The Forgotten

Last week I released the first episode on 'Out of the Shadows' for a new series I have been researching for about eight months. The title of the episode reads simply as 'Redhead Murders, Part 1,' but the story behind the series is much more complicated. First, I must apologize if my opinions seem strong - I will do my best to explain my feelings soon.

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This series is based on a string of unsolved murdered cases that happened in several states starting about thirty years ago. When a single detective realized the similarities between the murders, he spoke up, and it ignited an investigation. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) initially approached the several cases as a possible serial killer case that stretched across about five states. After no further leads came about during the TBI's investigation - the cases quickly faded from the spotlight and fell back into the shadows of society's mind.

It wouldn't be until armchair detectives, hungry to fulfill their desire to research cases and connect dots, posted the story of these women online. Still, only a small handful of people paid attention, so the story again fell quiet. 

About eight months ago I realized something significant because of my experience so far with the podcast. Most of the time a single factor is responsible for cold cases to remain in the public's eye - family. At the beginning of 2015, a report was released saying that in the United States there were currently 211,000 unsolved murder cases since 1980. That means the number of unsolved murder victims since 1980 is equal to the population of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands combined. 

With numbers so astonishingly high, I have found many of the cases the public actively hears about are the result of family members of those victims refusing to forget them. Whether it be out of anger or love, it is clear to me how important it is to have someone actively pushing the case in the public's eye. Eight months ago I had a simple question - what about those individuals that have no one to help advance their cases?

My first experience with this was for my 'Septic Tank Sam' episode, where a likely drifter was brutally tortured, murdered, and disposed of in an old septic tank. The murder happened in Canada, and the man continues to be unidentified and mostly forgotten. The episode was short, but it was something I felt pride in doing because he deserved his story to be told. 

With the Redhead Murders Series, these are women who deserve a voice. Only one of them has ever been identified, and even she had no family or friends at the time of her death. These women are most likely drifters, homeless, and likely survived day to day by resorting to selling sex for money. There isn't much to go on, and so far I have only been hitting walls with trying to get cooperation from detectives. The TBI turned down my request for information and cooperation, and so far I have not received any returned calls or emails to the numerous agencies I have contacted about the cases. 

Besides an off the record conversation with someone with knowledge of the case, I have nothing to go off of that wasn't made public at the time of the discoveries. The one guy that went off record shared very promising information and even included that he believed we are covering a story that needs to be told, but I can't tell you more of the conversation beyond that. 

So, here I am - writing this blog about the experience so far with releasing the first episode in the series. I wish I could tell you how amazing it has been to have been working with detectives and agencies to help reignite these cases. Not only do we have several unsolved murders, but we also have several unidentified Jane Does. I believe nothing has been done with these cases for many decades - the life and murder of an individual were reduced to a folder collecting dust in a box somewhere in a dark basement. Hopefully, with more pressure and time those people who are paid to ensure these cases are not forgotten will aid me in my effort to bring these women and their stories out of the shadows.

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Shane Waters2 Comments