Early in his career, Errol Morris read about a shocking series of alleged insurance crimes in Florida. When he told an insurance investigator he wanted to go to Florida to make a documentary, the investigator said, "Don't even think about it." Errol Morris went anyway.
Today, the story behind the movie he couldn't figure out how to make, working as a private detective, and meeting Ed Gein.
The summer after Jessica Maple finished 6th grade, she found out that her great-grandmother’s house had been burglarized. So, 12-year-old Jessica got out her notebook, looked for fingerprints, and decided she would conduct her own investigation. This week, four stories of kids who cracked the case.
In 1978, Tim Jenkin was charged under South Africa’s Terrorism Act for disseminating anti-apartheid material, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Just before he was convicted, someone gave him a book called Papillon, which he said “was really a manual of escape.”
In 1989, Helen Ackley decided to sell her old Victorian house in Nyack, New York. It didn't go as planned. The house became the center of a case that's referred to as “The Ghostbusters ruling.” The judicial opinion read: “as a matter of law, the house is haunted.”
People incarcerated in California’s San Quentin State Prison aren’t allowed to have pets—but some people, like Ronell Draper, have found ways to work around that. Meet Ronell Draper, also known as “Rauch,” plus Ear Hustle’s Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods join Phoebe to talk about the impact of Covid-19 at San Quentin.
“I didn’t do what they said I did. And it was like, I don’t know how to disprove the police. I mean, it’s my word against theirs. I don’t really stand a chance.” - Julian Betton
On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls took command of a Confederate ship and liberated himself and his family from enslavement. His great-great-grandson, Michael Boulware Moore, tells the story.
On August 10th, 2014, one day after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, Edward Crawford went to his first protest. “The people, you know, I guess they were out there to be heard,” Ed told us.
In May 1991, a bank robber walked into a bank in Irving, Texas, and without speaking handed the teller a note that read, “This is a bank robbery. Give me your money. No marked bills or dye packs.” Witnesses reported that the robber was wearing a cowboy hat and a brown leather jacket. And then it happened again. And again. But when FBI agents finally got a lead, they discovered that robber wasn't who they expected at all.
"The question becomes, when is enough enough?" Today, we're talking about forgiveness.
In January 2000, two bodies were found frozen in a remote area of Saskatoon, Canada. It was a place where nobody walked, especially in the winter. And then, a man came forward and said he had been dropped off by police on the outskirts of town, but he had made it back alive.
In April of 1995, wildlife biologists flew small airplanes over Yellowstone National Park, looking for two missing wolves. “They’re just gone. And that’s implausible because wolves don’t just disappear.”
Sgt. David Mascarenas was the Dive Supervisor for the Los Angeles Police Department. He’s been diving his whole life, and prides himself on never refusing a dive, no matter how treacherous. At least until the summer of 2013, when a murder investigation led him into the unusually murky waters of the La Brea tar pits. We first spoke with Sgt. Mascarenas in 2015. This week, we’re adding to the story, with information about the crime he couldn't tell us before.
Just before midnight on October 15, 1990, police arrived at 527 Lime Street in Jacksonville, Florida to find the small wood-frame house on fire. There was a man standing in the front yard. He said there were people inside the house. What happened next was so unusual that it changed the way we think about arson.
"The police had surrounded the house. They had been there for quite a while. They didn't want to try to rush the house because they thought he might kill one of the innocent people. But after waiting for a long time, I asked the police: 'Let me see if I can talk to the guy.'"
One day Adam Braseel got a phone call from his mother. She said that a man in Grundy County, Tennessee had been murdered, and the police thought Adam had something to do with it.