December 8, 2001. Durham, North Carolina. Michael and Kathleen Peterson seemed to have it all. A beautiful home and great careers. She was an executive at Nortel and he was an author. But one night, Kathleen went into the home they shared while Michael continued to lounge outside. After a bit he went in only to discover his wife covered in blood at the bottom of their back staircase. He called 911 to report an accident. After a few hours, Michael Peterson contacted his attorney. Inside the home, prosecutors said that Kathleen Atwater Peterson was attacked and killed by her husband. In this first episode we discuss the night in question and some of the evidence. With the re-release of the documentary The Staircase on Netflix, we have seen our inbox flooded with requests to discuss the documentary and the case. Part two we'll be focused on going through more of the evidence and giving our opinions on what occurred on that fateful night in 2001 at the Peterson home.
Yuba County, California. February 24, 1978. Five men went to a basketball game in Chico, California to watch their favorite college basketball team play. They never returned home. Four days later their car was found on a Plumas National Forest access road. There was no sign of the men and no indication of why they had abandoned their operable car. In June, the remains of four of the five men were found even deeper in the forest. The fifth man remains missing. No one knows why they went into the forest. If it was voluntary or foul play was involved, or why they died when the trailer had enough supplies to allow them to survive until spring. This case is full of mystery. Join us as we attempt to sort out what happened to these five friends.
December 01, 1987. Townsend, Massachusetts. Andrew Gustafson was a 34 year old lawyer who had just closed a successful real estate deal and was attempting to let his wife know about it and to see if she would like to go out that evening to celebrate. A babysitter would be needed for their two children, but Andrew didn't think finding one would be a problem. Upon arriving home, Andrew found the house to be quiet. Too quiet. Upstairs, in their master bedroom, he found the body of his wife. He would then leave the house. Afraid of what else he might discover. Law enforcement used tracking dogs which led them from the Gustafson home to a home a half mile or so behind it through some woods. The killer it seems was within walking distance and was now on the run. When the criminal activities of this murderer were brought to light, many felt as though the young man was truly evil. It all began with home break-ins not unlike those of the Golden State Killer that escalated to terrorizing a family and murdering another.
Evil Genius. August 28th, 2003. Erie, Pennsylvania. A pizza delivery man robbed a bank with a bomb around his neck and a cane shotgun. He was captured soon after by police and handcuffed. The presence of a possible live bomb underneath his shirt caused the authorities to back away. The man repeatedly asked them to look for the keys to remove the bomb which were hidden in the instructions of a scavenger hunt. The elaborate heist resulted in a shocking moment that was captured by the media as police waited for the bomb squad to arrive. This is all covered in the new documentary series on Netflix by Barbara Schroeder and Trey Borzillieri. It's an unbelievable true story with many layers. Justin I discuss it and then an interview with the directors follows. This crime is also known as the pizza bomber case.
Adam Kaufman. November 7, 2007. Aventura, Florida. Adam Kaufman, a successful real estate developer, called 911 to report that he found his wife, Lina, slumped over in their bathroom. Paramedics are dispatched and take her to the hospital where she was later pronounced dead. By all accounts the couple, who had two young children, were very happy. But a case of murder would develop against the husband after the manner of death is released a year and a half later. It was listed as manual asphyxiation which meant that she must have been strangled. Adam maintained that his wife must have died from natural causes even stating at one point that the spray tan that she had received just hours before might have been the cause. At trial, the prosecution sought to show that Adam had behaved oddly and that he had an interest in another woman while the defense illustrated just how much he loved his wife and that she hadn't been murdered. Had a crime occurred? Or was a loving husband facing a possible prison sentence because his behavior that morning and his wife's death were being misunderstood?
February 22, 2017. Olathe, Kansas. A man re-enters a bar that he was escorted out of minutes before for spouting hateful rhetoric and, armed with a gun, shoots two Indian men as well as a bar patron who attempted to stop him. On this episode we discuss two different shooting incidents, the motives behind them and the responses by survivors. Gun crimes affect many more people than those who are shot. Immigration fears, racism, and outright paranoia can encourage violence against others but what can be done about it? Two strong women are working to change the minds and hearts of those who might commit crimes against those who they perceive to be different.
West Valley City, Utah. December 7th, 2009. Josh Powell took his two sons camping at 12:30am so they could have s'mores. This wasn't a typical trip to take during a snow storm and on a Monday morning, but stranger still, no one was told about this trip. Not his employer who expected him at work. Not the daycare where his sons should have been that day. His wife, Susan, also missed work. The boys' daycare worker did her best to contact the parents of Charlie and Braden, but no one answered these calls. By the time Josh returned home in the family's sole vehicle, a minivan, police were waiting for him. His wife was nowhere to be found. As detectives attempted to locate Susan Powell, Josh's behavior and recent activities caused them to be very suspicious of him. A search of the Powell home turned up a safe deposit box key and led them to a note written by Susan herself the year before. What happened to her? In her own words she described a controlling husband who may harm her or even their children. Was Josh Powell capable of this? And what about his father? Eventually convicted for possession of child pornography and voyeurism, he had seventeen notebooks filled with his desires for Susan Powell and a large collection of photos and videos taken of her without her knowledge. Control, anger, obsession and alliances combine for a true crime case almost too crazy to be believable.
Aaron is joined by Mike Morford from Criminology Podcast to discuss the Golden State Killer who was captured on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018. While much remains unknown at this point, the notorious serial killer now has a name and a face. Criminology Podcast is covering this notorious serial killer in depth in its current season. We originally covered this case on episode #155 under the title The Original Night Stalker.
Michelle McNamara's Letter to GSK:
October 16th, 1984. Lépanges-sur-Vologne, France. Christine Villemin was in her home doing housework while her 4 year old son, Gregory, played in their yard. At some point she went to check on him but he was nowhere to be found. An anonymous call to Gregory's uncle revealed the terrible truth. The caller claimed to have taken the young boy and thrown him into the river. Hours later, little Gregory was recovered from the river. An investigation into the Villemin family revealed that harassing calls and letters went on for years prior to the murder. The caller was nicknamed "The Crow" after a controversial French film from 1943 titled, 'Le Corbeau'. Why did things escalate from harassment to murder? For decades, police and prosecutors worked to solve this crime. In 2017 a major announcement changed the direction of the case. Will the mystery finally be solved? Will Gregory's killers finally be brought to justice?