• True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Mystery of the Boy under the Billboard

    It was a mystery that perplexed investigators in Orange County, North Carolina for years. In September of 1998, a grass-cutting crew discovered skeletal remains under a billboard off Interstate 85 in Mebane. The clothing found with the remains offered clues that the body belonged to that of a young boy who had not yet reached puberty. He had dark, straight brown hair and was initially thought to have been Hispanic and possibly a migrant worker. For years, no one knew who the boy was. Thanks to the dogged determination of an Orange County sheriff’s investigator named Tim Horne, the boy, Robert “Bobby” Adam Whitt, has finally been identified and his murderer brought to…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Murder of Grace Brown

    Does the ghost of Grace Brown haunt the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York? The murder of this young woman was a scandal that rocked the country in the early 1900s. Grace, who hailed from Chenango County, met Chester Gillette while working at a skirt factory his family owned. She was immediately taken with the attractive and athletic young man who descended from one of the area’s wealthiest families. He took great joy in flirting with most of the available young women in the South Otselic area, and Grace was no exception. During that point in time, it was considered inappropriate for a unwed young woman to be in the company of a…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Child Trafficking Scam

    As a parent, it’s an unimaginable scenario. You send your children out to play in the front yard of your rural home in the country, and they are never seen again. Because you are poor with no money and limited resources, no one seems to care that your children are missing. In fact, a social worker is sent to tell you that you’ve been a neglectful parent, and your parental rights are being stripped away. Your children will go to a much better home, a home with rich parents who will give them a better life. This is only one of the ways the Tennessee Children’s Home Society procured thousands of young children,…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Lesley Eugene Warren

    He was incredibly young and he had the face to match. But underneath his youthful demeanor lay  the heart of a killer. Lesley Eugene Warren murdered four women in three different states before finally being apprehended in July 1990. Although this all took place in my home state of North Carolina, I somehow had never heard of the man until recently. His case was the basis for an episode of the Investigation Discovery series titled “Handsome Devils” in 2014. Warren was born in Candler, N.C. and grew up in an abusive household. He only attended high school for a few months before dropping out. He eventually earned his GED, enlisted in the United…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Unsolved Murder of Virginia Olson in North Carolina

    The University of North Carolina at Asheville will always have a special place in my heart, because it was at that small college that I came into my own as a journalist. The small class sizes afforded me the ability to work closely with other students and talented professors who wanted me to succeed. For three years I worked on the campus newspaper, The Blue Banner, honing my reporting skills, interviewing students and administrators, working late nights at the office with only my jumbled notes and a miniature coffee pot to keep me company. I eventually became the features editor and then the news editor, assigning stories to reporters and perfecting my copy…

  • podcasts,  True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Intriguing Podcast Episodes to Check Out

    It’s no secret that I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts. A lot. I’ve shared recommendations for some of my favorites in here and here. Today as I was on my walk, listening to yet another podcast, I thought it might be fun to share some of the most intriguing episodes I’ve come across lately. Here are some you should check out if you haven’t already: Unsolved Murders Hazel & Nancy Frome Pt. 1 and 2 Description of the episode: In April 1938, the nation was shocked by the news that Hazel Frome and her daughter, Nancy—two innocent, beautiful Bay Area socialites—turned up dead in a ditch outside of El Paso.…

  • Creative Writing,  podcasts,  True Crime

    How I Started a Podcast

    This article appears this month in the June 2020 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. It was while interviewing Davidson resident Stacey Simms about her Diabetes Connections podcast for CURRENTS several years ago that I first learned about podcasts. For anyone unfamiliar, a podcast is an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that a user can download to a personal device for easy listening. There are now more than 800,000 active podcasts available worldwide, if that tells you anything about their popularity. When a friend started telling me about some true crime podcasts a few years ago, I started wading my way into the podcast waters. I loved studying the different formats,…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: How Did Irina Yarmolenko Die?

    I recently purchased the book, Charlotte True Crime Stories, penned by Charlotte author Cathy Pickens. It’s a great read, full of a varied assortment of stories from Charlotte’s collective past, from cases of fraud, murder, serial killers and missing people. One story that stood out to me was the mysterious case of Irina Yarmolenko. I’m still not quite sure what to think of it. I remember hearing the story on the news when it first happened back in May 2008. Irina had emigrated to the United States from Ukraine with her family when she was a child. At the time of her death, she was a young 20-year-old college student at UNC Charlotte…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Blanche Taylor Moore

    I only realized recently that North Carolina’s oldest death row inmate is an 87-year-old woman named Blanche Taylor Moore. I came upon this realization after watching the Oxygen network’s true-crime show, “Snapped,” a few nights ago, having been intrigued by a promo that it was featuring southern cases. I remember there being a pretty creepy made-for-TV movie starring actress Elizabeth Montgomery back in the 1990s that told the story of a southern black widow, but I had no idea how much evil permeated from Blanche until I digged a little further into her backstory. Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore was born in Concord, N.C. and married a young man named James Taylor in 1952.…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Story Behind “Death of a Cheerleader”

    There was a time when I ate, slept and breathed movies on the Lifetime Channel. These days, I’m more apt to binge shows on Investigation Discovery Channel or the Oxygen Network (they are really stepping up their true crime game!) I think it was Lifetime where I first watched the made for television movie “Death of a Cheerleader,” (originally titled “A Friend to Die For), which starred Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin from one of my all-time favorite shows, “Life Goes On.” When I was scrolling through the available titles on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, I discovered this gem. Because I’m always happy to procrastinate with a streaming service, I heated…