Can A Podcast Make A Difference In Solving A Crime?

By Si Rajadhyax

Payne Lindsey’s ‘Up and Vanished’ podcast puts a spotlight on a 12-year-old murder and now two arrests have been made.

ATLANTA – Podcasts have become a hot new trend over the last couple of years. Much of it has to do with how effortless it is nowadays to connect your phone to your car and listen to whatever you want. There are so many podcasts on basically any subject you can think of, ready to listen to online, for free.

One of the most popular podcasts out there is one called, “Serial.” The Serial podcast is co-created and co-produced by Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder. The narrative podcast follows the story of a girl that was murdered and her ex-boyfriend who was convicted of the crime, despite pleading his innocence. The podcast went on to become one of 2014’s biggest cultural phenomenons and really brought focus to the format, that is, podcast.

True-crime documentaries such as Serial aren’t an original idea. The popularity of 2015’s,”Making A Murderer,” that premiered on Netflix, further ignited interest in the genre. The format of podcast can give that same HBO & Netflix experience following a true crime story, week after week, with no images.

Fast forward to present day. Anyone and everyone is creating their own podcasts, but something unique has started to develop.

In August 2016, a new podcast premiered titled, “Up and Vanished.” The podcast was created by Atlanta-based film maker, 29-year-old, Payne Lindsey. Being a big fan of the Serial podcast, Lindsey wanted to take his own stab at the true-crime genre, while doing something good with it. He searched through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s cold case file until he landed on the largest case file in the history of the state.

The case Lindsey decided on was the disappearance of Tara Grinstead of Ocilla, Georgia. Grinstead was a history teacher and former beauty queen, who disappeared from her home on October 22, 2005. Every couple of weeks, Lindsey produced and uploaded episodes of his podcast online. Very quickly the podcast gained interest nationally, but particularly in the small town of Ocilla with a population just under 3,500.

Over the next couple of months, the podcast’s popularity resurfaced the case into the public eye. It was able to give a fresh perspective on the case that had been cold for over a decade and not talked about in the media for at least the last two years. On top of generating new leads, the podcast allowed people to comfortably talk about what they might’ve known, heard or seen regarding the night Grinstead vanished.

On February 22, 2017, six months after the premiere of Up and Vanished, an arrest was made in in Grinstead’s disappearance. A tip was called into the GBI and authorities arrested 33-year-old, Ryan Duke. He was charged with burglary, aggravated assault, murder and concealment of a body. A little over a week later on March 3rd, the GBI arrested Bo Dukes for his involvement in the murder and was charged with concealing death and tampering with evidence.

The GBI held a press conference when they announced the first arrest. Although they did not mention Up and Vanished directly, a spokesperson for the GBI made sure to thank the media for their help saying, “Please know that you have had an impact, a significant role in this investigation and I am confident that today we have reached the point where we are in this investigation because of that involvement.”

While Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes weren’t mentioned on the podcast, or even on Lindsey’s radar of suspects, one can put two and two together to realize that if it weren’t for Lindsey’s efforts, and his idea to start the Up and Vanished podcast, Tara Grinstead’s case might currently still be consider cold and unsolved.

This is just one case and one example of what the power of podcasting has become in today’s world. It will be interesting to see what other aspiring podcasters will do that follow in the footsteps of Up and Vanished, but more importantly, what cases will be solved because of them.


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