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On January 3rd, 2017, two friends staged a ritual in the Savage River Forest, by morning, only one was still alive.

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We've got a missing couple in Savage River State Forest. Possible suicide. The more you hear about what he found up there, the more bizarre it is.

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OK, what happened? If you come across and where is Alex? Don't you think he's dead? Yeah. There's no way in my brain he inflicted that kind of injury on himself.

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But then you have to accept that she was willing to risk death and serious injury to kill this person when she could have probably just done it.

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Otherwise, she doesn't have any clothes on and she's hypothermic. She's OK. As far as like no clothes whatsoever.

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No, it took the state eight months to even charge her with anything. Why did it take that long? Is it because they didn't have enough evidence? Big Savage, the death of Alexander Stephens now available on all major podcasting services. If you were just tuning in, we encourage you to go back and listen from Episode one, this podcast may contain content that is graphic and disturbing in nature. Listener discretion is advised.

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Previously on Direct Appeal. I remember saying I kid, I kid, and I don't really remember much after that.

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Nobody's entitled to a perfect trial. You're entitled to a fair trial. We've never had guns. We don't know anything about guns. But to do what they said was done to them. If you had told me the appeal would take advantage of it, I don't think I would have the care. I was hanging on by a thread. She's convicted. It's a different dynamic than arguing about it before trial. It got to the point. I just wanted to come to prison.

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Let's just get the show up. It's not about who's innocent or guilty. It's about watching about in some ways it's so much worse than I can ever be fair. And in some ways nearly as bad as people think. This changes you in a way. I don't know that anybody come back from. This is Episode 16, The Best Friends. Last time and direct appeal, we aired our second Q&A with Melanie, thank you to those of you who wrote in, we hope we got your questions answered.

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For today, first of all, welcome back to Direct Appeal. Hi, Amy. Good to see you. Hello again and thank you all for your patience. As we took time to comb through all your tips, theories and questions, the next two and final episodes will take a deep dive into the major themes that have emerged over the past few months. This episode will include two additional interviews with people who contacted us with information to share. I'm a little sad as the last two episodes.

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Yeah, but there might be more stuff to come.

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Well, sure, yeah. But I'm kind of. It's like an artist. I think you feel like your work is not done and I still feel like there are more that we can do. Yep. But we have taken the time and gone through everything we possibly could get our hands on. So today on this episode, we actually want to focus on the two additional interviews that we did.

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So the first one is an interview with a woman named Jackie. She was a good friend of Melanie's prior to Melanie's incarceration. According to Jackie, she met Melanie in nursing school and they became very close. Jackie was in Melanie's wedding and she actually knew both Melanie and Bill very well, which is interesting because up until now, we've really only heard, you know, from someone who knew Melanie and didn't know Bill as well. And the people that we contacted on Bill's side may not have known Melanie as well.

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So I thought the interview with Jackie was very helpful in shedding light on both Bill and Melanie as people and on their relationship. Jackie tells us a little bit about her relationship with Melanie.

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She is a complex person, so she still got married. I was one of her bridesmaids, was the maid of honor, and Bill's niece was the other bridesmaid. I had never met Sally before that, which is interesting, right? I knew Bill super well during the time. And the fact that she never introduced him to sleep was weird. I mean, the four of us used to hang out, me and my husband and Bill all the time.

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He worked up in Woodbridge. My husband and his car got stolen. And so Bill came and picked him up and he was at their house until at the end of the day, you know, I came and picked them up and, you know, he and Bill were just carrying on. Well, he liked Bill, not Melanie so much. None of my mom hated her. My sister hated her. Everybody couldn't stand her because she was snotty better than everybody else stuck up.

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I guess you would say she's a good friend to me. I got back and forth between being really angry at her. Like, I just get so mad, like, you know, we were good friends. She was going to be living close by. We were going to do star kids for about the same age as, you know. And I just feel like she I don't want to think took that away.

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But so this is my first time hearing this interview. I just want to point out here. Yes. I can't believe you've kept this gem from me for so long.

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It was interesting how I had no idea what Jackie was going to say. Initially, she contacted us and said that she had information to share and that she was a good friend of Melanie. So I didn't know.

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So I find it interesting, another issue with the car, like what's going on with the Maguires and their cars.

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But, you know, that's neither here nor there, but hated her. Her family hated her. That's a strong word. I don't know about you, but even if I had a friend growing up that, like, maybe seems snotty, I don't think my family would ever say I hate that person.

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Right. That seems really strong. And that could be like a mischaracterization by Jackie.

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Or maybe there was something else to this or maybe, you know, they just didn't like her. She's taking it to the extreme. Yeah. But, yeah, I was surprised when she said nobody in my family liked Melanie. They hated Melanie.

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She said. Right. They say. And if this comes up later, that's fine. You just tell me to shut up. But did she say for Huhs? She said her husband like Bill, she like Bill her that her husband hate Melanie as well.

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I think what she said and I think it was in that clip was Melanie. Not so much got it.

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But this is interesting, too, because we don't know a lot of people, again, who have met Mel, Melanie and Bill together. And so her husband really liked Bill. And I asked Jackie and she said I really liked him, too.

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It's nice to hear something positive about Bill because we haven't had that opportunity. Unfortunately, we haven't. No, we haven't heard back from Bill's friends. We'll get to that later. But, yeah, these people are talking about a relationship where the four of them are spending a lot of time together and they liked him and they hung out. And, you know, they knew Bill is a real person, although I should get to I won't I won't, you know, get to too much right now.

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But Jackie says that she liked Bill, but she does say that he did some mean or bad things. So, you know, she puts that in the proper context later on as well. So Jackie describes our relationship. They're really good friends. They hang out the four of them. She said they talked on the phone every day for hours. She said sometimes four or five hours they had kids the same age.

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So they were really tight, according to Jackie. Right.

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So she says that there were definitely red flags, though, in the relationship with Bill. Again, she's saying, yes, I liked Bill, yes, I liked Melanie. But there were a lot of things that you could. Probably see as flags pretty quick, pretty quickly, right from the start. A part of me, you know, is sad about that, I believe, for so long. I just feel bad about Bill. I mean, he didn't deserve that.

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I mean, he was a jerk, but so is she. And, you know, she says all the time, I gave as good as I got. She sure did. I mean, he was mean to her. She was mean to him. But that's just how they were. I'll tell you a story there just kind of moved into their last place. I was in the kitchen with her, like helping her cook. And my husband and her husband were in the living room watching.

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You know, some people you see are still trying to my husband, he goes, watch this, Melanie. The VCR tape is done, is put into one. And so she had to stop cooking, come out to the living room, change the tape. And when we walked out of there, I said I would punch you in the face. I said to my husband, if you mean if you were sitting there doing nothing, having a beer with your friend, that made me come change the videotape.

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I think that she might have been embarrassed about that. Melanie was very big into appearances when I first met her. I think she had just started dating Bill the first time that they spent the night together. This is her story. She's this is your story. She claims she woke up in the morning and was gone. And so she said, oh, I just went out for a run and went back to sleep. And then she woke up again and she realized she was still gone.

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And so was your first ATM card. He had taken her card down to Atlantic City and allegedly pulled four hundred bucks off of it and gambled with that money. And I said to her, why are you dating somebody like like I said, complex person.

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So these are two. Is there any way to confirm that maybe a forensic accountant can look into, I mean, whether they wouldn't be able to look that far?

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Now, I did ask Melanie about the story and she said, yes, that was what actually happened and she did.

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But she's the one who would have told Jackie.

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So if it did happen, I mean, yes, for sure. For sure. But, you know, she told Jackie the story a long time ago, the first night together. That's what she said. Yeah, the first night together. OK, it's very strange.

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I think it was a little bit strange. The story about them.

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I was you know, I'm not sure about that one, but the story about the the VCR. Right. That one was where Jackie and her husband were present. So we know we have two people to attest to this. And, you know, the story kind of went that Bill was sitting there and they were watching TV. And, you know, he was kind of like, watch, you know, watch what my wife will do. And and I asked Jackie about, you know, what did she think about that?

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Was it as mean as it seems? Or and she said, yeah, it was me.

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She said it was mean. And I asked her, you know, we don't know anything about any physical abuse. I asked Jackie, did you ever see anything physical? She said, absolutely not. And I asked, do you think he was emotionally abusive? And she said, absolutely, yes.

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So we get a little I think that's I'm sorry to interrupt. I think that that story's almost more telling of Melanie than Bill. In what way? The fact that Melanie is this strong woman who doesn't seem to take shit, but when it comes to Bill, it seems like it's it's just different than from what? I don't know her personally, but from the picture that's been painted of her, I would have expected her to respond more like Jackie, like I'll fucking punch you in the face if you talk to me like that.

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Know that's true. Yeah, I agree. I had asked her about Melanie's behavior with Bill and she said that she felt like Melanie walked on eggshells at times. But to be fair, she also said, I don't know if you heard it in that clip, but she said, yeah, they were both jerks to each other. That's just how they were.

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They were she said Melanie could be every bit as mean to Bill as Bill was to Melanie, although, you know, if I was gauging what she actually had to say, it seemed like she thought Bill sort of had the upper hand, maybe a meanness or something of that.

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So or just the upper hand in the relationship to be able to say to your wife, come do this and her do it. I mean, I think you're right. Some sort of control or upper hand. I think so. I think we could say that for sure. So, you know, there were flags.

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They were both mean to each other. They could both be jerks.

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Jackie also told us the story of I don't know if you recall, but we briefly discussed the charges that were filed against Bill and Melanie.

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And so this was for perjury earlier on. So Jackie discussed this because she was saying also, jeez, you know, talk about early red flags.

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This happened early on. And Bill wasn't even at Melanie's nursing graduation. He was actually in jail.

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OK, so he was speeding. I pulled over this car, you know, I guess not bad for him. So drove him home and, you know, gave him a ride home. And when he showed up to court, I guess Bill had to appear. He was it wasn't me. And the cop was like, I remember you. I remember you. I gave you a ride. You were in my car. And he was like, wasn't me.

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There was some one of the roommates at my house took my driver's license and he looks like me and it was really him and Melanie was going to testify that he was telling the truth to that. And still, I guess they called the restaurant where he worked. And, yes, they do wear tuxes there and he would have been driving and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The judge was pissed that he was just going to stand there and lie.

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And just so they gave him two weeks in jail and now. Oh, no, he had to wear a wire. She wore a wire. Why would you marry somebody who wore a wire around you? But anyway, again, I digress. Like I said, the stories that I knew at the time was what she told me. She was going to say she was at home with him and they said, we know you weren't. We know you're lying.

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This is going to if you get charged with perjury, this is going to preclude you you won't be able to get your nursing license. And he knew it and he went to jail for two weeks. All right, my biggest question here is, if I remember correctly, Melanie, describe this situation very differently. Melanie said that instead of pretending it was a roommate who looked like him, he had his license. He had told the police, according to Melanie, that she was driving or it was that I think so.

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To me, this points out some inconsistency between what Melanie is telling us and what she's telling her friends.

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I possibly, but I think it was my understanding of it and possibly might really relating it.

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She said that she was going to lie for Bill and she said that her roommates, yet the remains found out and they called the district attorney's office to say, OK, roommates, if you are listening, call us.

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We need to clear this up.

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So I've actually I received one email back that addressed this and said, well, yes, this is mostly true. But I think, you know, she was confused about part of it.

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OK, so, you know, like I said, I don't think it's a huge deal. I just think it possibly is the first time I'm hearing inconsistency, inconsistencies in her story. But it could be like the game of telephone, right? When do you tell enough people, you know, things get switched around? Think it was a telephone game?

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To be honest. Regardless, though, we're talking about again, we've said this. I'm not I'm not going to be this, you know, beat a dead horse here. But we do know that this is a situation where, you know, Bill was lying in court. I mean, I think it I didn't hear this part and I thought this part was absurd. Right. The police officer gave him a ride home. Mm hmm.

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And, you know, did a decent thing. And then he turns around and says, no, it wasn't me. That's that's a little arrogant. It's arrogant.

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You know, it's it takes audacity. And I think, Melanie, to say she's going to lie for him is foolish.

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I mean, you know, there there are really two foolish actions in this whole equation here. And so, you know, Melanie had said that it definitely put a strain on their relationship and she's not a big enough strain.

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Apparently not a big enough story now, but I'm sure I can see why. So this was one of the, again, another red flag that we're talking about that Jacqui gave us.

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Jacqui gave us some other information I'm going to get to in one second important information that actually bears directly on the crime, which is what we've been looking for, information if anyone can say something that is relevant here.

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But I'd like to say that she also talked about Brad and Melanie a little bit and she talked about she didn't know at the time that Melanie was having an affair.

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Nobody knew. Melanie didn't confide this in any of her friends. And I think maybe possibly one of the reasons Jacqui later felt betrayed was because of this, you know, finding out that my friend was having this affair that I didn't know about for so long and she was lying. And again, most people who are having affairs don't usually confide them right in a friend because they're hiding it.

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Yeah, but she did shed some light also on things that Melanie had told her about her and Brad a little bit and things they did together. And one of the things she said was that Brad had a poker game, a weekly or maybe not every week, maybe it was, you know, biweekly or something. But he had a poker game and Bill used to go over and play in the poker game at Brad's house. And I was like a little surprised to hear that Melanie had said that they did things together at times and there were certain events at which they found themselves together.

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But I was a little surprised to hear that they were a little closer, I think, than perhaps we had realized.

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So that was, you know, something it doesn't speak very nicely to their character. I don't think it speaks nicely to Brad or Melanie's character, to be honest.

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But she also said that she really did not believe that Melanie and Brad had any immediate plans to be together.

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So, I mean, but. That her opinion on that doesn't mean much, considering she didn't know about it, so she doesn't know how involved it was at the time, but no, no, she didn't. I guess she's hoping that if there were big plans, she would have known, but.

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Well, I don't know, because we're going to get to the point right now that Jackie actually called in because she thinks Melanie is guilty and she wanted to provide information. Why?

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OK. And so, you know, I was sort of confused and went, oh, OK. So tell us why. You know, this is good, though.

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I mean, we want to hear information.

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She said that Melanie and that Melanie was at her house almost every day while she was prepping for trial and that they were really close and that Jackie was really, really supportive in the beginning. She said that she believed in her innocence for a very long time. This was her best friend.

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And she said she believed that despite the fact that her family and friends thought Melanie was obviously guilty, why did they think that they just didn't like her or they thought it was all they thought it was obvious?

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Well, come on, Jackie, you're just being, you know, blind because she is your friend and you're not seeing the big signs or the, you know, a lot of the evidence. And so I asked Jackie, OK, well, so you believed in her innocence and, you know, did that change in in when? If so, did it change?

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Like at what point do you say, I don't believe you anymore, which nobody's is telling you a story as it's happening? Of course. You think that's real. I believed her. Believed I believed her until I couldn't anymore. I think the first you know, when this happened, every everybody knew. Everybody in my whole family, you know, she was at my wedding. She was oh, you know, just about everybody knew her for years and years.

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And when this happened, my mother in law, my sister in law, my own mother, my everybody, she did this. Of course she did this. Why are you so stupid, Jackie? Why? And I'm like, no, that makes sense for Melanie. Like, you know, I could see her going down to move his car and I could see that, you know, and then to find out that there were several trips down there, she told me about one.

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You know what I mean? All right. Let's see. So when did I start believing her? You know, about the letter that was written to the Torontonian right. From the mob boss. So she called me and I was pulling into my garage and she was like, oh, you've got to go, you know, go up to your computer and you got to see this letter that somebody sent to the Antonians. So I'm reading it and I have her in my ear, you know, on the phone.

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And I'm like, she wrote this like, you know, the cadence of how somebody talks like an especially like a good friend of yours, you know, phrases that they use.

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You know, that the first time that I was like, she wrote this letter. So, you know, me being the loyal person that I am, I'm like, okay, well, maybe she it just try to just maybe get the heat off of her in my head like, well, you know, maybe she really did do this. There was a few things for me that were. But when I saw the prescription, that was what sealed it for me, prescription for the chloral hydrate.

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That was her handwriting. And the address that she used on it was the address of her first apartment. No, not with her signature. It was written out chloral hydrate, bla bla bla bla bla. I'm sure handwriting. I sat next to her for three years.

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So when she says she sat next to her for three years, she's talking about in nursing school. And I saw Amy shaking her head and writing things down. So let's dissect this. There's a lot to unpack here.

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Oh, was there was there not a handwriting analysis done? And it was inconclusive, if I recall.

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Absolutely correct. Yeah, it was inconclusive, although, of course I do. You know, I could think of my best friend's handwriting, and I do feel like I'd be able to better than an expert. I'd be able to pick it out of a lineup, you know what I mean? So I understand if you're good friends with someone, the cadence thing, I don't know. I don't know about her knowing that she wrote the letter, the handwriting thing, I, I get that.

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So I looked at the I was able to find it online. It's on, you know, either Court TV documents or a murder PDA. I can't remember. But there's the prescription, the chloral hydrate prescription and it says chloral hydrate, such and such milligrams. And then there's that signature. OK, Bradley Miller's signature, the signature is not identifiable and nobody could identify it. And in fact, in court, actually, Brad said that doesn't even look like the way Melanie signed my name because she used to sign it all the time.

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And this is when Brad had cooperated against her.

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And he said doesn't look like her handwriting analysis was sort of inconclusive on this issue.

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What did you think? You know, Melanie Howard, I know it's interesting to you. I'm glad you said that.

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So I do know Melanie's Hendren because she sometimes writes to me, yeah, she sent you all sorts of documents, correspondence.

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Sometimes she types. Yeah.

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But other times she's actually. And written things to me. Now I see that I know I should have brought it to show you, but I couldn't see it. I didn't see that it looked the same. It did. It did it to me. OK, but that doesn't mean it's like the naked eye. It does. And that's exactly what I did, though. Amy, I went, wow, I'm the expert now. So I took out my, you know, the prescription.

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I took out my take your magnifying my hand, writing letters. And I do have a magnifying glass. So I took it out and I looked at the two and I just couldn't tell you didn't see it. OK, I just that doesn't mean anything either.

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But I was curious what your initial reaction was. Totally nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. So now the second issue is the more interesting one to me, because I think the chloral hydrate, I just don't think there's any way to say who wrote the prescription at this point. And I just don't think anyone's been clear enough. I mean, yes, with maybe much more analysis, there could be a way.

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But to date from the trial, from everything I know, it's Jacky's opinion. And she could be right. It's Brad's opinion that it wasn't hers. He could be right. I don't know.

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I also don't think it matters that much. I don't think that prescription is integral to the case as much as some other pieces of evidence.

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It's really interesting you say that because I was going to cover that later. And I think no, I think we we should it's one of the pieces of evidence that I'm not sure even relates to the crime.

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I think there's an argument to be made that it could be totally independent of this crime. So exactly.

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I'm going to say that the chloral hydrate, maybe it matters, maybe it doesn't it can't form a conclusion on this. I thought the interesting part, like you said, was she said that she recognized that was the mob.

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Let's remember the the letter that was written to the press, to the prosecutor. And it was, you know, sort of a you know, that you think Melanie did this, but you guys are wrong. And here's why. Jackie said Melanie called her and said, you have to read this letter that someone sent in and was published. And Jackie said when she was reading it, she was like, oh, I think Melanie wrote this.

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That's the cadence with which she speaks. So we were hoping to actually have a scientific conclusion on this. Unfortunately, we do not. So the forensic linguist in this case, if you recall, Carol Chayefsky was the linguist and she testified on behalf of Melanie. And what she said was basically that it's impossible for the layperson to tell, even when you think, you know, the way someone speaks, it's there's a much more scientific process and anything to date could not say conclusively either way.

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And so I called her again and she was going to run the case analysis, but she decided to hold off because she's concerned that it might jeopardize Melanie's appeal. I finally got her on the phone, let's put it that way. It took some time and she said, look, I do want to run this and I do want to give the scientific finding on it because, you know, that's more conclusive, she said. But at this point, I'm afraid if I did that and revealed it and you revealed it on the podcast to the media and to everyone else, that it could really jeopardize her appeal.

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And I'm not saying that would be Melanie's decision. It's interesting. As Carol friends with Melanie.

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No, I mean, they're not friends. She worked on the case. Yeah, but no, they're not personal friends or anything of that nature thing in a few different ways.

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It's almost like she's scared of what she might find. It sounds like if she found something that's harmful to Melanie, it could hurt her. It could only or it could help her. But it sounds like she's fearful that something might hurt her appeal. Yes. I mean, you could look at it that way.

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It almost sounded to me like she was fearful if the information got out before it was, I don't know, subjected to a court. OK, you're right. It's understandable, I guess. You know, I thought so at first.

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I mean, I was a little irritated, to be honest. I was hoping that, look, we could have the answer to this question for you. We can tell you if Melanie didn't write this letter, then she's not involved in this crime. Or, you know, maybe you could say that if she wrote it, she's clearly involved.

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I wanted to have that. But I don't know that that this will be relevant to Melanie's appeal.

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And here's why.

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As I was reminded last night, Melanie was acquitted on these charges, the charges that were obstruction of justice that pertain to this. The jury acquitted her.

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So this issue likely would not come up again in appeal. Yes.

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But if it showed that there was a high likelihood that Melanie wrote it, that's going to speak pretty loudly to the guilt or innocence. I know it couldn't be an issue on appeal, but it could definitely informally sway things.

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True, totally agree on that. So unfortunately, we don't. I asked Carol again, though, I mean, we did speak about this and I said, look, she's got a friend who called me. I spoke with her. She says they were tight friends for a long time. She says she absolutely recognizes the cadence of the way Melanie speaks. And it lines up completely with this letter. And she said, no way to tell. Sorry, that is absolutely.

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She said, you know, it's similar to give an example. It's similar to eyewitness testimony. You know, when you go like, I'm sorry, of course I saw this person.

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There's just no way. Not to mention that the letter was clearly, not clearly, but we hypothesize that it was written as someone who was trying to sound like someone else. So if she says she's she.

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Organizing that writing, it doesn't I don't know, that just adds another layer to it.

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I don't really like his mom or her whatever, like all that language, that slang that was being used that clearly I don't think Melanie would talk like that.

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Right. Right. But she'd be, in theory, writing like someone who would talk like that. So how would you recognize the cadence?

[00:27:46]

That's what I'm saying. So she's pretty much recognizing the cadence of her friend, pretending to be someone else. Yes. So that makes it even trickier?

[00:27:54]

I think so. I think it's really tricky to say. I think she genuinely believes it and maybe she is right. But I don't think there's any conclusive way to tell. We've got.

[00:28:01]

We know so. So maybe one day after Melania's appeals Karola look into it and we'll have a follow up on that.

[00:28:08]

I'm hoping that even if someone's listening and knows a forensic linguists or you are one and you feel that you could help, we are still open and would be really excited to have some of that information. So please reach out and contact us if you are OK.

[00:28:21]

So those are the two important things as they relate to Jackie's opinion of Melanie's guilt. Jackie had a lot of other things to say about Melanie and her involvement of the crime. So when I asked her, OK, well, what do you think? What do you think actually happened? She said she just didn't know. She said, you know, she thinks Melanie is involved, but she really doesn't know. She didn't think that the house was a crime scene.

[00:28:43]

She just wasn't sure of the specifics, which is fine. She still believed that Melanie was guilty again. She also said that she didn't think that Brad would ever leave his small child. Did she know Brad?

[00:28:54]

Because it sounds like she couldn't have because Melanie didn't tell her about Brian? Well, I'm not sure she might have, though, because remember, Brad was that they did family functions and things.

[00:29:02]

They were still in each other's lives. Brad was her boss for a long time. So she might she probably didn't know him in that capacity as Melanie's boss, not Melanie's lover.

[00:29:11]

It's possible. Yeah, OK, possible. So likely I'd say that they've at least cross paths. Crossed paths. Yeah, right.

[00:29:17]

So that was the information that Jackie had. And, you know, she had a lot more. But that was the most relevant, I think, to her opinion of Melanie's guilt.

[00:29:25]

Now, we also heard from someone else who knew Melanie and her name is Barbara, and we conducted an interview with her. So interestingly, Barbara had a different position or a different opinion on Melanie and her guilt or her involvement in the crime.

[00:29:44]

So here's Barbara. How she knows Melanie.

[00:29:47]

I know Melanie maybe about thirteen years. We met in prison. I was in prison for aggravated manslaughter. Melanie was the the tutor at night. We both went for a class to learn how to tutor inmates so they can get their dignity. She and I were the only inmates allowed to have unsupervised students in a classroom. We didn't need any officers or anything in the classroom because we were trusted, just the inmates. She became my best friend. I am not a person that tries very easy, but with Melanie was different.

[00:30:23]

Melanie is a very kindhearted, loving person. She's very gentle. At times. She can become very afraid very easily, you know. And that's where I would come in, you know, to calm her and to make sure she was always appears. She was the one that was always there for me, no matter what she was. She's the person you would call the boyfriend.

[00:30:44]

So it's interesting because Jackie knew Melanie in the life before. Right? They're good friends for a number of years. I gathered like eight to ten years, and that was prior to prison. Barbara and Melanie had been friends for, you know, probably in prison for eight to ten years. Bob has since been released for a number of years, I think three or four years. So probably in prison, they knew each other, you know, nine or ten years something.

[00:31:04]

And so she describes Melanie and her friendship and giving you, you know, a little bit about that, which is fine.

[00:31:09]

But, you know, more importantly, Barbara had an opinion about Melanie's guilt. So what she thinks and why she thinks this, I definitely feel like she was wrongly convicted.

[00:31:21]

I look, I did my crime and I can admit it. I killed my husband, so I know you know what I mean. And I can tell tendencies of someone else that has killed her husband. And she's not one of them. She's not one of them. I feel in my heart and my gut in my soul that she's innocent, you know, and I read her records and everything because we became that close that she trusted me with things.

[00:31:47]

And no, absolutely not. She was wrongfully accused and she doesn't deserve to be in there. You also get the feel of a person when you've been in as long as I have.

[00:31:57]

You get the feel of when they're lying and when they're not and when they're sincere, plus her just certain things that she says in a way that she speaks certain ways that her eyes tear up when she speaks about certain things. A person that's a killer, you know, I mean, that's just cold heartedly kills somebody. Whatever is not going to behave the way she does not at all is not going to show up with you. I start shaking like a leaf when certain things are said or when certain conversations are brought up about the case.

[00:32:32]

She never changes a story. A person that's going to lie to you always forgets what they see down the line. Like I can ask the same question a year later and I still get the same answer. A person that's not going to give me the same answer. They have to sit and think and remember what they said in the first place. And she never did that. OK, go ahead, Amy. Something I just want to mention from before, it does seem there seems to be a consistency that Melanie was a good friend.

[00:32:57]

Right, because even though Jackie feels the way she does now, she's stuck around as a friend, even though she saw these certain tendencies. And now Barbara says she's a good friend. OK, we've heard that over and over. I'm sure just because somebody kills their husband doesn't make them an expert in people who kill their husband. And that you know, I'm just saying, Barbara, you know, she did say I should know I killed my husband, but I don't think it takes one to know one or that gives you some sort of other meter.

[00:33:24]

I do think when you spend enough time in prison, you do have the sixth sense around, like, you know, feeling out like a bullshit meter, who's innocent, who's guilty, who might be lying. I do want to point out that she said a person who who kills wouldn't be able to cry and shake. And that's certainly untrue. People there are not saying this is Melanie, but in general, that's an untrue statement. There are sociopaths who can very much fake emotion, and we know that.

[00:33:52]

Yes, right. I agree. So I don't know that. I would put much weight on that, I just wanted to point that out. No, I agree. There are definitely people who can fake their emotions and fake crime for sure. I don't I don't think that's a matter of someone's innocence by saying that they cry and shake.

[00:34:08]

I don't think for us it is. And I don't think for most people it should be. I think she's talking about her experience, though. And she had an experience also with remember, she did all of her time with murderers as well. So I guess that was her experience in relation to those.

[00:34:21]

And I value her opinion on this for sure. Yeah, because she she did live it. Yeah. But I agree with that point, Amy. People can easily fake. Jackie had said actually that she felt she felt used by Melanie at some point. And I said, I think I understand, I think I understand what you're saying. But I did ask her, you know, was she a good friend? She said, well, yes, she was a good friend to me.

[00:34:41]

So one thing that Barbara said about lying that I believe and have gone to literature on is lying for a very long period of time and on lots and lots of details. Small details to big is not as easy as people think. It is very hard to be completely consistent.

[00:35:01]

So even today when we were talking about what was it, the story, the felony, the perjury. Yes.

[00:35:07]

Oh, this might be an inconsistency because we've not been able to find I have not been able to find almost any inconsistency in Melanie stories.

[00:35:15]

And I don't know if I've said this before, but I think the audience should know that I've interviewed her in person several times. I've recorded her. I've spoken to her on the phone.

[00:35:25]

I've emailed her and I've intentionally asked her things over and over again, but different ways to see where if there was just a deviation. And I haven't been able to find a deviation yet. So I do think for me, that's always been a point that she's completely consistent. And I know that you've said before that she's had plenty of time to rehearse and that could be the counter. You know, this is Barbara's opinion. OK, Barbara. But she was convicted.

[00:35:47]

You know, she was convicted in a court of law.

[00:35:49]

And, you know, there's a lot of people who believe she's guilty. So why do you think that is? So Barbara talks about that.

[00:35:56]

Let me tell you, the prosecutor wants to prosecute you to the fullest degree of the law. You're going to push it no matter what, because you're guilty until proven innocent. And that's the way it works.

[00:36:08]

You know, everybody doesn't know the whole story. They look at what's on 20/20. And when you're an inmate, you're automatically judged just for being in prison. And that's how everybody will always look to you until you get out. And they don't know that you've been in prison. They see a whole different person. And then once they find out they're like that, not hurt because it's happened to me, you know what I mean? So it's just people are very ignorant.

[00:36:34]

They don't know what they're talking about. And all they see is what they read in the paper or what they see on TV, which is a bunch of bullshit.

[00:36:42]

I definitely agree with her that you are guilty until proven innocent in our system. I couldn't I can't agree with that one more. I do too.

[00:36:49]

I really think, you know, it's the idea of innocent until proven guilty, but that's not the reality of the system.

[00:36:54]

And she she gets it, you know, she knows it.

[00:36:57]

You know, she said that she thought that people were very judgmental of Melanie because of what they saw on Dateline in the 48 hours. And I mean, to a degree, that's true. Right? We all made judgments. I did, too. Just by the way, you know, I watch these things before I even interviewed Melanie and or along the way, I've been watching them. And of course, she turned her head that way. Her eyes look cold.

[00:37:17]

She's not crying here. Yeah.

[00:37:18]

Guilty of some of the things that we say other people are guilty of. So, you know, Barbara talked a little bit about her own case and how things you know, when a prosecutor wants to push, they're going to push. And I mean, obviously, the prosecution pushed for murder because they believed Melanie was guilty of that murder.

[00:37:33]

So and I think there's no question that the prosecutor was overzealous in this case. I don't think we can. That's not really up for debate here. I think that's been established.

[00:37:42]

I mean, I feel like we've established that. And I I'm not sure, though, other people might think, look, she was really taking her charge seriously. She was a good prosecutor. She took it to the full extent, I think, that you and I have established and I think we will again in the last episode, that there were certainly lines that were crossed that may have, you know, been the overzealous line for sure.

[00:38:04]

So Barbara is adamant that Melanie is innocent and that she can absolutely tell that she spent enough time with her, that she knows that she's seen true emotion. That was something someone else asked about to that. I briefly with that thought I would mention here is that I've spent a lot of time watching Melanie, too. And there she does show emotion.

[00:38:23]

It's not true that she's she doesn't cry lots, but she does. I have I've definitely seen times where she can well up. I have definitely seen times where her mouth sort of like, let's shake that, you know, mouths do. And, you know, she she's definitely to me it can be emotional at times.

[00:38:42]

So and that's I think that's an interesting point, because we did receive a listener comment, which I think we'll discuss next episode about how cold she sounds. And she only her voice only cracks one time. And, you know, so I think we can revisit that again, but I do think that is important, too. I think so, too. And if people asked about it so Barbara, answer it. And I figured I would, too.

[00:39:04]

And I also want to point out that Barbara's not the only person who has served time with Melanie that believes she's innocent. Melanie has quite a lot of support on the inside a lot. It's interesting. I asked Barbara about that. You know, I asked her about other people like her inmates, the supportive generally of inmates. And she said not really, because she said most of the women she's like most of us have all all owned up to our crimes.

[00:39:27]

Like we're all guilty, we're all caught. We're all, you know, there. She said, most people who just own it.

[00:39:32]

So, you know, and we've talked about that before, that it's a common misconception that everyone in prison thinks they are innocent. But that's just not the case. I mean, it's taught wrongful convictions several times in prison. And I often ask my students, how many of you are wrongfully convicted? No one's ever said they were wrongfully convicted.

[00:39:49]

Yeah, it's rarer than people think, you know. So it's almost like maybe we should listen than the ones that are, you know, standing on the soapbox. Yeah, maybe not. Anyway, so Barbara also described Melanie's life in prison now for us a little bit. And while this really isn't relevant to anyone's conclusions and I normally wouldn't play this, so many people have emailed asking me about Melanie's life in prison and how she lives. And and I'm sorry, along that same vein, I just want to reiterate that Melanie will not talk about her children to anyone who asked the question about Melanie's children.

[00:40:21]

We did not bring those questions to Melanie because Melanie told us from the beginning that topic is off limits.

[00:40:27]

Yep. So I'm sorry. No, thanks.

[00:40:29]

So a little bit about how Melanie lips Melanie just doesn't, like, hang out with people all the time. Melanie, she goes to work, she goes to visit, and then she's at her room. You know, she lives a cell phone. So she lives by herself. She lives in our own home. Shouldn't have any bunkie's, doesn't have anything which is like that's like the whole town Claytons, like that's where I started and so forth. So it's different if you're in different units like St.

[00:40:55]

Hillcrest, where you're going to go crazy after a while, then maybe it would be different because she would have to deal with a lot of people. But being just having to deal with 15 people that you live with on a wing of their own and your own separate rooms, it makes life a lot easier because of that. So officers can, you know, individually, like they can see who the Catholic ones are. And he'll do that one side and one officer was like really treated her really bad up.

[00:41:26]

Some officers were crushed on her. So, you know, and she, like, just told them, you know, go away. A lot of the officers really respected her. They really do. You know what I mean? Even the captains all the time. And they show her a lot of respect. And and I like that because I was very protective of her.

[00:41:44]

For those of you who asked, that's the information we have about Melanie's life as it is now. After interviewing Jackie and Barbara, Amy and I thought that we would be done. Actually, we thought that was going to be the end of our conclusion to the podcast. But we were wrong and we got quite a surprise with someone who wrote in and wanted to speak to us, someone who was integral to both Melanie's case and to the prosecution's case, and someone you may remember from an earlier episode for everyone who's paying attention in Episode six opening arguments.

[00:42:20]

One of the prosecutors key witnesses was Jim Finn. Jim Finn was a good friend of Melanie's from nursing school, and he became a very important witness during the trial. And even though he is a private person and he wasn't thrilled about the idea of giving an interview, he said he wanted to speak with us and he wanted to do it because he simply felt like it was the right thing to do. And I have to commend him for that. It's really interesting to talk to Jim, because a lot of people wrote in about him and asked to what degree was he questioned?

[00:42:52]

To what degree was he a suspect? And we weren't really sure.

[00:42:57]

You know, and Melanie, I don't know if you recall this, Amy, but Melanie had mentioned that Jim was questioned and she thought he was investigated heavily, but then kind of stopped herself and said, well, I'm not really sure because she didn't have any contact with him right now.

[00:43:11]

She didn't. And she didn't really have any, you know, anything conclusive. So he describes their friendship and how they used to talk on the phone for hours. He said they really were, you know, quite close. They met in nursing school.

[00:43:23]

They involved romantically. I don't recall. They were not they were just good friends. They didn't have a romantic involvement, although Jim says that he was interested in one. But Melanie just wanted to be friends. And so they were really just platonic. But he said, you know, at the height of their friendship, they would talk on the phone almost every day or several times a week for a couple of hours. And he said that they were close.

[00:43:43]

And I asked him what happened, did they remain close or whatnot? But he actually moved away.

[00:43:48]

I think he moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. He finished the nursing program somewhere else.

[00:43:53]

And he said, you know, once he moved away, they would talk a little bit more sporadically, as happens when someone moves away. Right. He moved away before the trial. He will. He moved away after nursing school.

[00:44:04]

Oh, so you an earlier much of your time. He said they still talk. They talk more sporadically. They still emailed, but it was more once in a while. OK, so he's got a lot of information here. And one of the things I want to lead out with because I was really shocked to hear is when he talks about a nursing conference that he and Melanie and a couple other people went to, and this was in Atlantic City.

[00:44:27]

You know, it's funny, I was reading the comments and a lot of people had a big problem. Why don't you go back to Atlantic City to look for him? So I was actually with Melanie and we had another student in our class. Jackie said there was a nursing convention. I'm pretty sure it was at the Trump Plaza. She said that they had had a fight. He says, oh, you're going to Atlantic City. I'm going to go to Phoenix City to guess the last thing she ever wanted to hear, because I think there was a time of bill.

[00:44:52]

I kind of got away from gambling. I remember. Right. So she kind of she was distracted all day. I remember that day and really worried about like if she was going to be there somehow some way, she talked to him on the phone while we were there and he said he was he was in Atlantic City and he was gambling and just doing the whole thing. Was he there? Was you just doing that to mess with their idea?

[00:45:14]

But she was really affected by that. You know, he's gambling like he was a gambler in your relationship, like you want your relationship to be normal, that it's going to be an alcoholic. You don't want a gambler. That just doesn't work. So everybody says, you know, Melanie, she's you know, she's going to Atlantic City looking for him all the time. And that just sounds really weird. But if I were in the car her circa 1995, 96, looking for Bill after we left the convention, she to basically just please drive around or go to some of the clubs again.

[00:45:45]

Let me just run in and see if he's there. We actually did that if there was something that was going on for a while, I thought that was an interesting point.

[00:45:53]

He talks about Jackie Jackies, the other woman that we had spoken with, correct?

[00:45:57]

That's correct. That's interesting because they all knew each other from nursing school. One of my takeaways here, though, is I didn't think it was that crazy that she was driving around Atlantic City looking for Bill because I actually did that with her.

[00:46:11]

Yeah, that's that's interesting. Very interesting.

[00:46:14]

At least in in some small measure lends some maybe small support to her story that she would be driving around looking for him when everyone said that's nuts, maybe it is nuts, but maybe she's done it before. So maybe he provides a little context for that. OK, so, you know, Jim moves away and like you said, there were sporadically in contact. However, about a month or two before Bill was murdered, Melanie and Jim get in contact a lot more again.

[00:46:42]

And he says that, you know, it was more emails and more talking on the phone and he could tell that things were going badly at home. You know, Melanie was honest that marriage wasn't great. And she said that, you know, Bill was acting erratically. The subject of these communications between them became really important at trial because the prosecution asserted that Melanie was eliciting important information from Jim about how to purchase a gun, which is true, that that's not really, I guess, the dispute or, you know, Melanie doesn't dispute that.

[00:47:13]

And I you know, it's interesting, Jim, Jim didn't disputed either, but said he felt like it was actually his suggestion. But I guess, you know, to what end or for what purpose is where, you know, the to the story kind of deviates, you know, is it because Melanie, again, is she trying to get this gun to murder her husband or is she trying to get this gun for her husband? So I'm not sure that that is such a, you know, such a bone here.

[00:47:36]

I think that she would stipulate. Yeah, she said it on our recording. Yeah. So later on. So Melanie tells Jim that Bill has been murdered. And later on, when Melanie becomes the focus of the investigation, the police are looking for accomplices. Remember, this is when they start looking into the men and Melanie's life. And so they come looking for Jim Finn. So let's hear Jim describe what happens now.

[00:48:01]

I worked at Central Jersey Blood Center in Shrewsbury Avenue. It was a blood bank. So on that day, there were people telling me, Jim, we had cops coming through the front door, cops coming through the back door, and they're looking for you. And everybody's like freaking out about what's going on here. Now, I wasn't there. They not know that nobody got my figurine, they didn't know where I was on every day of the week.

[00:48:25]

I mean, isn't that how they were? So everyone listening to Figure eight, it's kind of like the alphabet agency guys and police use it. When you're going to follow somebody, you follow them all week before my next week and then eventually find out everything that they do every Monday and Tuesday. He does this. It gets that preapprove because we're all pretty much creatures of habit. Yes. I kind of thought that was kind of sinister. Like if they did know or times and didn't know it, well, that was a mistake.

[00:48:52]

And if they knew I wasn't there and did that anyway. Well, now we're moving into psychological operations where we want everyone who works with Jim to think that the police are after him and he did something really wrong. OK, I've got a big problem with that. But again, I don't know. Then a pause there, because I have a big problem with that as well, there's two sides of this coin. There's a bunch of police coming to this guy's work who has done nothing wrong or, you know, and either they are I'm going to just say it totally incompetent because they have no idea where he works or they are trying to send a message to everyone he works with at a bunch of cops are looking for him and put this intense pressure on him.

[00:49:32]

I don't know which one is worse, but I think both are bad.

[00:49:35]

So just understand this correctly. They were looking for him just on off the days he worked.

[00:49:40]

OK, so they came looking for him on a day that he was not at work. And so his point is which which is worse?

[00:49:46]

Is it incompetence? Because they should have known that if you're going to send a team in or is it, you know, kind of psychological warfare? Yeah, we're putting the pressure on you by letting everyone know we're looking for you.

[00:49:57]

Yeah, they probably were just incompetent.

[00:50:02]

OK, I'm going to I'm going to go with incompetent as well on that one and say that, OK, it was just a mistake. And that makes me feel better, to be honest.

[00:50:10]

OK, so and I had to be doing how at the whole but here on the line. So don't come in through the back door, you know, stuff down and then come on out and get ready for work. And then the phone rings. And the manager there answers the phone and she hangs up the phone. She says that was really what he. That was when she wanted to know if you were here by focusing her schedule to be here.

[00:50:35]

That's not scheduled to be here today. So the next couple of minutes, this is where my life will change. So these two really tall detectives, Humphrey Bogart, 62, 63, I'm not used to look up at people. I guess I could tell that they knew who I was. It came right back. You know, they introduced themselves. I'm Detective Sergeant Jeff Greenfield's partner. And I think they said, yeah, we got a couple questions for you about Tony McGuire.

[00:51:05]

Like I you know, he was saying people for friends are being questioned. So I kind of expected at some point. So he says, we want you to go. With us to a nearby police station and then we'll talk to you there. I felt sure whatever we walk in, there's one one cop there and he's looking at me like we want to put you in jail for the rest of your life. And if he goes to the doctor, say, with the camera, he says, no, we don't need the camera.

[00:51:34]

I'll bet 100 doctors video the whole thing, but whatever. And so the scene gets. I'm sitting down to one side of the table. I myself, they're sitting on the other side and they look. Everything is very, very uncomfortable, quiet, nobody's saying anything. And he says. Jim. We think Melanie McGuire killed husband. And we think there's an accomplice. OK, so. Let that hang in the air for just. Declarative, I'm feeling pressure like I've never felt my life before, completely it goes.

[00:52:16]

That was the implication. They never actually came out and said, we think you were the accomplice. They just say to you, we think there's an accomplice. And then they dramatically paused and very effective have sex. But of. So my view here I am sitting in this police station where I'm not entirely sure where it is, and these two guys are now accusing me of a crime that's going to put me in prison for the rest of my life if convicted.

[00:52:42]

So it's the first thing I start thinking about. How many news stories I saw this year? Of all the people who were released from prison because DNA evidence proved that innocent and they were serving over 30 plus years in jail. Anybody listening to this think that 30 plus years in jail, you can't do that if you don't have an attorney with me, I don't know what I don't want to get to the truth. I'm all for the truth. Let's do it.

[00:53:09]

But Ben and I will speak to the police. You're crazy not to have an attorney with him now. No way better to do that. They're coming from a place where you're guilty. We're prove it. It's not it's not said. It's implied. They tell you nothing. They tell you nothing. They ask questions. And you're there to give them answers. And that's all it is. My interrogation lasted for eight hours, eight hours straight, no break.

[00:53:35]

So, again, we're sitting in this room and these guys are telling you that my friend's a murderer. They're implying that I helped her. And so I'm now no one else's business to them. Now to. What's going on here and what is crucial? The first question out of the gate, what does he ask me? He says we have pictures of you and Melanie going into a hotel room. I should really want why you show me those pictures.

[00:54:05]

And he goes, well, I don't have to show you. Well, boy, that was a great first question out. The gate is a lie. We've got trust problems now, guys. I think he's right now.

[00:54:16]

There's a lot we're actually not done with this. But the first question out of the gate, like he says, is a lie. And now we have trust problems. So initially I thought, yeah, that's a really bad move to a state like, you know, the first thing you're going to do is lie to someone you're supposed to gain trust first. But then I also thought, do you think they had him mistaken with Brad? We have a picture of you coming out of a hotel room with Melanie.

[00:54:40]

And I thought again, oh, my God, either it's incompetent because they look anything like no, no, they look nothing alike. But but the point that Jim makes is a good one. Like if you're starting off already, the first thing you're saying to me is a lie. I don't trust you. I don't want to tell you anything. I don't want to talk to you. I'm going to feel guarded. Well, they're allowed to lie to you.

[00:54:58]

That's part of their. Oh, I know. But we can talk about how I feel about that after. So.

[00:55:02]

All right, then it's back and forth and. It's part of me that trying to step back and just look at something while it's happening and I'm going, wow, you know, they really do good cop, bad cop. It was a bad cop. His partner was a good cop. And it's I think it's designed to just completely keep you off balance. Now it's to fight, you know. All right. Hey, you guys, a legitimate question.

[00:55:26]

I'll give you a legitimate interest if I think you bullshit me, I deserve something right back at you. I'm not playing. I'm endangered. I'm not a lot of danger. And so finally, once a good cop loses, says you don't get really sick and tired of you throwing every question back at us. We've been working for like 18 hours now. Why don't you just answer the question? Because I think my life is in danger and maybe I'm kind of trying to protect myself.

[00:55:53]

Do you think.

[00:55:54]

Yeah, like the gravity of the situation all of a sudden is on him. So Jim knew and Melanie told people that they're talking to my friends. Right. But I don't think he knew that they're going to be looking at him as an accomplice.

[00:56:06]

Also, eight hours for an interrogation is a lot when they have no reason at all to believe that this person was even involved.

[00:56:13]

So I was going to ask you that. I'm sure that's a lot of time wasted that you could have been with someone, like, investigating something else.

[00:56:19]

It's also a long time to interrogate someone, if that a break. And people want to know why, you know, wrongful convictions or false confessions happen. You know, there's a psychological break that can happen in long interrogations. And Jim was you know, he held his ground, but I wasn't.

[00:56:35]

Well, imagine somebody who is younger, maybe has mental health issues or under the influence. Right. You can see how someone could crack, as Jim seems like he has a really good head on his shoulders and he was able to stick it out. Exactly. But even he felt the pressure. I was thinking of Brendan Dasi, you know, someone young, someone you know, who's got mental issues and whatnot and.

[00:56:55]

Yeah, so eight hours of an interrogation and he's realizing, like, the gravity of the situation is on him now, like, wow, I'm in.

[00:57:02]

And they're actually looking at me like I'm an accomplice. I don't have a lawyer. And so what happens afterwards? We talked a little bit more, but so he realizes, all right, they're looking at me, you know, they're staring at me as an accomplice. And the police asked him to take a lie detector test. And initially he says no. What I would say, smart man, don't take a lie detector test. But eventually he agrees to.

[00:57:26]

So he talks about what it was like to take a lie detector test.

[00:57:30]

Well, hours into this thing and constantly saying, look, you need to take a lie detector test. So I eventually agreed to take a lie detector test. Don't take a lie detector test, it's a mental rate. Don't ever take away unless it's given by your attorney and your attorney's office. Don't ever take a lie detector test. Ask the control questions and then he'll ask, you know, this really intrusive personal question about you. And if you don't answer it properly.

[00:58:02]

Well, he said he was being deceptive. He starts asking me all these things. It's awful. And it's so funny. At one point he says to me, hey, you're doing something with your breathing. Knock it off. What are you talking about? Unless unless you're having a problem with the hyperventilating, I don't really know what was doing. So anyway. He gets to the end, he looks at me and he goes. I'm going to tell fellow.

[00:58:29]

And I call this fucking shit modern equipment, but modern technology take a walk and. And then he goes, I'm going to tell him your text. Oh, but what if they just messed with your head? It's constant and it's funny, I thought just kind of something that I think we're going to do a recorded conversation with Melanie. And so he just. This is when you pass a lie detector test, the examiner originally tell you that if Beldin and he goes to lie detector, I'm going to tell him you failed.

[00:59:05]

I mean, they're allowed to do that again. It's just police strategy. I don't think it's right, but it's against the code of ethics. It's not against theirs. But I. I mean, I'm I'm so opposed to this. I'm so, you know, there's various areas that need reform and it's like, come on, you know, this is this is psychological.

[00:59:23]

He called it mental rape. And I would have to say, I agree. Like, he's hyperventilating. They're telling him to stop breathing. He finishes. He probably probably, you know, probably couldn't breathe the whole time, gets it off. And the guy looks at him and says, I'm going to tell him you failed just to see his reaction. That's messed up. I think this is wrong. I mean, I'm just really opposed to this and that that kind of practice, to be honest, I'm not.

[00:59:44]

But I'm also in fairness, I'm opposed to police being able to lie to suspects. I appreciate the English model in which you can only use facts to confront facts. I mean, if we're expected to tell the truth to the police, why can't we expect them to tell us the truth? Fairpoint, that's my own feeling about it. But he also made a good point earlier, too. He didn't have a lawyer at first. He was like that first.

[01:00:04]

He got one after all of this went down. Yeah.

[01:00:07]

I mean, he he had his first interrogation. He took a lie detector. He did all of this without a lawyer, which is, you know, brave, but also, as he would say now, in hindsight, don't ever do that. It's not the it's not the right move. So, OK, so, Jim, continue to have meetings with the police and prosecutors. You know, there are several meetings over the course of some time.

[01:00:27]

And, you know, he talks about also like these meetings and what it feels like to be, you know, he talks about what it feels like to be involved in in a prosecution of this nature. So here's what he has to say of being, you know, in the middle of this.

[01:00:43]

If you're ever find yourself the subject a target of a murder investigation, God help you because you have no idea what happens to waste. It is pretty unbelievable now to talk about activities, should I say it sent this article to Melanie a while back saying, hey, look, the police can get it right. Here's this article about this police chase that ended up putting up a lot of property. You know, thankfully, I think nobody was hurt. You know, they should have backed off and just let the guy go.

[01:01:13]

So we sit down. What does the assistant prosecutor pull out of his briefcase? What's the first thing a copy of that order? Yeah. So keeps going. He's just trying to get me off my guard. Forget it. Like everything you do on the Internet, everything you do on your cell phone, they already have it. I think at that point, you know, it's still hanging that they're holding the accomplice thing over my head, but it's starting to finally relax.

[01:01:40]

I have an attorney now. They can't mess with me like they did before, because now they have to go through the attorney, even though they still with me once in a while. I think at one point my attorney and my attorney was weird. I'm not saying anything wrong, but he would always disappear with them. He's a former prosecutor. They'd be in there for like fifteen, twenty minutes. And then he would come out. He wouldn't say anything that went on in there, just found that to be pretty odd.

[01:02:04]

And eventually he disappears into the room with them again.

[01:02:09]

And he comes out and he's like, all right, you're fine, he says, you know, at this point, you know, they're going to be doing this probably sometime within the next year. You're just waiting for the driver and they want to talk to you or anything for me. But, you know, he says you can. Talk to them about the stuff that's already been gone over. If they just need some clarification, that's something you don't need to call me on it.

[01:02:34]

And for the most part, that didn't happen, right?

[01:02:37]

It just occurred to me I don't know how it just occurred to me now, but. People are sending a lot of money out of pocket to get lawyers if you're, you know, a suspected witness, I'm sure the prosecution is not paying for Jim's lawyer or not.

[01:02:50]

No, this, again, are financially motivated. That's what they give him. Like, wow. Like who had no one who has time, right? People have their own lives. So it's time to take out of your life that much time.

[01:02:58]

But also that's a lot of money. He didn't you know what? Do you have a choice? You have no choice. No, not not not at all.

[01:03:05]

Also, he said some things about his attorney, that his attorney was a former prosecutor who had disappeared. He said, like, you disappear with the prosecutors and then come back after, you know, 15, 20 minutes alone.

[01:03:15]

I don't know. I'm probably bullshitting. Could be bullshitting. That's fine.

[01:03:19]

That's fine. It sounded a little off to me. Yeah, it could be. But I would also think that at that point, I would want my lawyer kind of in my presence and I'd want to know I don't want to see them disappearing with the prosecutor. I want to know you're on my side and you're advocating for me because, you know, this is an adversarial relationship. You know, I used to be.

[01:03:39]

Well, it's supposed to be right.

[01:03:42]

OK, so there was something before, too, when Jim was talking about his interrogation. You know, he he's talking, first of all, is talk about these meetings that he had and when lawyers are starting to ship out and, you know, but it's like, how did he decide or how did he know that he was going to be a witness or what?

[01:03:58]

What did he even think about Melanie's guilt at this point? Right. He swept into all of this, but does he think Melanie's guilty? OK, and he says that there was a turning point for him during the interrogation.

[01:04:10]

I don't know if she directly asked me, hey, what if she may have when someone's telling me, hey, you know, I'm really worried about my husband, he's really escalating. And I think this is before it got physical, but she says clearly escalating verbally. Well, you know, we all know where that goes. It just gets worse. And so I'm saying, hey, you know, her stature does pretty much the same size as me, if I remember.

[01:04:35]

Right. So you need to get a gun to protect you and your children in case she goes off the rails. I mean, you just have to have that kind of equalizer there to protect you. And she kept saying, no, no, I don't want to do that. I got to do that. I just sure that, you know. But this is where it all changed for me because nobody bought a gun. And that stopped me dead in my tracks, I just looked at him when she bought a gun.

[01:05:07]

He says yet she Pennsylvania. And she bought it two days before her husband was killed. Whoa, wait a minute, she's telling me. I don't want to buy a gun. I'm not ready to do that. Not really asked my detectives. No, I'm not ready to do that. And now this guy is telling me, you know, hey, is he lying or how come you didn't think he was lying? There's something about the truth when you hear it.

[01:05:32]

You know, this this is the shot to the gut that you get you and I don't even know where I am. I didn't know. I wasn't sure anymore. Take a look. If she had been straight with me after I bought a gun, what do I do with it? You know? Tell me about this. Whatever. I've been happy to answer questions that she never admitted that and she doesn't have to. Really doesn't have to tell me.

[01:06:00]

And was that a lie or was she just did she have other reasons to. Not want to tell me she bought a gun? I don't know. Yeah, so in Jim's conversation with Melanie, you know, they talked about a gun, but she never actually told him. And I think for him, as he's saying here, when he learned this from the police, he really it really shocked him in. The reason why also is because, you know, he said even in these conversations at his suggestion, Melanie was always adamantly opposed to having a gun and didn't want to shoot and didn't want to have a firearm around.

[01:06:33]

So I think, you know, her not telling him this felt, you know, to him it felt like a lie.

[01:06:38]

Well, also, this might have been the point where he starts thinking, well, could she have done this?

[01:06:42]

Right. This is absolutely the point. So when I asked him, you know, he said it. This is the turning point for me where I began to think, yes. And I think maybe where he began to feel better about his participation with the prosecution. Because, you know, Jim would also agree to record Melanie later on, as we discussed in the earlier episode. So he made two recordings. The recordings that he made, you know, were conversations between them, where he asked her if she did it.

[01:07:11]

She you know, she absolutely still says no, there's nothing damning in him. She maintains her innocence. But I asked Jim, you know, why did you record her? Was there a pressure? I mean, you know, why did you actually do this?

[01:07:24]

Why do you do, you know, recorded conversations? I needed to know to at that point? At the time you'd asked me that, then I would say, you know, voluntarily, nobody nobody threatened me with anything or anything like that. Because you always think about this. This is always a part of your life. It really never goes away. And every now and then, there's just going to pop back to it and I start to see what was going on there.

[01:07:47]

Why would you just I would never do that again. Like, why did you do that? I actually think it's a little Stockholm syndrome working here. Maybe so maybe like you just become so terrified of your captors, you know, if you throw your baby, you say, well, if I help, maybe they'll be nice to me. Oh, it's not a bad point.

[01:08:07]

Right. And when he said Stockholm syndrome, I say, this guy is really insightful. I have to say, you know, to some degree you want you want to please the people. You know, it's not literally their captors, but you want to please them. But also, you know, Jim legitimately just wanted to know the truth, I think. And he was willing to do you know, he's under pressure. Obviously, he's under intimidation.

[01:08:28]

And, you know, he's he has to do something. I think they're also looking at him like we talked about this, an early episode. But clear your name if you record her, if you have nothing to hide, why why not record her? And I was like, OK, I'm going to do this. I'm going to find out the truth. So he records Melanie. Nothing comes of that. But there are still those conversations that they had about the gun.

[01:08:48]

And so he is clearly going to be a prosecution witness. You know, these meetings go on for a long time and he eventually starts, you know, he meets with the cops a lot. Then there are you know, he's meeting with Patty Prezioso and she's prepping him as a witness. And, you know, he's getting ready to take the stand. So the day comes when he's going to testify. And I think that was a very nerve wracking day for him as it would be for a lot of people.

[01:09:11]

But also, remember, you're a private person and all of a sudden you're on a witness stand in a criminal trial that is on court television and you're testifying not against a stranger or, you know, someone, oh, I saw this person participate in a crime.

[01:09:24]

You're testifying against someone who was your really good friend. So Jim describes this day in court and what it was like and what he thinks about it now.

[01:09:34]

But just the intensity level of having to testify. I got to tell you, that's a pretty tough thing. And when it came time to testify, they walked up to the door of the courtroom. I got want to of my life on top of that. He didn't want me to go see to Guy I want to do is just run away from these guys and jump out the window and land after. And I would much rather do that and go into this room and testify.

[01:09:58]

But you have to. It was a brief moment just before everything gets started. And so I'm looking around in the chair, there's the camera where the whole world's going to get to see me, you know, have to testify. I'm not someone who wants to be media savvy or anything like that. I'm a pretty private person. But what are you doing this for? Well, you know, the truth is the truth, and it has to end.

[01:10:24]

And that's just how I feel about it. And I say this stuff out there a little bit, I'm going to do it. So there. But I'm sitting here in my favorite chair and I'm all right.

[01:10:37]

I'm going to do it. I'm just going to look over at her. And it was like we both looked at each other at exactly the same time. Well, it looks good, but I'm sure she was not the least bit happy with me. And, you know, when you see a friend testifying against you, totally understandable as it went along the lines, I wonder I wonder about California. So I wonder what her real motivation was to put.

[01:11:03]

It may be what she says it is. I don't know. But, you know. Well, she kept me up there almost all day.

[01:11:11]

And I always said, I don't really feel like I have a whole lot here to offer the prosecution's case. You know, maybe a little hole here, a little there gets filled in. OK, whatever. But, you know, did she keep you up there because she wanted the jury to see a jury and she's in love with Melanie and we're going to keep him up here all day because Jim thinks Melanie is guilty. We really want to steer that into your brain.

[01:11:33]

I wonder. But they never ask.

[01:11:36]

They don't ever ask a witness. Do you think this person is innocent or guilty? They're not allowed to do that. Obviously, if he's testifying for the prosecution, that's the side of the coin that he's on. But they're just asking him factual questions. Right. Like when you spoke to her when you did this. Yes.

[01:11:50]

But I think I told you when I read through when I read through his testimony, I. I was surprised at how many pages there were because I've gone through so, you know, so many of the transcripts here, a ton of pages. And I noticed and this is before I interviewed him, there was a lot of a lot of repetitive information. And I said to myself, I think I even said it to James, like, I don't understand.

[01:12:12]

They're going over and over, not even relet, not even necessarily relevant. Right. Not necessarily relevant. Or if it was they were killing it and sometimes no pun intended, but sometimes the prosecution does that will ask certain things different ways. But it did seem to me when I read it, I was like, this is overkill and I couldn't understand why. And it kind of clicked with me when Jim said it.

[01:12:32]

Oh, you know, maybe this is why, you know, as Jim said, it didn't occur to me that perhaps they were just really trying to Patty was really trying to get the jury to see, well, if this is a guy who loves her and was in love with her and he believes she's guilty, she must be guilty.

[01:12:49]

You know the trial strategy, right? Trial strategy. She was a smart prosecutor. Right. So, you know, but Jim definitely described feeling differently about, you know, what he was doing before and after. And in hindsight and looking back, you know. So what is Jim what was Jim's conclusion? Well, Jim said that he thought, you know, he did think Melanie was guilty and he was you know, he was doing his part.

[01:13:10]

And Jim, if you hear him, he'll talk about, you know, just doing the right thing and just being honest, like I'm just going to go up there. I was going to just tell the truth. I thought Melanie was guilty. I asked him what he thinks now, you know, OK, you thought Melanie was guilty. Do you still think she's guilty? And he said that for years he thought Melanie was guilty for sure and that he knew all the facts.

[01:13:30]

But he said that he was really surprised by a lot of what he's since learned.

[01:13:34]

And he talks about our our podcast and what he's even learned through that.

[01:13:39]

And, you know, his feelings now about Melanie and her guilt.

[01:13:43]

Here's where I got a big problem with the prosecution. He also told me I remember it like it was two days ago. She said, I've been to that bridge and I can totally see where Melanie could have easily wheeled those suitcases up and flip them right over the side. And then I see your video. So you guys came and picked the damn thing up off the floor. That video that you guys made with the suitcases and you put the weights in the suitcases and you tried to lift them over the bar, eight a.m. and she's kind of roughly the same size as at the time.

[01:14:17]

Let me tell you, this is not somebody who ever went to the gym. Forget it. No way.

[01:14:24]

What? George Larry. Wasn't that the guy you talked to, Bill, about buying a gun? You guys said he wanted to do something, that he wanted to buy a gun, but he couldn't because he had to be arrested. He wasn't legally able to do it. So he's going to get his wife to do it. How can they muzzle him on the stand and say, well, all he's allowed to say is yes. I talked to her about saying that that doesn't cut it.

[01:14:45]

Look at all the detail about that. That was taken out and it totally fits Melanie's story. Is that is that exculpatory? Do I know, Senator McCaskill, there has been at this point. I went from totally believing it now I don't know. That's a pretty you know what it. Well, know he was convicted on circumstantial evidence and so. Yeah, but it was a mountain of circumstantial evidence after viewing your podcast. I see a mountain of reasonable doubt.

[01:15:17]

How could anyone be to get convicted with that amount of reasonable doubt? It's stunning. That's dangerous to all of us, not just at all.

[01:15:24]

Well, that's well said. I think so. Better than most others could say it. And I went, oh, wow. I mean, he's right. Right. There was first of all, it's a great point. There's a mountain of circumstantial evidence, but there's a mountain of reasonable doubt. And that's just, you know, what he learned at first. He only saw the one side and now he's seeing the other. And Jim's not saying that he thinks Melanie's innocent, to be clear, and neither are we necessarily.

[01:15:51]

Right. We're just saying there's reasonable doubt. Correct?

[01:15:54]

I think the important point is that he's open. You know, he's like, you know, I thought something I thought that way because the prosecution told me a lot of things. You know, they kind of said they compartmentalize and kept him in a box, you know, and told him certain things. And that's what he believed. He just believed that. And, you know, he says that he feels differently now, having learned so much and having the wisdom of time and being so far away from it.

[01:16:22]

And his conclusion now is he doesn't know, you know, it could be one way or the other.

[01:16:28]

What I can also tell you, though, is that this has had an extraordinary impact on his life, being involved in an investigation. And he talks about that, you know, the long term impact that this has had on him.

[01:16:41]

I couldn't believe my name came up. And you're talking now about he's talking about me. I'm like, OK, here comes the Plame story. She's got to get ready. I have to say, she was totally fair. She described me and in the context that you guys were talking about and she was totally fair. And I appreciate that. Really good. Well, I would say, you know, I would say I'm sorry that I didn't do a little more investigation on my part.

[01:17:06]

You know, if I know everything that I learned from the party yesterday and not even all that happened out of it, and then I would have researched it to a third of the show that I learned from your podcast back then, that could have changed things. So I would say, yeah, I'm sorry, I just didn't maybe work a little harder, maybe I just needed it to be done and I needed to get away, you know, I don't really know where it would have gone, but I sure as hell would have had a big problem with a lot of those things.

[01:17:32]

And I didn't know anything about them. And I think I think I was on the periphery of this whole thing. Look what they did to me. I mean, it just it completely consumes your life. You don't sleep. You know, you get sick. You I mean, just just reviewing all this in the past, what they started getting nightmares again for the PTSD thing. And I do this work that got done to me a long time ago.

[01:17:55]

You guys, you're just looking for the truth. I totally admire that. Thank you for it. I kind of feel like I needed to do this, and I think it's done. Oh, thanks, Jim. How could you not think that this is just the most decent person to emerge from this situation? Yep, I'm left with a feeling. There was a feeling I think I had before when we were going to wrap without, you know, Jim's that it's going to say testimony.

[01:18:22]

That's not true. Without speaking to Jim, without his interview, I was going to wrap, but I wasn't left with this, you know, great feeling about maybe humanity in general or the case. And then I talked to Jim and and he comes forward and he doesn't you know, he doesn't really want to settle for the limelight.

[01:18:39]

This guy's had a rough go of it. He'd rather he said, I'd rather just stay quiet.

[01:18:42]

But he's like, I feel like now I just need to say what happened and let other people make their decisions and do the right thing. Of all the people that we contacted.

[01:18:52]

Right, a contacted law enforcement prosecutors, it was all their job to do that.

[01:18:57]

Right. But nobody would speak to us. But the guy who has suffered personally in some serious negative physical and personal consequences, he's the one who emerges to me as kind of the, you know, like the everyday hero in this story. You know, he came forth and, you know, he said it's possible that I was wrong. And I think that I just have to I really have to commend Jim even in this scenario. And I hope that other people will also realize that it's you know, it's possible to just not know.

[01:19:27]

And that's OK, too. It's possible to have a change of heart. But I do I think Jim and I commend him. And I think he's definitely, you know, the best friend to emerge from this situation.

[01:19:37]

And it definitely illustrates independent of this case that illustrates just how our system, you know, treats witnesses and the process people go through and, you know, the tactics used.

[01:19:48]

I think Jim Finn illustrates that more like he comes forward to give you his opinion on Melanie and what happened and his involvement. But, yeah, I think in telling his story, you see how police and prosecution approach cases and you can make up your own mind whether or not you think those tactics are OK or they're they're what's necessary. You can also see that there's a lot of bystanders who get caught in this mess who suffer. And is that part fair?

[01:20:14]

You know, I don't think so. But on that note, we like to think Jim and the other people, Jackie and Barbara, for participating. And we are done with the interviews and we thank everyone for listening. And we're going to return next time with our final conclusions.

[01:20:35]

Next time, a direct appeal on our final episode, we'll cover our conclusions and some of yours. And remember, it's not too late to call or email us with a tip. See you next time. Direct Appeal is hosted by Megan Sachs and Amy Schlosberg, our producer is James Vaka. The story arc was written by Megan Sachs music and underscored by dessert media recorded mixed and edited by Justin Crüe, AJC Studios special. Thanks to Alan Takami, whose work was integral to this production to view photos, evidence and engaged with other listeners.

[01:21:08]

Visit Direct Appeal podcast Dotcom and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

[01:21:16]

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