Hey, guys, it's pain, I have a new investigative podcast that's out right now called Dead and Gone. It's about two Grateful Dead fans that were brutally murdered in the 80s and the wrongful conviction of a black man who was accused of the murders. The suspect is still out there not to give too much away. I find some real answers in this case. Checkout episode, one of Dead and Gone right here. And if you like it, subscribe to Dead and Gone on your podcast app and binge the rest of the series.
And to thank you for your support. We're giving away five radio rental VHS merch bags filled with all the coolest radio rental swag that you can't buy anywhere to win. Go to your podcast app and subscribe to Dead and Gone. And after you listen, leave a review, hopefully a nice one and put somewhere in your review. Radio rental sent me. Thanks, guys. And I hope you enjoy the new series. Well, I'm having trouble finding it right now, this post is throwing me off.
We saw it not very long ago, and I know it's here. In Cesar Chavez Park on San Francisco Bay is a small memorial plaque buried in the grass. Out of sight and apparently forgotten in living memory, a very original Georgia, 12, 20, 60 to 65. And Gregory Allen defends. There were newspaper articles about the killings. What I read is that it happened around here. Someone allegedly the guy that they arrested killed him. It was a long time.
It's just a secret member. Thirty five years ago, Mary Joyo and Greg Nithin were murdered here, a man named Ralph Thomas was convicted and sentenced to death. So why am I here? Well, it all started with this guy. Somebody had to do it. Somebody is going to invent penicillin, somebody is going to invent the microwave. Eventually, somebody would have been the first.
Obviously, it happened to be me, I guess, right now, because my name is Payen Lindsay and I have people here.
This is Todd Matthews and he lives in a small town in northern Tennessee. He's a funny guy with a distinct Southern accent. But there's also something very unique about Todd. He considers himself the world's first cyber sleuth.
My route to this world was very strange. In October of 1987, three new girls walked into our lunch room at school and I was sent by my best friend and the one in the middle. I pointed at her. I said, That's the girl I'm going to marry. Literally, she sat down beside me. We were telling ghost stories because it was Halloween. She told me about a body that her father had found in 1968. She was a Jane Doe in Scott County, Kentucky, the Jane Doe was known as the girl because she was wrapped in a canvas tent wrapper that had just turned 18 and by the time she turned 17, but within nine months we were married.
I didn't go to college like I planned. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I went to work on that Jane Doe case. Just something about Tanko seems so familiar. I felt like I knew that case, there was no Google, so you couldn't Google certainly can't Google a filing cabinet. It was driving to Georgetown, Lexington, Kentucky, getting newspaper articles, talking to people that might have known something about it. And I built a website for everything that I knew, just clip's photographs, everything.
And I thought, I'll put this out there and then somebody will come to me and tell me that was my mom's sister and something I was looking for, somebody that hadn't mother or sister or anything. And in 1997, I found somebody. It was a decades long mystery that gripped a small Georgetown community, a woman found dead and wrapped in a tent of US twenty five in 1968. She was known as Tent Girl until the late 1990s when her true identity was discovered.
I found a woman that was looking for her sister, last known to be alive in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1967. I knew it was her. I remember the words that the medical examiner's office girl is indeed Barbara Taylor, that's when I started getting phone calls. Totted made a name for himself, having solved a decades old murder case by using the Internet at the time, this concept was unheard of. And it got the attention of law enforcement agencies from around the world, they wanted him to help solve their cases.
That's when Todd had a revolutionary idea. The Internet must be good more than just looking in commercials. It's got to be usable. It's a way to communicate with people. Department of Justice in 2007 wanting to create a NamUs program, the national database, the National System for Missing and Unidentified Persons. And like that, Todd's career is a full time sleuth took off, Todd Matthews has seen thousands of missing persons cases. He's the spokesperson for NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
It's a government organization that aims to streamline missing persons cases for investigators. Since tent girl Todd Matthews has had his hands in countless cases, NamUs alone has helped solve over 12000 missing persons cases. Whatever it is, Todd definitely has something, a good intuition, an eye for things, who knows? But the impact he's had on unsolved cases is very real. Over the years, Todd learned the importance of collecting data in order to solve these crimes, tracking trends and recognizing patterns.
And recently, Todd's taken notice of a new pattern of cases, which is why I'm here now.
What if there was just one one case? Would anybody even think about it? I'm not sure if anybody would really start an effort to be featured in a magazine. You know, when you start clustering things together a little bit, it's easier to see. He's established a set of unsolved cases, all with one thing in common, the band, The Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead. And could you come up with a better name, the Grateful Dead cases?
Maybe they were going to a concert at a ticket stub in their pocket at a concert. SHEARDOWN It was a commonality.
That's something that you can grab a hold, have that commonality. It got your attention, didn't it? Yeah. All right. That's the idea. There was an event that brought people together. Those concerts brought people together to a certain place and certain time. And my conspiracy theory and that something mysteriously no, but they had that commonality.
There's not a serial killer most likely that's done something to all of these people. We know the Grateful Dead themselves had nothing to do with this. It was something that made them have some connection to each other, whether they were even connected or not. And that's something anything that you can take to recompose the decomposed Grateful Dead did that.
So it's not some big conspiracy and it's probably not a serial killer. At least he doesn't think so.
But what Todd's found in his lifetime as a cyber sleuth is the importance of a commonality, even if only to get your attention. Anybody looking for anything did to the great play is going to run into those cases, that might be the exact people that need to see those cases, the conversation's not going to hurt anything.
It's only going to make the concept bigger, easier to see and unforgettable. Almost every case is just bizarre in nature. Strange circumstances. Bridget Lee Pendle was last seen on January 12th, 1996, in Wichita, Kansas. She was 23 years old and following the Grateful Dead on tour when she vanished. Douglas Simmons was last seen at a Grateful Dead concert on July 10th, 1990, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mitchell Fred Wiser and his girlfriend, Benita Bickford, went missing on July 27th, 1973, hitchhiking for a Grateful Dead concert.
Jennifer Willmar, a Grateful Dead follower, was last seen in California on September 13th, 1993. While hitchhiking Jeremy Ted Alex followed the Grateful Dead for years, and he vanished on April 24th, 2004 from Northport, Maine. On July 20th, 1995, a man was found on the side of the Highway of a Grateful Dead concert in Atlanta. To this day, his identity is unknown. On March 29th, 2008, a fisherman discovered a woman's remains underneath a box spring in Sacramento, California.
She was wearing a Grateful Dead jacket. Her cause of death and identity remain unknown. On October 26, 1991, a woman was found murdered in the woods of Orange County, New Jersey. The only clue as to her identity was a large tattoo of a tiger on her left leg. Later, it was discovered that the tattoo was the same tiger design on Jerry Garcia's guitar. Her identity remains unknown. The majority of these cases have been unsolved now for decades.
Todd's hope is that by clustering these cases together, he can bring more awareness to them. The last case on Todd's list is perhaps the most well known of them all, it's coined the nickname Grateful Doe. On June twenty six, nineteen ninety five in Virginia, the police came upon a car wreck, it was a Volkswagen van again with two young males inside, both dead from the crash. The driver of the van was named Michael Hager. They knew this because they found his ID in his pocket.
But the passenger was a mystery. His face and body were so badly damaged in the wreck, he was unrecognizable and he had no I.D. on him either. I spoke to Billy Jenson, a fellow podcasters and undoubtedly an expert in cases like this one. They did toxicology reports on both of them. Both were negative. So there was no drugs and alcohol in either of their systems. They figured that Hager fell asleep at the wheel driving down a highway.
You fall asleep at the wheel, you're not wearing seatbelts. It's going to do a lot of damage to your body. His face was incredibly mangled. They could not release any pictures of him. You wouldn't be able to identify him anyway. Nobody knew who this guy was. What did he have in his pocket? A couple quarters of Bic lighter. And he had two Grateful Dead tickets.
The tickets were dated June 24th and June 25th to back to back Grateful Dead shows played at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Police determined early on that the driver, Michael Hager, was not friends with the passenger, so they desperately needed something else to go on. Maybe these tickets themselves could help lead to an answer. You know, we're talking about 1995. You could still kind of trace who had bought the tickets, but it turns out that he had scalp the tickets.
He had bought them from a scalper. So you can trace it to that. There was also a letter that was found in his pocket. The letter was addressed to Jason. It read, Sorry, we had to go see you around, call me. And a phone number signed. Caroline T. and Caroline O. On the very bottom was a sketch of Jerry Garcia, two Grateful Dead tickets, a yellow ticket lighter. And this letter, this is all the police had to go on.
Unfortunately, the phone number left on the note was also a dead end, but they now knew his first name was Jason. This kid was young, either a teenager or a young adult. He had long, brown, curly hair. He had a red tie dyed Grateful Dead T-shirt, and he had a tattoo of a star on his upper left arm.
They had his fingerprints. They were able to pull his fingerprints, put him through a database.
They got nothing. You have this note. You have the Grateful Dead tickets. There's a lot of clues. There's a lot of strings to get you out of this maze.
As the years passed by, interest in this case slowly grew, especially within the Grateful Dead community. In 2012, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created a facial reconstruction of what Jason might have looked like.
The reconstruction they did was almost a photo realistic reconstruction of him. It's pretty amazing what they do.
So we had a pretty decent picture of what this kid might look like. People were very interested in this case.
The Doe Network had it on their site, NamUs had it on their site, and there were a lot of citizen detectives that wanted to find out who this person was. The citizen detectives that were initially working on this case. They gave him a name. He had the tickets. He had the T-shirt. They named him Grateful Doe. This is one of those biggest cases that you would like to be able to see solved.
In 2015, a group of friends began posting online that they wanted to know what happened to their old roommate named Jason, they hadn't seen Jason in decades and they couldn't remember his last name either, but they did have a picture of him. So they posted a photo of Jason and asked the Internet if anyone knows where he might be.
Citizen detectives see that picture and they say, huh, Grateful Dead fan. He's wearing clothing that looks very similar to the clothing in the reconstructed image. And he looks really similar. They identify the kid in the image as being Jason Patrick Callahan.
And it turns out Jason Callahan had left home in June of 1995 to follow the Grateful Dead. He was a white male. He had curly or wavy blond hair. He had brown eyes. He was five, ten. They do a DNA test and it matches. A young man was killed in a car crash in Emporia, Virginia, in June of 1995. The only clues to his identity were a Grateful Dead T-shirt. He was wearing two tickets to a Grateful Dead concert and a note.
He came to be called Grateful Doe. Internet sleuths shared his information, trying to learn his identity. Now a 63 year old Myrtle Beach woman says the Jason in the photos on Facebook is her son, Jason Calahan. This case was successfully solved by a combination of Web sleuths, media outlets, a reconstructed facial image. And Grateful Dead fans. The Grateful Dead community is so well set up for doing crowd solving. They were doing this before the Internet, there was this community and there was detective work being done and not to mention the fact that everybody sort of knew everybody, even if it was just nicknames.
I can't think of a better fan base to do this than the Grateful Dead community, to be honest with you. Any mystery that comes out of the Grateful Dead world, I think, can be solved because of the connectedness as sort of ramshackle as it is, the Grateful Dead community is more connected than the law enforcement is.
Law enforcement has these databases that don't even talk to each other, the Grateful Dead community is talking to each other and they're going to be able to get answers. I was fascinated by the ability of the Grateful Dead fan base in solving something. A connection among fans so strong they could help clear a 20 year old cold case. I knew there was something special here. If used the right way, again, the same fan base could help solve any number of cases.
When I first met Todd Matthews, my initial interest was in his pattern of Grateful Dead cases. But soon after digging into this, something arguably more interesting stood out to me the power of music fan base could have in solving real life crimes. In the last few years, I've had my fair share of personal experience diving into missing persons and unsolved murder cases. And there's two things I can tell you for sure. One, it does come at a price.
The pressure to solve a case in a single podcast season is pretty huge, and for every case I've ever looked into, I want the best outcome possible. And oftentimes I've put myself in sketchy, unnerving situations. Number two is that I've learned firsthand about the power of the media, how telling the story of an unsolved case to millions of podcast listeners can actually make a difference. It can take an ice cold case and set it on fire. And when people are talking again, slowly but surely, the truth is flowing.
In any case, you cover as a journalist or a podcast or we'll never leave you. This is a lifelong commitment. If you decide that you want to take on a case and you say, I want to make a podcast about it, you're in for the long haul. It's not something that you're going to do for six months and then move on to something else, you will do a disservice to the victim and the victim's family.
If you do that, you're in it for the long haul. There are cases that I have covered 20 years ago that I still talk to the family of. This is a lifelong commitment. It's not something for the faint of heart or somebody that's just going to go and be flighty and then even move on to another hobby or another case or whatever.
You're going to be connected with Tara's case for the rest of your life and with the Atlanta murders for the rest of your life. It's true. I've covered the case of a missing woman from south Georgia named Tarrega instead of cover the Atlanta child murders that happened in the 80s in a missing woman from Colorado named Krystal Risinger.
And just because a podcast season is over does not mean your personal commitment is to.
Podcasts are so much more intimate, we're living life along with them and telling them a story while they're going about their daily business podcasts have such an opportunity to connect with people and say, hey, we have this mystery, can you help us out with it? That's how it becomes alive. There's so much of a community that wants to help. It's part of human nature to want the truth, and when people come together with that unified goal, the impossible can happen.
I've seen it. What if we apply this idea of an investigative true crime podcast to a targeted group of people who are already prone to keeping in touch and looking after each other in the first place, like throwing gas on a fire, calling out to the fan base of a famous rock band to help solve decadal cases that could have a real impact. Before I even decided to embark on this journey, I cast a wide net. I released an article about this project very loosely that I was doing a podcast about the unsolved cases of missing and murdered Grateful Dead fans.
I sent the article to several music outlets. Fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe the right person would see it and contact me. But there was one glaring problem with this podcast idea of mine. I know very little about Deadheads or the Grateful Dead, for that matter. Understanding who they are would be crucial. So I got some help from podcasts, Jake Brennan, host of This Great Land.
Jerry Garcia was an outlaw. How do I know this, because he's saying of bad, bad men fancied himself an outlier apart from square society, someone living life out on the margins like his hero Jack Kerouac, and like Jack's hero, Henry David Thoreau. Despite being one of the world's most recognizable rock stars, Jerry Garcia lived his life out on the fringes like one of the liberated characters in the many songs he sang and played with his band, The Grateful Dead, Casey Jones, Saint Stephen, Uncle John and the Candy Man.
I know this because the Grateful Dead have become a recent obsession of mine over the past few years.
That in itself, like the long, strange, trippy history of the Grateful Dead, is paradoxical. I'm not supposed to be obsessed with the Grateful Dead. I grew up in an entirely different music scene. There were no peace signs and VW vans with bumper stickers that read Nothing Left to do but smile be kind. And who were the Grateful Dead and why do they keep following me? There were leather and studs, flight jackets and flat tops and bumper stickers that read Bidart, You Scum Straightedge in your face and I shot Reagan.
My high school and college years weren't spent chasing the dead around various stadium parking lots, proclaiming that I need a miracle. They were spending all ages, hardcore matinees on Sunday afternoons in dank run-Down Boston nightclubs in central Massachusetts DIY venues. This is all to say that I came up on the complete opposite end of the counterculture spectrum is Grateful Dead fans. But eventually the Grateful Dead music found its way to me, and so too did their ethos of freedom and outlaw spirit.
And I realized that the Grateful Dead, crazy as it seemed, or one of the most punk rock bands to ever exist, they challenged norms. Port Authority snubbed their noses at the music industry, did whatever the fuck they wanted in service to their art, and built a DIY empire in service to their fans. They also did a ton of drugs. And if all that's not punk, I don't know what is. So I wrote about the Grateful Dead for my other podcast, Disgrace.
I had a podcast about musicians in the true crimes have been involved with in my episode on The Grateful Dead blew up. Jerry Garcia's official biographer and the band's longtime publicist, the author of the book on the Grateful Dead, A Long, Strange Trip, Dennis McNally contacted me. He wanted to talk about some of the things I'd written and spoken about in my podcast. My conversations with Dennis only deepened my fascination with the band and ultimately led to this collaboration with pain.
So that's why I'm here. To help you understand the story, pain is bringing you to understand how chaos and mystery and murder can happen around a band known for their pacifism, their generosity of spirit and their playing and in their character. A band with some of the most devoted and docile fans fans is dedicated to the dead as they were to their ethos of freedom and peace and love. To understand that, you need to really understand just who the hell were the Grateful Dead.
The short answer is they were America's bad, if America was the NFL, the Grateful Dead would be the Dallas Cowboys. They're from almost the beginning and culturally more consequential than any American band before or since. The Dead's influence is ubiquitous. You can see it in fashion, advertising, media, politics, art and, of course, in music. The Grateful Dead existed as a band for 30 years, a career that stretched and succeeded over four decades, a band that continued to sell out stadiums until its final days, a band that touched multiple generations of fans inspired musical giants like Bob Dylan and Ornette Coleman, and whose music today can just as easily be heard in a college dorm room as they can within an office of a U.S. senator.
But behind that influence and at the core of the Grateful Dead is a darkness, a root evil that played mostly in the shadows, but managed to rear its monstrous head time and time again throughout the band's history to claim lives, some from within the band itself. Most, however, from their legions of fans, a darkness spawned from the unique counterculture soil tilled by one of the most subversive bands our society has ever seen. Never mind embraced.
The Grateful Dead is as much about their peaceful hippy dippy teddybear image as they are about that darkness, the foreboding skeleton wearing a crown of roses that the band nicknamed Skull Fuck and that dark star, that crash is pouring its light into ashes where in tatters and the forces tear loose from the axis, where people untethered themselves from the clutch of straight society live off the grid and chase miracles through the transit of nightfall of diamonds through parking lot utopia's policed by dire wolf in sheep's clothing where magic is possible, but so too is murder.
With so much time and space, so much of the living memory has been lost. Maybe you'll get somebody that will tell you something they've never told anybody before, and if we wait any longer, I may never tell anybody. Believe me, when the page turns, they don't turn back. I didn't know exactly where this journey was going to take me, but I had this familiar feeling in my gut.
What if you really come up on something and you're right in front of somebody that maybe did something to them and they found your address, your number, they'll reach out and call you?
That's a strange phone calls. I have had somebody threaten to kill me that was going to come here. Let's hope that doesn't happen. Whether or not you resolve a case with your effort, you're putting together foundational information is going to be valuable for a long time. Maybe in ways you never even thought about. Neither of us have even thought about. You're part of it now, you're in the land of the lost now. We saw it not very long ago, and I know it's here.
That loving memory of Mary Regina ChawIa, 12, 20, 60 to 65. And Gregory Allen defends there were newspaper articles about the killings. What I read is that it happened around here. Someone allegedly the guy that they arrested killed them. It was a long time ago. It says a secret memory before this was a part. This was a camping ground for people who are homeless and staying in their cars. There was a homeless encampment here called Rainbow Village.
They were part of it. But I'd like to see is I'd like to see a display here, like maybe a wooden board with Rainbow Village on it, maybe a picture of Rainbow Village, a story of Rainbow Village. And the story of these two has a bit of history of the park. In 1985, Mary Joia, 22 years old, and Greg Sniffin, 18 years old, were murdered here on San Francisco Bay. It's now a public park, but it once was an encampment called Rainbow Village, a man named Ralph Thomas was convicted for their murders and sentenced to death.
Now he was found with a male companion in the Berkeley, California marina on Thursday night, a single gunshot to the head. Early reports said Murray was a devout follower of the Grateful Dead Rock. Berkeley police say that for two days, Mary had lived a quarter mile from there at Rainbow Village, a community or a commune of buses and vans. So why am I here? Well, a few days ago, I got a random email from a stranger, a Grateful Dead fan, and it sent me down a dark, twisted rabbit hole, his email said, I'm interested in telling a tale about a Grateful Dead mystery that may have put an innocent man in jail for a murder that happened in Rainbo Village in 1985.
Here we go.