Do No Harm with Jasmyn Morris

Do No Harm with Jasmyn Morris
Do No Harm with Jasmyn Morris

Jun 15 2023 | 00:48:45

Episode June 15, 2023 00:48:45

Hosted By

Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

Stuart talks to journalist Jasmyn Morris, the host and producer of a limited series called Hitman. They discuss true crime as a genre, Jasmyn's background in reporting, and journalistic ethics. Also in this episode, Stuart curates a conversation between Jasmyn and Tiffani Horn, someone impacted by the events of Hitman.

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Today you’ll learn about:

  • The process of covering a true crime story
  • The true story behind Hit Man
  • How collaboration helped create a better podcast
  • The controversy around Paladin Press
  • Freedom of Speech and its murky waters
  • The importance of talking to people
  • Being supportive and advocating for victims
  • How and why you should tell important stories about hard topics


Hit Home Media: 

Jasmyn Morris’ LinkedIn: 

Hit Man Podcast: 

Castos Academy: 

Castos, private podcast: 

Castos, website: 

Castos, YouTube:  

Clubhouse video:

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 This episode of Audience contains conversations about violence and death that may be upsetting. Listener discretion is advised. Speaker 0 00:00:09 So this is our final episode of season two, and we've covered quite a bit of ground over the past few months. We've talked to a singer, songwriter and art educator, food writer, and even two buddies who just love talking about Seinfeld. But until this episode, we haven't really touched the true crime genre. I'm sure you've all heard the takes about how it can be exploitative and how our collective obsession probably isn't healthy, and that's all very true. But at the same time, I don't think any stories are off limits. And just because the story might make someone uncomfortable doesn't mean it should not be told. It's just how it's told that matters. Speaker 2 00:00:49 Do No Harm is the number one. And if someone wants to tell their story, then I, I'm, I'm here to handle it as responsibly as I can. Speaker 0 00:01:02 Next, you'll hear how a journalist told a more nuanced, thoughtful, and compassionate story about a gruesome crime. My name is Stuart, and this is Audience, a Casto original series where we go behind the scenes of all kinds of different podcasts to uncover the creative process behind great audio. Speaker 0 00:01:25 One of the best ways to learn how to do something better is to go to people who are really good at that thing. So at Casto, we do just that. Each episode of audience features some of the most talented and creative podcasters around, and we hope that by listening, it will inspire more creativity in your work. As you dive into this journey of audio creation along the way, cast Host wants to be part of your journey. From our suite of tools, feature rich hosting platform, and even our production services, we are here to help connect directly with us by emailing hello or by click it on the link in the show notes. Speaker 2 00:02:04 Yeah, and I didn't think that this story would be true. Christ <laugh>. I I sort of bristled at that genre at the time, and I think that that's just because, you know, with my, again, my time at Story Corps, and I learned this so much from Dave Ise who founded Story Corps, is that, you know, you, you get out of the way and you let people tell their own stories. And I think for a lot of true crime, you don't always hear from the people whose stories these are. Speaker 0 00:02:32 Jasmine Moore spent five years making a podcast called Hitman, which technically falls somewhere under the true crime genre. However, at first it didn't really feel that way to her. It was just another story with a human interest at the center. It could have something to do with her professional background. When she first began working on Hitman, she was already a producer at StoryCorp, and before that, she was a general assignment reporter at W R V O in New York. Speaker 2 00:03:00 And it was really cool to have to become an expert on something different every day. And, you know, I had to produce something like 12 newscast a day, in addition to a couple feature stories a month, which I decided to probably do more than that. I really loved feature reporting. So, so stories ranged from everything. I was interviewing politicians to, you know, doing feature stories on a pet food pantry in town, <laugh>. And, you know, it was, I got to meet so many amazing people, and that's where I really found my love for storytelling. Speaker 0 00:03:34 From there, she went on to Story Corps where she formed a deep conviction about reporting. Speaker 2 00:03:39 The whole point is to get out of the way of the storyteller, you know, it's not narrated. And that is what's different also from so many other podcasts and shows, is that Story Corps really centers the, the people who story it is. Speaker 0 00:03:53 So the idea of keeping people front and center of their own stories was kind of a north star for Jasmine when she came across the horrendous events of 1993. Speaker 2 00:04:03 While I was at Story Corps, I freelanced, you know, here and there, and at the time I was actually researching a story for this American life. They, I knew that they were looking for stories of amateurs. They had put out a prompt saying, we're looking for pitches about amateurs. So I took that and ran with it and started doing some research. And that's how I came across this Hitman manual. So, as I was researching that, I, I discovered there were a lot of amateurs in this story. Speaker 0 00:04:35 The amateur she referenced were Lawrence Horn, a successful Motown executive, and a friend of a friend of his named James Perry Horn hired Perry to kill his estranged wife, Millie. And their nine year old son, Trevor Perry, carried out the murders and also killed Trevor's nurse, a woman named Janice Saunders. Before he did this, Perry ordered a book called Hitman, which you just heard Jasmine reference. It's a step-by-step guide instructing readers how to carry out a hit and get away with it. Hitman was published by a company called Palate and Press, who, and the wakes of the crime found themselves in a legal battle involving the First Amendment. That's where Jasmine picked up the story. Speaker 2 00:05:16 It was around then when I discovered the story, I pitched it to this American life and they were interested. But at that time, I hadn't found the author of Hitman. And so I just kept digging and, you know, I had a full-time job. I would do it in sort of increments. Every couple months I'd pick it back up and do a little more research. And then the more and more I did that, I realized the story is really actually quite big. And, uh, I was talking to a friend of mine, Mangesh sat, who ended up as my co-executive producer. Uh, I was telling him this story at a wedding, at a friend's wedding. And so years later he was like, Hey, remember that story? Do you wanna make it into a podcast? And I was, I said, yeah, let's talk. Speaker 0 00:05:59 Anso began a years' long process to produce the series that would eventually be called Hitman. Over the course of eight episodes, Jasmine weaves together two parallel stories about the murders that destroyed a family and the legal battle with palate and press. I got to speak to Jasmine on three different occasions, and she took me behind the scenes of what it was like to make this series. You mentioned at one point from the time you first heard about it until you finished it, you said it was like, what, like a five year process maybe? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:06:33 Not consistently, you know, um, like every day working on it, but from the time I discovered the story too, when it came out, yeah, probably around five years when my friend Mangesh came to me and said, let's make this together. Like when I started in earnest, I think it was a year, a a year and a half to two years maybe, of full on reporting. But yeah, five years, I guess, if you're gonna count, like when I first discovered it to some of the chipping away every couple months. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:07:01 And so, like, part of the reporting, I mean, that's, that's conducted interviews, that's background research, and you are even going, I think to like the courthouse and getting Yeah, like case files and stuff. How, how open were, cause I, I know, I mean, I know that's one of the things that like seasoned reporters know to do and know how to do, but was it hard to get access to a lot of the case files? Speaker 2 00:07:21 Yes and no. At the time I went down to DC to get the case files for the criminal case for the James Perry and Lawrence Horn cases, it's in the same district as when Judge Kavanaugh was being, uh, sworn in. And so it was just a really crazy time for them. And so, you know, it, it was a bit of a struggle. And, uh, also this case, you know, it has been reported on before, though, you know, they did tell me not too many people had come and looked through all the files, but they had been, and there was a lot, I mean, I'm telling you boxes in boxes in Box. When I first called to set up a time to come and look at these files, the person on the phone said, okay, you know, was asking for the number, the case, and I'm giving it to her. Speaker 2 00:08:05 And she was just like, oh my God, do you realize how much is here <laugh>? I said, yeah, I, I know. And when I got there, there were, I think, two carts full of just boxes and boxes and boxes of files. And so, you know, it's not something that's easy to bring from storage. And I had to set up a time to come and look at it. But yeah, the, the person in charge was not thrilled, and he only gave me, I think, four hours to go through thousands of pages of documents. And he didn't give me a TV or anything like that to review any of the v h s tape. So we actually had to buy a V C R off of eBay and fly down there with a vcr. And I, because there was no tv, I had to just listen to the tapes. Speaker 2 00:08:48 I didn't always know what I was looking at. And so it was a, it was, it was, it was a difficult process. But I also had another good friend and brilliant investigative journalist, uh, Andrew Goldberg, who worked with me a little bit on this. He came down with me and, and he's very seasoned in how to go about getting these things and what to look for. And I remember when we went down there, I was like, Andrew, oh my God, there's just so much here. How do we, how do we do this in four hours? You know? And he said, just look for a story. Just look for, just look and see, you know, the story will come to you. Just read and read and read and see what tells a story and follow that, you know, and ultimately it did. Speaker 0 00:09:25 Is that when he discovered the existence of Rex Ferrell and the book Hitman? Speaker 2 00:09:30 No. So I had read about that previously, you know, all that had been told about that. Part of the story was that Rex Ferrell was a pseudonym, and that, you know, it's been said or alluded to that it was a woman who wrote this book. That's all that was out there. No one had ever told that story. And so that took so much more digging. None of that was in these criminal cases. So there were so many cases involved here. There's the, the settlement with Children's Hospital when the accident happened there, which is what tr Lawrence Horn hired Hitman to kill his family for. It was that settlement money. Then there was the two criminal cases, the James Perry case and the Lawrence Horn case. And then there was this, you know, civil case. I, I mean, there's so many ca there's so many cases. The Rex Ferrell First Amendment suit came years after the murders. So that was a whole other box of files. Speaker 0 00:10:27 It's not like this is like curated information when you're going through case files. It's not like there's a table of contents, or it's not like searching online where you can do a, a search. I mean, I can't, I can't even imagine. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:10:39 And when you go there, you know, that's everything. And you're only allowed as a journalist to use the stuff that was used in the ca in the trial. So anything that had an exhibit sticker on it, I could use, but everything else was there. So I had to, they were also trusting me to do my job and not take some of the stuff that was not used as evidence. And, you know, one of the things that was also just so frustrating <laugh> was when I got there, I was looking for, so if you listen to this podcast, you know that this, one of the smoking guns of this criminal case in the murder trial was the fact that James Perry called Lawrence Horn, and it was recorded on his answering machine on Lawrence horn's answering machine. James Perry called and basically said he'd done the job. And there was a recording of that, and that recording was missing in all of these documents. There was a transcript of it in a folder where that recording should have been, and it was Nora to be found. And they, they don't know what happened to it. Maybe a previous documentary crew took it, they don't know. But that was not there. So that was kind of baffling <laugh>, but you know, it's a 25, it was 25 year old case, <affirmative>, these things happen. The fact that the files still existed is, is great, is for me. Speaker 0 00:12:00 So at what point in this process did you get linked up with iHeart? Speaker 2 00:12:05 Sure. So when Mangesh came to me, he was at the time working with How Stuff works and making podcasts there. And so I initially worked with them to put this out, and then how stuff works, got How Stuff works, got sold to iHeart. So then my partnership with I, that's when that began. Yeah, it was, uh, I wanna say, I don't know, there was like, it was like six months into the reporting that that happened. And so, yeah, nothing really changed in that, in that process, but I did, they did eventually bring on an amazing producer who I could not have gotten this out without Michelle Lance and Mark Lato, who's a story consultant. So Mangesh, Michelle and Mark, really, I mean, I could not have done this without them. They were incredible, incredible collaborators. Speaker 0 00:13:01 Did they have much editorial control or were they just kind of giving you the resources you need and said, Jasmine, go, go do your thing? Speaker 2 00:13:09 It was, it was really 50 50 collaboratively. I mean, we, we made this together and, and Mark and Michelle and Mangesh are, are great. And thankfully, you know, they pushed me where I needed to be pushed, and I learned so much, and we all learned so much <laugh> through this process. Yeah, it was, it was very much all hands on deck, get this thing out. A few, we had to push the launch date a few times. We were reporting right up until, you know, sometimes I was, we were publishing these episodes at like three in the morning because some reporting, you know, had come through two days before. So even though I worked on this for five years, it was really up, it was up until, until publishing when I was really working on it, Speaker 0 00:13:51 You know, you said there's like multiple storylines. I just wanna zoom out a little bit because what you've, we've kind of alluded to at PAL and Press, the, the people, uh, the company that, that published the book Hitman that was written under the pseudonym Rex Ferrell, it brings up this kind of subplot, I think, of freedom of speech for sure, and the role, the role it played in all of this. And it's really complicated, I think. What, what was your feelings about Powell and press while you were reporting on this? Speaker 2 00:14:24 Yeah, so in those few years leading up to, you know, before Mangesh said, let's do this, um, when I was just making calls, I talked to folks at P and Press, I, I called when I was doing, you know, just research on this story to see if there was anything there or at the story, you know, if I should pursue it. And as soon as I brought up Hitman <laugh>, they hung up the phone, it, but I did talk to someone, and then in the, you know, ensuing years, Paladin shut down, paid our loan, died, and shut down. So that even was just a journey in the reporting. It was just kind of the evolution of Paladin and, and what it was doing at the time. But yeah, the idea of Paladin and the First Amendment, freedom of speech, it, as you said, it's complicated. Speaker 2 00:15:10 And it took me about, what, an hour and a whole episode to unpack that episode six. I think we really get into it, and I'm a journalist. Freedom of speech is, I mean, that's what my job is based on, you know, so I had a lot of conflicting feelings about it. Of course, it's not my s it's not my place as a journalist to make any kind of determination on whether, you know, this was the right decision or the wrong decision or what, you know, should the case have proceeded. I'm just here to ask the questions. But the question of whether or when information can be dangerous, I struggled with myself in terms of including some of the details of the book. Like, this book is banned, Hitman is banned, you can't buy it anymore. But of course, I have a copy, but I'm telling people about it. Speaker 2 00:15:58 I'm bringing it back up into the public consciousness. People maybe had never heard of this. And I'm saying, Hey, by the way, there's this book out there and Judge Michael Ludic, who issued the scathing opinion in the Rice case, you know, he's known as a very conservative judge, and he had the same hesitation I did in writing his opinion. Do I include some of the details of the book, all of the ways that James Perry followed the book and committed these murders in order to tell the story? I have to share some of that. But is that, is that perpetuating, you know, this idea that this information shouldn't be out there, what have you, he deemed this case unique in the law. So does this case say something about the First Amendment generally, or is it just a one-off? I mean, ultimately it's murky. For some it's cl crystal clear to others. Speaker 2 00:16:48 I think it just depends on who you talk to. <laugh>, clearly, as a journalist, I value the First Amendment and you know, I think sometimes when discussing certain policies or legislation or, or, or, you know, speech in connection with these things, even just, you know, interpretations of our rights, I think people can often, we can often talk about them in these big black and white terms, you know, whether it's First Amendment, second Amendment, what have you. And I think we can forget about, or almost set aside the personal toll because that, that can make it, that can really make it more complicated. But I think that that's important. <laugh>, I think it's important to remember we have the right to say whatever we want, but that doesn't mean there aren't repercussions both to us or for us and others. Speaker 0 00:17:36 You know, one creative decision you made that, that I both enjoyed and found very useful was giving the book a voice or the author a voice. And that, that, you know, you hired, you hired a voice actor to read parts of the book. I mean, I think creatively it did a lot. But, but I think was it also, I mean, creatively, I understand like why you did that. I think, I think it's pretty obvious. Was the other, was there any like, journalistic reason for doing that? Um, Speaker 2 00:18:06 I think it was more, yeah, stylistic. I think the, the fact that Rex Ferrell, the author did not want to talk or, you know, I don't know that sh that she didn't wanna talk. I did everything humanly possible to contact her <laugh>. And, and so, you know, is is silence a no no, but I also am not going to harass anyone <laugh>. So, yeah, I mean, I think all, all I had to go on was court documents and, uh, a a friend who I had spoken with earlier, or, you know, several years earlier who, who didn't want to be on the podcast either. So, yeah, so, you know, just so that it was less of my voice and just maybe more engaging to listen to that was the decision that we, we came up with. Speaker 0 00:18:58 Were you surprised that it was a woman that wrote it? Speaker 2 00:19:01 I, I did know that it was a woman early on, so it wasn't, you know, this big surprise to me. But the story behind Hitman was brand new and the, when I was uncovering some of this stuff, I was shocked, really. And it was, it was, it was a crazy process going through that. But yeah, I mean, it is interesting if, if you read the book, because, which I'm not telling anyone they should <laugh>, but it's very misogynistic, extremely misogynistic. And to, to, to read that and then, you know, try to reconcile that with the fact that it's a, a woman who wrote it is, is is interesting. But if you listen to the podcast, you'll learn that there was another person involved <laugh>, who um, you know, maybe even was a co-writer at one point. Speaker 0 00:19:55 Yeah, it's a, it's a unique story, that's for sure. Again, with all these different threads to kind of navigate, I mean, how, how much, how did you decide how much time or how much focus to give on one? Cause I mean, you could easily, I think, have just kind of gone down this rabbit hole of making a story about pal and press or, or the story of Lawrence Horn and, and, and his family. Was that tricky to do? Speaker 2 00:20:20 Totally. I mean, each one of these parts could have been its own season, you know, I mean, there's so much also that I didn't even include cuz we didn't have time stories even bigger than it is in the podcast. But one of the things that I feel really important or really strongly about is just, you know, I don't ever wanna pad anything like, it, it, I typically let the story be as long as it needs to, you know, but I would never wanna stretch anything out or include anything just to fill time. Uh, and in this case that it was the opposite problem because there was so much. Um, but it was important for me to make sure that Tiffany was the through line. You know, I think there's so many parts to this story, but ultimately she lost her brother, her mother, a good family friend, and ultimately her dad. Speaker 2 00:21:15 She lost so much through this process and she, you know, that's a whole other discussion about how Tiffany came to share her story with me. But in building trust with her and, and working really hard to do that, I wanted to do right by her and just make sure that her voice didn't get lost because I had so many times previously, I mean, people had written books about this case, people there have been shows about this, that she was never contact, she said she was never contacted to weigh in on, and I was, I didn't wanna do that to her again. And so for me, also the, the human toll and the, we can talk about the first amendment in these ambiguous or, or or broad terms, but ultimately we're talking about like who was actually affected by this case and it was, you know, Tiffany and her family and also the Saunders family. But I really felt strongly about giving enough time to, to get to know Millie and Trevor and Janice, just getting to know the actual people and their families and those who were affected by it. And, and again, allowing Tiffany to have the last word and ending the last episode with her. So, yeah, I mean when thinking about what to give time to, that's something I thought a lot about. Speaker 0 00:22:34 Hmm. And that's something you cultivate over a period of time? Yeah, I imagine. Yeah, for Speaker 2 00:22:39 Sure. I mean hours and hours and hours of conversations, phone conversations, months of discussions, which I'm really excited to talk about with her. It was a process for both of us. Speaker 0 00:22:55 Okay. So we talked a lot about Tiffany during our conversation. Tiffany Horn is the daughter of Lawrence and Millie and the older sister of Trevor. So someone who was very much impacted by these events, she's heard all throughout the series. But Jasmine made a point of giving her a special platform on the final episode called Koda Ashes for Beauty. Like I said earlier, the idea of keeping people front and center of their own stories was Jasmine's North Star as she told this very complicated and sensitive narrative we saw that play out, especially during the final episode. Like in this monologue. Speaker 2 00:23:32 I first thought this was a podcast about a book, a murder manual for wannabe hitman. I mean it is, but the very first phone call I made when I started reporting was to Tiffany Horn Lawrence and Millie's oldest Speaker 3 00:23:45 Daughter. Over the last 15 years of making radio, I find most people want to be heard. They wanna know their story matters and they just like to know they'll be remembered. But when I first spoke with Tiffany, she was immediately hesitant. Actually hesitant, doesn't do her reaction justice. When I started to explain that I'd want the experience to be meaningful for her, she just thought I was being patronizing. This was a woman who's been through hell and some days is still there. She had to want to do this and she had to know I wasn't gonna burn her like other journalists had. She told me she was once on a talk show and they surprised her by inviting a hitman on stage. Can you imagine? So in our last episode, I wanna talk about a dynamic that's right at the core of many true crime podcasts. The one between the journalist and a survivor. It's a relationship filled with all these unexamined obligations and limitations and expectations. It's a balancing act. Over the course of the last two years, getting to know Tiffany and learning how to speak to her, how best to listen. This process informed every step along the way. And we've come a very long way from where we started. Speaker 0 00:25:12 Over time. Jasmine did earn Tiffany's trust and even gave her the final word on the last episode. Speaker 4 00:25:22 One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 61, 3. And basically it says, God gives us beauty for ashes. And I honestly feel like the ashes of of my family being ruined, that my dad created, my sister and I were able to take those ashes and and create something beautiful and we're still creating something beautiful to honor our brother and our mom. Speaker 3 00:25:47 In one of our earlier episodes, I told you I'd called Tiffany to let her know we were focusing on her brother Trevor. And she told me I put my love for him in this box in my heart. And I don't open it often because it's too painful. I mean, a hitman broke into their quiet home in the middle of the night and smothered an eight year old child. It's really the unthinkable. I could never quite capture the full horror of what happened to him. But this was Tiffany's reality, this was her family. And even though it's so hard for her, she insisted, he deserves to be seen. He deserves to be remembered. Speaker 4 00:26:25 I do tell people that have losses and it doesn't really matter how the loss happened, the losses, the loss is you're gonna always grieve these people that you love. It's a process I grieve sometimes really hard some days, even all these years later, 25 years later, I just want people to know that's okay. Like there's not a time limit. There isn't, I don't think I'll ever stop grieving my mom and my brother never. Speaker 0 00:26:53 As time has marched on, Jasmine and Tiffany have kept in touch and Tiffany even joined us on a later call. The two of them chatted at length about how they formed a long and trusting relationship built on mutual respect. Speaker 2 00:27:07 Sure. I mean, yeah, it was definitely a journey. And Tiffany, I mean, how did you feel when I first reached out to you? Speaker 5 00:27:14 Well, yeah, I was like, oh, not again. You know, cuz every so often, um, I would get calls, you know, there was a show that I had done for the ID channel, uh, discovery and yeah, I thought, okay, this person's probably seen this and I really didn't know much about podcasting as I told you when we first talked. So the like journal that was a major in me was like really kind of curious. And so I think we kind of got off to a good start because of that cuz you were willing to kind of go in depth into what you do. And I remember you sent me, you sent me some, you know, samples of your work and I was really impressed with what you did for npr. Always being a big fan of NPR and just knowing like the integrity, the journalistic integrity that NPR has, um, I'm like, okay, this might be different than what I'm originally thinking. Speaker 2 00:28:11 Yeah, I'm from upstate New York, which is a little like mini Midwest and I'm like, I tend to approach people with a very, like, if this would be me, be meaningful for you. You know, I I wanna give you the opportunity to share your story very. Like, I try to be really thoughtful, but I remember Tiffany, you were like, you're patronizing <laugh>. Like, I like sh you know, Tiffany didn't know me at all from, you know, I could have just been, you know, just saying words. And so it, it was really important to me to kind of walk the walk and just prove to her that I really was, I had her best intentions or her best interest in mind. Um, so yeah, I shared some stories with her that I had done. We talked for hours and hours before we ever talked about even doing an interview. We talked about so much stuff early on. Speaker 5 00:29:04 And I think I felt like the patronizing was, cuz I had producers that, you know, were overly familiar with me from the very beginning, even when I was a lot younger. You know, I had done the mo po show in the past. I had producers call me from the Oprah Winfrey Show in the past and they all were so overly familiar and just so you know, and I just, I was like, let's cut the <laugh>, cut the BS and I think Jasmine was kind of like taken aback, but then you definitely rerouted really quickly, which I was impressed with <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:29:36 I was like, okay, yep. This is like, I, yeah, I just responded to what Tiffany needed in the moment, which was just like, don't BS me, you know, what are you, what are, what are your intentions with this story? Who have you talked to already? You know? And I was just really upfront and through the whole process it was, I did things I probably wouldn't normally do as a journalist. Like I would give Tiffany a heads up about some of the questions I was gonna ask before the interview. I would tell her, you know, I'm gonna speak with so-and-so today. How do you feel about that? What was your relationship with that person? Is there anything you wonder would, you know, would want to ask them? Even things like I'd run, um, narration by Tiffany stuff that I'd written to make sure that it, you know, I didn't want anything to be a surprise for her, knowing her, you know, the trauma she'd been through. Like I I was not, you know, do no harm. And I'm also not ever wanting to convince anyone to tell their story. And I think that's where I was coming from initially was like, if you wanna do this, if you would find this meaningful, uh, I am here to listen. I'm interested in the story. And, and you and I also didn't wanna tell the story without her perspective. Yeah. And I Speaker 5 00:30:49 Remember you talking about the paling case and, and me telling you like, this is so much more than pal and press, like, this is my family. Um, I didn't wanna focus on that, cuz for me that was right. Not a huge part of what had happened. And I remember you also like kind of reframing that and, you know, I do think it, it helped for us to be like a little bit more collaborative and also me giving you insight and used to jog my memory all the time. Like, you'd come to me and talk to me about things that, you know, of course I had forgotten. And then when you'd bring up certain people, um, I'd be like, oh yeah, you know, like it would, it was great. And I was so impressed by just how much research you did. Like you really went in depth. I mean, some things you ended up telling me about my own father that I really appreciated. So that was, that was, you know, how we kind of built this camaraderie between us and this trust. Speaker 2 00:31:50 Yeah. It was like, I don't know, it was just so important to me to tell the story with Tiffany. I just, especially knowing that people in the past had told your story without even contacting you. I was not gonna be another example of that. And for me, I've always done stories about people and the people actually affected by something. I think I told you Stuart before, I really have an issue with podcasts that just sort of regurgitate information that's already out there. There's no actual, you know, talking to that people who are affected or the people who story it actually is, um, both journalistically and also just as a human being. Uh, it's whose story is this? It's not mine, you know? Um, so, so yeah. And, and it was, it was challenging. I mean, I, I remember even, you know, months down the road, Tiffany would still sometimes be like, you know, I don't, I don't know that I wanna do this. And we would talk it through, we would talk about how she was feeling that day or why what things might be coming up. And, um, I don't know, Tiffany, if you wanna talk about that process. I know, you know, it was certainly triggering for you at times. I know, yeah. To rehash some of this, Speaker 5 00:33:03 It, it really was because it had been what, 25 years at that point. And yeah, Speaker 5 00:33:09 One of the things for me that was always kind of hard is that I was technically an adult when this happened to my family, but I was a young adult and so, you know, my mom's sisters, my aunts had always kind of led the charge on speaking for our family. And I do feel like Jasmine gave me a platform for the first time where like, my aunts weren't really gonna be involved in this. And you, you seemed like you were supporting that instead of Oh no, they have to be involved as well. Like, you saw my perspective of like, you know, I'm, uh, you know, a woman with grown children and, and I want to tell my story, um, about my mother and my brother and, you know, my father and I appreciated that as well. Um, but it was scary for me because this would be the first time I was truly owning it as my own process and, and kind of driving that boat for my family. Speaker 5 00:34:09 Cuz my aunts had always been the figureheads and they had always spoke to what happened. And I mean, they probably needed to at that point because I was a young adult. But being an adult now with grown children, I felt like, oh no, I can ta you know, tell this story and I could talk about it, but it's not as easy when you're really going through the process and, um, going backwards and, and feeling all of those emotions again and just going, you know, picking apart, you know, everything. Um, and it, to me, it's such a complex story. And then, I mean, you uncovered some complexities that I didn't even know about, you know, that made it even more so <laugh>. So, you know, it, it just, it it was overwhelming at times, but I appreciated that you were always available to me, you know, we would stay on the phone. You walked me through the process, you never really had like a deadline. Yeah. And you were really supportive of me kind of just walking through it. Speaker 2 00:35:06 Yeah. And I think one of the things I learned from Tiffany too was I was reaching out to people who she hadn't heard from and they hadn't heard from her in 25 years. You know, whether it be lawyers or like Jenna Saunders family or these were people who, uh, you know, again, like after that happened, you guys didn't really have contact. And so I was reaching out to them at times and I would always say, you know, Tiffany is, I would mention that she's involved because I think that was also really important to communicate. Uh, and, and so, and people would ask, oh, how is she doing? And it was really important to Tiffany that I don't share that, you know, that's her relationship, that's her or what have you, you know? Um, and that's her life. Uh, so, you know, Tiffany, just her openness too and her patience with me and how I learned how, you know, how best to operate in, in these, under these circumstances. And I also really appreciate it because I take that to my, into my work now as well. So yeah, Tiffany was always really upfront too about like, if this is too much for me, I will tell you because I was also used to checking in and just trying to be mindful and not, you know, like, do no harm. That's the journalist's number one tenant, you know? And the fact that Tiffany would say, you know, no, I, I'm, I'm good. I will tell you if I'm not, I really appreciate it too. Speaker 5 00:36:35 The autonomy that I just felt like I kind of had to form because I, like I said, I was a young adult and decisions were sometimes made for me. And so, you know, at this stage in my life, I was really intentional about, you know, being clear about what I did wanna do and didn't wanna do. And yeah, sometimes I, I think I maybe did come off as harsh, but it was because I wanted to remind myself that, you know, I'm in control of this. Like I only do what I wanna do. And, um, just, yeah, having that autonomy and that this was, you know, my family, my story like this, this was my, you know, family that I was living with and this is my family. Like, once it was taken away from me, me and my sister, you know, we only had each other, we were basically orphans and yeah, we had extended family, but it's not the same thing. Speaker 5 00:37:27 But I think that's always been kind of diminished in my own family, kind of, just because there were so many extended family members that I just felt like, no, this is my time to really tell, you know, the story from, from my unique perspective. I, I'm not gonna speak from my sister, but just the fact that we were the remaining children. And I sometimes don't think that's really looked at, you know, I think people kind of just look at the family as a whole and you see the sisters, the brothers, the fathers, the mothers of victims. But I, I've always had a fascination with the children that are left behind in these instances. Like what happened to them, what did they do? Um, how did they go on with their lives? Like how did they make sense of what happened to them and and really move forward with their own legacy after something so destructive happens to their family. So it was just really hard navigating that. And I think Jasmine, you were very patient with me, um, and allowing me to nav, you know, navigate and kind of talk through some of those instances where some of the anger might have been misdirected at you, but it was because, you know, I really needed to find out like what my voice was, which you've always encouraged me to use. And you've always said like, you need to tell your story in your own words. Speaker 2 00:38:48 Yeah. And certainly some of those phone calls were really hard and, and I have a trauma in my past and I shared some of that with Tiffany too. And so I would be triggered. But the thing is that I would always think about is I am choosing to be telling this story and producing this podcast. Tiffany didn't choose what happened to her. I mean, so I understood where that anger was coming from. I understood and uh, I would take care of myself the way, what I needed to do to get through some of these tough things. Um, and not necessarily put that on Tiffany because again, I was choosing to, to do this. And I also knew that we would come through it. And some of our other conversations, you know, I really came to care a lot about Tiffany. And so, you know, while making the podcast, we had to, of course I had to maintain objectivity as much as I could. Speaker 2 00:39:39 And we had a pretty professional relationship. And also through, after the podcast came out, uh, it was optioned for a television series. And it was also, again, very important to me to involve Tiffany. And I was very clear that I would not sign anything or move forward with anything unless she was involved and paid for her life rights and all, all of that, you know? And so, uh, just following through on the relationship that we had established was important. And then, you know, after production wrapped and over the last several years now, I think I'd like to think of us as friends, you know, and like, we're close friends, I would say. I, I tell Tiffany, yeah, I tell her about things in my life, my daughter, you know, lots of things we share. And, um, we've had some shared experiences since then as well. And I think that's been the most gratifying thing for me is to see this relationship kind of come full circle in a way. Speaker 0 00:40:39 What did that mean to you to be able to have that platform to, to tell the story from your perspective? Cause a lot of people were willing to tell it, but usually, uh, without, without including you. So what, what did that mean to you to have that platform to be able to tell the story as you saw it? Speaker 5 00:40:54 It was, it was really gratifying and I felt like Jasmine was so supportive and affirming. Um, and just, you know, really like allowing me to use my voice because I, I think a lot of times people put victims in a box and yeah, when I said patronizing to Jasmine, they almost feel like these are these broken people that are, can never recover. And I feel the opposite. I feel like most survivors and, and victims of, you know, violent crime in their families and, you know, just survivors of these very traumatic incidents are actually extremely strong people. And Jasmine recognized that, and she allowed me to just be my true self because I am, you know, a very headstrong person, a very opinionated, um, I do approach the world sometimes, like, you know, like I have to kind of, you know, knock down obstacles and, and sometimes I am a little harsh because I just had to see the world as, you know, kind of, you know, just, it, it's just not being 18 and coming against something like that. Speaker 5 00:42:03 Um, yeah, I've had to kind of just go through some things, but I've learned just be softer and, you know, being a parent has definitely helped me. Um, and you know, just seeing that that perspective isn't always helpful. Um, Jasmine helped me see that too, because Jasmine has, she's like, her level of humanism is just extraordinary. So she helped me kind of just loosen up and, you know, also just see the silver lining. Like there were things that she learned about my father that, you know, I really appreciated that I never knew and I wouldn't be able to talk to him about at this point because he's gone. Um, and so she gave me kind of pieces of him back that I didn't have. So that was helpful because it is so convoluted. Like, you know, I've seen people talk about this before and I'll, I'll just concur that, uh, of course you love your parents. Speaker 5 00:42:57 There's nothing that's gonna ever take your love away from you loving your parents. Like they, you know, they created me and I have such fond memories of both my parents, um, no matter what happened and Jasmine understood that, like Jasmine was able to kind of go through that process with me and she wasn't like, horrified, like, oh my God, like, you know, cuz I'd be so excited when she would tell me some things that had to deal, you know, with music about my dad and she knows how much of a music lover I am. And I really appreciated all of that. Like, she kind of saw me the way that I always wanted to be seen that, you know, I'm not just this broken person just, you know, kind of protective of her little sister and we're like hiding in a corner somewhere because of this horrific tragedy. Like, we're strong women, we're just like our mom. And um, you know, we've been extraordinary parents just be, because our mom gave us that example, especially with, with raising our, our special needs brother. Um, and Jasmine allowed me to tell all those different parts of myself, you know, and I felt like that came through in the podcast. Speaker 2 00:44:04 Man, that means a lot to hear it. Tiffany, thank you for saying that. I, cuz that was always my intent and goal, you know, I mean, I remember one of our first conversations too, one of our hours long conversations bef again, before we even recorded anything. Uh, I remember us talking about the complex, you know, the fact that like, you still love your dad. There's parts of him that you love and you're proud of. You know, he, he is, he is a big deal. I mean his, his his impact on Motown and some of the songs that we know and love my girl, like he touched, you know, my girl, like some really amazing music. And that is something that I think, Tiffany, you said something like, I don't want that taken away too. You know, and that you should be allowed to be proud of that in your association with, uh, Motown. That's something that you can still have while also feeling the way you do about what he did, you know? Exactly. Yeah. Telling a nuanced story and this is real life and I thought that was really, um, honest and important message too for people. Speaker 5 00:45:09 And you let me do that without judgment cuz I don't think people sometimes understand, you know, that it is nuanced and it is a little convoluted and complex. Um, and to be honest with you, like my sister's not really there. She didn't have the same relationship. Um, so I'm kind of singular in that I may be the only one in my family that can really be proud of the things that he did. And, and he introduced me to music at such a young age and, and you know, I can't like be dishonest about, that's where my love of music comes from is is from my father and I am proud of the things that he did in music. You know, I'm never gonna not say that, but obviously, yeah, there's other things that you know, are horrible and we, we've talked about dad about, you know, personality disorders and just, you know, um, him being like a family annihilator and how kind of uncommon that is sometimes within as far as what we've seen just in media, you know, with black families. Speaker 5 00:46:14 And I just always felt like, oh wow. Like how could he do that to his own family? You know what I mean? Like, you don't really see, uh, a black man as much as you have in media as much as white men are portrayed as being like family annihilators and just, you know, that was complex for me too because it was like, you know, that's my identity is my core being, you know, being a black woman and, and just the way I've grown up and telling the story sometimes it's usually yes, it's white women coming to me and asking me, you know, for my opinion. And Jasmine was able to kind of navigate that with me as well because, you know, we talked a little bit about the racial implications and, and just my feelings on that. So I appreciated having that conversation with you too. Yeah. Which is sometimes scary for me cuz I, I didn't wanna like kind of be too vulnerable in that regard with you cuz I wasn't sure if I could like, trust you with that. And you let me talk about that. Speaker 2 00:47:10 Yeah. I really appreciated those conversations too because I mean, I remember talking to you about this like, uh, who, who am I to tell this? I'm a white woman telling a story about a black family in, you know, specifically about a black man who, who harmed his family. And so, you know, am I perpetuating stereotypes in any way? Am I, what good would this story, what good does is this story doing? Uh, why does this story need to be told? And I was, I work was working through that quite a bit and Tiffany was always open to having those conversations. And you know, one of the things that I just kind of felt strongly about in, in the end was yes, that is, that did happen, but also look at this incredibly, this incredible black woman who has survived and is God has taught me so much and has so much to share with the world. Speaker 2 00:48:02 Tiffany became the focus. And so yeah, so those two things existed, and again, we worked through it quite a bit and, um, and I, I couldn't have done it without her. Like she, the fact that she was so willing to have those conversations with me and we really just were open about everything, talked about race, you know, I, again, I was a white woman coming to her. She didn't know me from, uh, she didn't know me at all. Anyway, I think those, that's a really important thing that I could share with creators too, is don't avoid having really important, difficult conversations. And, you know, even if we aren't talking about race, this is about race. There's, it's about a lot of things. Um, so, so yeah, don't shy away from those tough conversations, I guess. Speaker 0 00:48:46 Uh, Jasmine, I know you were very purposeful in being guarded about that and because obviously you worked very, very hard to, to earn Tiffany's trust. But there was the other side of that, this person, this quote unquote Rex Ferrell figure that I think a lot of people would've liked to have seen some accountability for her, you know, their, their actions led to, at a minimum one family being destroyed. And so, while you were also, I think being, while you were understandably being very guarded and protective of, uh, one of the victims in, in this case, you, you are also, I think equally as, as protective of someone who helped facilitate the crime. Why, why was that balance so important to you? Speaker 2 00:49:34 You know, as I said earlier, I take, do no harm very seriously as a journalist, and I never wanna convince anyone to tell their story. I mean, nothing good has ever come of that again. I, I said that earlier, you know, number one, you tend to not get a great interview. Uh, but, uh, it's also just the fallout isn't worth it for me. Um, or the storyteller, usually if you're trying to force someone to share their story, of course, unless it's a politician or a, you know, you're exposing something incredibly unjust, which some would say Rex Ferrell fit that bill, but I didn't feel like I'm in a place to make that judgment as a journalist. It's my duty to ask the questions. And I spoke with a lot of really smart people about this decision to not dox her. Uh, I reached out to this really brilliant filmmaker, Charlie Sisco. Speaker 2 00:50:23 He created a documentary about William Powell, who was the author of the Anarchist Cookbook. The author was 19 when he wrote that book. It's been linked to the Columbine shooting Oklahoma City bombing. And he got that, he got William P. Powell to talk to him for this documentary. So anyway, I reached out to him and we had a lot of conversations about these two authors and were there parallels and how did he get Powell to talk to him? I also spoke with a bunch of lawyers about who gets anonymity in the world, private citizens do legally. And so is the author of a how-to Manual Considered a Private Citizen who wrote under a, under a pseudonym, am I infringing upon their right to privacy? Do they have a right to privacy? All these sort of legal questions I talked to attorneys about. And ultimately, if I blasted her name out there, would I create a situation where she might be harmed by someone? Speaker 2 00:51:16 Then, am I culpable? Am I continuing this cycle of harm? Where d where does it end? What good would come of that? So I also just wanted to leave the door open for in, you know, if she did wanna share someday she knows how to get ahold of me if I had blasted her name out there, as you said, whenever there's a, a sort of whole, like someone will fill that and maybe someone would track her down and and tell her story instead of me, but so be it. I felt very confident that she had received my inquiries <laugh>. I reached out in so many different ways. I'm pretty sure she blocked my number at one point. Um, all social media, I contacted family members. I mean, I sent a letter to her home. I did everything but knock on her door. And that's something I also felt strongly about not doing. Speaker 2 00:51:59 So yeah, for all of those reasons, I decided to not share her name, though I did have to find out who she was I for the story. I needed to make sure I was right, you know, in the details that I did share about her and about all the other follow out that came from this book. And the boyfriend who, you know, essentially wrote it with her. I wanted to make sure I was right, um, as much as I could. So that's why I continued down that path. And that was also part of the story that hadn't been told before. No one knew the author's name, no one, I mean, like Tiffany didn't know, the lawyers didn't know from the, the, the lawsuit against Paladin. You know, the, those, you know, no one knew. So again, like I had, you know, Tiffany had a story that she wanted to share that she'd never sh or part of her story that she'd never shared. And then this was another part of the story that had never been shared. And so I felt like, okay, well I'm gonna follow the questions. So yeah, that's why I pursued that and that's why I decided to go as far as I did. But I know, Tiffany, you had feelings about it too, of course. You know, and I talked to Tiffany throughout this process as well, sharing what I had found and Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 5 00:53:16 And I actually gained a lot of respect for Jasmine because I saw like how serious she was as a journalist and the same, you know, courtesy she had given to me. She was giving to this person who obviously I wanted her to talk to the lady. And I, I really was, you know, not ambivalent about that at all. Like, I, I wanted it to happen, but at the same time I saw where Jasmine was coming from and, um, I respected that I respected her even more at this point. I could care less if they uncover who this person is or not. I, I, like I said, I'm not in that corner at all, um, wanting to protect her identity, but I understood where Jasmine was coming from and I gained so much respect for her and, you know, if she was gonna treat me the way she treated me, how can I, you know, scoff at her doing that to someone else? I, I mean, I can't, like, that would be so hypocritical. Speaker 0 00:54:14 Is there anything, uh, you feel like I'm, I'm missing here? I mean, it's, well there's Speaker 2 00:54:18 One thing that I think is really interesting and that is the fact that Tiffany actually enjoys true crime. <laugh>. Speaker 5 00:54:24 Yeah, <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:54:25 I do. I don't know if you wanna talk about that at all, <laugh>. Um, I don't, and particularly enjoy True. I re I was telling Stuart that when they were calling this a True Crime podcast, I was like, but it's so much more than that, and I didn't love that sort of designation. Um, but you really didn't. <laugh> <laugh>. Um, yeah, I don't know. I just, I am, I've never really been a fan of true crime in the way that it, it exploits people. I not, and that's a totally me reducing it. You know? There's so many amazing responsible podcasts out there that do it. I guess I just never, um, it was not something that I would choose to listen to, you know, or watch. But, but Tiffany, yeah. Why do you, why do you gravitate? Yeah, Speaker 5 00:55:14 It's so funny because I listened to one that's really good, and she usually has the victims or the survivors on, um, it's called, um, something was Wrong and there was someone that said like, she liked true crime also after being, you know, in such a horrific incident. And it's like, I'd li like to see the process, you know, I like to see where they investigate. They find, you know, who the perpetrator is, even if it takes decades, and then they're, you know, they're brought to justice. Something about that is just very satisfying for me. A lot of times they aren't brought to justice. I don't like those stories as much, but I think people do such good work. I mean, my family has, and I have talked about this so much that we were so fortunate that, you know, the local police department, the detectives, who by the way, as Jasmine knows, you know, we were all very friendly with, and they're very protective of our family. Speaker 5 00:56:07 You know, the F B I, they did so much painstaking work, you know, trying to uncover what happened. It took three years, um, really to bring my dad to justice and, you know, the hit man he had hired, uh, you know, made some mistakes that those mistakes weren't made. Who knows if they would've ever uncovered it. So for me, that's my life story, you know, my family. So I sometimes like to see that, you know, in other families. Like, I like to see when those people are brought to justice and there's something gratifying and satisfying about it. I don't know. I'm one of the many people that's addicted to it, <laugh>, especially in podcasts. I just, it's not wrapped in a pretty bow and, you know, there is a podcast that just came out with a, a victim of true crime, and it's what comes next. Speaker 5 00:56:57 Then I'm gonna start listening to, because I think, you know, after all is said and done after the courtroom goes dark, you know, we have to live. But there's something, yeah, there's something about these true crime shows, um, and podcasts that really make you feel like people are out there and they're bringing people to justice. And you know, like, I don't know how people sleep when they do things that are, are wrong like that. Because, you know, I always feel like God is gonna shine a light. They're gonna be brought to justice eventually. Ours is quicker than some, and I thank God for that. Cause I can't imagine going through life, um, and, and not having the perpetrators, you know, punished for what they did. Speaker 2 00:57:40 You know, it's interesting because when you think of true crime and you think of, you know, bringing someone or something to justice or, you know, when you think of justice, it's usually an open case or maybe someone who is wrongfully convicted or some, there's some sort of action. And in this case, you know, this case is from 25 years ago, Lawrence Horn had been brought to Justice James Barry had been. So it's not like I was investigating an open case or anything like that. I did go back and, you know, get all the case files and make sure that I was telling an accurate story. But the justice, I guess, in Hitman, in the podcast that I made was giving Tiffany a space, you know, space to share. That was the sort of takeaway and ending that I felt strongly about was that Tiffany had a message to share. Speaker 2 00:58:26 And I guess that's the last episode where we talk a little bit about that, about what it's like to share a story like this 25 years later, and how does it affect you and how does it change you, and how there is hope for people who have been through horrific things. Um, you know, uh, I think that to me, I guess was the takeaway. And there's a lot, a lot to be taken away from the podcast. And, and you know, when you think about First Amendment rights and the publisher and the danger of information or entertainment and what that all that means, and you can take away your own conclusions from that when you listen. But for me, the, the end goal was always just to share the story in a respectful, ethical, responsible way, and do no harm for no further harm, and give voice to the people who should be in control of the narrative Speaker 0 00:59:21 Mission accomplished, I think. Thank you. Speaker 2 00:59:23 Thank you Stewart, and thank you Tiffany. Speaker 0 00:59:29 Audience is a Casto original series. Our founder and executive producer is Craig Hewitt. Production assistant is provided by Jocelyn Devore, ISEL Brill at Marni Hills. Our website and logo design is courtesy of Fran Schwab Grill, our head of product here at Casto. All of our music comes from the Story Blocks Library. This episode is written, edited, narrated, and produced by me. I'm Stuart Barefoot. All previous episodes can be streamed anywhere you listen to podcast and Well, that'll do it for season two. Thanks again to everyone who listened, contributed, or helped out. Be sure to stay tuned to this feed because we'll be putting out res over the next few months and providing updates on all things happening with Castes. After that, we'll get right back to it in September.

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