The Sword and Scale true-crime podcast is an immersive audio experience covering the dark side of humanity and human nature. Our stories delve into the worst of the worst and include murder, rape, dismemberment and cannibalism. The worst monsters are real.
In June of 2012, the dismembered body parts of 23-year-old Jaren Lockhart began washing ashore on various beaches in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. In tracing Jaren?s last known whereabouts, the police learned that she was last seen leaving work with a woman in her late 20's and a man in his late 30's. As the police began investigating this duo, it became clear that the couple was anything but normal and their bizarre spiritual beliefs may have led them to perform a gruesome human sacrifice.
When 6-year-old James Hutchinson went missing from his family home in the early morning hours of February 28th, 2021, police immediately began compiling a list of oddities. This family was not normal. When detectives in Middletown, Ohio finally discovered the true chain of events leading up to James?s disappearance, they were horrified.
Bad things can happen in good places. On January 31st, 2011, Johnny Clarke and his girlfriend, Lisa Straub, were house-sitting for Lisa?s parents in the affluent suburbs of Holland, Ohio. That night, authorities were called to the residence when Johnny?s concerned mother could not reach him, and after entering the home, the police found a bizarre and horrifying murder scene that was nothing like anything they had ever seen before.
It took nearly a year to solve the murder of Alexis Robinault. After her nude body was found a few miles from home on the side of the road her status as a newly successful social media influencer slowed the progress of detectives with the Houston PD. Only after an early person of interest began acting suspiciously did they zero in on a suspect.
Throughout the year of 2017, the police in Strongsville, Ohio were called to the home of The Pleskovic family several times. For months, this kind-hearted and well-liked family had seemingly been victims of repeated thefts, harassment, vandalism, and an attempted break-in. Meanwhile, there were no other reports of similar crimes in the area, which suggested that The Pleskovics were being targeted. But by who? And why? Then, in late October of that year, the police were called to the home for the last time, and when they arrived, they found one of the most gruesome and bloody murder scenes that the city of Strongsville had ever seen.
Ashley yearned to grow up, move out, and live by her own rules. She was so sure she was mature enough to be on her own she began sneaking around and dating the much older Sam Shelton. But when Ashley went missing Sam was no help to the police even though they were sure he was hiding something.
First looks can lead you astray. That was the case for young Ryan Waller when he was mistaken as the killer of his girlfriend rather than another victim. After being accused of murder a years-long fight in and out of the courtroom begins. The family of Heather Quan will stop at nothing to get the justice they seek.
Indiana University was rocked when 22-year-old Hannah Wilson was found murdered. The bubbly, popular senior had mysteriously gone missing from her bedroom after a night out of celebrating with friends. The next day she was found dead in a field. While prosecutor Ted Adams worked to get justice for Hannah Wilson, defense lawyer Dorie Maryan found herself defending a man whose crimes were much greater than killing Hannah Wilson.
In July of 2015, the bloody and lifeless body of 47-year-old Robert Noce Jr. was found stuffed inside a 55-gallon barrel. His hands were bound behind his back, a thick leather belt was wrapped tightly around his neck, and he had been stabbed fourteen times. It would only take Baton Rouge, Louisiana homicide detectives four days to identify the killer. The murder itself wasn?t complicated. The motive, however, was a whole other story.
When the body of 27-year-old Mennonite woman Sasha Krause was discovered near Sunset Crater National Monument in Arizona, detectives were picking up where New Mexico?s authorities had left off. Sasha was reported missing a month before, and the case had gone cold. Now that detectives had a start and an end point, they could use cell phone records to find out who had been traveling alongside the deceased damsel.
A mother?s unconditional love is put to the test when Steven Kelsey returns from basic training to spend the holidays with his family. What starts as a loving family reunion ends in a manhunt through the Michigan forests and a mother questioning her ability to forgive her own son.
When Wisconsinites Bart and Krista Halderson were reported missing over the Fourth of July weekend in 2021, the case unfolded more quickly than detectives could keep up with. What started as a simple missing persons case quickly turned into a murder and dismemberment investigation.
In this jam-packed 91-minute episode, we (finally) team up with Minnesota lawyer and legal mastermind behind the highly popular YouTube channel RekietaLaw to break down this ridiculously absurd-to-the-point-of-comical case.
Anthony Templet lived his whole life in a cage. One morning he decided to take his life into his own hands and set himself free. The only setback was he had to kill his father to gain his freedom. Trapped and abused by his father he shot his father twice at point-blank range, once in the arm and once in the skull. Now, he only had to escape the Louisiana justice system and the charge of second-degree murder.
On March 6th, 2015, the body of 85-year-old Anthony Tomaselli was discovered two weeks after the death of his long-time partner. According to his adult daughters, Mary Beth and Linda, their family was relieved. His daughters claimed that Anthony?s health was in poor condition before his passing, and they could finally relax. Anthony?s official cause of death was a broken heart. Unfortunately, broken heart syndrome is extremely rare, and the Tomaselli family?s relief would become sorrow and regret after a mysterious man entered into the mix four years later.
What would you do if you worked your whole life to achieve the American dream and then you perceived that someone was on the cusp of taking it all away? How far would you go and what would you be willing to do to stop them? On a beautiful summer morning in 2008, land surveyors arrived at the home of 36 Nicholas Avenue in Greenwich, Connecticut. Their job was to stake the property, but soon after they began working, the surveyors heard loud and desperate cries for help. The screaming led the surveyors to a backyard where they found a horrific and bloody scene.
The town of Groton, Mass had never witnessed such a tragedy. A tragedy that would test the love and loyalty of one family. The bond between family can never be broken but the love and loyalty between can sometimes be tried so hard that it?s severed. Orion Krause learned this lesson all too well in the summer of 2017.
Thanksgiving of 2012 started off very poorly for the Redwine Family. When one member of their clan, 13-year-old Dylan Redwine vanished on November 18th, an expensive and lengthy search of the Colorado Mountains ensued. What they found over the course of a decade exhausted investigatory resources and frustrated the community. By the time an arrest was made, everyone already knew who had taken Dylan.
It wasn?t an easy life for Ashley Biggs, a young woman from Ohio. Raised by her single mother and her grandmother, she suffered abuse in school for her sexual orientation. The ridicule only escalated when she became pregnant. Ashley quit school, had the baby girl, and enlisted in the army. When she returned, she would find that one of her haters was closer to home than she had imagined, and this hater was out to destroy her life. How far would they go? And would they get away with it?
In Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the city known for making overalls, tension was mounting between two Marine veterans over the repair of a vehicle. Both were highly trained with weapons and both were trained to ?shoot to kill.? On August 4th, the conflict came to a boiling head, and now one of them stumbled, wounded through a driveway full of casualties.
In 2010, Indiana sentenced the third minor in the state's history to life in prison without parole. This is the story of a small town boy without a criminal history who by nature saw the world through a different lens and whose nurture led to preoccupations of murder.
When Patricia Velazquez left her 12-year-old daughter Yhoanna home alone for a few hours on August 10th, 2017, she expected to return home to a living, breathing child. Yhoanna was a good kid who followed all of her mother?s rules, so Patricia felt no need to worry. The nightmare Patricia returned home to that evening would change her life forever. Yhoanna hadn?t been abducted from her home like many children are, she was dead on her bedroom floor.
Who killed Carla Walker? In February of 1974, 17-year-old Carla Walker was abducted after attending a Valentine's Day dance with her boyfriend. Three days later, her body was found inside a cold, dark culvert near Benbrook Lake in Tarrant County, Texas. After an exhaustive investigation, the police were unable to solve the murder and Carla?s case went cold. Very cold. 46 years would go by before a new team of detectives could uncover the truth about her murder and finally get justice for Carla Walker.
Weeks go by in the search for missing jogger Mollie Tibbetts. An interagency taskforce has searched to no avail. Finally, a break in the case leads authorities to a dairy farm outside of the small Iowa town of Brooklyn and to a person of interest. After an 11 plus hour interrogation Cristhian Behana Rivera confesses but in court his defense team argues sleep deprivation and casts serious doubt on Mollie?s boyfriend Dalton Jack.
Dalton Jack seems pretty suspicious when you look back on his actions after his girlfriend and soon to be fiancé, Mollie Tibbetts, went missing in 2018. He joined the army and skipped town shortly after and three years later in the trial for her murder he can?t recall the slightest of details from that time. But the trial would reveal many things about that time that no one could expect not even Dalton.
9-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford was an especially shy and polite young girl that lived with her grandparents and her single dad in Homosassa, Florida. On a morning in late February of 2005, Jessica?s father opened his daughter?s bedroom door and found that Jessica was missing. A small cut was later found on the screen door leading into Jessica?s home, suggesting that an intruder may have broken into the house and kidnapped her, but was that really what happened? Was Jessica abducted or did someone in her family have something to do with her disappearance?
On January 8th, 2007, the home of Liz Collier-Sweet was set ablaze by an unknown firebug. Little did the investigators know, finding the arsonist would be the least of law enforcement?s worries. When Liz failed to return home after the fire, Law enforcement followed a trail of bread crumbs she had left behind, which led to the capture of a lifelong pedophile and murderer. However, as one homicide investigation was closed, another was opened.
When 19-year-old Colorado resident Lea Porter went missing from Westminster on June 3rd, 2014, her family and friends went on a mission to solve the case on their own. Police didn?t move as quickly as they?d hoped, so they put their heads together and their differences aside in order to extract a confession from their prime suspect.
An early morning car accident would send the Boise PD reeling for answers. With two dead on the scene they still had to explain an unrelated homicide. The frightening sight was the culmination of years of abuse in the name of love. A history of domestic disputes that ended deadly in one of the most unimaginable ways possible.
In late October of 2017, two deer hunters discovered a naked and rotting human corpse in the Bruneau Desert near Grand View, Idaho. An autopsy later confirmed that the human remains were that of an 18 to 20-year-old male and that he had been shot to death. The Idaho State Police struggled to identify the body as there were no missing person cases in the Grand View area that matched the victim. What the police didn't know is that the story of this murder victim actually began three months prior to his discovery and over 500 miles away in an entirely different state.
What do you get when you cross a sheltered and immature young adult with the trials and tribulations of navigating adult relationships? You get Andrew Jondle and the precarious situation he found himself in after being seduced and manipulated by his first ever girlfriend, Cindy Lou Beck.
Raised in Pittsburgh, home of the Steelers, Andrea Curry Demus should have had a great life in a city rated ?most livable;? but Andrea didn?t have a lot of money and she wasn?t very smart. All she wanted was a family and children, but she was now in her late thirties and time was almost up for her. Would her extreme desire for a baby turn into reality, or would she pay the ultimate price for her obsessions? And who else would pay just so Andrea could have what she wanted?
Deep in the hills of Ohio, where people keep to themselves - hunting, fishing, and partying around the fire pit, sometimes the predator becomes the prey. When Jim Whitaker of Hocking Hills, Ohio, turns up missing, his family naturally becomes concerned. They are even more shocked to find a suicide note he left, implying a twisted love affair that may have brought about his demise. But where is Jim? Only the hills know.
In October of 2014, 53-year-old Chris Regan was reported missing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The investigation that followed spanned many years across numerous states, resulting in an extraordinary game of cat and mouse between a veteran detective and a potential serial killer.
We all want what?s best for our kids, but sometimes we need to let our children make their own mistakes. After a lifetime of being told what to do, one family will learn that even the quietest people have their breaking points.
29-year-old Daryne Gailey lost his freedom when his 65-year old mother, Sylvia Majewska, was granted guardianship and conservatorship over him. With the #FREEBRITNEY movement exploding globally, what a better time to expose the abusive aspects of guardianship and conservatorship than now.
19-year-old Lizzi Marriott was especially kind-hearted, always beaming with positivity, and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. She was working hard toward that dream by attending classes at the University of New Hampshire, but Lizzi didn?t know that someone had different plans for her. Someone wanted to make Lizzi a sex slave. In early October 2012, Lizzi left the UNH campus with plans to visit her new friends, Kat McDonough and Seth Mazzaglia, and she was never seen again.
Loving parents Jason and Julie live on the California coast with their three young children and have the dream life, or so it seems. Jason is a respected and loved teacher and coach while Julie earned a Harvard degree. But Julie is a hoarder who has given up on her stay-at-home role as a mom, and Jason has had enough. One of them is highly trained in firearms and one has no experience at all. One of them ends up dead, and the other claims no responsibility. Will the children be left with one parent, or no parents?
Each family has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, but what happens when the family dynamic begins to enter into the realm of depravity? In early 2019, when 30-year-old Amanda McClure and her fiance were suddenly reunited with Amanda?s long-lost father and sister in the mountains of West Virginia, things were bound to go sour. No one had any idea that this charming family reunion would end with not only a marriage, but a murder.
In February of 2017, 28-year-old Kayla Crocker was found bound, bloody, and unresponsive in the nursery of her Florida home. After she was rushed to a nearby hospital, county police called upon several other law enforcement agencies to assist with the investigation, including the U.S. Marshals Service and out-of-state highway patrol. The reason the local police called in so much help was because Kayla Crocker was not a lone victim. There were several others, all of whom had unwillingly become part of someone?s week-long and multi-state murder spree.
When personal assistant Jennifer Fulford mysteriously disappeared from her wealthy employer?s house, everyone was puzzled by the strange trail of strange clues left in her absence. Had Jennifer run away? Had she been hurt? The truth behind her sudden disappearance would be far more devious, deranged, and senseless than anyone could have imagined.
What happened to Lee Paulino? He disappeared days before Thanksgiving and the police just considered him a runaway in spite of his family's pleas that he would never do that. When a gruesome discovery is made two weeks later it calls into question could the police have done more and how well do parents know their own children.
Residents of the Marpole neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia suddenly found themselves double-checking their deadbolts when an unidentified killer senselessly murdered two valuable members of the community. 64-year-old Dianna Mah-Jones, and her husband, 68-year-old Richard Jones were discovered in their home on September 26th, 2017. It was a massacre inside, one that law enforcement officials would never forget.
On New Year's Day 2008, 24-year-old Meredith Emerson went missing after setting out on a hike up Blood Mountain in Union County, Georgia. Search teams combed Blood Mountain for days in an effort to find the missing hiker, but they never did. Meredith was not on Blood Mountain. She was fifty miles away, held captive by a deranged serial killer.
21-year-old Alisha Bromfield had it all. She had a supportive friend group, a family who loved her, a nearly completed bachelor?s degree, and a baby on the way. When she didn?t arrive home from an out-of-state wedding on Sunday, August 19th, 2012 as planned, friends and family soon learned that someone in her life did not have her best interest at heart.
In October of 2005, empty nesters Dennis and Norma Woodruff were found shot and stabbed to death in their Texas home. With a lack of physical evidence and leads, police fixated on the couple?s 19-year-old son Brandon as their killer when they found out he was in debt, flunking out of college, and secretly making gay porn. Was Brandon really the murderer, or were there other suspects roaming free? Was this a case of character assassination on young Brandon, or was he truly a cold-blooded killer?
We?re back to bring you the conclusion of the mysterious staged death of Natasha Waalen. In order to get the full story, we encourage you to go back and listen to part 1 before diving into this episode.
When we left off, Natasha?s former boyfriend, Ryan Boland had been arrested for her murder. But, police had a hunch that Ryan didn?t act alone and all signs pointed towards his hotheaded, weapon-obsessed brother, Tim Boland. The Boland Brothers had grown up with the world at their fingertips, but they were both on dark downward paths. Had they finally gone too far? Soon all of Anoka County would know the true nature of these entitled, manipulative brothers and what they did to Natasha Waalen.
When 29-year-old Natasha Waalen was found dead next to her dirt bike, police assumed it had been a terrible accident. They were wrong. Natasha had been murdered and her death was sloppily covered up to look like a motorcycle crash. Who would want this young mother, acupuncturist, and university graduate dead? Fingers soon pointed towards the father of her child and former boyfriend, Ryan Boland as the police uncovered the violent, questionable past behind Ryan?s good ol? boy facade. But the town soon questioned if he had acted alone.
On Sunday June 28th, 2015, Dr. Teresa Sievers returned home early from a family vacation only to find she was not alone in the house. In the aftermath of a brutal murder, it appeared on the surface to be a robbery?but no valuables were taken, and no clues were left behind except for a bloody, hairy hammer. Uncovering the truth would take months, and involve a conspiracy that crossed multiple states.
We sometimes get things wrong. In this exclusive interview with Kim Dixon, sister to Zachary Penna's victim from Episode 181, she joins us to tell us why.
In December of 2000, 31-year-old real estate appraiser Mike Williams went missing while duck hunting on Lake Seminole in Jackson County, Florida. The initial belief was that Mike had drowned and that alligators had eaten his body. Seventeen years would go by before Florida law enforcement could prove that something even more horrifying and nefarious happened to Mike Williams.