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After more than one year since the last episode of Direct Appeal, we're back to discuss the recent media attention to answer audience questions and address potential tips. And we'll update you on what's next in Melanie's legal battle and what supporters say they're doing to help. We might even sneak in a word about season two. Today, we'd like to provide a brief update on Melanie's case, answer some questions that folks had after the 20/20 episode aired, and we'd like to share some of our thoughts about working on the episode, as that was also a question many of you ask and maybe will shed a little light on direct appeal.
Maybe we could give just a little bit a little carrot. Let's start with our work on the 20/20 episode, which was the highest rated show of the night. So I thought that was pretty cool. I think we were excited in general. We were pleased that they took on Melanie's case and we felt that they gave us a lot of airtime and that was really great. And there have been quite a few new listeners that have discovered the case through that show.
So that's really cool also.
And for me, one of the most exciting things that have come out of the show is all of the letters we're getting from people that are requesting help with their or their loved ones. I know. Let's let's definitely talk about that. When we talk about direct appeal season two, one thing you should realize is to cover the amount of information we did in 17 episodes within two hours is very challenging. Also, keep in mind that this was produced during covid.
So there were a lot of restraints on what could be done. They treated Melanie's case fairly and they spent a lot of time going over the gun issue, which was significant.
But it's also the case that they didn't cover everything we would have wanted them to. And I think that was definitely because, again, we're talking about a two hour format here.
And Meghann, we did get a lot of emails that said, well, what about this? What about that? And you say, well, listen to the podcast we talked about that 20/20 couldn't include every single issue that was brought up.
Like you mentioned, they couldn't. And of course, we wanted certain things to be covered that weren't. But we weren't producers. We have no control over. And in general, we were just, again, pleased that they gave us a lot of time to talk about the case. And the whole point was to maybe even get people interested in her case to do other research, whether it's the podcast or to look at it independently. You have to go beyond the two hours if you really want to dig on this case.
It just wasn't enough to know everything. One of the things they covered in detail was this gun issue that we've talked about as well. And the issue comes down to the rifling characteristics of the gun that Melonie purchased and the bullets that were retrieved from Bill's body. The issue was that the prosecutor said that, you know, the the guns were consistent and Melanie said the bullet was consistent. Bullet was consistent with the lands in the grooves from Melanie's weapon.
And Melanie's team kind of missed the mark at trial and never really got that issue. But later on, they would argue that, no, no, Melanie's gun had five lands and grooves and the bullets retrieved from Bill's body were six. And this would become a point of, you know, their appeal. And the prosecutor would get the CEO from tourists to state that. In fact, on the website, even though it said five lands and grooves, it could have been five or six that they were often used interchangeably.
So the issue comes down to the prosecution saying it was a mistake. And Melanie saying Melanie and her team saying, no, no, no, that was not that. That's absolutely incorrect. And my gun couldn't have been used.
And I still think this is a non-issue because if it was or was not her gun, it doesn't mean that she's the one who pulled the trigger. I still think this is not the biggest this is not the most important point for me as well. I think we also said that it's entirely possible we would concede that it was the gun that was used, because that makes sense, because if she did it, it makes sense. If she didn't do it, he could have taken the gun with him when he left and someone could have turned his gun on him.
And that's frankly what he what Melanie claimed. So either way, it kind of does make sense. But I just wanted to clarify, because some people had questions about that. Second, on the gun issue, though, what I would like to say is one of the things that people didn't hear and for people who have, listen to our podcast. You already know this for people who are just starting to listen. One of the things they didn't talk about on 20/20, which I would have liked to have seen, was the fact that they had someone, a former colleague of Bill's named George Lowery, and that he was going to testify that Bill had told him that he wanted to get a gun, but he could not get one because of a previous felony conviction.
So he was going to have his wife get one for him. I think that was a mistake.
I would have liked to see them discuss that because that would have corroborated Melanie's story. It does corroborate it. And whether or not it means that she she did it or did not do it. It is the there is corroboration from someone who has no vested interest in her. In fact, he only knew Bill and was friendly with Bill.
So why would this guy come forward? I would have liked them to have covered that just because I think it also would have put the gun issue along with that.
It would have been nice to hear from Danciu or maybe of the existence of Danciu.
As a reminder, this was the neighbor who stated that she remembered an argument around that time in the early morning hours between a couple with who she shared pretty much a common wall, but she heard an argument and she didn't hear any gunshots or power saw or heard nothing else, heard an argument that would have been consistent with what I was going to say.
Not only does it corroborate Naani story, but what she heard is not. As important as what she didn't hear, I think that's exactly the point, and I think that's the point Melanie's team would would have made and I would have liked to have heard a little bit of a discussion about that. There was no discussion of the large amounts of money unaccounted for that were going into and coming out of the Maguires account. I think that's important is never some of it's never been traced.
Where did it go? How did it come in? Well, I think that works on either side. That could implicate Melanie, because remember, I said, could it have been a murder for hire? Who knows? But if we knew more about the coming and going of some of this money, I think it would help clear things up for a lot of people.
Now, I think it could be, like you said, either way, we also discussed the Internet searches a lot on the podcast and hope they would have covered those on the, you know, possibility that they weren't conducted by Melanie.
But maybe, Bill, I think, you know, in the end, we're not able to say they didn't have a reconstruction of a user profile, although when we reconstructed and looked at it, it was just as easily one or the other.
And in fact, I think we found just slightly more searches that seem to indicate that Bill was the one on the computer at those or someone who was trying to appear to be Bill. Correct. And that was also a possibility that the prosecution had alleged. In the end, though, I just want to say we are very happy that 20/20 covered this case and they allowed us to play such a large role in telling the story. They were very respectful.
I thought they were fair. It's Melanie happy with the way it was portrayed.
And that's a great question. And Melanie was happy.
She said it was a good start. She said, look, they they didn't cover all the things I wanted to, but she did felt that they treated her fairly, treated her respectfully, and she felt like if this can draw attention to my case or have people, you know, listen to the podcast, then this was definitely worth it.
So she was pleased, I'd say, with the outcome.
Now, I'd like to get to some of your questions.
We had a number of questions that had come in. And I have been I don't know about you, Amy, but I've been furiously emailing people back and trying to answer everyone. Sometimes I get like a response that the emails don't go through. Sometimes I don't know, maybe I've skipped one. Anyway, I've tried to take the most significant questions and the ones that came up the most and I made a list here and I'm going to try to answer them for you.
Please forgive me if I don't get to yours. You can always email me and I'll try to do my best, but be nice.
Oh, that's right. Yes. People had asked what the reception was like, you know, how did how was how was the show received? And we received a tremendous amount of mail. And I would like to say that most of it was positive.
And thank you very much for that. Yes.
And most of it, even when it wasn't necessarily positive, was constructive. Yes. But then there were a couple of very nasty emails that were sent.
I love I mean, I are both used to constructive criticism. And look, I think you guys probably know that Amy and I didn't necessarily agree on the conclusion of Melanie's case, which also wasn't shown in 20/20. Oh, that's interesting. Also, you know, while Amy did say that she thought it was a wrongful conviction, you did state that you thought that Melanie could be involved.
At the end of the day, I said if I was on that jury, I would not have been able to convict Melanie. That does not mean that I believe that she is innocent. Right. Different things. Right. But 20/20 Angle did a little different, which, you know, makes sense. That's what production does.
They angle things, of course, there it's a story and it made sense. All right, Amy, here we go. These are some of the top listener questions. First, Bill and Melanie purchased a new home. Did anyone ever search that property to see if a crime occurred there? So smart. And Megan, I know that even while we were investigating, that was like, oh, this makes sense. This was the crime scene. But, Megan, why could it not have been.
Yeah, it's brilliant, but it couldn't have been because Melanie and Bill were not taking occupancy or ownership of that for at least a week and maybe longer. It turns out the old owners wrote in a clause that they could remain there for longer. So there's absolutely no chance that Melanie or Bill accessed that House any time before Bill went missing.
So although they did have the closing on that day, they, in fact did not get the keys and did not have access granted to the home. No, exactly. So that was that could not have been a crime scene. But that was a smart thought. Right. People are going, you know, we drove past that house. It's a big house. It's remote. It's, you know, thank you for that feedback because it was a it was a really good thought, smart question.
Unfortunately, we know that that could not it absolutely could not have been a crime scene. Second question that I think we got the most is, did they ever look at bills, easy pass transponder? And what did those records show? Well, the answer is yes, they did look at it. And what they showed was nothing, no activity at all because the easy pass had clearly been taken down.
And that could have been Bill, who didn't want anyone knowing where he was going or it could have been Melanie who didn't want anyone know where Bill's car was going.
Absolutely true. Third question, was there any surveillance video of Bill in Atlantic City? This is a complicated one. The short answer is no. But the long answer is that where Bill's car was parked, there was surveillance video. That apparently was just happened to be down or not working during the exact time when it would have showed us whether or not Bill got into his car or out of his car.
I have always found that a little disconcerting. I'm sure it happens with surveillance video, but it was literally the exact time frame. The surveillance question also came up about the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, because we know that bridges have surveillance, the bridges do the bridge does have surveillance, but they didn't start investigating and ask for that surveillance for at least six to nine months later and they retape after a certain time. Well, that's because a lot of times, if you need surveillance videos, it needs to be like right away.
Maybe the tapes wouldn't have even been available. Frankly, they didn't know where because his remains were found in suitcases and in the water or whatnot. Did they come off of a bridge? Did someone drop them down there? So they did them a while for their theory to it did take a while. So the surveillance was requested, you know, late in the game. And therefore, we really don't have much. The only thing we have is that grainy footage, but it's still footage that shows, Melanie, if you remember, getting out of Bill's car.
So that's when she said I moved his car. Yeah, that's all we have. Yeah. And that one we've debated forever whether or not it was realistic that she moved the cars. I can't tell you how many listeners wrote in on both sides saying that it was absolutely ridiculous story and others saying it's absolutely true in a totally irrational relationship.
I think a lot of people that wrote in not necessarily that think Melanie is innocent, but saying, you know, she was in this strange relationship. I would have done that because I was in that type of relationship and I did crazy shit so many people and I didn't know this was a thing.
But several people wrote in saying, oh, no, I did do that. I've moved my my spouse's car just to, like, mess with them.
I'm like, who knew this was a thing I didn't know was a thing. But anyway, next question.
I love this one because a couple people ask this. Has Melanie reached out to Kathleen Zellner? I mean, do you remember a long time ago someone I said this on the show, what does Melanie need? I said she either needs, like new evidence or a confession or Kathleen Zellner.
Yeah, but I think Kathleen Zellner only accepts clients who have overwhelming evidence of innocence. And I'm not sure that Melanie has that at this point.
I think that's probably correct. And also that she really likes DNA cases. Correct? I think most people really like DNA cases. Yeah, I agree. Well, they make it easier. So Melanie has not reached out to Kathleen Zellner as of now, but Melanie does have new counsel. And I'll just update you as to that at the end. Next question is Melanie in the appeals process? Because Amy Robach said she had run out of appeals, but in your podcast, you said that she was still in the appeals process.
Yes, I think Amy Robach was. She's right.
So pretty sorry. Amy Robach is correct that Melanie's out of appeals, but in the in the state system. So Melanie's appeals in the state system are done. She has now initiated her appeals in the federal system. So that's a yes and no answer. However, if I understand correctly and sorry if I'm jumping ahead here, there is something she could still do at the state level.
She can get back in the courts. She can somehow I don't know if there's a limitation, but it used to be that it was, I guess, with newly discovered like. So I don't think there's a limitation because if someone finds a videotape that shows someone else doing it, like there's no statute of limitations on, I'm not sure about the legal maneuvering, but she could technically at some point get back into the state courts.
For now, she's in the federal courts where Malani or Bill's fingerprints found on the chloral hydrate bottle. Answer is there? No, there were no fingerprints found on it. I think that would be, though, naive in itself. So I think there's a misconception that every time you touch something, you get fingerprints, you often do, but you often also get unusable prints because they can't match them.
So also, I mean, it was Bill's car, so his prints would be on there if her prints were on there. You could argue that there's another reason why her prints could have been on there.
Also, I think the argument is that shouldn't his have been on there if it was in his car and it's in his glove box and he is the one who got it. Why?
Yeah, but whoever whoever killed him could have just wiped the prints off, whether it be Melanie or someone else, and wiping off would take his prints off as well. That's true. I think I think that might have been the listener point, though. I don't think they think that doesn't look good. Someone's fingerprints should be on there. And yes, someone cleaned it off. Right. I think that was a great question. By the way.
Thank you for that one. So it could obviously be that someone wiped it or it could be that they were not usable prints, which happens more than you think. OK, let's see. Next question. Have you considered that Bill took his luggage with him and this turned out to be a convenient way for the killer to dispose of his remains? Absolutely. We talk about that all the time. The garbage bags, the suitcases, the gun. What a convenient thing for a murderer.
Everything he has, everything.
It might have literally been that unfortunate for Bill that this was, you know, the convenience for someone who murdered him or it could have nothing to do with his murder at all.
Exactly. Did the police ever look into Bill's affairs? Yes, they did, and at trial, I believe there were there was a woman who he had a very brief romantic encounter with. And I believe maybe even his sister testified that, you know, there was some infidelity. I don't know to what extent they investigated. It seems like they didn't dig as hard we would. I think Amy agrees. I don't we don't think they dug his heart into and his his life or anyone else to really know the full extent.
So, yes, they did. But how far end they went, I don't think far enough, to be honest, but that's just my opinion.
Next question, and I would love to hear from an investigator on the case who can tell us that always would have been great. That's something else we should acknowledge, because although we've talked about it, we still received some mail about we didn't reach out to anyone on the other side.
But now that one episode you actually listed off, I believe it was the last episode or second place you listed off every single person you contacted. And it was like close to 30, if I'm not mistaken, at between 25. And so we're talking about people on the prosecution side. Every one of those people were on the prosecution side. We got we received a number of emails saying this is a very one sided podcast because you didn't speak to someone on that side.
We really tried and going back to why we didn't contact Bill's family, that was a decision that we made. And we talked about our reasonings behind that. And that's some people think that was the wrong thing to do. And a lot of people wrote in saying that they understand why we didn't. So it's just, you know, a matter of opinion, right?
I really, really wanted to. That's it is a matter of opinion on that issue. And I understand both sides, to be frank. I still stand by what we did, but I understand it. So do I. But yes, we tried very, very hard to speak to police. Prosecutor You know, I invited Patti to come on the show. Interestingly, you know, Patti said she wasn't going she wasn't interested in doing any more press on this case.
Well, I mean, maybe that you could say that was at the time. But then right after she also went on Forensic Files and went on Dateline. So perhaps she just wasn't interested in a forum that was, you know, more about, you know, Melanie's story and verifying that maybe this just wasn't right for her.
Yeah, regardless, Patty, prosecutor, but other prosecutors, police, you're all anyone still welcome to come on the show.
We can have plenty of follow up bonus episodes here for more people. Did Melanie ever take a polygraph test? Yes, she did, and she passed it. But that is not admissible in court. And the reason it's not admissible is because it's not reliable, it's not reliable. Or you could say for the people who think that polygraphs are a good indicator, you could say that she passed a polygraph. The police often use polygraphs as a starting point, even if they're not admissible to help them direct a way to her, you know, towards Melanie's lawyer.
So, Joe Tacopina, motion the court to get this admitted. I don't think he ever thought it would get admitted, but I think he wanted people to know that Melanie took a polygraph. And the only reason he would motion to admit it is if she and the prosecution didn't want to admit it. So it probably didn't get admitted. Right. So that was really it on that. Thank you again for the questions. I hope we've answered them and keep them coming.
If you still if there's still information you'd like on the case, there was something, you know, listeners have been writing in with information and, you know, one one listener wrote in with something regarding Bill's body being frozen.
And I wanted to read this because this was a question that that I thought was important, that seemed to be unanswered. And this was, you know, whether or not, you know, Patti Prezioso said that Melanie likely then had to freeze Bill's body. And the medical examiner said, well, you wouldn't be able to tell if that was the case or not. And Melanie, especially and even with her, her background said, no, there are changes to the skin.
You would absolutely be able to tell. And so I got we got an email from someone. And I just want to read this. Someone who's been in the field and who's done a research on this on actual egg freezing and thawing cryogenics. And this is the quote that I'd like to read. I did a research paper on this about 25 years ago. From what I understand, the biggest crux with cryogenics, freezing people, organs, tissue for reanimation or use in the future is that water in the cells, if frozen too quickly, will develop jagged crystals that will puncture individual cells from the inside out.
The key is to prevent these crystals from forming in tissue cells. However, ice crystals also appear when tissue is thawed. This directly refutes the coroner statement that it is impossible to tell if a body has been frozen or not. I looked at the research attached to the papers attached. This seems very credible. I also have to agree.
I think that I mean, not that, you know, we have a r r degree here in this type of science, but I also thought it sounded strange. I thought that you would be able to see changes to the skin. And I think based on the. Search I looked into and thank you for this tip, I think you would have seen evidence of cellular. We never thought that was real. We never thought that was a really strong theory anyway.
No, neither of us did. And I think that this kind of puts that to bed for me. Finally, where does Melanie go now? Where is she? People want to know. A lot of people have written in, you know, asking about her time, asking about, again, where she is in the process. So she is in the appeals process. And following the podcast, Melanie was offered new representation from some local attorneys who decided to take on her case pro bono.
So they are doing it for free. That's great. Yes, it is great because she has no, she's not entitled to any more counsel at this point. So this is a positive step for her.
And from what I understand, they are working on getting I don't want to delve too much into it, but they are working on retaining some new experts for some of the crucial evidence that was disputed at trial. And I've spoken to her legal team and, you know, they understand the realities, but they're also cautiously optimistic and as Melanie cautiously optimistic.
So she is I think I talked about this once. She's always been you know, she's always been somewhat hopeful. She's been able to retain that. She's afraid. She says she set it on 20/20, afraid to hope, but she still has it. And there are also a number of people who wrote in who asked what they could do to help, which I didn't expect.
But for those people who would like to help Melanie, you can donate money any amount via PayPal to the account justice for Melanie at Yahoo! Dotcom. That's all lowercase and that's justice for Melanie at Yahoo! Dot com. How would that through PayPal? That's correct. And while Melanie now has an excellent, like I said, pro bono lawyer or lawyers, they need money to retain these experts. So that's what your contribution would go towards the fees for these experts that were not retained during her trial.
OK, I think that wraps most of what we have about Melanie's case. I do want to tell everyone that Melanie's case will also be featured on Court TV's Judgment with Ashleigh Banfield. That's, I believe, next month. Lots more to come on that. That's correct. And Amy, you did the interview for that. I did. It was a good experience. It was wonderful to work with people at Court TV. I look forward to seeing the final product.
Megan, now that we're done talking about Melanie's case, can we talk a little bit about what's possible for season two of direct appeal?
I think we can, Amy, we'd like to say that because of 20/20, we have received a lot of emails from individuals who are claiming innocence and family members who claim that they have an innocent loved one in prison right now, asking for our assistance, asking for our assistance, which breaks my heart because we're a team of three. And it's just it's really hard to process this all. So if you have it in us, I hope at this point you've you've at least received an email response saying, you know, hang on, we're trying.
Right. But I do want to say that, you know, we appreciate that and feel a tremendous obligation to, you know, help people who are seeking help. We're a team of three, so we can only take one case, one at a time.
And and we all have full time jobs. This is really just a passion project that we're doing here. But we are. It is. But we are vetting cases, right? We are.
And, you know, for us, it's really important, obviously, that someone has a claim of innocence, claim of actual innocence, and that they're available to participate, because I believe it's really important for listeners to hear from the individual, such as how we heard from Melanie. So I think for us, it's important that any case we well, it's crucial that any case we take on has someone who's willing to talk and has an official claim of actual innocence.
And, you know, I don't know if you agree, Megan, but I would like to have a case also that has some plausible alternate theories I don't want to spoil or anything. But actually, some of the cases that were we're getting right now do have possible.
That's why I say that, because I find those cases very attractive, because it it gives you hope that maybe there's a way we can solve. I think you're right. I think it would be fair to say, too, that we have narrowed down you know, we again, we have a lot of criteria we have to go through because of the fact that we are just a team of three. But we have significantly narrowed down and I think will be making a decision very soon.
And even though we're moving on to season two, as things develop and Melanie's case, we will absolutely be continuing to post content on season one as well. Yes, please stay tuned. Like Amy said, we're going to there's going to be some shows on television and there will be app updates on Melanie's case. And we will continue to post those updates and continue to answer all of your emails and your questions. In the meantime, you can support us by leaving a review, telling your friends or checking us out on women in crime.
OK, thank you so much, Amy. Good to see you. And thanks everyone for listening or joining us on this update episode. Thank you.
And continue writing in if you have additional questions, theories, comments. Direct mail is hosted by Megan Sachs and Amy Schlosberg, our producer is James. The story was written by Megan Sex Music and underscored by dessert media recorded mixed and edited by Justin Crüe at Jayce Studios. Special thanks to Allen, whose work was integral to his production. And follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you have a tip, you can submit to our Web site or by emailing tips at Direct Appeal podcast dotcom.
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