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December 12, 2018 33 mins

Catherine's efforts start to pay off in small but significant ways as local investigators begin taking another look at the facts of the case. Catherine meets with Holly Meyer, lead prosecutor, and speaks with journalist, George Jared, who relays some interesting information. For more on the case, visit

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
School of Humans. We've just received a call that could
change everything. It's from a person who claims that he
knows Casey well and says that on multiple occasions, Casey
told him that he killed Rebecca. If it was kind
of surreal she received his phone call. That's my dad

Stan as a deputy sheriff. He knows Dennis through the
police department. And you know, I couldn't believe his phone calls.
I said, you know what, we need to call Dennis,
right and then this was aw, what's is Saturday? Saturday?
So we called him and said, Dennis, I called him.
I said, look, you know, I'm very important to talk

to you now regarding this case. He said, I can't
talk to you for a week and a half. I'm
teaching some course in little You need to know that
this is extremely important. I meant. He got Kenny. You
could tell he was pissed off. He said, okay, I
was leading office in thirty minutes, you know, kind of
like guy. So we live down there, and so so

we started off and Catherine was saying, okay, Dennis, he
said what you got like it was his first three words,
and so she started talking about it, and it said
she said that he was just that was it. He
just said, there's no way. He said he has an
avertie al bye and all. He went on and on
he did basically from that moment he dismissed everything. I

went through it and he just cut me off and
he's like, do you want me You wanted to hear it,
and he just dismissed it. And then he pulled out
his IRAQ follow grad study, showing his pictures around. In
September of two thousand and four, twenty two year old

Rebecca Gould was brutally murdered in a remote area of
the Arkansas Ozarks. Fourteen years later, her killer is still
out there. I've come back to Mountain View with one
mission to get justice for Rebecca. I'm Catherine Townsend and
this is Helen Gone. People confess to murders for a

variety of reasons. So far during our investigation, we've heard
rumors that people have said they murdered Rebecca while they
were in prison, or have bragged about killing her in
order to appear tough. But this was different. This new
witness said that Casey confessed while crying and that he
knew things that at the time no one but Rebecca's

family knew that Rebecca was ending her relationship with Casey.
Details about the cleanup and the dumping of the body,
and a description of the murder weapon. I know we
have to share this new information with the police immediately,
so I take all the information I've obtained up until
this point to lead investigator Dennis Simons. I tell Dennis

about the new witness who claims to have information about Casey.
Dennis quickly shuts me down and tells me again that
Casey has an airtight alibi. When I started this case,
I had very definite ideas about good guys and bad guys.
I thought that I would go to the police and
that they would follow up. But this witness is scared,

and I'm worried that if the police won't even take
his statement, we may lose this new evidence for good.
As I've mentioned before, my dad is a deputy sheriff
and a notary, though he works in a neighboring county.
We check with the sheriff and he confirms that we

can take an official statement ourselves if you could just
tell him when you told me. We recorded this interview
for the police, but to protect the witnesses privacy. I'm
just going to describe the conversation. His facts are consistent
with the conversation that we had on the phone, but
he goes into much more detail about his multiple conversations

with Casey where he confessed. He pulls out a company
issued phone card to help nail down the dates he
worked with Casey. We talk for forty five minutes. You
can tell he's scared. You can hear the shaking in
his voice. After the witness finishes talking, my dad has
him summarize what he said in writing this right here

is what would keep you from probably having to repeat
this to NERD officer. You know what I'm saying, I
am a deputy, and oh this is it's just a statement,
a swarm statement where you say, here's kind of what happened,
and when you sign it, and I'll sign it, I'm
a notably. Actually I can do that, and this is
what we can use to go forward with the investigator

on this case. And that would be the best thing
to do is just you know, you've got it recorded,
but you know, if you just make it a look quick,
you know, comments here kind of what you said, then
that'd be the best way to get Well, we really
appreciate you coming forward because at least would you just
sign your name out there? All right? Well, yeah, and

if you think of anything else like, feel free to
text me or call me anytime. I give the witness
statement to the police. In addition to Dennis, I send
the information to Mark Collingsworth, he was the original investigator
on Rebecca's case. A few days later, I talked to
the witness again. It seems that Dennis has received the
statement because the witness tells me Dennis met with him.

The witness says that when he shared his story, Dennis
argued with him, shook his head, and told him that
Casey had an alibie. The witness asked me whether Dennis
believed him, and offers to give his statement to someone else.
After a few days of silence, I start to check
on progress. I send an email to the higher ups
of the Arkansas State Police, and Mark Collingsworth calls me immediately.

He asks if we can meet in person at his
office in Little Rock. My dad drives me there. Mark
tells him he can't come into the meeting, so my
dad waits in the lobby for me. Once I'm in
Mark's office. I offer to talk to him off the record,
but he declines. He looks at me matter of factly

and says, everything here is on the record, Miss Townsend.
He tells me that Dennis has put many hours into
the case and knows what he's doing, and that I
should leave the investigating to him. We discuss some of
the details of the case, and he mentions that they
are open to new evidence, but he won't tell me
what's become of the witness statement, and by the end

of the meeting it is clear that they won't share
any evidence with me. Like I said before, I understand
that police need to hold back certain facts from the
public in order to catch killers, but it's been fourteen
years and I'm getting pretty tired of them stonewalling me.
After my meeting with Mark, I start to wonder, what

do the cops need? What else is out there that
I could possibly uncover to help the case. While Dennis
and Mark are still the investigators, fourteen years have brought
some changes. There's now a new prosecutor on the case,
Holly Meyer, so I reach out to her to see
what she needs to prosecute a case like this. So

yes and I'm wondering, is like, if you were to
prosecute empathetically a case, what would you what types of
stuff would you need? Proof beyond a reasonable doubt? Like, well,
you can make proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a
great number of ways. You can have direct evidence, evidence
of the scene, eyewitnesses, and then you can have circumstantial

evidence right availability, opportunity, motive. But it all has to
add up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We meet
at her office. I explained to Holly All that I've uncovered.
She sits, listens and takes notes because I wasn't getting
any help from LA enforcement, which is I understand's an

open case. I started sort of just from the ground up.
And Casey was her boyfriend at the time, who she
was staying with, and it all happened at Casey's house.
She was killed at Casey's house and that's the place
where the crime scene cleanup was. He had the motive,
he had the murder weapon. What do you see the
motive beds He was obsessed with her and he didn't

want her to leave him. Love and violence is powerful stuff,
no doubt about it. And I wonder also, like why
he was ruled out so quickly got her theories on that.
She challenges many of the facts that I bring to her.
I think the time I was just a little bit off.
You're talking about four hours off, though, Yeah, that's a
lot off. I really think I think Dennis and Mark

and those guys are a little more of a drill
sergeant approach. But I think Casey's like, he's like the
acoustic guitar strumming guy, the soul patch mister sensitive. And
so I think when he came in there and started crying,
I think they just didn't think he did it. They
just thought, you know, they just didn't think he was
capable of doing it, because he seems like this really
sweet guy. And I think, you know, only if you've

seen him be kind of psycho, you understand what he's
capable of. Why did Danielle call him psycho the psycho
career because she said that he was. She's like because
of that, because he has like this really sweet If
you see a picture of him, he's got like this
sweet face and he kind of gives the impression of
like the guitar storming, hippie stoner sweet guy. There are

lots of things about this case that are kind of
anomalies that I agree with Dandalone that it's one of
the things that makes this case particularly challenging. Other pieces
of evidence and these other statements point in other directions,
and you know, not definitively going anywhere, but just kind
of you know, all these other pieces that don't quite

fit into the puzz because they're not what they appear
to be, or they you know, weren't sufficiently nailed down,
or they came up so much later that to which
time it passed. She's familiar with all the rumors and
theories we talk about. The most widely mentioned theory Chris,
I'd seen him in prison before. It's a charming rogue.

I mean, he's he's, he's he's when you talk to him,
he's actually a personable guy. Yeah, and it seems to
like toying with the police. I'm sure he does. So
what have you seen of the official investigation? Nothing? Sometimes
a fresh set of eyes is a really good thing

for an investigation. I mean, I think so, I've worked
with so many you know, I've worked on so many cases,
and like, yeah, it's a positive. I mean, usually when
someone kind of knows what they're doing. It's a positive
thing and it can really help. But it's no slight
on anyone who's done. You know, it's just it's just
how it is. Sometimes it's it's you know, it's a
good thing. I just stayed here because I really felt

like I started to feel and it was more an
emotional decision. I was like, I think spending time on
the ground is actually like helping build relationships because like
I get it. You know, someone comes in and says
we're gonna help you the case, and you don't really
you know, it takes time, Like I had to write
people letters and approach a friend to get me to
introduce me to that person, and you know, don't want
to work on this case. You've got hours in minute,

so obviously, yeah, I mean, and I feel really strongly
about it, like I just want to find out who
did it and get the right person arrested. That's my
as my single one goal. So is it impossible, Well,
nothing's impossible, but we're certainly not at a point where

we have beyond a reasonable doubt on any one person.
And there's an interesting when you have some interesting premises here,
I want to think about them. Okay, if we can,
if we can shake the trees and we can get
something to fall out, that'd be great. One of Holly's
co workers pops his head in the door of her office.
I guess we've been talking for a while. All right,

you're working so very hearty and be okay. All right, Well,
I'm gonna get to work. It's a pativated arrest. Tell
me if you get any interesting angles you've got myself.
Holly seems to appreciate my passion for this case, but
she says there are still too many unanswered questions. But
as I leave her office, I feel confident that her

energy may be exactly what we need to shake this
case up and finally get some progress. Remember Laren, he
was one of the people who was with Casey on
the day Rebecca died. Over the past few weeks we've
become friends. He keeps me up to date with his

life and on all the happenings in Arkansas. What are
you up to? Nothing much. I've got a job I'm
starting tomorrow. Finally, really, he calls me about a new job.
But more importantly, he tells me that after almost fifteen years,
Dennis has reached out to him. This is great news

because it seems like the police are re examining the case.
Before I even talked to him, he had already called me,
that's the message, been to my house while I wasn't there,
went back only to say, I'm going to send this
to you. Look at it. He's talking about Laren's statement
from September twenty second, two thousand and four. Rather than
meeting with Laren in person, he sent his statement back

to him. Yeah, he called that's the message, then come
to the house, knocked on the door, then went to
where I worked, asked around for me, and then I
returned his call, not knowing any of that, and he said, oh, yeah, well,
I you know, I've been to your housing, your work.
I was like, oh, well, okay. I was like, I
mean you know, and he's like, oh no, no big deal.
Just reviewed this statement and let me know what you think.

It's fine. I was like, oh, seems kind of anti climatic.
Laren explains how he felt about his reinterview. He's approaching
everybody he to with intimidation, like leading out with that. Yeah,
but that's kind of the feeling I got. He probably,
you know, he probably looked up saw that like I
was on probation, you know, and all that, and was like, oh,
you know, if this guy's got, you know, some kind

of secret, I'll pressure it out of him. His exact
words were case he didn't do is man, that was
his exact words. I just feel like he's doing this
to take a lot. That's that's kind of the you know,
once I talked to him, you know, that's that's exactly
the feeling I got. You know, beforehand, I was like, well,
maybe he's you know, shaking some treaties and knocking some cages,
you know. But you know, once I talked to him,

I was like, oh, well, okay, whatever in the morning.
It's weird because you know, I think about it a lot,
and and and it's of course like scenarios sometimes play
out like memories, and and the truth is that I
just cannot remember. I wish, I wish, I wish they
would have asked me down then, But I can't remember

about the change of clothes things, if he went home
before we left to go to the movies between that
two and four, I can't tell you for certain that
he would you know that he did not that I
know for a fact, he stated, Son until he picked
him up, because it really feels like that may have happened,
like maybe he said that, but but then again, that's
a scenario I've played out in so much in my mind. Yeah,

I'm telling you know, so I don't know. I just
don't know that, you know. Laren struggles with his memory
highlight one of the biggest challenges of this case. It's
impossible to forget what happened to Rebecca, but for those
closest to the case, some of the details can be
hard to remember. He said, I can't remember exactly the words,
but along the lines of, oh, you know, some people

are just in it for uh fame, fortune and book deals.
At the first mention of your name, he like interrupted
the whole, the whole you know, conversation, like like, no, no, no,
she's not gonna mean what you know, I guess, you know,
by protocol he's probably supposed to do. But yeah, he
was like, just just just for the record, she's got
nothing to do with this investigation of what we're doing.

You know, we'll be right back. Taylor is now back
in Atlanta. We're still working together, but from afar I

call her from Dad's house. During another Arkansas thunderstorm. Hey man,
what's up. Hey, how's it going. I've relaxed a lot more.
I've just kind of accepted I'm going to be here
till this is over. I'm relaxing, you know, and I
just feel like, you know, it's happening. I've just got
it weirdly, and I know this sounds this sounds really strange,
but like the fact that I'm physically here does matter.

I just have to remember that it does matter. It
makes people, you know, it's the only reason it's unfolded
like this, I think because they know I'm not going away. Basically,
hopefully at the end of all of this, we will
have justice for Rebecca and the Goold family, you know
we will. A few days later, I get a call

from George with some interesting updates. Okay, and I'm gonna
tell you I got an incredible gin this morning that
Vivian had the interview Kate again and Mark Hollingsworth get
back involved in the king. Wow. It's interesting because when
I went to Seymour Collingsworth he said, you know, we

these cases are regularly reviewed and this and that I've
just seen too much craziness now because because Laren was saying, look,
he said, upon rereading this statement, right, he said, it
occurs to me that there are a lot of holes.
Laren was like, it's pretty vague, he said, and I'm
trying to remember and everything, But he said, but I
do remember that at the time I thought that, like

from the time I saw Casey that afternoon around two
or two thirty that I you know, I remember thinking
I had eyes on him or someone had eyes on
him pretty much from then till, you know, all night.
And he said, but it never occurred to me that
it could have already happened. That is just crazy. It
just seems like to the point where one of these
guys would step up to the playton and say, hey, none,

that takes me sense. I just question why he was
ruled out so they when they refused to like rule
out anyone else or give even basic details about the case,
why was he ruled out so publicly and so quickly.
That's just weird to me. Yeah, and it's gonna come across.
I know what they're going to try to do. They're
going to try to paint me as some reporter who's like,

you know, oh, she's just going out and doing all that.
You know what bullshit I've tried to give them. I
begged them to listen to this. I begged them to
listen to the information. And they've kicked me out of
their office, repeatedly told me I was stirring up shit
and told me to my own business. And it's just
utterly ridiculous. Oh yeah, you know what they're gonna do.
They're gonna try to say, oh, she's from New York

or LA or wherever she's from, to know what she's
talking about. Blah blah blah. Remember, Dennis was only assigned
to Rebecca's case a few months into the investigation. Mark
Hollingsworth was the original investigator. He's now in charge of
the Criminal Investigations Division of Arkansas State Police. I don't
think until I relieved, until I started writing about it

in twenty sixteen, I don't think they had done any
single thing on this case since probably two thousand and six,
would be my guess, because that I was trying to
thank this morning of when they would and look for
that piano leg over the White River, and I believe
it was those six and when they got kipped off
that it was thrown into the River, and I may
be wrong about that. In two thousand and five, it

was reported that police received a tip that led them
to drag the White River. It was never reported if
anything of great evidentiary value was found. Maybe like they
actually went in search for d White over on a
White River like early on in the investigation and then
way later on years later. So guy, But anyway, I

think that that was probably the last time anybody had
done anything Kate pubble baking money on that. I actually
think after what I've seen with these witness statements, none
of those guys were interviewed. They were all interviewed on
September twenty second, which is the day after she went missing.
So like it wasn't a serious thing, man, you know
what I mean. And I don't think they were interviewed
again after the body was found. Laren wasn't. I bet

none of the others were either, So like he probably
never had the opportunity. Absolutely crazy, Jennifer is baking all
of his Kate on interviews that happened that he probably
didn't even take part in on September twenty three, because
Dennis came in a little later on the case. I
can't be sure if or when he conducted interviews. But

Laren and another one of Casey's friends signed statements were
dated September twenty second, two thousand and four. He has
not interviewed any of them until like the last couple
of weeks, and he's not really interviewing that, He's just
sending him back their own statements. One thing that I
always tell young journalists to never do again. I always

tell him if they always be somewhat captible. I look
at police, tell you this is Helen gone. We'll be
right back. Our witness reaches back out. He tells us

that the podcast has been stirring things up in Melbourne.
Then he drops a bomb. He says, Casey came over
to his house screaming and freaking out and asking who else?
He told, Yeah, I got a call from our witness
and it was very disturbing. Actually, he asked, how's the
case going. If I need to give my story again

to a new investigator, please let me know. Casey found
out about me talking to Dennis and confronting me about it.
He was freaking out and screaming at me, asking who
else I told. I don't know what else to say, Taylor,
how fucked up? Is that that neither Taylor nor I
can believe that somehow the identity of our witness got

back to Casey. If solving this case was urgent before,
it's now become imperative. We go back over the facts
of the case as we know them. What is it
that we think gonna path on grit? I have no idea.
I think it's because I think it's because, as we
talked about before, both Chris and JB were in Rebecca's

recent contacts. You know, he's a bad I'm saying this
with air quotes, bad guy, drug dealer around town. I
think that also, I think that it got complicated because
I think Chris and JB both probably and you know,
later on, when Jennifer and Justin got pulled in. Like
I said, there's a little bit of truth to everything.
Justin was still probably in love with Rebecca, and you know,

Jennifer probably had some kind of beef weather, although it
looked like that had largely been kind of gotten over
by the time of the murder. And you know, JB
had sold her some weed, and Chris did deal drugs,
and all these things have a little bit of truth
to them. But at the end of the day, someone
crying and saying they did it and how they did
it and why, and describing the murder weapon. I can't

get Casey's alleged words out of my head. Not why
are you saying this about me? But who else did
you tell? A week later, Larry fills an official complaint
in the hopes that a new investigator will be put
on the case. It should have been solved. It was
an easy case to solve. It should have been solved

within the first two weeks. Everything was there. Had had
the right people come in to play almost immediately, I
don't think we'd be where we are today now. The
other thing is if you look at cases that or
cold cases, you know, you get some pretty aggressive people

searching those and in some cases you don't and the
ones where there's a sense of aggression and we're going
to solve this just like you guys. They dig up
things that are that are buried and that may have
been obvious. So over the years, as I've talked to
law enforcement, I've just since this complacency that we did

our work, this is what we have. You know, we'll
go we'll still work on it. But I think they
formed their opinions early, and I don't think they're the
least bit open minded to the fact that they could
absolutely be completely wrong. Now, the position I hold today

is the longer it is, the more complex it becomes.
So you actually have people that you can't find anymore.
You have certain witnesses that may have died, or certain
people move on, the stories may change. In this case,
you hope that maybe maybe people that were very young

at the time have matured and have a sense of
a conscience. You know, there may not have been a
conscience with some of these people, which is as you know,
the truth of a lot of people that do heinous
crimes is they just don't have a conscience. So I

would have to categorize the case now is complex, and
it's been made more complex by law enforcement. We think that,
you know, they're so highly trained and that they have integrity,
and a lot of them do. And I honestly at
this point don't know in Rebecca's case, if there's anybody

that I can trust anymore. It is a cold case,
and I'm sick of of these people hiding under the
guise of this is an active investigation and all they
have to do is say, well, we just interviewed somebody
last week, Therefore it's an active investigation. And then nobody

can see the file. They won't let me have her
any of her forensics, They wouldn't let me have any
of her of the medical, the anatomical findings. And you
just want other people to be able to look at this.
And so in a small town where when maybe one

person is hovering over this, there are lots of ways
that that person can kind of cover up this the file.
And I certainly don't want to imply that's being done here,
but that's what that's the appearance that you give if
you don't open up. So when I say this is
a complex case, it's been made complex because of longement

and their complete unwillingness to allow people that I could
employ to come in and take a look at the
case itself and maybe make some suggestions or get a
different sense of direction, or as they say, another pair
of eyes. So even though I turn these things over
to law enforcement, there was never any follow up that

I'm aware of. There may have been some, but I
almost feel like it was just filed in the in
that one drawer that kind of stays there and just
put out of the way and done so, maybe because
this feeling is we know who did it, we don't
need any more. This is who this is, who it is.
We just need to come up with enough evidence, and

they never seem to have enough evidence. So as a
as a dad, it gets incredibly frustrating because you feel
like if somebody had put the time in it, it's
it is still to this day of solvable case. It
just takes some cooperation. There's people that have written on it,

and obviously you guys are going to go public with it.
I think that's amazing, and I just think it would
I think, honestly if people that have a chance to
kind of pay attention to some of the things that
either go on or don't go on in cases, would
be incredibly offended and disappointed, because if this became your daughter,

your son, you would certainly want everything in the world
done to actively pursue an investigation to lead to some
kind of an arrest. Larry is petitioning the Arkansas state
legislature for the creation of Rebecca's Law, which would allow
more open access to cold case files. I don't anybody
try that's not guilty, and I understand the prosecutors when

they say I need more information. I think the only
the thing that's kept the Cammas is the fact that
I know where Rebecca is and that I have faith
that she's in heaven, and that's comforting. And if I

didn't have that faith, then I probably couldn't stay composed
and still continue to try to let the system work.
I think the system is capable of working. I think
the system is hard to get to work sometimes it's
it is not infallible. It has lots of flaws, but

as people say, it's the best system in the world.
And my comment to that was, you know, there's always
room for improvement. And that's the reason for Rebecca Law,
that's the reason for things that help bring these cases
to fruition and get them solved. It's been around five

months since the events in this episode occurred. According to
the Arkansas State Police, the investigation into Rebecca's murder is
still open and active. We have reached out to the
third man our witness mentioned. We wrote him a letter
in prison. He wrote us back, and nothing that he
said in his letter contradicted our witness's account. The police

have supposedly talked to him as well. But as far
as we know, they have not yet been able to
independently corroborate our witness's story. Chris is back in jail.
He's in the custody of the Arkansas State Police, and
it looks like he may be there for a while.
We have confirmed that a new investigator, Kim Warren, has
been assigned to the case. Hopefully the case will be

looked at with fresh eyes, because otherwise the search for
Rebecca's killer could continue to be dead in the water.
From this point forward, I'm going to change the format
for a little while. I'll be posting updates and more
of an on the spot manner, sometimes longer, sometimes quick bites,
new interviews as I talk to new people, new facts,

new leads, so check the feed often. We're now in
this together. There are some people listening to this podcast,
many who may be relieved that, at least for now,
we've come to an end. But I want them to
know that this is just the beginning, because, like I
said before, We're not stopping until we catch Rebecca's killer.

I'm Catherine Townsend and this is Helen Gone. Helen Gone

is a joint production between How Stuffworks and School of Humans.
It is written and recorded by me. Catherine Townsend. Taylor
Church is our producer and story editor. Audio editing and
designed by Jonathan Sleep, mix engineer Glenn Mattulo audio mixing
and Love by Tunewelders. Executive producers Brandon Barr and Else

Crowley for School of Humans and Connell Byrne and Chuck
Bryant for How Stuff Works. Our field producer is James Morrison.
Our researcher is Sandy Klosterman. Themon original score by Ben
Solee available wherever you get your music. To dig into
the investigation, please visit Helen goonepodcast dot com or follow

us on social media. School of Humans z

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