First of all, thank you, Becker Family. Over the past few weeks, you have given incredible access to the entire team here from Truest Crimes of Murder: The Podcast About True Crime and Murders.
When we first heard about the tragic death of Charles, you laid it out wonderfully: gun, dark night, mysterious figure, loving father (and brother, cousin, godson, homeowner, rec. league coach; Charles really was a pillar of the community!), DNA evidence unchecked, corrupt local officials. That sounded the perfect ingredients for a murder-mystery podcast stew! Spicy stuff.
But, and this has almost nothing to do with you (but a little bit, you are very typical, normal people): This true crime wasn’t interesting enough to be solved by our podcast. Sorry, but we’re going to try and find a weirder mystery to solve.
You’re probably wondering why a murder isn’t fascinating enough, because, in some ways any loss of human life should grab attention. So, let me guide you behind the curtain of a true crime podcast.
Charles — and this makes it a real tragedy in more than one way — was just actually a really great guy. He didn’t sneak around at night. He didn’t have a secret cell phone we could find in the second episode. He wasn’t lying and going off to a bowling alley near the highway called “Big Pin” every Wednesday night. I mean nothing: no mistress, no weird sex ring he called a “recreation basketball league,” not even a derelict from his army days who shows up at the funeral and we intercut the veteran’s introduction with the sound of 21-gun salute and that guy gargles, “Ya, I knew Charles, and I’d see every so often down at the V.A.; still that some old spark from the war; still hungry.”
If we’d jumped into hunting down who killed Charles and right off the bat, boom, some mysterious stuff like that popped up — then we’d be talking about another situation; we’d be talking about the situation where this podcast is solving the murder of your loving father. But all Charles’s old war friends just kept thanking him for losing a leg to save them and, while nice, that was not, as we say in the business, “good tape.”
Now, you’re probably thinking: “Okay, Charles was anodyne, but that’s what the lack of clarity in this case so infuriating! What about the local corruption!?” And we looked into that.
Yes, in short, your Sheriff and Police Department both dropped the ball and it, vaguely, seems connected to their lack of coordination — an ongoing feud between the two offices on jurisdiction. This corruption though is not (again here’s podcast jargon) “sexy.”
All the audio of the two law enforcement officials was just them explaining, in a lot of detail, the frustrations of negotiating jurisdiction, the over-population of the county jail by the police pissing off the Sheriff, and then allusions to the lack of funds promulgated from elected officials. Sounds important and was, also, incredibly boring. Still, we looked into making a whole episode about that feud and how that led to a drop on this investigation.
But you live in suburban North Carolina. No one had eccentric Southern accents like we thought. None of the characters used old-timey folksy saying that have no meaning. Like the Sheriff could’ve croaked: “Well, the Police Chief jumps like a rabbit, but I know how to jump a stream. You understand?” That would’ve been great! Our New Jersey-raised host would’ve sat in the car and talked with me, her producer, and tried to break down the saying. The northeastern host would say: “A rabbit, right? Okay. So, the rabbit. Hmm. There’s a lot here.” I would’ve said: “Yeah… a rabbit.” The music creeps up! What could it mean!? Yeah, that didn’t happen.
So, we couldn’t pretend like it was all backwards, odd, off-beat Southern town or anything. When we learned the old men of town just meet at a McDonald’s off the highway and not in a tavern, mason shrine, or even a ramshackle bar we were like… c’mon! This murder’s getting out of control boring, we concluded, and so we shouldn’t look into who did the killing because murders should be solved by podcasts based on their eccentricity.
Yes, we had the evidence from his phone from the shooting, because he was leaving a voicemail. We know the one thing the killer said before shooting your beloved family member: “Where am I now?” (That was going to be the name of the podcast series, by the way, Where Am I Now — we’d sell shirts mainly as WAIN, with the W and I red for blood.) It was cool. But not quite cool enough. Like, if the murderer had said: “Revenge takes blood.” Oh shit! That’d would’ve been it! We’d be here, with so many more resources than your police department has, solving this murder. But, “Where Am I Now”? A little too first novel from an MFA student for us, ya know? Lacks punch.
To sum up, we’re not going to gather together our resources to help you solve this murder. We’ve sent all our audio to local law enforcement. We didn’t quite have the time to comb through it in detail — someone just told us that there’s a really wacko killer in Iowa right now — so it included the stuff about you all complaining that they’re corrupt and incompetent and you’re scared of retribution from them. Maybe that’ll give them a kick in butt, really motivate them to go solve that murder for you? Who knows.
Again, we appreciate you letting us enter your lives. As journalists, we want to make an impact. But, sometimes, we don’t because the murders don’t include enough — sorry, another technical term — “twists and turns.” We’ll remember this experience for as long as it takes us to get to Iowa.