The Anne Arundel County Police Department sees true crime podcasting as a new way to revive interest in cold cases where investigators are still searching for leads.
Titled “The Crime Journal,” the true crime podcast is an attempt by the department to get new information on the county’s 82 cold homicide cases. The department believes renewed interest in certain unsolved homicides could lead to crumbs of new information that eventually crack a case open.
“A lot of times, the public and citizens in general, they watch the news at night and kind of forget about it unless it personally touches them,” said Lt. Jacklyn Davis, who heads the department’s media relations office, which runs the podcast. Thrusting additional information on older cases into the public sphere could jog a witness’ memory, or provide leads from other sources, she said.
“The more time that passes, the more relationships change, loyalties change, more people are willing to come forward as time goes on,” Davis said.
In addition to renewing interest and bringing up information, the show also creates an opportunity for internet sleuths to present their own theories.
“These criminal podcasters are superhot, and people listen to them,” said Cpl. Chris Anderson, who hosted the podcast’s first episode and will continue to host alongside his colleagues in the department’s media relations section. Anderson is a 20-year veteran of the department, recently starred in HBO’s “We Own This City” as former Baltimore Police Department Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere. “They start digging in, they start looking at stuff and next thing you know, a 30-year-old cold case is getting solved by some man or woman sitting at home behind their keyboard, doing some internet sleuthing.”
He cited the release of former Mississippi death row inmate Curtis Flowers, whose murder conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court after American Public Media’s “In the Dark” podcast shed light on racial bias during jury selection and the fact that multiple witnesses admitted they had lied about Flowers confessing to them in jail.
A few other police departments run podcasts on their own homicide cases, but Anne Arundel is one of only a few locally trying out the strategy.
The podcast’s first episode, which aired on major streaming platforms in May, focused on the Glen Burnie shooting death of Myra Elizabeth Cason, a 63-year-old retired Meade High School teacher who was found dead in her vehicle in 2011.
In the episode, Anderson interviews acting Southern District Sgt. Regina Collier, a former homicide detective, who gives additional facts on the cold case of the beloved teacher, whose death has puzzled police and devastated her family.
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“A lot of the things we found were very strange, and they didn’t add up to her normal way of acting,” Collier said in the episode. “There was definitely something going on.”
Homicide detectives remain in touch with the families of the victims and make an effort to notify the families if an episode about their loved one is about to be released, Davis said.
The podcast hosts work closely with the homicide department to check off information that can be released without impeding an investigation and choose information that could increase solvability. Mostly, it’s “little tidbits” that weren’t released during the initial push for information.
“If somebody remembers something, but we didn’t release a detail at the time, that might be something that jogs people’s memories,” Davis said.
The department started setting up the podcast about six months ago by purchasing podcasting equipment, a few microphones, and recording software for less than $500.
In addition to cold cases dating as far back as the 1970s, future episodes will dig into current and closed cases.
The police department is hoping to release episodes about twice a month. The podcast is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Anchor.