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Thanks to Green Chef for supporting this episode of Tom Brown's body, Green Chef is a USDA certified organic company. Go to Green Chef Dotcom SGB eight zero and use Code TTB eight zero to get eighty dollars off across four boxes, including free shipping on your first box. This episode of Tom Brown's Body is brought to you by Gigha points. Sajani, last week I stopped by my friend's house. Wait, are they in your Cauvin bubble?

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Yes, and we hung out in their backyard so don't worry. Anyway, they had this amazing patio furniture setup and they told me they got it by using points from a new credit card they discovered with Gigha points. I have to tell you about it later in the show. But in the meantime, check out Gigha points, dot com slash TVB to learn more. OK. All right, so let's let's let's go to the beginning in the Thomas Brown case.

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It's a hell of a health care case.

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61 year old Philip Klein is the owner of a private investigative firm in the southeast Texas town of Nederland, about an hour east of Houston. He's one of the most colorful characters I've ever come across. He's a big imposing man, six feet, six inches tall, 230 pounds, and he's brimming with confidence even. Looks like he could have stepped straight out of a TV detective show during one of our phone interviews. He actually told me that he's often compared to Ray Donovan, the main character in the Showtime television series, who's a fixer for a big time law firm.

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When Tom's mother, Pene, first called Klein's office, she reached his daughter, Caroline Geer. Caroline works for her dad. She's one of his investigators.

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So Caroline was dealing with the the family as she called me. And on Sunday afternoon and she said, hey, we got a situation brewing up in Canadian Texas. I said, where the hell is that? She goes is up the way north Texas last candy before we hit Oklahoma City.

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OK, how did she even know who you were? She apparently had heard of me before and saw cases that had covered by media. You know, she did her research.

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And the reason she called here was she was very unhappy with the way the direction of the case was going. And that was that weekend. That was that weekend. She was the night she disappears. They can't find him for a couple of days. And she calls over the weekend. Right. So I talk to her. I said, Penny, is that still Klein? How are you? She goes, I've heard about you. I've heard a lot about you.

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Everybody knows in Texas you're the go to guy. I said, OK, OK, what is the sheriff's department telling you? Because I'm not going to jump in somebody's backyard if it's being investigated properly. It's being done by professional law enforcement.

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I'm not I usually don't get involved. So she told me the story. I listen to it. I said, OK, Penny, has Caroline talked to you about how much it's going to cost?

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Klein charges between twenty five thousand and seventy five thousand dollars to find a missing person. Neither Klein nor Penny would tell me how much she paid.

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She said, well, why are you in the money today? And Caroline's already sent in a contract over to us. We need you up here. These people don't know what they're doing and they're saying stuff that is off the wall. And I said, well, OK. So I hung up the phone and Caroline walks in my office right there. Stood right there. And does Jesus they want to transfer money to us? Sorry, kidney. You know, usually it takes a week or two or some negotiating or some day, you know, skin underneath their feet.

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So I said, OK, let's go. So I went home, packed a couple of bags and got in the car, drove all night and got up there the next morning. No one yet knew it, the Clines arrival in Canadian was about to split the tight knit town apart, sparking a rivalry between the out of town private investigator in the hometown sheriff. I'm Skip Hollandsworth from Texas Monthly. This is Tom Brown's body episode three. Evil has come to Canadian Texas.

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When Klein arrived in Canadian seven days after Tom went missing, he drove straight to Pinney's home.

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What's your impression of the family? You know, the people of West Texas are different breed, they're very laid back, they're very methodical, they're very honest, they're very God-Fearing people. I mean, you can go up there for a week and then come back down here or Houston or Austin. It's two different worlds. It's just two different worlds. So when I first met them, I was very impressed with them.

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Climbed, then paid a visit to the Hemphill County Sheriff's Department where he met Sheriff Nathan Lewis. To put it mildly, Klein was not impressed.

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And I saw him as an amateur from a minute. By the time I shook his hand, I was like, oh, God, here we go.

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Very arrogant, GQ ish, everybody. And, you know, we're professional uniforms for him. He wore golf shirts and a golf pullovers that said, you know, Hemphill County Sheriff or cowboy hat and was had the first beard, you know, not not full beard, but the fuzzy beard.

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You know, we, you know, very GQ. And we were like, you know what? When I first saw him, I thought, oh, my God, this is the sheriff. I deal with sheriffs all over the state of Texas. I consult with a lot of sheriffs all over the state of Texas. I was kind of in shock. I kind of way what the hell. Nathan was very demure to me. I said, please do your research on myself and my firm.

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We do this all over the United States and around the world. If you had any issues with me, please pick up the phone. I don't want to work in your backyard. And he kind of laughed.

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Sheriff Lewis told me he did kind of laugh when he first met Klein.

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He thought the private investigator was nothing more than a showboat, drove his black suburban blacks on, pulls up, walks in the office, says he's hired me to investigate this case and I'm the biggest and baddest not solve the thousand cases, OK? Oh, he was very full of himself. Oh, he said that there was nothing he could do. He said that he was not going to stop until he found Tom. That's really all. All we talked about was how good he was.

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Klein told me he asked Sheriff Lewis what he knew about Tom. According to Klein, Lewis unloaded.

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He's I think he's gay. I think he has a fetish of wearing adult diapers and peeing in them.

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And I was like, oh, that's a little strange. But, you know, OK, this is on your first visit. This is my first visit to the sheriff. The profile that I got was this is a runaway. Blow it off. Forget it. You don't even need to be here. You're wasting your time, wasting these people's money. You know, whatever. We're here if you need to talk to us.

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Lewis denies that he ever talked about Tom this way, but he did acknowledge that he and his deputies suspected that Tom had skipped town. He let Kline look over the case file. Klein took some notes. Then he headed out to begin interviewing Tom's friends, recording his conversations as he went.

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Hello. Hi, my name's Phil Kline. I'm an investigator. OK, how are you today? Is Michael home?

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No, he's not. He went to Alsop's. Where are you from? Where I'm from I'm from in Texas. I'm a private security investigator. I'm assigned to the Brown disappearance. OK, is there any way we can come up here and visit with you guys?

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I'm a child rescue specialist. OK, so are you with any law enforcement agency?

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I am a private security and we assist through child rescue network of local law enforcement from time to time. And I'm not representing any law enforcement. I'm representing the family.

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OK, OK, this is Klein and Michael Castle, Tienes house. Michael, you'll remember, was one of the three friends who went cruising with Tom on Thanksgiving Eve.

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You come in. Thank you. Thank you for having me. My home town. I'm feeling quite nice to meet you. I'll give you my card here you may have seen. Thank you, Michael. Probably OK. Love that interest there. I heard you guys get that. Hi, how are you? I'm feeling kind of seeing your husband every time I see Texas and also a child. We're sorry. I'm going to go put them in the back.

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Don't show up. Sorry. No, no problem. When I was 18 years old. He is. Yes. If he can decide whether he wants to, he can or not. That is true. As he did whenever he met someone new, Glenfield in the Castleton family on his credentials, well, I found people in Mexico. I found people in Malaysia.

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I found people and what not one this young. This is Michael, by the way.

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And I know you do, child.

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I'm saying like an adult, eight to 15, a 15 year old ran away with her softball coach. And I got a job on a cruise ship down in the Greek islands. Excuse me. I was able to find them. I mean, you know, I've been able to find, I guess the one everybody watch me on Dateline on was one with Patrick McDermott. Olivia Newton John's missing. Yeah, that was me. Yeah. Really? Yeah.

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Well, that was my mom and me and my time. He said you got 85 percent or 84. 85 percent. Yeah. You're only as good as your next case. So yeah. Klein also took the time to explain his interviewing technique. Now listen to me. Before you start talking, I'm a profiler. OK, the way we work is we paint a picture, right? OK, so we get a little red over here, a little blue over your little green over here.

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Then we paint this picture, then we step back and look at the picture. We can kind of know what we're looking at. So paint me a picture of Tom. I don't know. He was funny. I mean, I know that's what everybody says is for the guy. He was funny. I mean, he always seemed like exuberant, like loud ish to the enemies in town. No, not that I can think of. No one that I ever knew disliked.

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Everybody liked him. Yeah.

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I got to ask a question that he usually did.

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He usually left that he usually what he he would he's drinking maybe four times in his life. He would never smoke or do anything like that.

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As Klein conducts his interviews, you can hear him trying to piece together a profile of Tom. Here he is talking to Caleb King, another one of the friends who was with Tom on Thanksgiving Eve.

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Well, your dad's a state representative. Yes, he enjoyed it. Yeah, he likes it a lot. Good. It's a fun time down there. It can become high pressure, too, to. Oh, it is. So what I want to try to do is I want to try to I just want to hear from you. Tell me about Tom Time. When did you guys first meet or maybe all been lifelong friends or what have we got?

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Well, I mean, I've known Tom since probably second grade when he moved here.

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So let's get to senior year. We get into our senior. How's he doing? I mean, he's elected class president, right? Oh, yes. That all about he gave a good speech. Is that right or something? Oh, yeah. Killed it. Yes. Everybody says all your friends say, oh, he got up there and he killed that he did cause his speech. Tell me about it. It was really just funny. And that's what people voted for.

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Everybody said he was there. They were on the floor laughing. Oh yeah. That's hilarious. Tell me about with girls that he was attracted to girls, do you think? Oh, yeah. He was extremely attracted to girls. Oh, let me just ask you flat out, is he heterosexual? Do you think he had homosexual tendencies? No, I never thought that.

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And here is clean, talking by phone to Christian Webb, the third of Tom's friends who went cruising with him the night he disappeared when Klein called her Christian, was already back at Oklahoma State that day. She was on her way to the football game where she would be playing her piccolo in the marching band. Yes, sir.

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I was wondering if you had a couple of minutes I could visit with you.

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Yes, there I am about to go into a football game right now.

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Let me try and find a quiet place, OK, for a good client.

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Asked her about the last moments she and Tom spent together on Thanksgiving Eve.

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You know, he seemed really happy. Everything seemed fine. And, you know, we drove around and listen to music until about 11:00 and I got tired of driving. And so we went and we sat in the parking lot for about 30 minutes until I had to go home. OK, about eleven thirty. Yes, sir. OK, so so that night, he was just happy go lucky nothing was wrong. He was everything was good to take me from there.

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So when you dropped him off, what did he say he was going to do?

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I figured he was going home. He didn't say what he was going to do. And, you know, we'd made plans to hang out the rest of the week. He was going to come over to my house on Thanksgiving and hang out with my family. Right. And we were he was going to come visit me in college. We'd made plans to do that over the spring. Right. I was going to knock before I say I feel fine once you're in a plane crash to make when I finally dropped in on Tom's ex-girlfriend, Sage Penington in her family.

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Well, I mean, you know, I'm up over 100 cases now and I know what I'm doing and I know how that manifests itself. And I can write books after books, after books on this crap now.

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But Sage told Klein that she had met Tom in theater class. They started going out when she was a senior and he was a junior.

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Is he the kind of guy that gives people little gifts?

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Like did he ever give you a little gift or I mean, he gave me a necklace and then he gave me like a stuffed corgi because he knows I like I love corgis. But that was that was like the only thing that says what you know, he was trying to give you something he knew you liked.

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And then Klein switched gears, so let's talk a little bit about I want to go to his dark side. Tell me all about his dark side.

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I mean, I never I really don't know. I just know. So he's always kind of like a fetish, I guess. But I always figured he'd slow down.

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This is very important. Yeah. So let me hear about this fetish.

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You might remember that Sage had been the first person to tell a sheriff's deputy that Tom liked wearing adult diapers. When Klein looked through the sheriff's case file on Tom, he had read her statement.

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OK, so back up. Let me hear a little bit about the diapers. Don't be shy. Did you ever catch him wearing diapers? No. Did you think that was weird when he said to you, well, I like to wear diapers? Yeah. I mean, I thought it was weird and not appropriate for the age. Yeah. Did you tell him or did you just go. No. No, I didn't tell him because he already felt so bad about it.

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I didn't want to like he already felt like a freak. I want to make me feel more bad about himself.

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At the time, Sage, in just a couple of other girls who were close to Tom, seemed to be the only people in town who knew anything about Tom's alleged fetish. Christian Web told me Tom opened up to her about it in the summer of 2016, just before she headed off to college, I believe.

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But it was something we texted about, if I recall correctly.

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Did he try to explain why he wanted to wear a diaper?

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He just told me repeatedly that she just really liked it and it gave him pleasure. Did it scare you? Be a little concerned? But a lot of these things are kind of natural and people can help them. And I mean, if he was kind of handling it in a healthy way, then it didn't really bother me.

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When I sat down with Tom's mom, Penny, his older brother Tucker and his stepfather, Chris, they said they were stunned when Sheriff Lewis first brought up Tom wearing diapers. They did acknowledge that they had once called Tom wearing them, but it was just once they said and that was back when he was in middle school.

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I have nephews that were little and they were still in diapers. And so then he would try to wear their diapers and then he would wear them, I guess, kind of off and on for a while. And then we caught him with them. And then to my knowledge, he stopped. There was nothing else ever about it again. There were no diapers anywhere. I mean, that had been a non-issue for several years.

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Lewis, however, said he had an obligation to look into Tom's life when I was told about Tom's fetish with wearing diapers, that just opened up a whole new thing in wondering what are we dealing with here? I just know that we had to put him under a microscope. I had never dealt with a missing person before. I've never taken on a lead role at that level. It's never easy to put somebody under a microscope to figure out their things, you know, that they had or don't want people to find out.

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You know, it's a hard thing to do. And it was even harder to share things like this with the family or the mother. You know, things that we had found out or things that we had found out that we needed more answers to.

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It led Lewis to wonder whether Tom had been engaging in any other secret behaviors.

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I mean, I want to call him sick and weird things that he was involved in and what he was doing.

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But everyone who knew Tom said it was absurd to believe that he was sick or that he was leading a secret life. When I called Sage, she said that as far as she knew, Tom had only worn diapers a handful of times.

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When more things you said to him, well, I would just tell me he probably talk to somebody professional, go to your parents about it. Also, that God loves you and you're not a freak. You don't need to be ashamed of yourself. Everybody has their battles that you can overcome.

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Sage insisted that Tom was a regular guy, just like any other Canadian boy. He just happened to struggle with typical teenage insecurities in his own way. When Tom and Sage broke up in November 2016, Sage said he was characteristically sweet. Sage was already a freshman at West Texas A&M, and Tom told her he planned to attend Oklahoma State the following year, which would only increase the distance between them. He told her he hoped she would find a good guy to be our next boyfriend.

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Sage was still so fond of Tom that she wrote him a lovely goodbye letter that read in part, I know God will bless both of us. On November 22nd, 2016, the day before Tom disappeared, Tom and Sage actually saw one another in a Canadian high school basketball game. She was in town for Thanksgiving. They didn't speak that night. They happened to be sitting on opposite sides of the gym. But Tom later texted Sage saying that he was sad that he felt like a loser.

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I'm sad to say it's texted back. I miss you a lot and you are not a loser. She texted him again the next night, Thanksgiving Eve, because I'm knowing him and just some of the issues he face.

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So stuff I know he was struggling and so I checked on him. But by then, Tom's phone had been turned off and he never responded. Matty and Johnny here and we teamed up with Green Chef Green Chef is a USDA certified organic company. Meal plans include vegan, vegetarian, paleo and Kaido use code TBP eight zero to get eighty dollars off across four boxes, including free shipping on your first box at Green Chef Dotcom TBP eight zero. When I'm cooking, I want to feel great about what I'm eating and how the ingredients got to my table with green chef.

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[00:22:08]

All right, Matty, so tell me about how your friends got that great patio furniture.

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Well they use Gega Points, a site that uses data to match you with the best cards for the way you actually spend so you can score cashback, free travel, patio furniture and more. So on the site. You can connect to credit card. And Gega Points analyzes your spending. They show you which cards will give you the most points, cashback, travel credits and it's all for free weight so everyone can see how much you spend on clothes.

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Madie Very funny.

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Luckily, Gigha Points uses the same tools that VMO and Amex used to access your credit card info and keep it encrypted. They don't see your actual card number or login info.

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OK, so it's secure, but does it tell you which card you should use to get the most of what you want?

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Yes, it's pretty amazing. I got my results within a minute and found that I was using the wrong card. If I had been using a different card, I could have earned points worth fifty two hundred dollars last year.

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Oh man, I need to get on there as well. Then go to Google Points dotcom tab. You'll get a personalized report to maximize your credit card rewards. That's GIGO Pouye A.S. Dotcom TBP. Thank you for supporting Tom Brown's body. If Sheriff Lewis had developed certain suspicions about Tom's disappearance, private investigator Phillip Klein begin coming to very different conclusions as Klein made his rounds. He asked the teenagers he interviewed if they could imagine Tom attempting suicide. Here's Klein with Michael Castleton.

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He never threatened to kill himself.

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Now he would talk suicide. I mean, I heard him say I'll kill myself, but that was in a joking way. And people say that. So I don't know. I get it. But he didn't ever say to you, man, I just I'm to say anything like that. Tom's friend, Christian, said suicide didn't make much sense to her either, after all, she and Tom had made plans for him to come over to her house on Thanksgiving Day.

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And that's something else that stood out to me and kind of makes me think that he didn't commit suicide is because typically, if you plan to commit suicide, then you don't make plans for the following day. Klein begin telling Tom's friends that he, too, was skeptical Tom had taken his own life. For one thing, Tom's body had not been found, Klein said. That's rare in cases of suicide if you're going to kill yourself.

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As a teenager, you want your body found. This has to be a splash, this has to be a big thing, remember, he's big into drama. And if Tom was contemplating suicide, Klein asked why he would carry so many things with him after parking his Durango.

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People that are going to kill themselves don't carry their laptops, their wallet and their phone and their when they're so, you know, I don't think it's a suicide. I really do.

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Klein said the more he thought about it, the more he suspected that a crime had been committed. Tom had been kidnapped, maybe even murdered. Here he is talking to Sage. And you ever heard of the website back?

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You have heard of enough, you know. Those very black sites can get a lot of trouble there. It's the Internet, it's not the Internet's, the answer to a couple of clicks and it sends you to a world that sexual fantasies, sexual fetishes in boys for boys, girls for girls, swingers, the whole bit.

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It's all they're prostitutes. It's all there. And the kids have figured it out. And some very nefarious characters hang out in there. I mean, they're killers. They prey on people. And then you hook up with them. They say, OK, I'll come pick you up at midnight. Just be over here on the corner and they come pick you up. But you never come home. Yeah, they kill you. We're looking at the possibility.

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That there was a third party out there that he was keeping a relationship with. On either back page or one of the other Instagram profile on Facebook. Klein also began floating another theory when he talked to Tom's friends. He suggested that Tom might have encountered someone he knew just before midnight on Thanksgiving Eve. According to Klein, that person might have murdered. Tom driven Tom's Tarango to an unknown area to dump his body, then parked the vehicle at the water treatment plant and walked back into town.

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That would mean the killer was probably still living among them in Canadian. Here's Klein talking to Caleb Keene. There's bad people out in the world, some there's bad places out there and bad people, you've got to be on your toes at all times. Makes you want to go to the church. You get on your knees and say a few words. Right? Right. I got you. I got you. Welcome to my world. I do this for a living.

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You all meet guys like me very often, our parado. We live in a very dark world. Worst thing, worse than you'd ever dream, we've seen it all. And then the phone rings and we see one more. That's gospel. Evil has come to Canadian Texas. Klein was so convinced there was a crime to be solved that he brought in another private investigator to help him with the case.

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And that was Jane Holmes and Sunny spell her last name, HLL MERS like Sherlock Holmes. You can't make this shit up.

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Holmes, who's based outside of Atlanta, Georgia, specializes in conducting interviews. She has thick blond hair and a soft Southern drawl. She's the perfect counterpoint to Klein's TV detective, and she arrived in Canadian on New Year's Eve in twenty sixteen, about six weeks after Tom disappeared. That night, she and Klein tried to squeeze some information out of members of the Wildcats high school football team. They met the players at their favorite hangout, the high school football stadium parking lot.

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How many guys were on the football team? That's not when you get home. Okay, all of you. So tell me. I know I sold phones we get on Facebook. How do I communicate social media wise? Do y'all get on any sites like Kik or anything like that? I don't know. No Tinder.

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Yeah, I'm just kidding ya. Ya know, I was just kidding, right? I'm not that desperate.

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Oh God.

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I mean, there is there any like I mean, we're just keep in mind, you know, we don't we're not going to judge anybody, but we're just wanting to know, is there any kind of underground network around here that people do things on the on the dark side underground network?

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Is there any kind of underground network in this community where people could get on the dark side of things just like drugs or what? Well, you know, that maybe should drugs meeting up with sex, rock and roll. I mean, you know, come on, we're meeting up with people now and it's like it's not like prostitution. No.

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Or, you know, somebody said some truckers come through town and get make people nervous every once in a while. Is that true or not? I know. Right, because we're all guys here, right? Hold your ears. You give her any weird shit.

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Not that I know. Now, come on. You didn't hang out with people you know and people that we all talk to be smoking dope. What about drinking? Come on now.

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Well, we heard about some bonfires out there north of the city and everybody drank a couple of beers. You know, nothing big, a couple of beers. Do you ever see him do that?

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I've never going out there, sir. I know. Do you have any enemies? You know who. Tom? Yeah. Oh, well, everyone loved him. Everybody loved Tom.

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So nobody bullied him. He didn't bully anybody.

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Know that nobody wanted to whip his ass for getting out of football. We know we accepted it like it was fine. We won't quit. It's like it's your decision, you know. As Holmes helped Klein interview people all over town, Sheriff Lewis was also getting some help. He called an FBI agent from Amarillo and a Texas Ranger from the nearby town of Pampa to come to Canadian and sift through the case file.

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The officers were struck by a statement that one of Tom's high school friends, Maisy Patterson, had given to a sheriff's deputy. Macy said that she and Tom had talked about how easy it would be to disappear from Canadian as long as they didn't use a cell phone, credit cards or anything else that was traceable, they could sneak out of Canadian and never be found. Maybe Lewis and the officers speculated that's exactly what Tom had done. He had taken off to start a new life.

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We talked about jumping trains. We talked about, you know, going that area to try and girls that we talked about jump in, train, talked about the slow moving trains that go through here. And he might have hitched a ride from a truck driver.

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The lawman also considered the possibility that Tom had arranged for someone to show up in Canadian and pick him up. The officers asked Penny, her husband, Chris, and Tom's father, Kelly, to come to the sheriff's department. According to Pene, the Texas Ranger laid out what he thought had happened.

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He just said that, well, I really haven't looked through all of the investigation. But, you know, from what they're telling me, you know, I think that your son just ran off.

[00:32:09]

He's gay, homosexual. He's found this man, this older man that he's hooked up with. And so he's just off with him somewhere. And, you know, the great news is, is that he's alive. And when he wants to talk to you again, he'll pick up the phone and call you. That was basically it was kind of like your sons are free. I mean, they didn't use that word. But basically what they were saying is your son is a freak.

[00:32:34]

He's gone off and joined the circus. He's alive.

[00:32:38]

He'll show back up when he's ready. I asked him, so where did you get this?

[00:32:42]

Well, you know, friends and you know, and I'm like, well, what friends? Well, we can't tell you. And I said, well, funny to me, I've talked to a lot of kids, too. I haven't had any kids told me that he ran away or that he was gay.

[00:32:56]

Well, but the kids lie to you, OK?

[00:33:00]

I said, well, I don't have a teacher, a coach, a kid, a pastor or a youth pastor.

[00:33:08]

I don't have anybody who has told me that Thomas is gay. Lewis was at that meeting and he told me he doesn't remember Tom's sexuality being discussed at all, and he said that Pinny is exaggerating, that the officer only brought up the possibility that Tom might have left Canadian with another man.

[00:33:26]

I really think that conversation was more of a discussion conversation versus, you know, him just saying this is what happened, you know, saying, hey, you know, he could have got in or somebody could have got in with an older man. I remember that conversation.

[00:33:42]

Nevertheless, it wasn't long after that meeting that Lewis decided to go public with the runaway theory.

[00:33:50]

What kind of a show is this? Well, it's interesting, fun and local, Chris.

[00:33:54]

And can weekday mornings as American as apple pie ninety eight point three kicks in January 2017. The sheriff appeared on Chris Sample's radio talk show, which is broadcast out of the nearby town of Periton. Samples is sort of like the town crier of the northeastern panhandle. Welcome into the final hour of the program, quarter after nine with Chris sampled here on the information. Later, the region's No.1 rated adult radio station by a ton from Wheeler to Stratford, from near Amarillo, all the way to Beaver, Oklahoma.

[00:34:31]

By this point, Tom's disappearance was the biggest story in the panhandle in samples gave Lewis a full 20 minutes without commercial interruption to talk about the case.

[00:34:42]

I have been hoping and praying that all of a sudden will find a young man. Is there any reason to believe that that kind of a scenario might be remotely possible?

[00:34:54]

It's absolutely possible. So last week what we did, we set everything down, put everything out on the table, had a conference, if you will, and just went over everything. We had the family come in, we visited with them. We told them where we're at, what we're doing, what we're looking through. So what that entailed was looking over everything that we have found through the young man's home, through his vehicle, talking to friends, close confidants and everything that we have learned through this investigation.

[00:35:23]

Chris, has led us to believe we are quite positive and also the DPS officials and the rangers that Mr. Brown left on his own. We have interviewed a mass number of people. What we are coming up with by these interviews is going back and determining that the young man did leave voluntarily. We have not found anything at this point on giving us a direction of who he left with. So, no, we have no idea on somebody that helped him out.

[00:35:53]

But, yes, somebody did help him out. Somebody does know where Mr. Brown is. Absolutely.

[00:35:59]

What kind of a challenge is it, Sheriff, to orchestrate this kind of what has become now maybe even a national search when you say, OK, we've got a missing person here who has evidently left on their own free will, what does it take for a sheriff's department in Canadian Texas to tap in to that national network? Because there are thousands of missing people out there?

[00:36:25]

Chris, does. It happens every day. It's a tragedy every day that somebody does go missing, whether it's on their own account, voluntarily or against their will. People go missing every day. And it's horrible. And it's something that nobody should have to go through at all. We are not going to stop looking for him. We're not going to stop doing the things that we're doing here. The tragedy thing about it is he's a high school senior and he's a son.

[00:36:49]

He's a brother. He's a friend of the community. And so we're going to do everything and still do everything we can to locate him and bring him home. At this point, Philip Klein had offered no evidence to back his theory that Tom had been killed and Sheriff Lewis had provided no evidence to back his theory that Tom had run away. But interest in the case continued to surge across the region. The owner of Teuton Totem, a convenience store chain, announced a five thousand dollar reward to the first person who provided information leading to Tom's return or recovery.

[00:37:24]

Predictably, phone calls flooded the sheriff's department. Someone called to say he had seen Tom at a chicken express in Amarillo. Someone else claimed to have spotted Tom in a coffee shop in Clovis, New Mexico. Of course, none of the tips panned out as the weeks passed. There was no sign of Tom at all. No cell phone pings, no texts, no digital footprint, no physical evidence. Tom had seemed had become a ghost. On February 1st, 2017, a little more than two months after Tom disappeared, a prayer vigil was held at the Canadian high school gym.

[00:38:12]

Around 100 townspeople were there, packed together at center court. Everyone received a pebble with the inscription, just make it home on one side, in Tom's name on the other. They sang hymns and they listened to a sermon delivered by the youth pastor from the Methodist Church. Our innocence is lost, he said. Tom is not with us. But the day after the service, a new rumor began to spread through Canadian. It was the first big break in the case since the night Tom disappeared.

[00:38:53]

Four miles east of town on a lonely farm to market road. Someone had found Tom's backpack. Next week on Tom Brown's body, we get a tip from a deputy, the backpack from the car has been found.

[00:39:14]

Where was it found? Six point seven miles to the left of Lake Margaret.

[00:39:21]

We're like, holy shit. Tom Brown's body is a Texas Monthly production executive producer is Megan Krait, produced and engineered by Brian Standiford, who also wrote the music. Jaquet Neko is our editor and Paul Knight is our fact checker. Audio assistants are Sean Cronin and Imogene Hopper. Our theme music is No Hard Feelings by The Avett Brothers. I'm your writer and host Skip Hollandsworth. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple podcast. Thanks for listening.

[00:39:58]

See you next week.