I was interviewed awhile back for the biweekly Crimes of the Centuries podcast, and my interview appears in the most recent episode, which is called “Charley Ross: America’s First Kidnapping for Ransom.” I have not listened to the podcast before but the Charley Ross episode was a good one, covering Charley’s kidnapping and the frustration and agony that followed in detail. Give it a listen if you like.
This week’s featured missing person (which I didn’t change yesterday because I’ve been lazy and depressed) is Charles Jonathan Lawson, a 32-year-old man who disappeared from Tampa, Florida on February 12, 1988. He may spell his middle name “Johnathan” or just use the middle name John.
Unfortunately I don’t have any other details on this case, other than that he was last seen at his residence.
I hope everyone is in good health. Fortunately the number of positive coronavirus cases in my area and in the areas where my parents live have been pretty low, but I don’t expect it to stay that way, especially as Indiana has one of the lowest rates of public mask-wearing in the entire country.
Oh, and check out this article about Sean Wayne Evans‘s May 1984 disappearance, because it has some quotes from me. I was interviewed for it, like, months ago and didn’t even remember the interview until the article popped up in the news.
Crime Junkie is a true crime podcast. I’ve never listened to it and have no intention of doing so, but they are very popular and they’ve been praised by Rolling Stone as “the best true crime podcast” out of the many in existence, and there’s talk that they may create a TV show.
Unfortunately, however, it turns out Crime Junkie has been plagiarizing other people’s hard work: other podcasters, journalists, bloggers, Wikipedia… and me too, as an informant pointed out on Twitter.
In response to being called out, including by people whose work was plagiarized, Crime Junkie went back and deleted some of the episodes. When asked about this, they refused to admit to anything at all, saying they’d only deleted the episodes because the original citations were no longer available.
The accusations broke out on Buzzfeed a week ago. The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis being the residence of one of the Crime Junkie hosts, Ashley Flowers) did an article about it yesterday. The Reluctant Habits blog has also done a good, if speculative, entry about it as well. And so on.
The response from Crime Junkie? Some kind of bull about how their research was “thorough, rigid and exhaustive” with “clear references to other sources.”
Then why are they reading other people’s work WORD FOR WORD, and not mentioning it’s an exact quote, or mentioning the other source AT ALL?
The Charley Project gets plagiarized all the time and it always upsets me because it’s wrong, it’s stealing, it’s lying, but I’m pretty used to it by now and recognize there’s no way to really stop it.
But it REALLY upsets me in cases like this because Crime Junkie is, they say, enormously popular and is making tens of thousands of dollars per episode. At one episode a week, those two women would be making a killing (no pun intended). And all of that from other people’s work. Journalists and other podcasters, and me, trying to make an honest living and contribute to society, having their hard work stolen by grifters.
Now, I talked to a friend and he thinks probably Crime Junkie isn’t nearly as popular or making as much money as Ashley Flowers and Brit Pawat claim. The Reluctant Habits blog raises the same issue, suggesting they fudged the numbers. And if Ashley and Brit really were making $50k a week, why did Ashley not quit her day job till early this year?
Regardless, they are making more than me, more than many of the people whose work they’re stealing.
Now, I don’t know if what Crime Junkie is doing is LEGALLY wrong, since you can’t copyright facts, and the Charley Project is very much “just the facts, ma’am.” But it’s definitely MORALLY wrong.
Crime Junkie owes an apology to the people whose content they used without citations, and to their listeners. But they won’t even do that.
Hi all! I was finally able to pick up Orville this morning. I had thought I would be able to do it Saturday, but they still weren’t done with him by closing time, and the shop was closed Sunday. But now I have him back and I’m adding updates as fast as I can.
Also, I was interviewed for the Victimology podcast! Check it out on your favorite podcast app or here on your browser.
So, about that FreeThink documentary short about the Charley Project — I’m so proud of it, here it is again:
I got contacted by FreeThink on April 1. They came over like a week or so later, three guys: one for camera, one for sound, and a director. They spent two days at the house filming, and paid for my lunch. They were really cool people and I liked them.
Getting filmed is exhausting frankly, and I wasn’t even acting. I was just going about my daily business and/or being interviewed about my favorite topic in the world. I have a much greater appreciation for how hard actors and actresses work.
Like, the scene with me pouring Cheerios. They wanted to show my “morning routine.” Well, some allowances had to be made, because my actual morning routine involves me staggering out into the kitchen with bed hair and pajamas and sleep crud in my eyes and of course no makeup, and I was not willing to be filmed thus. So I was fully dressed, with makeup and hair done nicely. Artistic license!
Then when I initially poured the Cheerios into the bowl they were all like “put them back in the box and do it again, we didn’t get that right.” I was like “okay, but you’d better be sure about things before I pour the milk cause that I cannot do over.”
They used a drone to shoot the footage of me walking Kinsey (she was a good sport, all the pets were) and we went to the library on the second day to shoot “B roll” footage there. I think they must have filmed at least three takes of me walking inside and down that huge hallway.
After all the filming was done it took many weeks for them to edit all the footage and pare it down to the required length, and they asked my opinion of the rough cuts and edited it again. I think it turned out wonderfully.
So I’m happy to share with you something that’s been cooking for a few months: a company called FreeThink has produced a documentary short about the Charley Project which just came out today! It’s part of their “Digital Detectives” series.
View here on YouTube:
It’s also on Facebook:
Everything at last weekend’s missing persons awareness event in Wisconsin went REALLY well. Even the one thing that didn’t go well, turned out to be more good than bad.
After an uneventful trip up there on Friday, I checked myself into a very nice hotel that I could never have afforded on my own. (A certain anonymous person covered the costs.) It had all sorts of plants, and a hot tub, and an open floor plan. Saturday morning, upon arising, I met up in the lobby of the hotel with one of the other people attending the event.
We sat at a table talking and I was lamenting about my makeup. I had forgotten to bring eyebrow pencil and had to make do with eyeliner and I thought it looked terrible, and he was telling me he couldn’t tell the difference.
Meanwhile, four or five stories up, a housekeeper accidentally bumped her cart into the rail of the balcony overlooking the lobby. This caused her clipboard to slide off the cart and over the rail, where it plummeted all those floors down right onto my friend and me. It missed me by a foot or so, but my friend took a direct hit.
He’d been drinking some Starbucks coffee when this happened, holding the cup to his lips, when the clipboard smacked him right there. If his hand hadn’t been over his mouth, and that cup hadn’t been made of cardboard instead of ceramic or something, he probably would have knocked a few teeth out. As it was he just sustained a small cut, and the coffee was of course a total loss.
In response to the two guests screeching in surprise, shouting the F-word, and then one guest jumping up on the table and staring up at the balcony, management and security came running. Profuse apologies were issued. Paperwork had to be filled out and photos taken of the little knick on my friend’s hand. CYA and all. The hotel announced that both our rooms were now free.
At the event itself, later that day, there was a very good turnout. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and got to talk to some awesome people.
Victoria Lynn Prokopovitz‘s daughters were both there; her daughter Marsha organizes these events and Marsha is an absolute sweetheart.
Amber Lynn Wilde‘s family showed up as they always do. I was talking a bit to her aunt, who was really happy to see me, about Amber’s case having been covered on CrimeWatch Daily.
Some of Kenneth Plaisted‘s relatives arrived; this was the first time they’d showed up to one of these things. His daughter explained to me that, although no one has seen Plaisted since 1971, he wasn’t actually listed as a missing person until 1998 or so, which is pretty horrifying. I can understand, given the whole embezzlement thing (see his casefile I linked to), the police thinking he’d just done a runner, but waiting 27 years to declare him missing is just lazy and uncaring.
My table was right next to the table for The Unidentified, and I had a fine time speaking to Rebekah Turner (a medical examiner in training who runs that organization) and her companions. They’re really great people. After the event was over, Rebekah, her friends and I went out to dinner.
My photos and some video from the event are on the Charley Project Facebook page; for some reason I can’t figure out how to link to the individual posts/images from there. I’m sorry.
I had an uneventful trip home but I haven’t been feeling very well, physically, since my arrival home. I think it was I got a bit overextended/overexcited. I am trying to force myself back on my regular schedule and to eat a bit more.
So in two weeks I will be attending the fifth annual missing persons awareness event in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I went to the first, second, and fourth ones.
This year, I will not have to stay in l’Hotel a la Sketchy or an Airbnb; due to the sponsorship of a certain person who shall remain anonymous for the moment, I will be staying in a respectable establishment for once.
I should have a blast. I always do.
Early I mentioned I got interviewed by the YouTube channel Justice for the Missing. Well, it got put up and then at the time I forgot to add it to this blog. Anyway, it’s here now. Sorry about the delay.
I spoke about the Charley Project, what could be done to improve the search for missing persons, etc.
This week’s featured missing person is Daniel Glennon, a 32-year-old man who disappeared from Sandpoint, Idaho on December 5, 1995. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance, but I don’t have a lot of information about it.
Work on putting up those old resolved cases continues apace. And I got interviewed about the Charley Project yesterday for a lady’s YouTube channel. The interview was conducted using an app and my cell phone camera. At one point early in the recording, you see a pair of black triangular ears pop up on the bottom edge of the frame, because that jerk Aria decided she needed to hop up in my lap RIGHT THEN. I will put up a link when the interview goes up on the channel, later this month.
Michael and I will be pulling up the horrible beige carpet in the living room and hallway and the worn-out linoleum in the kitchen later this week and replacing it all with tile. It will be a great improvement, and much easier to clean up messes, but it will require removing everything from those areas first, which will be an enormous pain. We will somehow have to cram a two sofas, a loveseat, an armchair, a coffee table, an entertainment center, an area rug, two bookcases, a kitchen table and chairs, and a whole bunch of random junk into the bedrooms and offices.
Michael’s mother is coming over to help with some of the furniture moving tomorrow. I don’t know how much help she could possibly be, as she’s got a bad knee. I think she just wants to feel useful. Then Michael and his friend Mark will put the tile down, while I try to keep the animals out of the way. Fortunately Mark has prior tiling experience because the rest of us have no idea what we’re doing. I’m assuming it’s a bit more complicated than just applying glue to the underside of the tiles and lining them up on the floor.