After Michelle Macneill, a healthy 50-year old mother, dies mysteriously of a heart condition in the bathtub of her Pleasant Grove, Utah home, questions begin to emerge. Her husband, Martin Macneill, begins to exhibit strange behavior even on the very day of his wife's death. Soon afterwards, a nanny is introduced into the family home and a sordid affair is revealed, along with a motive for murder.
Pleasant Grove, Utah. A picturesque gated community. A perfectly manicured lawn. A lovely brick home. The perfect family. The perfect life. A bathtub. This is the story of Martin Macneill, and his late wife Michelle.
A 30-year-old woman named Jenelle Potter has spent her entire life sheltered from the world. Not being allowed to get a job, drive a car, date, or even leave the house without the supervision of her mother Barbara, Jenelle turns to the Internet and social media as her only escape. However her lack of real-world social skills translate to disaster online. She starts making enemies just as fast as she makes friends and eventually the online feuds turn vicious. When her mother Barbara and her fath...more
Every parent's nightmare can happen in an instant. It can happen on a day just like any other in a place you would never expect and, the fact of the matter is, you will never see it coming. Such is what happened to the family of 9-year-old Connor Verkerke. One moment everything was fine; it was a beautiful late summer day and kids were playing in the local playground. The next minute, all hell broke loose. But this tragedy wasn't exclusive to Connor and his family. The story of 12-year-old Jam...more
Alternative rock superstar, host of the reality TV-show Ink Master, actor and recent filmmaker Dave Navarro joins us to talk about his film "Mourning Son" which details the events leading up to and surrounding his mother's brutal murder when he was just 15 years old. We're also joined by Cameka Crawford, Chief Communications Officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and steering committee member for NOMORE.org, to talk about this epidemic which affects an alarming number of people. To ...more
When many of us think of true-crime, we think of cops and killers, detectives and victims. We even spend a great deal of time examining medical forensics and human decomposition. Rarely do we shift our focus to the paramedics who work tirelessly every day and night, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves, to save the lives of victims of horrific crimes. In this episode we'll do just that by speaking with former paramedic Kevin Hazzard. He wrote a phenomenal book called "A Thousand Naked...more
Cathy Ruson from courtchatter.com describes Facebook Killer Derek Medina as "an odd duck." That's probably the most accurate way to describe this man, who shot his wife eight times in the kitchen of their South Florida home, while she was preparing breakfast for her 10-year-old daughter, and then posted a picture of his handiwork on Facebook for all of his friends and family to see. In this second part, to our two-part story, we get to know the strange man who for years seemed desperate for atte...more
It's one thing to kill someone, it's quite another to publish your handiwork on social media for all your friends and family to see like some sort of macabre trophy. That's exactly what Facebook Killer Derek Medina did after killing his wife Jennifer Alfonso in the kitchen of their Miami condominium, while her 10-year-old daughter cowered upstairs under a red blanket. After shooting the unarmed woman eight times, in his words "emptying the clip", he went back upstairs and got dressed before taki...more
Over the course of the last year we've spoken to many different people from all walks of life. We asked them one simple question: "If there was one thing you could change about the criminal justice system, what would it be." This final episode of Season 2 is a compilation of their answers. We're joined by criminal defense attorney Christopher Zervic, as well as the guys and gals from The Generation Why Podcast and the Thinking Sideways Podcast. The cast of guests includes: Jason Lucky Morrow fr...more
The topic of abortion is a highly controversial one, with emotionally-charged opinions on either side. Regardless of how you feel about the topic, this story about abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell illustrates the workings of a man who has lost his humanity and no longer cares who he hurts on his path to profit. The Women's Medical Society, the clinic with a grandiose name that Gosnell ran, was a pill mill by day and an illegal abortion clinic by night. It is estimated Gosnell earned well over a...more
There's something about the perceived safety of an automobile's cab that makes many of us feel like we are impervious to danger, yet danger is all around us. In this episode, we examine two cases which seemingly began with a road rage incident and ended with murder. In the first case Robert Doyle shoots and kills Candelerio Gonzalez in front of his own home and then holds the victim's family at gunpoint. Case number two is the death of Tammy Myers at the hands of 19-year-old Erich Nowsche, a yo...more
The stories we tell often tend to focus on the criminal act itself, rather than the investigation that follows. In this episode of Sword and Scale we'll show you how the human body often tells the tale of its final living moments in the form of forensic evidence, and what it takes to extract this information from a corpse. We're joined by the husband and wife team Dr. Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell, who co-authored the book "Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examin...more
It's one thing to talk about gun violence, it's quite another to see it up close on live television. In this episode of Sword and Scale we take you back to one of the first examples of a life being lost on live television: the suicide of Budd Dwyer, an American politician who had been convicted of bribe receiving. However, before his sentence of 55 years' imprisonment and a $300,000 fine could be imposed Dwyer chose to take his life with a blued Smith & Wesson Model 27 .357 Magnum revolver at ...more
In Episode 47 we told you about the McMartin Preschool case and the Satanic Panic that overtook an entire nation under the fear that our children are not safe. This week we are joined by Keelan Balderson from WideShut to cover a case that is hauntingly familiar, but occurring in modern-day Europe. When Ella Draper met marijuana-advocate Abraham Christie her life, and the lives of her two young children, spiraled out of control. According to Mrs Justice Pauffley, the presiding judge in the case,...more
On November 18, 1978, in a remote settlement of northwestern Guyana, 909 Americans lost their lives in what is considered to be the largest mass suicide of the twentieth century. This compound, informally known as Jonestown, was established by a charismatic preacher named Jim Jones who led his People's Temple to their ultimate demise. In this episode, we welcome Julia Scheeres, author of the book "A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown", to tell us the story of how this story evolved in...more
On June 15th, 2015 an ominous message appeared on Facebook which sent friends and family into a panic. Their worst fears were realized when police entered the home of Claudinnea "Dee Dee" Blancharde and her disabled daughter Gypsy, and found the mother dead and the daughter missing. The killer seemed to be mocking concerned loved ones online, and immediately the most important concern was to make sure the poor sickly daughter was found and that she would be unharmed. Little did they know the ...more
In Episode 48 we revisit many of the stories we've previously covered on Sword and Scale and fill you in on what has happened with in each case. We start with alleged theater shooter Curtis Reeves who is accused of shooting and killing Chad Oulson after a disagreement about texting during the previews of a movie. We then move on to the story of Vince Li, a schizophrenic man who suddenly without provocation beheaded Timothy McLean on a Greyhound bus. Then we jump over to South Africa, for an upd...more
The highly technological society in which we live obscures the fact the we are still a very primitive species. One which continues to fall under the spell of magical beliefs and mass hysteria. Although we'd like to think we have evolved, this story which mirrors the insanity of the Salem Witch Trials shows, that perhaps, we have not. In the early 80's a madness was brewing. The rise of heavy metal music combined with the infiltration of demonic imagery into American homes in the form of VHS and...more
Despite being a grown man, Joseph McEnroe still exhibits the same traits he did when he was just a little boy: He bottles up his frustrations until they explode in fits of violence. He also seems to have a hint of the same Nightingale Syndrome that his mother uses to justify her abhorrent dating behaviors. Joseph follows in her footsteps by meeting a series of strange women through his online fantasy writing group and then travelling to whatever city they're in an attempt to start a relationship...more
In this first part of a two-part story, we examine the Carnation Murders. This slaughtering of an entire family, by a seriously deranged couple, took place in 2007 in Carnation, Washington, a small rural town 25 miles east of Seattle. This story is told through the words of the man behind the trigger, as he's tries to make excuses and barter for his life. As with all unspeakable acts such as this we are interested in finding out why this occurred, so we take a closer look at Joseph McEnroe's li...more
We live in a world where pregnant women have to fear going about their daily lives as they normally would because of the very real possibility that the unthinkable could happen to them at any time. It did to Michelle Wilkins, a mom who was trying to get some inexpensive baby clothes for her unborn daughter Aurora. Instead, what she got was a nightmare which unfolded on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Longmont, Colorado. The person who perpetrated this heinous act wasn't a serial killer, drug...more
When Rodney Reed turned himself in to Bastrop Police, on what he though was a gun charge, little did he know he would be spending the next 17 years on Death Row for a crime he did not commit. However, that seems to be exactly what happened. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Stacey Stites who he was having an affair with at the time. Unfortunately for Rodney, Stites was engaged to a Bastrop police officer named Jimmy Fennel who allegedly didn't take to kindly to h...more
The idea of ultimate justice is appealing to those of us who have strong empathy for victims in vicious and unspeakable crimes. However, the cost of implementing such an unyielding and unrepairable finality as taking someone's life, is that from time to time we'll make a mistake and get it wrong. The end result of a mistake like this is the execution of an innocent man. As a society are we so hungry for "justice" or perhaps "vengeance" that we are willing to accept the collateral damage that an ...more
Luckily there aren't very many examples of the perfect storm occurring in a community where a dysfunctional family, a broken child-protection agency, and a community that makes a series of unlucky decisions end with the death of a beautiful, happy and loving 5-year-old little girl. Episode 41, however, isn't one of them. On January 8th, 2015, Phoebe Jonchuck was thrown 62 feet off the Dick Misener Bridge in Tampa, Florida. As a result, she died at the hands of her father. Her mother, on the oth...more
When asked to imagine the perfect place to perform serial murder most imagine something dark and creepy, but the truth of the matter is that the perfect place to kill is actually the same place in which most of us are born and die: a hospital. This is a place where death is not only common, but expected. Many of the victims are already incapacited and there's a steady stream of them coming in each day. Not to mention the fact that the tools for killing are readily available in the form of var...more
Some things are hard to fathom, like why a young boy with his entire life ahead of him would choose to destroy it by an act of unspeakable violence towards the people that love and care for him most in the world: his parents. Yet, time after time, we see these angst ridden youth lose control of their developing minds and act out in a way that cannot be taken back and will not easily be forgiven or forgotten. In this episode of Sword and Scale we cover two cases in the form of two shocking 911 c...more
In 2013 an independent documentary began making its way through various film festivals. It was received with harsh criticism, outrage and even death threats by various groups, each of which was repulsed by the subject matter and the way it was presented. The name of this film was Are All Men Pedophiles? and once we heard about it we knew we had to speak to the creator of the film Jan-Willem Breure. Early on though we figured we'd need some serious help telling this story properly and responsibl...more
We finally have the pleasure of speaking to Diane Fanning, author of 13 true crime books and counting. She tells us the tragic story of Wesley and Jocelyn Earnest, a tale that serves as a fable to any young woman who has recently been separated from her spouse. This couple had such a good life ahead of them, but somehow it all fell apart due to the lust, greed and hatred of one man. It seems inconceivable to most, and the tragic tale is further highlighted and enhanced once you realize what a s...more
Timothy Wesley McCorquodale had a rage in him that was uncontrollable. Like a loose cannon he could go off at any minute, unleashing mayhem an any poor unsuspecting soul that happened to cross him. The horror he would subject 17-year-old Donna Marie Dixon to in 1974, is unfathomable to this day. This week, we are joined once again by Jason Lucky Morrow, author and webmaster from the popular true-crime site HistoricalCrimeDetective.com to discuss this disturbing case from the past. We also take ...more
What happens when you run out of luck? You lose your job, your marriage, your home, your arms and legs, the respect of your parents, and your will to live, what happens then? If you've ever lived on planet Earth, then the answer is obvious, this is where desperation takes over and horrible things happen. This week we present the sad story of Sean Petrozzino, a mild mannered "great kid" that grew up into a world of bad luck and it ended up consuming him and making him a true monster. After killi...more
Probably the most horrific murder publicly accessible though a variety of social media, the death of Lin Jun was a public execution for all to see. The culprit was a narcissistic psychopath named Luka Magnotta, and the terror he would unleash upon the world would reach out like evil tentacles across nations, cultures, and ages through the free-flowing highway of information we call the Internet. Magnotta's evil wasn't limited to humanity, he also tortured animals. The kind of animals that are s...more
One of the more bizarre stories of our lifetime, the story of Luka Magnotta is wrought with remorseful refrains and awkward pauses. This is a man, who was so narcissistic that there would be nothing to stand between him and what he wanted in life... fame. Had he been "normal" his goals might have been awe-inspiring, but Luka was the worst type of person, a psychopathic narcissist, and he would flaunt it in the nose of the good people of the world. The hell he would unleash online is something ...more
In this season finale of Sword and Scale, we bring back many of the guests we've spoken to over the last year and ask them a fundamental question that relates to the nature of crime: "Is humanity inherently good or evil?" The answer comes from many different perspectives. They are victims, convicts, authors, podcasters, psychologists and neurologists. Their answers open a discussion into the nature of these abstract concepts and will leave you asking what you yourself believe. Thanks to all th...more
There are 2.2 million schizophrenics in the United States. You have a one in a hundred chance of encountering one on any given day. Most are non-violent people struggling with what can sometimes be a debilitating disease, but every now and then the voices in their head can lead a handful of them down a path from which there is no return. For the rest of us, no knowing if the person next to you is capable of murdering and dismembering you at any given moment can be utterly terrifying. This week ...more
The story of Herman Webster Mudgett, otherwise known as H.H. Holmes, has been told numerous times: a brilliant man with so much potential but so inherently evil that his actions would require new words be created to describe the monster that he was. The depravity of someone who would construct a building solely for the purpose of torture, murder, and the "processing" of human bodies for profit, is unimaginable. Although it has inspired numerous books and movies, many people who are not avid true...more
The term "bluebeard" conveys images of pirates sailing the high seas, but the actual meaning of this term is much darker and there are examples of it all around us. You see, a "bluebeard" is a man that murders his wife. The term is derived from a French folktale dating back to the 1600's, making this horrible idea not a new one. The fact that this term isn't commonly used in North America is curious, since its female counterpart "black widow" is widely known worldwide. In this episode of Sword ...more
Everyone thought Joshua Gouker was a dangerous criminal. It was easy to convict him of murdering his 14-year-old step son Trey Zwicker, especially after he suddenly changed his plea to guilty and confessed. But why would a hardened criminal mastermind, who had several friends and family members at his command and lying for him, suddenly confess at trial without a plea bargain in place? The answer is that his son, who he proudly referred to as a demon child, was also on trial for the same murder,...more
In this special two-parter, the brutal and inexplicable murder of a 14-year-old boy exposes a dysfunctional American family's secrets and lies. This is the story of Trey Zwicker's murder, a young boy who did everything right but never really had a chance because he grew up in the wrong place, around the wrong people. This is also the story of a father and son. Joshua Young, a bright honor-role student, and Joshua Gouker, a convicted felon who had spent most of his son's lifetime behind bars. ...more
This is one of the most under-reported murders in the history of the North American Continent. A mutilation that took hours and mind that was so disturbed it relished in the extreme violence inflicted on the deceased, this story exposes the obvious deficiencies in the extremely Liberal Canadian justice system, which even many natives don't even fully understand. Dan Zupansky, author of Trophy Kill "The Shall We Dance Murder" and host of the highly-popular true-crime podcast True Murder "The Most...more
Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children. Being one of these children is nightmarish enough, but if your abuser is someone you completely trust, then the event becomes all the more traumatic. Jamie Sivrais was one of these children. When he was 10 his father, who had been absent much of his early life, sexually abused him. Emboldened by his act, the abuse escalated to a point where Jamie knew he had to do somet...more
With just 10,000 residents, the small town of Jennings, Louisiana has one of the highest crime rates per capita of any US town. Any vice you're looking for can be found here, including prostitution, which is just one of the things that linked all 8 victims that were found in the surrounding swamp land. Another thing linking all eight women, was their association with a man by the name of Frankie Richard. A shady character with a spotty, Richard knew all 8 women and admits to having sexual re...more
What could be more horrifying, terrible, and heart-breaking than a mother intentionally taking the life of her own child. The fact that there's even a word in the English language that describes it it shocking in itself. The word is filicide and, even though you may have never heard of it, there are too many cases to cover in just one episode of Sword and Scale. We barely scratch the surface in this episode of some of the most horrifying cases of mommies killing their babies. Episode 23 cove...more
A family divided, a hungry media looking for answers, and an inept police department looking for answers to explain and more importantly prove the inexplicable actions by a father of two young boys, sets a community in turmoil. Soon, the entire nation is wrapped up in the "what ifs" that emerge from the web of lies and misinformation that has been weaved by a family of deviants. In the end answers are few and far between, but there is a resolution, although not the resolution anyone would have...more
Historical Crime Detective Jason Morrow joins us once again to tell the tale of a mysterious killer who took on the persona of a secret agent in the Summer of 1930. One of the first documented cases of a narcissistic killer engaging the media to taunt police, the tale of 3X captured the imagination of the nation. However after the killing stopped abruptly, this story was all but forgotten... until now. With similarities to the Zodiac Killer case, this is a story you have to hear. We also inv...more
Ronald William Brown was a ventriloquist puppeteer on a television program called Joy Junction, a variety show on the Christian Television Network. Last year he received a 20-year sentence for child pornography charges, but the real story is much more disturbing. Brown along with 42 others were netted in a child porn sting that spanned two continents and perpetrators from every walk of life. Believe it or not, the worst part of the story isn't that these individuals wanted to molest children. I...more
Elliot Rodger's privileged background and his family's ties to Hollywood didn't help him get accepted by those around him. Instead his awkward behavior and creepy mannerisms made girls want to ignore him and guys want to bully him. For most of his life he endured what he described as a torturous and tormented life, so on May 23rd he took his revenge on the world that had created "such an injustice", in what he called his "day of retribution". We also cover two cases in which South Florida, from...more
How much to you trust your friends? How much do you know your friends? What would they do for you? What would you do for them? In this episode of Sword and Scale we examine a story of betrayal involving new age cults, sound healing, apocalyptic scenarios and a self-serving meth-head who has left a trail of destruction in her wake. Welcome to the story of Eric Preimesberger's unfortunate premature death, and the people responsible for killing him and hiding his body. It's also a tale about the p...more
In this episode of Sword and Scale we recap the last month's most bizarre stories in the genre of true crime. Quite a few people in trouble have gotten in trouble with the law lately because of their poor choices and bizarre behavior. Although to them it may be no laughing matter, everyone else is left thinking "just what on earth were they thinking?" We also catch up with Cathy Russon from Court Chatter who fills us in on all the courtroom drama behind the Julie Schenecker murder case. We'll h...more
Lauren Giddings had just graduated law school and was getting ready for a new life when she suddenly disappeared from her apartment in Macon, Georgia. As her friends and family desperately tried to find her, they were surprised to see Lauren's reclusive neighbor on the news overreacting to word that a dismembered body had been nearby. The shaggy, bearded introvert was questioned by police in one of the strangest and most infuriating interrogations ever caught on tape. In this episode of Sword...more
A deliberate murder that took 8 years of planning and plenty of hard work to accomplish. It involved a man, his truck, and an underground bunker in the Washington mountains. Peter Keller was described as a survivalist with a distrust of authority by his family and friends, but none of them had any idea he would ever resort to what he did. Now they're left wondering how they could have missed the clues and whether there was anything they could have done to prevent the murder of his wife and daugh...more
Usually we find the stories we want to talk about on Sword and Scale. This week the story found us, in the form of a cry for help from the surviving sister of Kimberly Renea Mabry, whose mutilated body turned up in a Rockford Illinois creek in 1995 and whose killer remains at large almost 20 years later. We bring you her story and ask for your help in solving this bizarre cold case that all but everyone has forgotten about. We next travel back to 1935 for a bizarre case of extortion and attem...more
This week we're joined by former ex-inmate Glenn Langohr, who spent 10 years behind bars at some of California's toughest level 4 prisons, before reinventing himself as a best-selling author. His latest book, Prison Riot, takes the reader through the details of an actual prison riot he was involved in at California's Solano State Prison. We also talk to Professor Natasha A. Frost, author of the book The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America, about America's...more
When 20-year-old Morgan Ingram tragically died in 2011, the family couldn't deal with their grief. What followed was a bizarre and prolonged Internet campaign of hate which has attempted to ruin the lives of at least a dozen people. Sword and Scale followed the rabbit hole to see where it would go, and we soon found that the pattern of behavior can be traced back to a mysterious individual named Sarah Afshar who interviewed Morgan's mom seems to have some sort of close relationship with. We dive...more
What happens when a family's grief slips into malice and madness, when a mother is so hell-bent on being portrayed as a victim that she begins victimizing everyone who doesn't see her as one? Welcome to the sad story of Morgan Ingram's untimely death and the circus of insanity that followed and continues to this day. When Morgan's car was keyed in 2011, a bizarre narrative began to unfold which consisted of a maniac serial-stalker who would terrorize the Ingram family for months. This methodi...more
Any untimely death is a tragedy, but when the victim is young, beautiful, and an all-around wonderful person, the whole thing seems to be much worse. Unfortunately, there are two high-profile cases in the news this week that fit this too-familiar mold. We walk you through the backstory of both of them, told by those who knew the victims best. We also speak to high profile crime experts Levi Page, host of The Levi Page Show and frequents HLN contributor and Cathy Russon from CourtChatter.com. Th...more
If you had to choose a method of execution for yourself, which would you choose? What if you learned that what is considered the most "humane" method of execution is probably the most painful? We discuss the controversy behind lethal injections, and why just about any other method may be a better option. Convicted murderer Dennis McGuire found out about this the hard way, and his botched execution left onlookers stunned and horrified. We also hear a bizarre murder confession caught on tape by a...more
This week the true-crime media has been abuzz reporting the verdict of the Michael Dunn "Loud Music Murder Trial." On Sword and Scale we do things a little different, so we'll let you get your fill of that case from other media outlets while we break the case of Curtis Reeves, who like Michael Dunn allegedly shot and killed someone because he didn't like what they were doing and then tried to claim self defense afterwards. Instead of loud music, it was the simple act of texting at a movie thea...more
"White House Boy" Roger Dean Kiser tells us the story of his personal hell. To him, this world which anyone would consider a living hell was just normal everyday life. The way he describes this upbringing is so brutally honest and matter-of-fact, that it will chill your soul. Hundreds of other "White House Boys" have told the tale of the same experience, yet for over a century the institutional torture and sometime murder of children has been taking place right under our collective noses, and on...more
This is the conclusion to a two part saga involving the organized abduction and abuse of children and ritualistic murders by satanic cults allegedly headed by the top levels of government at a mysterious all-male retreat known as Bohemian Grove. We tell the tale of what has become to be known as The Franklin Coverup and follow the trail of young Johnny Gosch and several other youngsters who were persecuted by the very system that was supposed to protect them, all for sharing their nightmare wit...more
Imagine a criminal conspiracy and cover-up so so massive in scale, involving the highest levels of government and industry, that it threatens the very fabric of the American system. Now imagine that the crimes of this criminal syndicate are so horrible, so horrendous, that the mere mention of them would be frowned upon in polite society, and the very idea of such a conspiracy being possible would be laughable and downright absurd. Yet, in September of 1982, the unexplained disappearance of a 1...more
On Friday, October 5th 2012, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway disappeared on her way to school. This is the story of what happened to her and how the suburban city of Westminster coped with the aftermath, including the perpetrator's chilling confession. We warn you, some of the details are quite disturbing and not intended for all audiences. We also examine how common child abductions are in the United States and cover some of the week's most eye-catching headlines.
It's really true that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. This week we examine the fascinating topic of female serial killers, including the tale of Belle Gunness - a woman who makes Ted Bundy look like an amateur. Although the town of La Porte, Indiana has been made famous by the bizarre events that happened there over a hundred years ago, many have never heard of this woman or her series of cold and calculated murders on a pig farm. We're joined by Bruce R. Johnson, a local expert on th...more
Psychopaths are all around us. Who are they? What are they? What makes them feel no empathy for other human beings, seeing them only as objects to manipulate and control? In Episode 2 of Sword and Scale, we examine these questions and hear from one of the world's leading neuroscientists in this field Professor James Fallon, who is not only an expert in the field of psychopathy, but also exhibits many of the traits of a psychopath himself. We also hear from actual psychopaths in their own words, ...more
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In this debut episode of Sword and Scale, author Janice Holly Booth tells the story of Bruce Blackman's slip into the dark depths of schizophrenia and the horrible result it caused to him and his family. This tale is based on the true events that occurred in Coquitlam, British Columbia on January 18th, 1983. This story is chilling, and in the wake of events like the Aurora Movie Theater shooting, more relevant than ever. This close knit family missed all the signs of trouble brewing and it had ...more