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    Between 1990 and 1991, four unsolved homicides occurred in and around the city of St. Louis. Robyn Mihan, Brenda Pruitt, Sandy Little and Donna Reitmeyer had been murdered, kept for some period of time and then disposed of by an unknown predator referred to as the "Package Killer."

    More than thirty years later, in the winter of 2022, DNA analysis of evidence found at one of the scene finally returned a hit. This led investigators to a 73 year old prison inmate serving life for a murder in 1993. After confronting the man with this evidence, Gary R. Muehlberg confessed to the four murders and gave investigators details about the crimes.

    However, just when they thought they'd gotten all they needed from Muehlberg he dropped a surprise on them. He admitted to a fifth murder, one which he claimed occurred during the same time as the other. Muehlberg claimed to have murdered this woman and later to have left her body in a metal barrel at a local car wash.

    Investigators were baffled, not because of the admission, but because they were not aware of any crime which fit the description. This has left many to wonder if Victim Number 5 truly exists or if the entire story is just a sick and twisted game being played by a serial killer who doesn't have much time left.

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    Eighteen year old Diana Braungardt was smart, funny, caring and popular. She performed well in school, worked a part time job and had just enrolled in modeling classes as high school graduation approached. Then, she vanished.

    After finishing a shift at a local discount department store, Diana clocked out and stepped out into the parking lot. She never made it home and her parents found her car, still sitting in the lot. It appeared to investigators that the high school senior had been abducted before she'd made it to her car.
    Over the years, a lot of different possibilities have been suggested.

    From a personal assault from someone who knew Diana to a slew of serial killers who have been name dropped but never connected to the case. This year will mark thirty-six years since Diana vanished, far too long to go without answers.

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    In this week's episode, we kick of a new year of Trace Evidence by taking a look back at 2022 and answering listener questions about the show, the cases, the host and everything in between! Let's kick off 2023 with a bang and keep the ball rolling. Thank you so much to everyone who submitted questions and continues to support the show. Trace Evidence could not exist without you!

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    On a cold winter morning in January of 2017, fifty-eight year old Robert Baron was reported missing from Old Forge, Pennsylvania. A lifelong resident and pillar of the community, Robert owned the highly popular pizza restaurant Ghigiarelli's which has been a borough fixture since the 1920's.

    On the morning of Thursday, January 26th, Robert's son Bobby arrived at the restaurant to find the doors locked, llights off and his father gone. Bobby noted several items out of place and traces of blood inside. When police arrived on the scene they found substantial evidence that a violent crime had occurred inside the restaurant and that the assailant had tried to clean up afterwards.

    Three days later, Robert's missing car was found abandoned in an area which had been previously searched. The vehicle was caked with mud and blood was found inside and out. What had initially appeared to investigators as a robbery gone wrong was slowly changing shape into something far more sinister.

    Was Robert Baron the victim of a random crime or was he specifically targeted by someone he knew and may have trusted?

    Special Q&A Episode Next Week -- Submit your questions to [email protected]

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    Seventy-six year old Syble Brumley was a kind, caring and beloved member of her community. A widow for more than twenty-years, she continued living in the home she'd shared with her late husband while attending to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Until one April night in 1997 when she mysteriously vanished.

    Investigators found obvious signs of foul play; the door to Syble's home had been smashed in and items were in disarray inside. It appeared that the assailant had forced his way in and then, rather than ransacking the house, had searched in specific locations as if there was something in particular he was seeking.

    While many wondered if perhaps Syble's disappearance could be chalked up as another unsolved crime happening in the stretch of land between Louisiana and Texas, known as the Dead Zone, or if perhaps she had been targeted by someone she knew and trusted.

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    On a bitterly cold winter night in January of 1985, twenty-one year old Leichia M. Reilly left her family home to visit a popular, local nightspot. She never made it home and early the next morning, her parents reported her missing.

    Investigators tracked down everyone who had been at the bar that night and found several witnesses who stated that they saw Leichia leaving at approximately 3am in the company of another man, off-duty NY State Trooper Daniel D. Rose. Rose did not report being at the bar that night, nor did he tell investigators he had seen the missing woman.

    Rose quickly hired a lawyer, denied leaving with Leichia, denied knowing her and denied being involved in whatever happened to her. Severely lacking evidence, and having never found a body, detectives had nothing to work with and cannot even technically classify it as a homicide, rather than a missing persons case.

    Leichia's father, Patrick Reilly, was devoted to finding his daughter and seeing her killer put behind bars. He made a vow that both of these things would happen, but tragically, passed away after thirty years of wondering, searching and hoping. What happened to Leichia that cold January night and what secrets might the former police officer hold about her fate?


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    Who is New Hope Jane Doe Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WhoIs1990OrangeCountyNCJaneDoe/

    On a cool Wednesday morning in September of 1990, three roadside workers discovered the badly decomposed remains of an unidentified female. Murdered via strangulation, her body was dumped just over a guardrail along I-40 in Hillsborough, North Carolina at the New Hope Road Church exit.

    The victim was partially dressed, nude from the waist down other than a pair of white, anklet socks with clean bottoms. A pink sweater displaying an image of three cartoon bunnies was partially wrapped around her neck. She wore several pieces of costume jewelry, including a ring which may have been home made.

    For more than thirty years the identity of the woman known as New Hope Jane Doe has remained a mystery, as has that of her killer. Perhaps someone out there might recognize her, perhaps you.

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    On a cold, November afternoon in 1996, twenty-nine year old Richard Bendele left his mother's home to do a little hunting where his recently deceased father used to take him. Hours later, Richard called his mother in a panic. He couldn't get his truck started and due to the darkness, he couldn't give specific directions to where he was. Planning to mark the road, to make finding him easier, Richard said he would call back, but he never did.

    The next morning, investigators discovered his truck abandoned miles north of where they'd thought he had been. The scene itself was bizarre; a window was smashed out, the battery was broken and tilted upside down and Richard had left everything behind: his phone, his gun and his coat.

    As massive searches were launched over the course of the next week, the discovery of several items belonging to Richard began making investigators wonder if, perhaps, Richard wasn't lost at all but actually the victim of a sinister trap.

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    Unfound: https://theunfoundpodcast.com/2019/05/10/kelly-sims-conjecture-coincidences-and-crimes/

    Twenty-seven year old mother of three, Kelly Wright Sims was heading out for a night on the town. Alongside her boyfriend, Sims planned to participate in a darts tournament at a local bar. Sometime after arriving, however, the couple argued and split up, going their separate ways.

    Kelly ended up meeting with different friends, had a few drinks and took a trip. When pulling back into town, she requested to be dropped off so she could walk over to the Rendezvous Tavern to shoot a few games of pool. She has never been seen again.

    While investigators believed her disappearance to be an isolated crime, another young woman would go missing less than two weeks later. With both cases growing cold, fears of a serial killer were stirred up when a third woman missing and was later found murdered. Was Kelly another victim of this killer, or was it possible that she may have been targeted by someone much closer to home?

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    In Episode 129, Trace Evidence features the case of the Fort Myers 8. In March of 2007, the skeletal remains of 8 unidentified men were found in a wooded lot in southwest, Florida. Investigators managed to identify three of the victims, but the remaining names were unknown.

    A few years earlier, in nearby Charlotte County, investigators discovered the remains of several men. Some of the bodies were found hundreds of feet apart, others were nearly a mile away. Ultimately police arrested and charged Daniel Conahan Jr with one of the murders -- there was not enough evidence to link him to all.

    ***UPDATE***

    In June of 2021, investigators working the "Hog Trail Murders," announced they had positively identified John Doe Number 1 as being Gerald "Jerry" Lombard who had vanished from Lowell, MA in 1991.

    In September of 2022, investigators from Fort Myers announced that through the use of genetic genealogy, they had successfully identified the fourth victim in the Fort Myers 8 case. He has been identified as thirty year old Robert Ronald "Bobbie" Soden.

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    Thirty-six year old Paresh Patel was on top of the world. Smart, rich and powerful, Patel was the owner of three separate clubs on Austin's famous Sixth Street. Outside of his own clubs, Patel was tied into several others run by friends and business associates. Many loved Paresh and called him a great person and a smart businessman; others believed he was corrupt and went out of his way to try and cut the legs out from under the competition.

    On the afternoon of Monday, September 25th, 2000, Paresh stopped by his club, the Metro, to pick up cash from the weekend's profits. Leaving with $15,000 in his hand, Paresh was set to stop at Azucar, another club he owned just down the street. Driving away in his Lexus SUV, Paresh was never seen alive again.

    Investigators located his abandoned vehicle the next day, with the windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition but there was no sign of Paresh, nor the money he was carrying. While some believed he had been the victim of a random robbery, others argued that perhaps his own business associates decided to cut him out -- literally.

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    On Christmas night, 1992, Boaz, Alabama resident Peggy Reaves Mock left the home she shared with her mother for a night of drinks and celebration with friends. She never made it home, and for months following her disappearance, investigators didn't have a single clue.

    Then, in March, several of Peggy's personal affects were discovered discarded at the sight of a burned down club that was once a town hotspot. Despite the recovery of the items, no additional information about the disappearance was uncovered. Two months later, Peggy's missing car was found, parked at an apartment complex less than a mile from where she was last seen. It had been wiped clean of prints.

    Back to square one, with no solid leads or clues, investigators received a bizarre letter. A local woman wrote about Peggy's disappearance and suggested that the missing woman had been taken to Texas, in the trunk of a car. By the time detectives went to question the writer they learned she had been killed a year earlier.

    What happened to Peggy Reaves Mock? Was she attacked in a random act of violence, was she stalked and specifically targeted or did she place her trust in the wrong person?

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    In May of 2008, the body of twenty year old Irina Yarmolenko was discovered along the shore of the Catawba River, in North Carolina. Initially, investigators were baffled as they found Irina with three ligatures tied around her neck. Hoping to locate witnesses in the area who had seen or heard something, detectives began canvassing.

    They quickly came upon thirty-nine year old Mark Carver, fishing just up the river. He, along with his cousin, Neal Cassada, would become the prime suspects despite absolutely no evidence linking them to the crime. Cassada would pass away as the result of heart attack before going to trial, Carver would ultimately be found guilty and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

    Several years later in 2019, Carver's lawyer successfully argued to have his conviction thrown out and a new trial ordered. While the District Attorney promised to charge Carver again, his lawyer felt there wasn't even enough evidence to have charged him the first time.


    ***Update*** -- In August of 2022, fourteen years after Irina Yarmolenko was murdered, the Gaston County District Attorney's Office officially dropped all charges against Mark Carver noting that the Touch DNA upon which he had originally been arrested did not meet the modern standard necessary to link him to the crime. In today's episode we'll dig into all of the news regarding this update and what it means for the case in the future.

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    October 29th, 1982 -- Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Twenty year old Angela Gray Hamby had a big day planned with her mother. Together, the two women were set to head out on an all day shopping trip where they'd hit all the clothing stores, share lunch and just be together. Sadly, however, Angela never made it to the store that day.

    At approximately 9:30am, Angela headed out to run some errands. She needed to fill her gas tank, drop off a payment on her car and deliver a message to her sister at work. All of this should have taken no longer than an hour so when Angela hadn't returned by 11am, her mother grew concerned. When noon hit, that concern transformed into panic and terror.

    By evening, the Wilkes County Sheriff's Department, along with the Wilkesboro Police and the State Bureau of Investigation were out searching for the missing woman. More than fifteen hours after she had last been seen, detectives discovered her car, abandoned behind a local restaurant. Soon they found witnesses who had seen Angela throughout the day. One of them described an unknown male, seen behind the wheel of her car.

    For nearly four decades the mystery of Angela's disappearance has haunted investigators, her family and the town of Wilkesboro. What became of the smart, driven, hardworking twenty year old who ran errands and never returned?

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    In episode 200 of Trace Evidence we examine one of the most shocking, disturbing and haunting murders in Texas history -- The Shocking Murder of Betty Williams.

    Odessa Texas, 1961. Seventeen year old Betty Williams goes missing from her bedroom sometime during the night. At first investigators don't believe there's any reason to worry, it's not uncommon for seventeen year old's to sneak out or run off for a few hours. As a matter of procedure, an investigator heads to Odessa High School to find out if anyone knew where Betty was.

    They could have never imagined what happened next. John Mack Herring, a popular football player at the school, and Betty's ex-boyfriend, makes a shocking confession. He killed Betty the night before and hid her body beneath the muddy waters of a rural stock pond. When detectives ask why, Herring simply replies "Because she asked me to."

    Herring explained that Betty had begged him to end her life, saying she was miserable and wanted to escape from this world. In Herring's own words, moments before firing the fatal shot, he asked for a kiss to remember her by, and Betty obliged. The media christened the crime "The Kiss and Kill Murder."

    The town rallies behind the good looking and smart Mack Herring, a boy from the right side of the tracks from a good family while they demonize Betty, a harlot who seduced a tender teen into committing a hideous and violent act. Even in death, Betty Williams was blamed for the horrible crime committed against her.

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    Episode 200 - Q&A Special. In this week's episode, as we prepare for the release of episode 200, host Steven Pacheco answers listener submitted questions covering everything you want to know from details about case, creation of the show and overall views of podcasting and true crime in general.

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    February 11th, 1988 - twelve year old Jie Zhao Li walks out of her family's Honolulu home to sell tickets for a school fundraiser. She never makes it back home. Within hours she's reported missing and investigators begin massive searches trying to track down the little girl or anyone who may have seen her.

    Soon witnesses come forward but their stories lead detectives in different directions. Some people saw Jie speaking to a man outside of the local 7-11 moments before her disappearance. Others claim to have seen her in the back of an old, yellow Chevy miles away and days after she went missing.

    While detectives quickly determine that the twelve year old was likely the victim of an abduction, their race against time hits dead end after dead end leading many to wonder if Jie is still alive out there somewhere, or if perhaps, her abductor took her life within hours of her vanishing.

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    This weeks episode takes a look at three major updates regarding cases previously covered on Trace Evidence.

    First we examine the details surrounding Annandale Jane Doe who, after twenty-five years, has positively been identified as Joyce Marilyn Meyer Sommers. Then we turn towards the release of new information and the announcement that investigators have narrowed their suspect pool down to one person in the 1982 abduction of Kelly Bergh Dove. Finally, we will discuss the results of the trial of Dawan Ferguson, charged with the murder of his nine year old son, Christian.

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    On a cool spring morning in May of 1984, fourteen year old Laura Ann Parker went off to Lindenhurst High School and never came home. While her parents pressed the police, and even the FBI, to track down the missing teen, their concerns were written off as it was ruled that Laura had chosen to runaway.

    For four long months James and Patricia Parker investigated for themselves. They gave out their home phone number, tracked down every lead from Manhattan to the eastern end of Long Island. Sadly, they never found a trace of their beloved daughter.

    Then, in September, a group of teenage boys came upon a grisly scene. In a local hangout, in the middle of the woods, they discovered Laura's skeletal remains beneath an old rolled up carpet. A cause of death could not be determined, but evidence as the scene suggested this had likely been a homicide and that Laura had died the very day she was reported missing.

    Now, urged to investigate the murder, the Suffolk County Police ran into a wall of silence from the community. No one wanted to talk, no one seemed to care. While some speculated that Laura had to have been killed by someone passing through town, investigators started to believe Laura may have known her assailant.

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    Nineteen year old Barbara Jean "Bobbie" Barkley arrived for a normal day of work at the pipe furniture store in Pinellas Park, Florida on Friday, May 29th, 1981. Less than three hours later she had mysteriously vanished.

    There were no signs of a struggle, no indications of where Bobbie may have gone. Left behind were her purse and her cigarettes; the only things missing were Bobbie and her 1973 Plymouth Fury. While, at first, her family thought there might be a reasonable explanation, investigators were immediately concerned.

    Less than a year earlier, two other women had vanished under similar circumstances from within the same area. Police found one body, but the other remained missing. Soon it became a race against time to determine if Bobbie had been targeted by someone she knew or if she'd fallen victim to a yet unknown serial killer.

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