In the Dark, hosted by Madeleine Baran, is an award-winning investigative-journalism podcast that started in 2016. Its first season looked at the mysterious abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota and the lack of accountability that sheriffs face when they fail to solve cases. Season 2 examined the case of Curtis Flowers, who was tried six times for the same crime. In 2020, In the Dark released a special report on the coronavirus pandemic in the Mississippi Delta. In 2023, In the Dark joined The New Yorker and Condé Nast. “The Runaway Princesses,” In the Dark’s first collaboration with a New Yorker staff writer, is a four-part series that asks why the women in Dubai’s royal family keep trying to run away. Season 3 of In the Dark is currently in production. In the Dark is a two-time Peabody Award winner and, in 2019, became the first podcast to win a George Polk Award, one of the top honors in investigative journalism. The program has also received an Edward R. Murrow Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.
After he disappeared nearly 27 years ago, Jacob Wetterling's remains have been found. Why did it take so long?
The abduction of Jacob Wetterling, which made parents more vigilant and led to the first national requirement that states track sex offenders via registries, took place before moonrise on a warm October night in 1989.
When Jacob Wetterling was taken, authorities launched what would turn into one of the largest searches for any missing person in the history of the United States. But that first night, law enforcement didn't cover all the basics.
The closest you can get to a conversation with Jacob Wetterling about his abduction is to talk to Jared Scheierl. Scheierl was walking home from an ice skating rink in Cold Spring in January 1989 when a man who turned out to be Danny Heinrich forced him into a car, assaulted him, and let him go, uttering some chilling parting words: "If they come close to finding out who I am, I'll find you and kill you." That was nine mon...
The Wetterling abduction story kept getting bigger as the case served as a conduit for public fear and grief. Capitalizing on a growing sense that pedophiles lurked in every shadow, the likes of Maury Povich and Geraldo Rivera joined the cause with sensational retellings of the crime and its consequences.
Dan Rassier now wishes he'd insisted that police search his family's St. Joseph farm top to bottom the night Jacob Wetterling was abducted. That way, they would have known there was nothing to find. And it would have been harder for them to come back 21 years later to search with backhoes and declare him a "person of interest" in the case.
In the 1970s and early '80s, missing children weren't considered a policing priority. You couldn't even enter missing child information into the FBI's national crime database. But that changed quickly.
Soon after the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling in 1989, Stearns County sheriff's investigators came face to face with his killer, Danny Heinrich, who would confess to the crime 27 years later. Then they let him go. It wasn't the first time that had happened in Stearns County.
In November 2012, a police officer named Tom Decker was shot and killed in Cold Spring, Minn., after getting out of his car to check on a man who lived above a bar. The man was quickly arrested and held in the Stearns County jail. He was interrogated but then released without charges. The state crime bureau later ruled him out as a suspect. Investigators turned their focus to another man, Eric Thomes, who hanged himself be...
When Danny Heinrich confessed in court on Sept. 6 to abducting and murdering Jacob Wetterling and assaulting Jared Scheierl 27 years ago, investigators declared that at last, the public had the truth. But despite Heinrich's excruciatingly detailed accounts, the truth remains elusive. Many questions remain unanswered.
The sentencing of Danny Heinrich on Nov. 21, 2016, brought to a close the 27-year investigation into the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. But it didn't end the story.
Curtis Flowers has been tried six times for the same crime. For 21 years, Flowers has maintained his innocence. He's won appeal after appeal, but every time, the prosecutor just tries the case again. What does the evidence reveal? And how can the justice system ignore the prosecutor's record and keep Flowers on death row?
On the morning of July 16, 1996, someone walked into a furniture store in downtown Winona, Mississippi, and murdered four employees. Each was shot in the head. It was perhaps the most shocking crime the small town had ever seen. Investigators charged a man named Curtis Flowers with the murders. What followed was a two-decade legal odyssey in which Flowers was tried six times for the same crime. He remains on death row, tho...
The case against Curtis Flowers relies heavily on three threads of evidence: the route he allegedly walked the morning of the murders, the gun that investigators believe he used, and the people he supposedly confessed to in jail. In this episode, we meet the witnesses who said they saw Flowers walking through downtown Winona, Mississippi, the morning of the murders. Some of their stories now waver on key details.
Investigators never found the gun used to kill four people at Tardy Furniture. Yet the gun, and the bullets matched to it, became a key piece of evidence against Curtis Flowers. In this episode, we examine the strange histories of the gun and the man who owned it.
Over the years, three inmates have claimed that Curtis Flowers confessed to them that he killed four people at the Tardy Furniture store. But they've all changed their stories at one time or another. In this episode, we investigate who's really telling the truth.
No witness has been more important to the prosecution's case against Curtis Flowers than Odell Hallmon. He testified in four trials that Flowers had confessed to him while the two men were in prison together. Hallmon has an astonishingly long criminal history that includes repeated charges for drug dealing, assault, and robbery. So how reliable is his testimony and did he receive anything in exchange for it? In this episod...
Odell Hallmon, the state's key witness in the Curtis Flowers case, is serving three consecutive life sentences. We wondered what he might say now that there are no deals to cut, and he will spend the rest of his days in prison. Would he stick to his story that Flowers had confessed to the Tardy Furniture murders? We wrote him letters and sent him a friend request on Facebook. Weeks went by and we heard nothing. And then, o...
There's one critical aspect of the Curtis Flowers case that we haven't looked at yet -- the makeup of the juries. Each of the four times Flowers was convicted, the jury was all white or nearly all white. So we decided to look more closely at why so few black jurors had been selected. And it wasn't always happenstance.
After investigating every aspect of the Curtis Flowers case, we were nearly ready to present what we'd found to District Attorney Doug Evans. But first we tried to learn all we could about him: his childhood, his years as a police officer and his record as district attorney. Then, finally, we met the man who's spent more than two decades trying to have Flowers executed.
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