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July 10, 2023 30 mins

Carole is wined, dined and shouted at by Bob until they split. After their break up, Carole tells her friend Mindy about the skeletons in Bob's closet and they start investigating. 

If you are affected by any of our topics please reach out to NO MORE at https://nomore.org/girlfriends, a domestic violence charity we’ve partnered with.  

The Girlfriends is produced by Novel for iHeartRadio.

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Listen to our soundtrack on Spotify here or buy the album from Bandcamp. All proceeds go to our charity partner NoMore.

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:06):
Novel, Hey listener. In this episode, there are mentions of
violence against women, coercive control, and murder. There's also plenty
of lighter stories about my life and friends. You even
get to meet my mom, and believe it or not,
she is a hoot.

Speaker 2 (00:27):
Now.

Speaker 1 (00:28):
I think I swear a few times too, and given
my age, it's just too late to make a polite
woman of me now. So consider yourself warned. If you
do listen and are impacted by any of our themes,
you can reach out to No More, a domestic violence
charity we've partnered with. They have lots of great resources

(00:50):
to help you or your loved ones. You can find
them at no More dot org. That's no More Dot.

(01:11):
There's nothing quite like flying in a small twin engine plane.
The turbulence, the way the engine roars at you. There's
always a moment in lift off when you feel like
you're taking life into your own hands, and I guess

(01:33):
that's where the thrill is. On one of my favorite
trips with Bob, we flew out over the Valley of
Fire and into California's Death Valley. The mountain ridges and
grand expanses of sand were absolutely breathtaking. Eventually we touched

(01:54):
down on a small, unattended strip in the middle of
the National Park. Bob took my hand and help me
out of the private plane. I felt like I was
a pretty woman.

Speaker 3 (02:05):
When I was a little girl. My mama used to
lock me in the attic when I was bad, which
was pretty often, and I would pretend I was a
princess trapped in the tower by a wicked queen. And
then suddenly, this night on a white horse, when these
colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword,

(02:27):
and he would climb up the tower and rescue me.

Speaker 1 (02:39):
My life hadn't been easy lately, especially when it came
to men. I'd been married twice already, and both marriages
had ended horribly. My first marriage it ended in a plain, old,
sad divorce, and the second marriage, well, while I was
separated from my husband, he took his own life. By

(02:59):
the time I met I was juggling being a single
parent to my nine year old daughter and trying to
build a career. And then suddenly here I was hiking
out to the Furnace Creek oasis with the picnic hamper
full of cheese, hummus, grapes, and shrimp cocktail, all prepared
by my doctor Bob. It was one of the most

(03:21):
romantic dates of my life. I'd gotten the fairy tale.

Speaker 4 (03:26):
So what happened after he climbed out the tower and
rescued her, she.

Speaker 5 (03:32):
Rescues him right back.

Speaker 1 (03:41):
That's what I wanted. I wanted Bob to rescue me
from my normal, private, jetless life, and I wanted to
rescue him from his past. In return. Up in the sky,
it felt like I could have it all. So even
when things started to get weird on the ground, I
kept my head in the cloud e. I'm Carol Fisher

(04:07):
and from the teams at Novel and iHeartRadio. You were
listening to The Girlfriends episode two, Lobsters for Dinner.

Speaker 2 (04:36):
You You've got you You you.

Speaker 6 (04:46):
So this is the neighborhood my mom lives in, which
is a little bit more affluent then with a real
guard gate, not a fake one, but those kind of
gates are really popular here with no guards.

Speaker 4 (04:59):
It's this Vegas.

Speaker 1 (05:00):
It's a false into security. Yeah right, I'm driving over
to my mom's house with a trunk full of snacks.
I've told my producer Anna to brace herself. It's going
to be full of Jewish ladies talking over one another,
eating and I brought lunch. I went the whole food
I got you vegan stuff.

Speaker 4 (05:19):
I know my guests, Mindy's here too.

Speaker 1 (05:39):
Her and my mom are very close.

Speaker 7 (05:42):
We didn't want to give you this weather.

Speaker 1 (05:45):
Well it's it's just like I.

Speaker 7 (05:47):
Know, I just was thinking, why would we give you
London weather.

Speaker 1 (05:54):
Mom provided Anna with a warm welcome of flavored fruit
waters three full bodied de utterance that she was told
in great detail she could use anywhere, and a vegan
magazine she had picked up at the grocery store. Equipped
with her new offerings. Anna was eventually invited to sit
down for lunch.

Speaker 5 (06:17):
Do you know what?

Speaker 7 (06:20):
Yes, yes, this is vegan, Megan amazing, and this is vegan.
This is vegan.

Speaker 1 (06:29):
If you ever wondered what it was like to be
mothered by three Jewish ladies at the same time, well
this is it.

Speaker 7 (06:36):
So what are we talking about after you? We're talking
about heart.

Speaker 1 (06:41):
I first introduced Bob to my mom and my stepdad
stand after we'd been dating for about a month, and
I was so excited. My mom wanted me to find
a good Jewish doctor and I had, so I was
really looking forward to seeing that warm proud you know,
he did good Carol look on her face. But they

(07:01):
both thought he was a little odd.

Speaker 8 (07:04):
Oh.

Speaker 7 (07:07):
No one ever made Sand feel uncomfortable, but there was
something about him that Sand said, Oh my goodness, this
guy is really strange. He was an expert in everything,
He could do everything. And when I'm talking about the kitchen,
he know a goddamn thing about the kitchen.

Speaker 1 (07:28):
Mom's feelings around Bob and the kitchen stemmed from a
disastrous early meeting where Bob offered to come over and
cook lobsters for dinner. But when he said lobsters he
meant live lobsters. And when he said live lobsters, he
meant live lobsters that he expected my mom and stepdad
to buy.

Speaker 2 (07:49):
We had to get lobster for him.

Speaker 1 (07:51):
Not a very good start, and.

Speaker 7 (07:53):
Dummies, we did that, and he should have for Carig
and flown to Maine to get them. I mean serious.

Speaker 6 (08:00):
Oh.

Speaker 1 (08:03):
When we arrived at the house, Bob didn't seem interested
in stopping to talk to my mom at all. Instead,
he rushed straight into the kitchen to start cooking the
lobsters she had purchased. We watched on as he dramatically
plunged the crustaceans into boiling salted water, leaving a trail

(08:23):
of mess in his wake.

Speaker 7 (08:26):
Everything was upside down and it didn't bother him at all.

Speaker 1 (08:31):
It was disastrous.

Speaker 7 (08:33):
I mean, I didn't need him to clean up. I
needed a cleaning crew with about eight people.

Speaker 1 (08:44):
The thing is, even though my mom had concerns about him,
she never mentioned them to me again. She knew he
looked good on paper. I mean, not to believer the point,
but he was a flying Jewish doctor, for God's sake.
So sure he was a messy lobster cook, but you
could barely make a move in Las Vegas without somebody
telling you how accomplished Bob Bereenbaum was.

Speaker 5 (09:07):
The thing about Bobby is he was at the top
of his game on most everything.

Speaker 1 (09:11):
This is Ernie Sussman, a local urologist who Bob befriended
after he gave him flying lessons.

Speaker 5 (09:17):
I'm sure he was well respected by the medical community.
He would fly as playing down in Mexico with other
doctors and do cleft palettes and do these free clinics.
So he had a good heart and he was a
pure plastic surgeon. It wasn't just about the money.

Speaker 1 (09:30):
It was all of those accomplishments that made me overlook
some of his oddities, Like how I heard he hated
smokers so much that he refused to treat them, or
how he would spend hours upon hours at his computer
ignoring me. Or the way his temper could go from
zero to one hundred in less than three seconds.

Speaker 6 (09:55):
Were the other experiences why you felt like he saw
his rage.

Speaker 1 (09:59):
So oh, I hung out a lot at his house,
and he'd come to mind. But he had the nicer home.
So when I didn't have my daughter and you were
in a shared custody and she was with her dad,
I would go over and spend time at his house.
So I was emptying the dishwasher one day and Bob
was nearby, and one of the glasses fell out of

(10:20):
my hands as I'm putting it in the cabinet, and
you might have thought that I broke something that was
a treasured antique. I've never quite seen anything like it.
His voice was raised, he's flushed, he's pissed. He's really
mad at me for breaking this glass. And I am perplexed,

(10:42):
Like I broke a glass, Bob, What the hell it's
a glass. He's like, well, you don't understand it's part
of a set. Well, where'd you get it? Will they
have to be bob as a set? How much were
these glasses?

Speaker 7 (10:57):
Will?

Speaker 1 (10:58):
They're eight dollars a piece. Yes, And so now I'm pissed.
He's not backing down. So I go to my wallet
and get out eight dollars and I hand it to
him and said, here's for the glass. That was probably
the first time that I ever really experienced him mad

(11:18):
at me. I had witnessed him be frustrated with others,
but now it's directed at me, and it didn't feel good.
It didn't feel normal, and my reaction was fuck you.
But then after something like that, we would do a
flurry of fun stuff, like he flew us for a
romantic weekend away to Sedona, Arizona, where we met up

(11:41):
with his sister and her family. He once flew us
across the country to Florida just so I could take
my daughter to visit my grandmother. In fact, at one
point during our relationship, he took my daughter's skiing for
the day when I was busy at work. But actually
one of our most memorable trips was a weekend away
to a conference, and during the flight there, I noticed

(12:04):
that Bob started to get really quiet, and at first
I tried to ignore it. It's like a weekend away.
I'm excited. I don't have my daughter with me. We're
going to have so much fun. But Bob didn't let up,
and by the time we got to the hotel he
was visibly angry. When I asked him what was wrong,

(12:24):
he turned to me, not saying a word, and he
just put his hands up in the air and he goes,
look at these dots, Carol, look at these dots on
my hand, Carol, You've given me syphless. And I was like,
what the hell, I've not given you syphless? How could
I have done that? But he wouldn't believe me and

(12:46):
started accusing me of being unfaithful. And just for the record,
I need you to know that I did not give
Bob sifless, Like there is no way I gave Bob sifless. Instead,
what I did do is I snuck off to make
a phone call to my mother and I told her
I really needed to get home right away because I

(13:09):
did not feel safe. But I had a problem. I
was stuck out in the middle of nowhere, and I
didn't know how to get back.

Speaker 7 (13:19):
I was just so worried about her, and I thought,
this guy is up to something.

Speaker 1 (13:28):
So it turns out my mother then called Mindy.

Speaker 2 (13:31):
Nan called and said, Carol's with Bob and she has
to fly home from somewhere in the middle of the country.
I don't know where they had landed. I don't remember,
and we have to get her home. And I said, okay,
is she okay? Said yeah, she's okay, but she can't

(13:52):
continue the flight.

Speaker 1 (13:57):
I didn't. I told him to get lost. I booked
a commercial flight and I headed back to Las Vegas alone.
When Bob got back, we continued to date for a
little while, but it was never the same. Bob did
go to the doctor for his hands and was diagnosed

(14:18):
with some kind of contact dermatitis, which is a pretty
common ailment for surgeons, but he never apologized because apologizing, well,
it really wasn't Bob's thing. And then, after six months
of dating, he broke up with me. I'd be lying
if I said I wasn't devastated. And while I knew

(14:40):
intellectually things weren't right, there was still this part of
me that thought we could make it work. Perhaps I'd
be able to change him, and in turn, I'd get
to live that pretty woman ending I had always dreamt of.
Turns out if you're into your pretty woman trivia. In
the original script, there was not a happy end Vivian

(15:01):
Julia Roberts's character. Either she doesn't get her man or
her fairy tale. Her life just continues as if they
never met. I can see why they changed it, because
the reality sucks. A few weeks after Bob dumped me

(15:35):
in the early summer of nineteen ninety five, I met
up with Mindy at our favorite strip mall restaurant, The Mayflower,
on the corner of Sahara and Decatur. We loved it there.
It was upscale but not pretentious, and they had the
best Chinese fusion food in the city. When we arrived,
we sat down at our table, ordered our usual Mayflower

(15:59):
shrimp and grilled lemon grass chicken salad, and started to
gossip conversationally. There was really only one thing on the menu,
Bob how I couldn't believe he'd broken up with me,
the Sifless allegation, and all the questions we still had
about who this guy really was Mindy felt like he
never really reached his true potential, probably because he was

(16:21):
an asshole.

Speaker 2 (16:23):
I was always surprised that he didn't run for office,
even you know, like president of the Clark County Medical
Association or some community board or something like that.

Speaker 1 (16:37):
And then I said, oh, you.

Speaker 2 (16:39):
Obviously don't know about the skeletons in his closet, And
I go, what skeletons in the closet?

Speaker 1 (16:53):
So here, I am realizing at that moment that I
might be the only person in Las Vegas to know
about Bob's missing wife. Mindy clearly doesn't know anything. She
didn't even know he was married before, So I start
breaking it down. Before Bob moved to Las Vegas, he
was married to a woman named Gail cats.

Speaker 9 (17:15):
Now.

Speaker 1 (17:15):
Gail mysteriously went missing, and at one point Bob was
accused of murdering her. Apparently he was fully investigated and
deemed innocent, but his wife, Gail, well, she had never
been found.

Speaker 2 (17:33):
Oh my god. This was like, yeah, unsolved mysteries.

Speaker 1 (17:38):
There's something you need to know about Mindy. Growing up,
she read Harriet the Spy, The Hardy Boys, and Sherlock Holmes.
As an adult, she would passed her time trying to
solve mysteries faster than Molder and Scully. Last year, her
favorite TV show was Only Murders in the Building. She's
a true crime nut, and I had essentially just her

(18:01):
a real life case to solve.

Speaker 2 (18:03):
I was intrigued to the point of like, let's nail him.

Speaker 1 (18:07):
That evening, Mindy hurried home to share her discovery with
her fiancee, Jeff. Jeff said, I knew it.

Speaker 2 (18:14):
I knew it from the minute I touched his hand.
An electric spark went through my body, like when you
have one of those dag things that you put in
your palm and it causes you to vibrate, you know.
It felt like that I knew it, and I'm going yeah, Right.

Speaker 1 (18:33):
As Jeff and Mindy were riling each other up, I
was getting on with my life, bouncing back from the breakup,
taking my daughter to school. I guess the difference is
that Bob's story wasn't new to me. He had told
it to me on our first date, and despite our
ups and downs, I still believed him. But Mindy, oh

(18:54):
my gosh, she was like a dog with a bone.
She had to investigate for This was nineteen ninety five,
and we couldn't just type into Google like you can today.
But Mindy she had seen enough detective shows to know
that all the big libraries will have some sort of

(19:16):
newspaper archive. So off she heads to Clark County Public
Library on Flamingo and Maryland Parkway, a huge, red bricked
campus style building complex. It was Mindy's first real life
Watson and Holmes moment. She started searching what little she
could on the library computers. Then she headed to the

(19:36):
microfish machines to flick through newspapers New York or New
York Times.

Speaker 2 (19:41):
The Post I was searching his name and her name
and coming up with very little except for this one
little snippet. The parents of a surgeon's wife who disappeared
after walking out of her Eastside apartment a life days ago,
said yesterday that they fear their daughter is dead. Bierenbaum

(20:05):
said he and his wife had marital problems, and he
had argued with her just before she had walked out
of their East eighty fifth Street apartment at eleven fifteen
on July seventh. Bierenbaum said his wife said she was
going for a walk in Central Park, as she did frequently,
to cool out. Please said, they cast barn Baum was

(20:25):
never seen leaving the building. It was like saucer eyes.

Speaker 8 (20:31):
Oh God, if you had been so coming, so fucking
so bad, Helga at Les, You're a lot.

Speaker 1 (20:50):
A few nights later, Mindy and Jeff are sitting on
the sofa watching the movie Boxing Helena. It's a notoriously
terrible movie about a murderous plastic surgeon who falls in
love with the woman and kidnaps her. In order to
keep her imprisoned in his house. He starts amputating parts

(21:11):
of her body until finally she's just a torsos light.
Not really my kind of movie.

Speaker 2 (21:24):
And Jeff said, it's Bob. It's Bob, It's Bob.

Speaker 1 (21:30):
So now they have a work in hypothesis based on
a few old New York articles and a movie with
the score of seventeen percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Speaker 2 (21:39):
And this becomes sort of this hobby of Jeff and
mine because he's convinced Bob off this woman. I like
the research, I like the games. It's like a scavenger hunt.
To us, it's some stupid thing to occupy us.

Speaker 1 (22:02):
From then on, it became their bit. When Mindy was
at work or at an event, Jeff would send her
little messages.

Speaker 2 (22:09):
At that point, there was no instant messaging. We still
carried beepers, and Jeff would use the numbers like eight
six seven six, and I'd be like staring at my
phone writing the letters down like it was a crossword puzzle,

(22:33):
and it would be oh Torso.

Speaker 1 (22:40):
By this point, Mindy had gone deep enough into the
morbid curiosity rabbit hole that there was no way out,
and before too long she dragged me in two. So
we started meeting up at the Mayflower more regularly to
talk about Mindy's findings. She even came up with the
code name, inspired by her favorite children's book, Harriet the

(23:00):
Spy Club. And that's when our investigation really began.

Speaker 9 (23:14):
Oh after Mindy and I had met up at the
Mayflower a few times, my mom got a bit envious,
so we started inviting her along.

Speaker 1 (23:27):
At first, it looked a lot like the lunch with
Anna the Vegan. We would talk about Bob and laugh
over a plate of spring rolls. Mom would bitch about
his lobster cooking skills, and you know, Mindy would bring
up the time Bob made me sit on his lap
at a medical mixer.

Speaker 2 (23:43):
That gave me reflux, Do you have a stain on
your pants that she needs to cover up? Or what's
the deal here?

Speaker 1 (23:54):
And I would talk about his totally irrational anger. Do
you remember when Bob to kill your dog because a
bit brouck?

Speaker 2 (24:04):
Oh?

Speaker 1 (24:05):
No, The fact is I didn't think I had actually
dated a murderer. It was just nice to trash on
a guy who had treated me so badly, to share
some laughter and a glass of wine with my girlfriends.
But then we started getting other women in Bob's life involved.
I paid a visit to Bob's old receptionist and office manager,

(24:27):
who had plenty of stories about Bob's anger. After a
few meetings, I called up Stephanie Youngblood, Bob's first fiance,
in Las Vegas, and asked her to join us, and
with her we began to formulate theories about Gail's disappearance.
One of them involved Bob's dad, Marvin's apparent access to

(24:50):
a dog lab.

Speaker 2 (24:53):
She had information that he did cardiologic research at a
dog lab, which fed into our dismemberment thing. That Marvin
was somehow involved and he brought the body to the
dog lab and you know, dissect the body and put

(25:16):
it in the Duffel bag and then go off to
Peterborough and throw him over the bridge.

Speaker 1 (25:27):
Between our meetings, Mindy tracked on evidence and brought an
article she had found in the library, and from searching
the early Internet, she started coming up with some crazy theories.

Speaker 2 (25:39):
We created our own little game of clue. You know
there was blood on the rug. Oh, he wrapped her
in the rug. He took the rug. It was a
New York apartment. It couldn't be too big of a rug.
It's like the amount of mental energy I could have
won the Nobel Prize.

Speaker 1 (26:00):
The more we met, the more I started to believe
it was really possible that Bob had something to do
with his wife's disappearance. It's not that any one piece
of evidence gave us a gotcha moment. I just started
to get a feeling that something wasn't right. It turned
out that my clubmates all had stories like mine, a
Bob flying off the handle, and so many questions about Gail.

(26:24):
But the fact is, sitting in the Mayflower restaurant, sharing
conspiracy theories and promtost we barely knew anything about Bob
and Gail's life in New York. We were miles away.

Speaker 10 (26:45):
At the time she was murdered. My sister was physically fit,
mentally fit, in the middle of a PhD program at
a prestigious university. Not go somewhere without talking to me,
we would fall asleep without hanging up the phone. There's

(27:09):
a man named Robert Burmbaum, and he killed her for
one very simple reason. And I wish that I knew
then what I know now. Yes, Gail educated me and
all that have come after her.

Speaker 1 (27:29):
Elaine Katz, if you're listening, I am sorry it took
so long for us to realize your sister's disappearance was
not a game. Next time we go to New York.

Speaker 10 (27:48):
Of not saying that Gail was boy crazy, I was
boy crazy. Gail was love crazy.

Speaker 2 (27:53):
Gail had a way about her that she would attract
a lot of attention.

Speaker 10 (27:58):
Gail was engaged like twice before she graduated high school
and Saturday.

Speaker 2 (28:04):
She was a bit of a free spirit. We were
hippies back then, so you know, long haired rock and rollers.
Her mother promoted that having a man in your life
made you complete, and without that you weren't.

Speaker 10 (28:21):
And then she met bu whirlwind relationship everything seemed great.
I do know now it Wasn't Also Easy?

Speaker 1 (28:51):
The Girlfriends is produced by Novel for Ourheart Radio. For
more from Novel, visit novel dot Audio. This series is
hosted by me Carol Fisher and produced by Anna Sinfield.
Our assistant producer is Julian Manyu Gera Patten, and our
researcher is Madeline Parr. The editor is Veronica Simmons. Max

(29:16):
O'Brien is our executive producer. Our fact checker is Valeria Rocca.
Production management from Sharie Houston and Charlotte Wolf. Sound design,
mixing and scoring by Daniel Kempsen and Nicholas Alexander. Music
supervision by Anna Sinfield. Original music composed by Luisa Gerstein.

(29:39):
Story development by Isaac Fisher. Willard Foxton is creative director
of Development. Special thanks to Sean Glenn, David Waters, Might
Lee Raw, Katrina Norvel, David Wasserman, and Beth Anne Mcaluso.

(30:01):
We did reach out to Bob and his legal team
to ask if he'd liked to comment on the podcast,
but we never heard back.

Speaker 8 (30:12):
Novel
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