The Sword and Scale true-crime podcast is an immersive audio experience covering the dark side of humanity and human nature. Our stories delve into the worst of the worst and include murder, rape, dismemberment and cannibalism. The worst monsters are real.
In Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the city known for making overalls, tension was mounting between two Marine veterans over the repair of a vehicle. Both were highly trained with weapons and both were trained to ?shoot to kill.? On August 4th, the conflict came to a boiling head, and now one of them stumbled, wounded through a driveway full of casualties.
In 2010, Indiana sentenced the third minor in the state's history to life in prison without parole. This is the story of a small town boy without a criminal history who by nature saw the world through a different lens and whose nurture led to preoccupations of murder.
When Patricia Velazquez left her 12-year-old daughter Yhoanna home alone for a few hours on August 10th, 2017, she expected to return home to a living, breathing child. Yhoanna was a good kid who followed all of her mother?s rules, so Patricia felt no need to worry. The nightmare Patricia returned home to that evening would change her life forever. Yhoanna hadn?t been abducted from her home like many children are, she was dead on her bedroom floor.
Who killed Carla Walker? In February of 1974, 17-year-old Carla Walker was abducted after attending a Valentine's Day dance with her boyfriend. Three days later, her body was found inside a cold, dark culvert near Benbrook Lake in Tarrant County, Texas. After an exhaustive investigation, the police were unable to solve the murder and Carla?s case went cold. Very cold. 46 years would go by before a new team of detectives could uncover the truth about her murder and finally get justice for Carla Walker.
Weeks go by in the search for missing jogger Mollie Tibbetts. An interagency taskforce has searched to no avail. Finally, a break in the case leads authorities to a dairy farm outside of the small Iowa town of Brooklyn and to a person of interest. After an 11 plus hour interrogation Cristhian Behana Rivera confesses but in court his defense team argues sleep deprivation and casts serious doubt on Mollie?s boyfriend Dalton Jack.
Dalton Jack seems pretty suspicious when you look back on his actions after his girlfriend and soon to be fiancé, Mollie Tibbetts, went missing in 2018. He joined the army and skipped town shortly after and three years later in the trial for her murder he can?t recall the slightest of details from that time. But the trial would reveal many things about that time that no one could expect not even Dalton.
9-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford was an especially shy and polite young girl that lived with her grandparents and her single dad in Homosassa, Florida. On a morning in late February of 2005, Jessica?s father opened his daughter?s bedroom door and found that Jessica was missing. A small cut was later found on the screen door leading into Jessica?s home, suggesting that an intruder may have broken into the house and kidnapped her, but was that really what happened? Was Jessica abducted or did someone in her family have something to do with her disappearance?
On January 8th, 2007, the home of Liz Collier-Sweet was set ablaze by an unknown firebug. Little did the investigators know, finding the arsonist would be the least of law enforcement?s worries. When Liz failed to return home after the fire, Law enforcement followed a trail of bread crumbs she had left behind, which led to the capture of a lifelong pedophile and murderer. However, as one homicide investigation was closed, another was opened.
When 19-year-old Colorado resident Lea Porter went missing from Westminster on June 3rd, 2014, her family and friends went on a mission to solve the case on their own. Police didn?t move as quickly as they?d hoped, so they put their heads together and their differences aside in order to extract a confession from their prime suspect.
An early morning car accident would send the Boise PD reeling for answers. With two dead on the scene they still had to explain an unrelated homicide. The frightening sight was the culmination of years of abuse in the name of love. A history of domestic disputes that ended deadly in one of the most unimaginable ways possible.
In late October of 2017, two deer hunters discovered a naked and rotting human corpse in the Bruneau Desert near Grand View, Idaho. An autopsy later confirmed that the human remains were that of an 18 to 20-year-old male and that he had been shot to death. The Idaho State Police struggled to identify the body as there were no missing person cases in the Grand View area that matched the victim. What the police didn't know is that the story of this murder victim actually began three months prior to his discovery and over 500 miles away in an entirely different state.
What do you get when you cross a sheltered and immature young adult with the trials and tribulations of navigating adult relationships? You get Andrew Jondle and the precarious situation he found himself in after being seduced and manipulated by his first ever girlfriend, Cindy Lou Beck.
Raised in Pittsburgh, home of the Steelers, Andrea Curry Demus should have had a great life in a city rated ?most livable;? but Andrea didn?t have a lot of money and she wasn?t very smart. All she wanted was a family and children, but she was now in her late thirties and time was almost up for her. Would her extreme desire for a baby turn into reality, or would she pay the ultimate price for her obsessions? And who else would pay just so Andrea could have what she wanted?
Deep in the hills of Ohio, where people keep to themselves - hunting, fishing, and partying around the fire pit, sometimes the predator becomes the prey. When Jim Whitaker of Hocking Hills, Ohio, turns up missing, his family naturally becomes concerned. They are even more shocked to find a suicide note he left, implying a twisted love affair that may have brought about his demise. But where is Jim? Only the hills know.
In October of 2014, 53-year-old Chris Regan was reported missing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The investigation that followed spanned many years across numerous states, resulting in an extraordinary game of cat and mouse between a veteran detective and a potential serial killer.
We all want what?s best for our kids, but sometimes we need to let our children make their own mistakes. After a lifetime of being told what to do, one family will learn that even the quietest people have their breaking points.
29-year-old Daryne Gailey lost his freedom when his 65-year old mother, Sylvia Majewska, was granted guardianship and conservatorship over him. With the #FREEBRITNEY movement exploding globally, what a better time to expose the abusive aspects of guardianship and conservatorship than now.
19-year-old Lizzi Marriott was especially kind-hearted, always beaming with positivity, and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. She was working hard toward that dream by attending classes at the University of New Hampshire, but Lizzi didn?t know that someone had different plans for her. Someone wanted to make Lizzi a sex slave. In early October 2012, Lizzi left the UNH campus with plans to visit her new friends, Kat McDonough and Seth Mazzaglia, and she was never seen again.
Loving parents Jason and Julie live on the California coast with their three young children and have the dream life, or so it seems. Jason is a respected and loved teacher and coach while Julie earned a Harvard degree. But Julie is a hoarder who has given up on her stay-at-home role as a mom, and Jason has had enough. One of them is highly trained in firearms and one has no experience at all. One of them ends up dead, and the other claims no responsibility. Will the children be left with one parent, or no parents?
Each family has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, but what happens when the family dynamic begins to enter into the realm of depravity? In early 2019, when 30-year-old Amanda McClure and her fiance were suddenly reunited with Amanda?s long-lost father and sister in the mountains of West Virginia, things were bound to go sour. No one had any idea that this charming family reunion would end with not only a marriage, but a murder.
In February of 2017, 28-year-old Kayla Crocker was found bound, bloody, and unresponsive in the nursery of her Florida home. After she was rushed to a nearby hospital, county police called upon several other law enforcement agencies to assist with the investigation, including the U.S. Marshals Service and out-of-state highway patrol. The reason the local police called in so much help was because Kayla Crocker was not a lone victim. There were several others, all of whom had unwillingly become part of someone?s week-long and multi-state murder spree.
When personal assistant Jennifer Fulford mysteriously disappeared from her wealthy employer?s house, everyone was puzzled by the strange trail of strange clues left in her absence. Had Jennifer run away? Had she been hurt? The truth behind her sudden disappearance would be far more devious, deranged, and senseless than anyone could have imagined.
What happened to Lee Paulino? He disappeared days before Thanksgiving and the police just considered him a runaway in spite of his family's pleas that he would never do that. When a gruesome discovery is made two weeks later it calls into question could the police have done more and how well do parents know their own children.
Residents of the Marpole neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia suddenly found themselves double-checking their deadbolts when an unidentified killer senselessly murdered two valuable members of the community. 64-year-old Dianna Mah-Jones, and her husband, 68-year-old Richard Jones were discovered in their home on September 26th, 2017. It was a massacre inside, one that law enforcement officials would never forget.
On New Year's Day 2008, 24-year-old Meredith Emerson went missing after setting out on a hike up Blood Mountain in Union County, Georgia. Search teams combed Blood Mountain for days in an effort to find the missing hiker, but they never did. Meredith was not on Blood Mountain. She was fifty miles away, held captive by a deranged serial killer.
21-year-old Alisha Bromfield had it all. She had a supportive friend group, a family who loved her, a nearly completed bachelor?s degree, and a baby on the way. When she didn?t arrive home from an out-of-state wedding on Sunday, August 19th, 2012 as planned, friends and family soon learned that someone in her life did not have her best interest at heart.
In October of 2005, empty nesters Dennis and Norma Woodruff were found shot and stabbed to death in their Texas home. With a lack of physical evidence and leads, police fixated on the couple?s 19-year-old son Brandon as their killer when they found out he was in debt, flunking out of college, and secretly making gay porn. Was Brandon really the murderer, or were there other suspects roaming free? Was this a case of character assassination on young Brandon, or was he truly a cold-blooded killer?
We?re back to bring you the conclusion of the mysterious staged death of Natasha Waalen. In order to get the full story, we encourage you to go back and listen to part 1 before diving into this episode.
When we left off, Natasha?s former boyfriend, Ryan Boland had been arrested for her murder. But, police had a hunch that Ryan didn?t act alone and all signs pointed towards his hotheaded, weapon-obsessed brother, Tim Boland. The Boland Brothers had grown up with the world at their fingertips, but they were both on dark downward paths. Had they finally gone too far? Soon all of Anoka County would know the true nature of these entitled, manipulative brothers and what they did to Natasha Waalen.
When 29-year-old Natasha Waalen was found dead next to her dirt bike, police assumed it had been a terrible accident. They were wrong. Natasha had been murdered and her death was sloppily covered up to look like a motorcycle crash. Who would want this young mother, acupuncturist, and university graduate dead? Fingers soon pointed towards the father of her child and former boyfriend, Ryan Boland as the police uncovered the violent, questionable past behind Ryan?s good ol? boy facade. But the town soon questioned if he had acted alone.
On Sunday June 28th, 2015, Dr. Teresa Sievers returned home early from a family vacation only to find she was not alone in the house. In the aftermath of a brutal murder, it appeared on the surface to be a robbery?but no valuables were taken, and no clues were left behind except for a bloody, hairy hammer. Uncovering the truth would take months, and involve a conspiracy that crossed multiple states.
We sometimes get things wrong. In this exclusive interview with Kim Dixon, sister to Zachary Penna's victim from Episode 181, she joins us to tell us why.
In December of 2000, 31-year-old real estate appraiser Mike Williams went missing while duck hunting on Lake Seminole in Jackson County, Florida. The initial belief was that Mike had drowned and that alligators had eaten his body. Seventeen years would go by before Florida law enforcement could prove that something even more horrifying and nefarious happened to Mike Williams.
Zachary Penna was having a horrible day. He left work early to pick up his car but the auto shop said it wasn?t ready which ruined his evening plans. He had to walk home in the South Florida heat and when he got there he was locked out. It?s enough to piss anyone off but Zachary had a different reaction. He stripped off most of his clothes, trudged through some nearby woods, and murdered Freddy Sanchez and Wayne Dixon, two complete strangers, in their own home.
An unreal crime scene with a dead fortune teller, her dead daughter, and an otherworldly tone has police in Westminster, CA grasping at straws trying to solve the case. They consulted Warlocks, cult experts and were even approached by a dog psychic. They come up with nothing. That is, until they catch a break with a credit transaction? on the opposite coast. In a case that takes you from Little Saigon to rural North Carolina and leads you on a path of greed and destruction this episode will have you questioning your own fortune.
?This was a horrible crime and these stories need to be told. I thank you for telling them. We can have reforms but victims cannot be forgotten because evil will still be there and these stories are cautionary tales. Their lives mattered. It mattered to all of us who worked to bring them justice. And Justice, is a lifetime commitment.?
-Sonia Balleste, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Santa Barbara
Markeith Loyd was not there for his first two children, but Sade Dixon gave him another chance at being a father. With God?s guidance, Markeith believed that there was no way he could mess it up this time around. That was until his visions from heaven led him onto the U.S. Marshall?s most wanted list, after the death of four innocent people.
Holly Colino?s descent into madness took a long time. A series of unfortunate life events painted her paranoid delusions in a shade of green envy. Everywhere she looked were women that wanted to be her so badly that they would copy everything about her. Her hair, her eyebrows, her lips, her entire identity stolen. Her path for justice took her on a collision course with the mother of an 8-year-old boy that would end in tragedy.
Spawned from a long line of vicious criminals, Nikko Jenkins struck terror into Nebraskans when he callously slayed four innocent citizens in his murderous ten-day spree. It was a family adventure when his sister, cousin, and uncle all played roles in the executions. Despite announcing that he would ?wage war on society? when released from prison, his blatant warnings were ignored by all but a few.
We?re all looking forward to retirement, when we can finally cash out all of our hard-earned savings and live off of it until we die. That?s the hope, at least. Joel Guy Senior and his wife Lisa Guy had just sold their house in Knoxville Tennessee and were preparing to move to a new home in Surgoinsville in December of 2016. They had no idea that Thanksgiving of 2016 would not only be the last holiday celebrated at their old Knoxville home, but it would be the last holiday they?d ever celebrate together.
Clark Fredericks was born with a hole in his heart. 46 years later, he was arrested for repeatedly stabbing and killing a retired police lieutenant in the small town of Stillwater, New Jersey. What led Clark to commit such a violent act, and why would he tell us that silence is our worst enemy? Believe it or not, we can all learn a thing or two from the life that confessed killer Clark Fredericks has endured.
Trouble in the Amato household began brewing in the summer of 2018, when Grant Amato, the youngest son, developed an addiction to one particular webcam model. Her name is Ady Sweet. Day and night, Grant was watching the live shows Ady streamed. These shows weren?t cheap, and Grant built an entire false persona to gain Ady?s attention. All of his lies were at the expense of his family?s finances and wellbeing. It all came to an end on January 24th, 2019.
We move people who commit crimes far away from our society so they don?t harm anyone else? but many of those criminals will eventually serve their sentences and return to civilian life. Who is worthy of our grace and mercy? And what happens when the wrong person is forgiven?
Child abuse can take many forms and most of the time isn?t obvious. In rare cases it is near impossible to detect. In the special case of Olivia Gant and her mother, Kelly Turner, the signs were there but Kelly was adept at hiding them or convincing those that suspected something that it wasn?t the case.
We all know by now that there are good cops, and there are very bad cops. On December 29th, 2009, Kevin Gregson and Eric Czapnik showed the world exactly which roles they filled. Both men wanted so desperately to become members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but the ultimate end to each of their careers was distinctly different. One man is now celebrated by the entire country of Canada, while the other is despised.
The world had a conniption when news headlines announced ?Kevin Bacon-Murdered!? just before the new year. As more details came out, it was clear that the victim of this murder was not the actor known for the ?Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? game. The man who was murdered was a hairdresser from Swartz Creek, Michigan, and an LGBTQ+ advocate. What happened to Kevin was gruesome and shocking that it got the attention of YouTuber Jeffree Star, catapulting the story to mainstream news outlets.
We take a break from the standard Sword and Scale format to chat about the current state of law enforcement with ex-police officer and judge Charles Adams from The Truth with Charles Adams on KPRC 950 AM and iHeartRadio.
We often think of true-crime from the perspective of law enforcement trying valiantly to pursue the perpetrator and make them face the justice system. Have you ever considered what it would be like if you were in the hot seat? What if you were the suspect in an awful crime? What if there never really was a crime committed in the first place? William Hurt and his family were dragged through the justice system back in 2012 as part of a wild goose chase. Their journey still hasn?t concluded.
The lives of Kevin and Marina Krim were forever changed on October 25th, 2012. All of New York City was suddenly rethinking their caregivers. ?Is the person taking care of mom, dad, the dog, or the baby actually safe? What are the chances we could unknowingly hire a lunatic?? It could happen to anyone. The Krim family was unlucky.
July of 2016 was a bad month in Bend, Oregon. Isabel Ponce Lara woke up one morning to her husband, Edwin Lara, acting very strangely. The events that would follow over the next 2 days changed her life forever. Isabel?s life would not be the only one turned upside down. 5 families in total would be absolutely traumatized by Edwin Lara?s choices.
Freedom of speech and religion are two foundational parts of what this nation has to offer. They?re important to us and when we feel they?re being infringed upon, Americans speak up. What happens when freedom of religion directly causes harm to someone though? Are there limits to this freedom? Seth Welch found that there are hard limits. Not every state cracks down on how freedom of religion can put children in direct danger, but Michigan does.
Orange County California has seen its fair share of bizarre crimes. When Sam Herr, a decorated combat veteran is nowhere to be found and his best friend Julie Kibuishi is discovered dead in Sam?s apartment, police are quick to begin a manhunt. As the investigation continues, more bizarre details begin to emerge, leaving the entire county stunned. The many people affected by this case have learned, if nothing else, that you never truly know who someone is, or what goes through their mind.