The Torch Has Been Lit.
The lessons I have learned over the last several years of podcasting are easily evident to me. I have always known that people are diverse, and that some are capable of horrible things. But I was oblivious to the extent that evil events can manifest in the lives of people like you and me. Watching horrible things happen to people on TV or in a book is nothing like experiencing it for yourself. In my podcasting journey, I have learned that some people are capable of unimaginable harm to others for no apparent reason.
During the last season of Out of the Shadows, one of my heroes joined the podcast as my co-host. Gemma Hoskins, better known as a grassroots investigator in Netflix Docuseries 'The Keepers', is a fantastic person to work with.
We look completely different. More than 35 years apart in age, more than a foot difference in height, and there probably couldn't be more of a difference in our weight... but I think we make a fantastic team. I know how to operate technology, and she knows how to navigate old newspapers like no other. Gemma is also a retired teacher, and I performed Standup Comedy to pay for college - but we both share a strong passion for finding the truth.
Gemma joined us last season on the podcast while we explored The Redhead Murders. Roughly thirty-five years ago six women (five were Jane Doe victims) were strangled and dumped in Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas. For reasons explained in the series, the women and their cases were primarily forgotten about - but throughout the podcast, we witnessed and aided in finding the identity of two of the Jane Doe victims - giving them a name and returning them to their families.
The tendency of our society to judge these women harshly because they likely resorted to prostitution was darkening for me. We all have a past, many of us aren't proud of the things we have done before to survive. Most of us had an opportunity to leave the situation into which we felt forced. These young women were robbed of that opportunity when an unknown man took their lives with his hands wrapped around their necks. If brutally murdering these women was not enough, some of the detectives in charge of the cases behaved as if the women deserved it.
When Lisa Nichols was identified the detective in charge of her murder case was quoted in newspapers:
After language like that, is it a surprise to any of us that these communities forgot? I believe the person responsible for these horrible murders expected no one would care - and until 2017 that seems to have been correct.
In our most recent podcast series, Gemma and I are exploring in more detail the unsolved murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik. More than an unsolved murder of someone who did not deserve it, we explore child sexual abuse from priests. Many people will recognize this story from 'The Keepers', but we are continuing the conversation to discover people and events not thoroughly explored.
We have interviewed survivors who were sexually victimized by priests at their high school. The conversations are difficult. To hear about these events from these brave individuals is humbling. I can not describe the impact of the horrible things these survivors endured. And learning about those adults who knew and did nothing is equally as troubling.
When students went to their favorite and trusted teacher and told her what was happening, she was abruptly murdered. Hearing the graphic memories of those who were tortured by the people Sister Cathy confronted, leads me far from believing her murder was a random coincidence.
Please join Gemma and me on our new podcast series ‘Sister Cathy Cesnik.’ I have learned people are capable of doing horrific things to each other, including learning about wrongdoing and doing nothing to stop it. I am a storyteller, telling you about traumatic events in the lives of innocent children. It is now our responsibility to educate and support in order to prevent clergy abuse and cover up from happening again.
The torch has been lit. Will you take a turn carrying it for those who no longer can?