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Searching For Ghosts: Where Is Bethany Markowski?

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Fourteen year-old Cayce Lynn McDaniel returned to her family's home in Milan, Tennessee at approximately 12:30 a.m. on August 16, 1996 after a church party. A chaperone dropped her off and watched her go into the house.Other family members arrived at their residence at approximately 1:30 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. and discovered that the TV in Cayce’s bedroom was on, a bowl of cereal was left on the kitchen table and the back door was open. There was no sign of McDaniel inside the house and she has never been heard from again.This is a podcast that is trying to answer the question: What happened to Cayce Lynn McDaniel?

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Fourteen year-old Cayce Lynn McDaniel returned to her family's home in Milan, Tennessee at approximately 12:30 a.m. on August 16, 1996 after a church party. A chaperone dropped her off and watched her go into the house.Other family members arrived at their residence at approximately 1:30 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. and discovered that the TV in Cayce’s bedroom was on, a bowl of cereal was left on the kitchen table and the back door was open. There was no sign of McDaniel inside the house and she has never been heard from again.This is a podcast that is trying to answer the question: What happened to Cayce Lynn McDaniel?

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132 Ratings
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What is this??

By Nullity - Dec 10 2019
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Is it a music podcast or true crime?? Does it even know what it is?? Unsubbed.

Your Time Is Up, Larry!

By EmilyBowie - Feb 05 2018
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I hope law enforcement are listening, bc you failed on your own.

iTunes Ratings

132 Ratings
Average Ratings
98
13
12
4
5

What is this??

By Nullity - Dec 10 2019
Read more
Is it a music podcast or true crime?? Does it even know what it is?? Unsubbed.

Your Time Is Up, Larry!

By EmilyBowie - Feb 05 2018
Read more
I hope law enforcement are listening, bc you failed on your own.

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Cover image of Searching For Ghosts: Where Is Bethany Markowski?

Searching For Ghosts: Where Is Bethany Markowski?

Updated 1 day ago

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Fourteen year-old Cayce Lynn McDaniel returned to her family's home in Milan, Tennessee at approximately 12:30 a.m. on August 16, 1996 after a church party. A chaperone dropped her off and watched her go into the house.Other family members arrived at their residence at approximately 1:30 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. and discovered that the TV in Cayce’s bedroom was on, a bowl of cereal was left on the kitchen table and the back door was open. There was no sign of McDaniel inside the house and she has never been heard from again.This is a podcast that is trying to answer the question: What happened to Cayce Lynn McDaniel?

Rank #1: Ep.1: August And Everything After

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began working on Searching For Ghosts in the fall of last year. I started by scouring the internet, trying to find anything I could on this case. As far as official reports, the information on the web was pretty much that initial story of how Cindy , , Cayce’s mother, found the house that night. There were a few stories done by WMCTV Channel 5 out of Memphis covering vigils that were held on the anniversary of Cayce’s disappearance, but that was pretty much it. Some of the sites that I found looked like they hadn’t been updated since 1996. Remember how the internet used to look? With the awful graphics and cheesy font? Yeah, this was my main source in the beginning in which to make a podcast.   Then I decided to reach out to The Milan-Mirror Exchange, Milan’s local newspaper. Back in 2005, I was a reporter for one of the papers owned by the same guy who owns the Mirror Exchange . So I had an in.   The editor of the paper, Victor Parkins, was very helpful. He gave me two names of people to contact that he felt sure would talk to me. He even let me use audio from a video interview done a few years back of Cayce’s best friend, Amber, who has been the main person to keep Cayce’s memory alive over the years. It’s her voice that you hear in the Searching For Ghosts teaser. She was one of the two names that he gave me.   I knew that I had a hard row to hoe ahead of me. I’m not from Milan. Strike One. I’m not an investigative journalist. Strike Two. I’m a musician. Strike Three.   So I tried reaching out to Amber through social media.  And I waited. I think she even deleted my friend request. So I contacted a friend of mine who had gone to high school with her. I asked him to reach out to Amber and grease the skids for me. And that’s what he did. He vouched for me and explained that the past two years of my life had been documented in Left Of Nashville, so if she wanted to know what I was about, there was basically an audio diary of mine online. I got Nothing.   This among other things caused me to shelve the project. I felt that if I couldn’t get Cayce’s best friend to talk, a friend who was with her the night she disappeared, then I had no shot of getting anyone in the family to talk. And with hardly any information about the case available to the public, I knew I didn’t have a podcast without friends and family.   But this case kept gnawing at me. I couldn’t let it go entirely. Especially after stumbling on a podcast by Payne Lindsey called ‘Up And Vanished.’ Lindsey is a filmmaker in Atlanta and his podcast is about the eleven year-old missing persons case of Tara Grinstead in Ocilla, Ga.    Like me, Lindsey wasn’t an investigative reporter. He wasn’t even a podcaster. And Ocilla, Ga is about half the size of Milan, Tn, so he was having even more trouble getting people to talk. But he went ahead with the podcast anyway. And just a few weeks ago, the GBI made two arrests in the cold case, no doubt, in large part due to Up and Vanished. I had no excuse at this point.   So i decided to go ahead and launch this thing. I put together the introductory episode and wrote a press release. I sent it out.  And within two hours, the daily paper  in Jackson Tn, The Jackson Sun, had it up on their website and the following day, it was on the front page of the paper, above the fold.    And THAT’S when Amber contacted me. She apologized for not responding earlier and explained to me why she had reservations. She then followed up with an offer to help in any way possible.    So this is Cayce Lynn McDaniel’s best friend and her first hand recollections of August 16th and 17th of 1996.   I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts.   According to Amber, she remembers that it was initially  handled as a runaway case, which is understandable, especially since it involved a teenager. But Amber never believed that Cayce was a runaway.   The story of how Cayce’s mother found the house that night is attached to every news report that can be found about this case. It is THE STORY. And the thing that jumps out to almost everyone who hears it and the question that I have been asked the most since airing the teaser last fall is “Who waits ten hours to call someone?   I thought that there might be an explanation after Amber described the dynamics of their friendship. We’ll discuss this in more detail at the end of this episode.   So if Cayce did tell her mother she was spending the night at Amber’s, wouldn’t this more in line with a runaway situation than an abduction? Amber still doesn’t buy it.   I asked Amber if she could remember Cindy’s demeanor as they were riding around looking for Cayce.   Which leads us back to the story. You know, THE STORY.   While Cayce spending the night at Amber’s might explain Cindy’s calm demeanor the following day and possibly why she waited ten hours to call anyone, it still doesn’t mesh with the story of how the scene looked at the house.   There is even one news report where a relative states that Cayce’s favorite brand new pair of shoes were found in her room. There is no evidence that she left that house dressed to go out.     Searching For Ghosts Website Brandon Barnett-Behind The Scenes (iTunes)Brandon Barnett-Behind The Scenes (Amazon) Brandon Barnett-Man Who Tries (iTunes) Brandon Barnett-Man Who Tries (Amazon)

Apr 03 2017

19mins

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Rank #2: S2 Episode 1: Oh Honey, You Need Some Answers

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Meet Jonnie Carter. Her daughter, Bethany Markowski, allegedly went missing from the Old Hickory Mall in Jackson, Tn on March 4th, 2001.

Jonnie has decided to tell her daughter's story in full for the first time in sixteen years.

Here is a glimpse of what her life has been like since 2001.

If you have any information on Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE-LOST

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

Dec 24 2017

18mins

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Rank #3: Ep.2: Valorie

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I’m headed to Milan and it’s a perfect day for a road trip. It’s sunny and warm, and everything is starting to turn green. As I get older, the winters get harder to take. Everything is just so drab. But if it weren’t for the  winter that I have come to despise, I probably wouldn’t appreciate the spring and summer.   In doing my research on this case, I’m amazed at the amount of criminal activity that seems to permeate West Tennessee. And it’s not just here. This is everywhere. I begin to realize that maybe I was somewhat sheltered growing up. And I start to appreciate even more, my childhood years. Not everyone had it so good.   My destination is a house in the somewhere between Milan and Jackson, Tn, the town where I grew up. As I travel the winding back roads of West Tennessee, I can’t help but think about all the secrets held in this area for over twenty years. And just by looking at it, with rolling pastures and well kept homes, you’d never know that there are some really bad people in this world. And some of them are our neighbors.   A couple of days after Episode One came out, I received a message from a woman named Dawn who wanted to meet with me. She said she knew Cayce and the family, and was very involved in the search efforts when Cayce went missing.    She also wanted Cathy, a long-time friend of the family, to join us to help fill in any blanks. Dawn told me to carve out two days for interviews because there was just so much information. We didn’t need two days, but we did talk for over six hours.   I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts.   Cayce was at an age when a lot of kids start to rebel. It happens. For many, it’s a rite of passage. Everything that has been made public about Cayce from friends and family over the years, might lead one to believe that she was immune to any teenage rebellion. As far as I’m concerned, there are three possible explanations for this:   1) People might be concerned about soiling her reputation, which might affect people’s opinion of her and their interest in the case. Don’t think for one moment that the image of the innocent beauty queen that was Jon Benet Ramsey didn’t fuel the public’s fascination with that case.   2) Cayce showed a certain side of herself around some, and then a totally different side to others. That’s what teenagers are best at.   3) She wasn’t going through a rebellious stage. It has happened. My parents were my best friends throughout my teenage years. I never really went through that phase. I was either fishing, playing basketball or holed up in my room with a guitar in my hands. I was pretty much a straight arrow.   But the summer Cayce disappeared, both Dawn and Cathy noticed a drastic change.     And while in 2017, the Goth look seems pretty tame, in 1996 in rural West Tennessee, this was a pretty big deal. If nothing else, it was a definite departure from the Cayce of just a few months before.   It’s been about two months since I stopped by the Milan Police Department to ask for any reports about Cayce that are open to the public. I was told that the initial report should be available for me to read. I’ve had friends and family of Cayce ask for those reports as well. But it appears that we’re being stonewalled.   And the daily paper out of Jackson, Tn, The Jackson Sun, is going through their archives to find articles about the case. But this will take some time.   So the Milan Mirror Exchange has been my main source at this point to try to piece this thing together. It is a weekly paper, so I have to do a little estimating on the exact timing of certain findings.   While looking through these reports, it appears that by September 2, 1996, police had a sketch of a possible suspect. After a little digging around, I discovered that the sketch came from a witness who alleges that Cayce was seen with this man at The Gibson County Fairgrounds in Trenton, Tn, a town about fourteen miles away from Milan.   This sketch is floating around the internet, but like so many things about this case, it is never mentioned again. So I started asking around, and the word is that the source was deemed not credible. Not one person that I talked to said that they believed she was ever at the fair in Trenton. And given that all the descriptions of Cayce by law enforcement had her in her bed clothes with no shoes, I felt that it wouldn’t make sense for her to be walking around the fair a couple of days later. So I made note of this, but pretty much dismissed the sketch myself.   But then I found an article just one month later in the October 1st edition of The Mirror-Exchange about a world-famous search and rescue dog named Valorie who came to Milan to search for Cayce. The headline read: “Cayce Left On Her Own Free Will, Smart Dog Says." Her own free will? Again, why would Cayce leave on her own free will in boxers, a tee shirt and no shoes. The no shoes story is one of the few things in this case that keeps being repeated year after year. I needed to know more about this smart dog and her findings. It just so happened that I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of the people responsible for bringing Valorie to town. Dawn and her husband had even video taped the search.   Valorie had found ten people in the Oklahoma City bombing the year before. At the time, she had flown 40 times to find missing persons, had been involved in 600 cases   So I desperately wanted to read the official report of Valorie’s findings. That would definitely be something that would’ve been given to law enforcement at the time, seeing how there was at least one report in the media about it.   But I wasn’t going to get it from the Milan Police Department. I finally received word from Milan PD that they were not going to release any reports whatsoever pertaining to the Cayce McDaniel case. Damn.   So I decided to look up Valorie’s handler at the time, Harry Oakes. Valorie has passed on, but Oakes is still doing search and rescue with his organization International K-9 Search and Rescue Services. In 1996, he was working under the name Mountain Wilderness Search-Rescue-Recovery-International Response Team.   In 1996, Oakes and Valorie were brought in to Milan by Dawn and others with private funds. So I hoped that Oakes would be able to help me seeing as how this mission was not sanctioned by local law enforcement.   According to a 1998 article in The Tennessean, Billy Hale was with The National Missing Children’s Locate Center. At this time, I am having trouble finding any footprint on the internet of Billy and his organization. I only pray that the organization didn’t die with Mr. Hale. If you have any information on this please contact me on our website, sfgpodcast.com   When Dawn first reached out to me, she told me a story that I had never heard before. And to be honest, it blew my hair back. And this story, in my mind, might piece together the things we’ve discussed in this episode.   There are rumors that Cayce made a phone call from the church rec center pay phone the night she went missing. Who would she have called? Her mother didn’t have a phone at the house. The grandmother reportedly never received a phone call. Her best friend was at the church social with Cayce.   Did Cayce call someone to arrange for them to pick her up after the church party? Was Cayce going through the teenage rebellion stage that so many have denied? Did the police investigate this alleged phone call? Is there any way to get the phone records today from a pay phone in 1996?   Searching For Ghosts WebsiteInternational K-9 Search And Rescue Services

Apr 17 2017

17mins

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Rank #4: Ep.10: A Change In Tactics

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Support SFG by purchasing the Left Of Nashville EP.

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Jul 13 2017

49mins

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Rank #5: S2 Episode 2: Little Memphis

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In 2014, the FBI released the top ten most dangerous small cities in America. Jackson, Tennessee was number three on the list.

In 2004, a second kidnapping in three years was reported at the Old Hickory Mall. Bethany was the first. 

But did Bethany even make it to the mall on March 4, 2001?

If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE-LOST

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

Train sounds provided by Sound Bible

Dec 31 2017

19mins

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Rank #6: Ep.3: Cindy

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When I put together an episode of the podcast, I have to try to put myself in the listeners’ shoes. I have to keep up with the information I’ve released versus the information that I know. And with every episode, I have to ask myself, “What is the question that listeners are asking after hearing this?"   I know what I would be asking if I were on the other end of this deal. “What about the mother? Where is Cindy?     I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts.   I’m glad that I’m not from Milan. I had no knowledge of anything about this case when I started Searching For Ghosts. I just remembered seeing the billboards when she went missing twenty years ago and some news reports here and there.   As I started investigating this, I soon learned something. Everyone in Milan has a theory of what happened to Cayce. And the town is split on who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.    One person will recommend that you talk to someone, while another person will claim that that someone cannot be trusted. Milan is a small town, and everyone seems to know everyone else's business.   And with this case, it’s not as if you can just look at someone’s criminal history to determine if they are credible or a possible suspect. It seems that everyone I look into has had some sort of run-in with the law. It’s staggering, actually.    And any disclaimer I receive on a certain person is given so casually, “He’s been in prison three times, but he’s a good guy.” Wait. What?   So I came into this thing with a blank slate, and to be honest, I’m skeptical of everyone, and at the same time, not pre-judging anyone. I haven’t had forty years of hearing about so and so, and how they used to beat their dog or whatever. I wasn’t raised in the Gibson County bubble, so hopefully, I can be objective.   But you also cannot ignore when certain names or theories keep popping up over and over again. And in one form or another, Cindy McDaniel, Cayce’s mother, always comes up.   You don’t have to have been raised in Milan to hear the story, you know, THE STORY, and question the reaction time of Cindy before she called looking for Cayce. This is from a WMCTV News Report out of Memphis on the 14th anniversary of Cayce’s disappearance    

Other parents who were close to Cayce at church questioned why Cayce's mother Cindy waited so long to check on her daughter.

  "Momma came in, doors were open, lights were on, and clothes were there...and they just went to bed," said church member Polly Fitzgerald.  "I'd be frantic. It'd scare me to death... I would have found out something that night.  I wouldn't have waited to the next day.  Something's not right," she adds.     But the more people I talk to in Milan, the more I realize that a lot of kids in that area were raised in a manner where they might just stay over at a friend’s house with no notice. I only have my childhood to compare, and if my Mom would’ve had access to GPS at the time, she would’ve tracked me constantly. But as I stated earlier, evidently, this wasn’t the case with a lot of parents, including Cindy McDaniel.   But the way the house was found still sends up a red flag.   The next thing that people point to with Cindy is that she doesn’t come to the vigils for Cayce anymore and that she has been off the radar for years. This stood out to me when I first started my research. In fact, Cindy has basically been off the GRID for close to ten years.   From reports that I can find, Cindy still attended the vigils as late as the tenth anniversary in 2006. From an article in The Jackson Sun in 06:   Whether she never got to 15, or is a 24-year-old runaway somewhere, is the biggest thing that eats at her mother, Cindy McDaniel Bolton. "There's no day that goes by when I don't think about her," McDaniel Bolton said. Thinking about what's happened to her daughter's friends breaks her down, again. "They're in college, getting married, having babies ..." she said through sobs Monday. "And we still don't know."   But by 2010, WMCTV reported in a one off statement that    “Investigators say they can't locate Cayce's mom Cindy."   And just like with the story of how the house was found in 1996, it’s the lack of information in these reports that screams the loudest.   Then there are the stories of Cindy’s history with drug and alcohol abuse. The talk is that Cindy and Steve, her boyfriend at the time, were at a bar in Jackson the night Cayce went missing.   Steve is currently in prison, and many of Steve and Cindy’s known associates at the time have long criminal histories…violent criminal histories.   So this has fueled theories over the years that Cayce’s abduction and possible murder were retribution for a drug debt. There is even talk in some circles of a prostitution ring.    And apparently, the motive of a drug debt is not just small town gossip. This appears to be the theory held by law enforcement. After months of reaching out, I finally spoke with the former lead investigator on the case, Jerry Hartsfield, who now lives in Canada. He wasn’t bashful in expressing his thoughts about a possible motive.   (Sound clip of Hartsfield being assigned the case, his theory)   According to Hartsfield, Cindy was questioned numerous times, including by the FBI, but there was never enough evidence to prove that Cindy was either directly or indirectly responsible for her daughter’s disappearance.   (Sound clip Hartsfield: Failing lie detector test)   But according to the interview I conducted with Dawn and Kathy a few weeks ago, Billy Hale, from The National Missing Children’s Locate Center, told Cindy to expect to fail the lie detector test.    (Sound clip of Dawn-Lie Detector)   Although never officially declared a suspect (at least in the media), I’ve heard from numerous people around at the time that law enforcement zeroed in on Cindy from the beginning. It appears that they felt she was connected to Cayce’s disappearance in one way or another.   The fact that Cindy has all but disappeared herself, doesn’t help her case in the court of public opinion. So many that I have talked to, all point to the fact that she isn’t currently publicly trying to find answers in her daughter’s disappearance as an indication of guilt.   But in those early Mirror-Exchange articles from 1996 and 1997, it appears that Cindy WAS involved. The October 1st edition states that Cindy was one of the people who helped secure funds to bring in Valorie, the search and rescue dog from Episode 2.   Cindy also spoke to the press one year later on the first anniversary of Cayce’s disappearance, asking the public not to forget about her daughter.   Cindy was the one who contacted a psychic to help in the case. She and Billy Hale were even on the Leeza Gibbons show, looking for answers.   (Sound clip from Leeza)   In the interview from a few weeks ago, Dawn and Kathy talk about their firsthand knowledge of Cindy’s involvement in those first six months.   (Sound clips from helicopter, binoculars and cleaning out her locker)   So is Cindy’s silence in recent years, the actions of someone complicit in their daughter’s disappearance, or are these the actions of someone prone to substance abuse, just worn out for being under suspicion for over 20 years?   The best person to answer that question is Cindy herself.   I’ve been trying to locate Cindy since late last year. And Ive heard everything regarding her location, from being in prison to moving out of the area.   I had a source who told me that they had located her, that she was still in the area. This source says they gave her my contact info, but two months went by and I heard nothing.   But after the launch of the podcast, I started getting some traction. I had family members contacting me, saying that they were working to connect us.   Then on April 14, I received a post on my Facebook timeline that read: "Hello Brandon. I’m Cindy McDaniel, Cayce’s mama. Would like to speak to you. Get back with me if you’re interested."   I immediately contacted one of Cayce’s cousins to see if this was legit. And it was.   Since this was on my timeline and not in a private message, a lot of people saw it. One person contacted me stating that they took a screenshot of this and sent it to authorities. I’m still unsure why.   A few days later, a source of mine and I were supposed to meet with the mayor of Milan to discuss releasing some of the police reports pertaining to the case. I had an emergency come up and my source went without me.   My source was told that a special investigator was being put on the Cayce McDaniel case. I finally felt like we were making progress. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a special investigator on this case in over ten years.   So I reached out to my friends in the media in Jackson to verify this, before I made the announcement. Not only would law enforcement not confirm this, my source received a phone call from the mayor’s office scolding them for releasing this information. Law enforcement does not want the media involved.   I understand that there are certain things about an open case that have to be guarded. But I wouldn’t think that this would be one of them. Was law enforcement just telling my source what they thought he wanted to hear? Is the reason for not wanting this released to the media that they want to protect the integrity of the investigation, or is it because there is no new special investigator?   Meanwhile, I had been working all week to set up a time to meet with Cindy. We had a tentative date of this past Saturday, April 22nd.   That Saturday, I received a message from a relative of Cindy. This person stated that Cindy had been arrested that morning over some unpaid fines, and was being  held without bond.   Considering the events of the past couple of weeks, the timing of this arrest seems off to me. Arrested on a Saturday for unpaid fines? On the Saturday we were supposed to meet?   And I found the mugshot. Her arrest has been confirmed. Is law enforcement sending a message? Are the old fines the real reason Cindy was taken into custody on a Saturday after publicly stating that she wanted to talk to me? Has the investigation moved up in the priority ladder within the Milan Police Department. Just two months ago, the police chief told me himself that it would take awhile for them to find the files on the McDaniel case?   Will Cindy be more or less likely to talk to me when she gets out of jail? Is there anyone I can trust?      http://www.sfgpodcast.com/Searching For Ghosts Website

Apr 25 2017

17mins

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Rank #7: Ep.4: The Letter

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In a case like this, there are a ton of theories. In August, it will be twenty-one years. Twenty-one years since Cayce McDaniel vanished. In that span of time, a lot of things can happen. Potential sources pass away. Recollections from people close to the case become fuzzy.     There is this game called Chinese Whispers. In the United States, it is known as The Telephone Game. In this game, one person whispers a message in the ear of the next person in line. The second person does the same thing to the person next to them and so on. The last player announces the message to the entire group. The objective is for the first person and the last person to have the same message. But errors happen in the retelling, and depending on how many people are playing the game, many times, the last message in no way resembles the original one.   While this makes for wonderful child’s play, it can cause high blood pressure and hair loss when it comes to investigating a twenty-one year old missing persons case.   I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts.   This case is the Chinese Whispers game on steroids. After twenty-one years, the stories didn't just morph, they attained urban legend status. And these stories are the ones that always include the disclaimer of “I know what happened” from the people who tell them.   The stories that are repeated most, seem to have the least amount of hard evidence behind them. Obviously, they can’t be ignored—they might be true…or at least have a kernel of truth in them.    Then you have the one off stories. The ones where a name comes up that you’ve never heard before…and you never hear again. Once again, you don’t want to ignore this information, but these stories hardly ever lead anywhere. So you file them away in your notes and move on.   Then you have the stories that are not as prevalent. But you have two or more sources who give similar accounts with similar details. And sometimes these correlate with news reports. Those are the ones that interest me the most.   The idea is to walk this thing slowly, and look at the reports carefully and objectively.   Obviously something was missed in this case. And I see no point in blazing through everything and making the same mistakes some two decades later.     I noticed something in the first article of the Mirror-Exchange concerning Cayce’s disappearance. At the end of the article, the author gives some family history with a seemingly out of place piece of information concerning a “friend” of Cayce.   QUOTE “Cayce’s parents are divorced. Her father, Ronnie Mcdaniel is living near South Fulton. He’d recently been injured in a motorcycle accident. Cayce reportedly had been friends with a Milan teenager who is now being held on federal charges in a McNairy County jail. She also has an uncle living in Florida and an aunt in Knoxville." UNQUOTE   That passage struck me as odd when I first read it. That kind of information would either take a little digging or it came from a tip. It’s in the article for a reason.   I later received a tip from a reporter who remembered an in-depth Jackson Sun series that revealed that Cayce was pen pals with someone in prison.     Then, the day after releasing the bonus episode, I received those back articles of Cayce’s disappearance from the Jackson Sun newspaper in Jackson, TN. And there is some gold in there.   From the September 15, 1996 edition of The Jackson Sun.   QUOTE Once, a year ago, Cindy heard Cayce talking on the phone to a young man named Charlie she’d met at church.  I said something about him to a friend and she was horrified. Cindy, she said,He’s 18. And I jumped Cayce about it. She told me I just didn’t know him.   And I said, I don’t care if he’s the pope, he’s too old for you and you’re not to call him. She thought she was going to turn his life around. He was the first one I checked on, but he’s in the McNairy County jail. UNQUOTE And this information verified what Kathy had said a few weeks prior:         In Episode 2: Valorie, I talked about a rumor that Cayce had used a phone at the church to make a call. Dawn/Kathy   I asked former Lead Investigator Jerry Hartsfield if he remembered investigating a phone call made from the church by Cayce. He had no knowledge of any phone call being made.  Hartsfield   There is also nothing in the news reports we have recently obtained about any phone call being made from the church. Is this just an urban legend or an oversight by police? Because without there being a working phone at Cindy’s house, any call made by Cayce would be a game changer as to her whereabouts after she left the church.   I had a source ask a member of the church who was there in 1996, about the phone situation from back then. The church member indicated that it would’ve been a church phone and not a pay phone that Cayce would’ve used.   Then I received word from a source that there was a letter written to Cayce some months before she went missing. So I set up an interview to see what this was all about. This source stated that Cindy had possession of this letter at the time, and that she let my source read it. It was from an adult authority figure who stated that God was telling him that Cayce was to be his virgin. That was the only detail given to me, but my source said that it was Quote “Creepy” Unquote.   I was also told that Cindy, Cindy’s boyfriend Steve and Joe, her brother, took matters into their own hands. This was also confirmed in the interview I did with Kathy.       There is nothing in news reports to substantiate this, so I again contacted former lead investigator Jerry Hartsfield to see if law enforcement knew about the letter at the time.       There seemed to be a pattern of adult men showing an interest in the underage Cayce. This is unsettling at best. This type of thing sets up a scenario that could easily lead to a motive to do harm to Cayce. Do these things have anything to do with Cayce’s disappearance? Is the letter real? Was this the doing of a delusional older man who felt that God was speaking to him in this manner?   There is one person who can either confirm or deny the existence of this letter. One person who might even still possess it and knows who the author is. That person is Cindy McDaniel, Cayce’s mother.   An update on Cindy: I’ve heard from family members that she has been released from jail. I’ve sent word that I still want to speak with her.   There are so many questions that only she can answer. And she can remove the cloud of suspicion hanging over her by coming on this podcast.   Cindy, when you’re ready to talk, I’ll be here. Waiting.

May 15 2017

10mins

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Rank #8: Ep.5 The Elephant In The Room

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When I first started digging into this story in November of last year, I had no idea about any of the theories that have been floating around Milan for twenty years. But I immediately received some startling information from some classmates of Cayce.    I knew nothing about Cindy being the focus of this investigation either officially, unofficially or in the court of public opinion. And I definitely didn’t know about some of the things that people were saying that Cayce herself was involved in.   My fear of finding any truth in what Cayce’s peers were saying, caused me to drop this project at least three times. But aren’t we after the truth? I always thought that being an outsider looking at this case was a benefit: I could be objective because I had limited dealings with the people of Milan. I don’t play favorites. I didn’t run around with anyone involved so I have no misplaced loyalties.   But once I started getting more and more information, I realized that if we were going to get to the truth, certain narratives that have been perpetuated for years were going to be destroyed by some carpetbagger musician. I was not going to be a very popular dude.    I even asked people involved in the media game what I should do about what I was hearing concerning both Cindy and Cayce. And what I was told disturbed me. Basically, I was advised that Cindy was fair game. Her name was already sullied. But these things about Cayce, well, now, that was a bridge too far.   But my fear was that the narrative that has been repeated over again was causing people to look at only one possible motive. The drug debt angle with Cindy and one man in particular is the prevailing theory in town. This is the story that I have been told so often that Quote “Everyone knows.” UnQuote   Well, I DON’T know that. I do know that some of the things that I have heard concerning people associated with Cayce (possibly without Cindy’s knowledge) are just as plausible as the drug debt theory.   And if we really want answers…if we REALLY want the truth, that might mean that we uncover some things that we don't want to hear. And these things might not fit perfectly into our preconceived notions. We can’t have it both ways. The truth is no respecter of persons. The truth just IS.   I have been slammed because I haven’t mentioned the one guy that “everyone knows” did it. For purposes of this podcast, we will call this man Mr. X. Well, for one, I’m going down the timeline with this. And we're not there yet. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to go there prematurely when there are just as many plausible possibilities that are jumping out at me from the beginning.   For example, The Letter. If my sources are correct, this has nothing at all to do with Mr. X. That letter was so alarming, that Cindy and others reportedly confronted the author on two separate occasions to get him to back off. It’s been twenty-one years. Do people really think that Mr. X wasn't on law enforcements’ radar? I know for a fact that he was. And what do we have to show for it two decades later? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.   I’m not saying that Mr. X is innocent. I’m saying I don’t know.   I’ve been warned on numerous occasions to beware of people intentionally trying to send me down the wrong path in this case. Not a warning that people might give me faulty information because of fading memories, or unsubstantiated rumors that they honestly believe, but actual disinformation. Well, this implies a conspiracy. And while I’m no conspiracy theorist, I took this to heart. That was an eerie warning to receive when you first come into this, knowing nothing. It causes you to trust no one.   So this episode is the elephant in the room that almost kept this podcast from ever happening.   I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts.   Just four days after Cayce was reported missing, The Jackson Sun newspaper reported that after finding none of her belongings missing at the house that police were treating this as an abduction.   Cayce had reportedly been seen at the Gibson County Fair and at a Dyersburg, Tn Wal-Mart. This is what led to the composite sketch mentioned in Episode 2. Valorie. In the August 28, 1996 edition of the Jackson Sun, Milan Police Lt. Jerry Hartsfield said that QUOTE “Cayce left with someone she knew and felt comfortable with. Now, we need to find out who that is.” UNQUOTE   Then, on September 15, 1996, The Jackson Sun did an interview with Cayce’s mother Cindy. The article begins QUOTE “Police believe that Cayce ran away. It’s possible an unknown male is involved. Reports have been phoned in from across the U.S. describing Cayce with an older man.” UNQUOTE   The article included a picture of Cayce with a caption asking if she was a runaway or a kidnap victim.   So one month after she went missing, Cayce’s disappearance was being looked at as this hybrid of a runaway and an abduction-- That maybe she was lured away by someone she knew, or willingly left with someone initially, and that it turned into an abduction.   Remember the headline mentioned in Ep.2 Valorie from the October 1st, 1996 edition of The Milan Mirror Exchange? “Left On Her Own Free Will Smartdog Says?"   The theories floating around concerning Cindy are disturbing. I’ve heard everything from this being retribution for a drug debt to there being a prostitution ring. These theories all have one thing in common: That it was Cindy who got in too deep with drugs and this was a way for her to pay her debts.   But as I stated in Ep.4 The Letter, so many of these theories have taken on urban legend status. People repeat these stories as fact. But the problem is that with each person you talk to, you get a different version of a similar story. Many of them don’t seem to connect. If there are similar stories with different perpetrators at different locations, they all can't be true.   Until Cindy decides to speak to me, I only have what she has said in the past. And until recently, this has been next to nothing. But now I have the Jackson Sun articles from the time shortly after Cayce’s disappearance, when she WOULD talk to the press.   Cindy in The Jackson Sun just one month after Cayce went missing. QUOTE “ I am so guilty of not communicating with her. My dad was an alcoholic and he always said, ‘Just do it.’ My mom had a hard time and I was smacked around plenty. I can’t remember spanking Cayce but twice because I said my kids wouldn’t live like that. But I don’t know how to talk about things.” UNQUOTE   After being asked if she had seen any signs of rebellion in Cayce, Cindy said this: QUOTE: “I found out she smoked cigarettes. It just floored me.” UNQUOTE   This was the same article where Cindy had discovered that Cayce was talking to the eighteen year-old that was facing federal charges in a McNairy County jail, mentioned in the last episode.   Fast forward to the one year anniversary of Cayce’s disappearance and the things that I was initially told by her peers were verified in the news report.   From Cayce’s grandmother Margaret Smith:   QUOTE: “I just can’t believe she ran away. But then, I didn’t know she was sexually active either. The FBI asked me if I knew that. But she wasn’t as close to me as she had been. I guess that goes with being a teenager. They said she was mingling with the wrong crowd and had gotten an older boyfriend. He got put in jail for something."   Later in the article, Cindy cites receiving this information from law enforcement officials. Talking about Cindy QUOTE: “She, too, found out from the law officers that Cayce had a boyfriend who admitted he’d had sex with her for the first time two weeks before she vanished."   Cindy was also told by police that this boyfriend was not involved in her disappearance.   And one year in, the rumors about Cindy’s possible involvement were already circulating. From Cindy QUOTE: “It’s hard to swallow that some people think you killed your child and hid the body. I can relate to that guy accused in the Olympic bombing.” UNQUOTE    The Jackson Sun reports from the FBI confirm what I had been hearing from Cayce’s peers from day one. Without this confirmation, I don’t know that I would have ever mentioned it. That’s why I decided to use the audio of the reports I had received about a change in Cayce around the time she went missing instead.   That was a way to point to the fact that there were different "on the record” accounts being told from people who knew Cayce. In the beginning, this was the only way I knew to get the audience to at least consider that there might be another person or group of people who could be responsible for this that might not have any connection to Cindy.   Because let’s face it. Cindy is an easy target…and maybe deservedly so, but everyone involved is doing a disservice to Cayce by not telling the entire truth. It looks like that it was someone who knew Cayce who is responsible for this. So you have to look at EVERYONE who knew her, not just the ones associated with Cindy.   But let me be clear. This information in no way lessens Cayce’s innocence. The only reason this is relevant is that it possibly opens the door for more persons of interest. Nothing else.       Our culture and legal system have deemed that fourteen year olds do not possess the emotional maturity to make rational decisions regarding sex. But grown men do. And they go to jail for it.   The purpose of this episode is to do one thing: To force us to consider other possible motives and perpetrators responsible for this.     Because for me, at this point, it is just as plausible that Cindy was so distracted by her partying that she didn’t realize the type of people pursuing her daughter. With the evidence currently available, that is as possible as any drug or prostitution ring theory.  We must stay objective until hard evidence leads us in a certain direction. And it very well could be that law enforcement officials already have such evidence. But until we know that for sure, we have to consider all possibilities.   For those of you who follow The Searching For Ghosts Facebook page, you might have seen a post where I said you wouldn’t believe your ears in the next episode.    This case is fluid. While we are investigating and reporting on the past, trying to get a handle on the actual facts in this case, new leads are constantly coming in.   Last week, the person helping me behind the scenes received a tip from a source about a possible “dump” site. They went out to investigate this and found skeletal remains. When I made that post, I was sure that they were human. The authorities were contacted and they took the remains for analysis. We later received word (after I had posted on Facebook) that these were indeed animal remains.   I apologize for any unnecessary hype. I got excited. It happens. We have a pic of the  remains at sfgpodcast.com so you can see what was found. Tell us what you think.   Searching For Ghosts Website

May 23 2017

13mins

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Rank #9: Ep.6: Four Days In

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They say that hindsight is 20/20. In 2017, it’s tempting to look back at how this case was handled (or mishandled according to many), and start hurling rocks. But context is everything.    I try to put myself in law enforcement’s shoes in 1996. There were no email logs to check. No cell phone towers to triangulate. Hell, Cindy didn’t even have a working phone at the house. This leaves eyewitness accounts as the crux of the evidence available in this case.    And while many cases have been solved because of eyewitness testimony, it is the lease favorite means of law enforcement and prosecutors to bring about justice.   And in listening to this podcast, you can see why. From the way the house was found to the legion of possible motives, every theory from witnesses spawns new questions, not answers.   Many people I have talked to have stated that police dropped the ball. And with the case remaining unsolved for almost 21 years, that statement gets very little criticism. If law enforcement didn't mess this thing up, it would’ve been solved long ago, right?   In the ten year period between 2001 and 2011, Milan had a total of five homicides. From 1976 to 1995, it had twelve. Milan, Tn is a far cry from the ground zero of violent crime. I don’t think the television show, The First 48, is going to set up camp there anytime soon. Unfortunately, the way to get better at solving abductions and homicides is to have a lot of practice. So on one hand, the residents of Milan can be thankful that they live in a relatively safe area. On the other, when something like the disappearance of Cayce McDaniel happens, the local police can easily find themselves in uncharted territory.   This episode is going to try to piece together the timeline of those early days after Cayce’s disappearance. It’s time to look at the information that we have on this case, and see at how it was handled by law enforcement: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.   I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts   It is apparent from the news articles in those early days of Cayce’s disappearance that there was much confusion about how to classify this case. Remember this from last episode? Sound Clip “Hybrid abduction/runaway."   An August 21, 1996 article of The Jackson Sun had a sub-title that read : QUOTE “Authorities are beginning to suspect the Milan teenager was kidnapped.” UNQUOTE   The article goes on to say that the department was seeking assistance from the TBI and the television show “America’s Most Wanted”, as well as contacting local media outlets to circulate Cayce’s photo and description.     The article also states that QUOTE: “After searching the McDaniel home and finding none of Cayce’s personal belongings missing, investigators started treating the case as an abduction. They searched the residence for fingerprints Tuesday.” UNQUOTE   This was four days into the investigation.   This is what receives so much criticism from the people that I talk to about this case. Sound clip: “Cathy/Dawn"   One month later, in the Sept. 15, 1996 edition of The Jackson Sun, Cindy’s boyfriend Steve was quoted with a similar complaint. QUOTE   “Police did not come to the house until a week after Cayce disappeared,” Steve says. Then, the police wanted to know why the scene wasn’t just the way it was a week earlier—why stuff had been moved. I asked where they’d been when they were needed.”UNQUOTE"   While it wasn’t a week later, his point is noted.  But it should also be noted that Cayce wasn’t reported missing until around 2pm on Saturday, August 17th, some twelve hours later after Cindy came home and found the house with the door open. So, the possible crime scene theoretically could’ve been tainted in that twelve hour period. But twelve hours is still much better than 3 1/2 to 4 days. It appears that the time lag in treating the house as a crime scene goes back to initially looking at the case as a runaway situation.   This same article has Cindy being critical of law enforcement. QUOTE”    Cindy, too, is bitter about the police not helping any faster. She believes the wait to get the TBI and the FBI involved lost valuable time.” UNQUOTE   According to reports in the media, It was announced four days in that the TBI had been contacted, and the FBI on day five.   Ten days after Cayce was reported missing, the composite sketch mentioned in Ep.2 was released to the media. Also, the FBI pulled out of the investigation because there was no evidence that she had been transported across state lines.   Cayce’s story was aired on “America’s Most Wanted” on August 31st, just two weeks after she was officially reported missing. That’s pretty impressive, in my opinion, to get this on the national radar.   After the America’s Most Wanted airing, a tip of a reported sighting came in reporting that Cayce was seen hitchhiking with an older man in Hayti, MO. Hayti is just across the Mississippi River from Dyersburg, TN, where Cayce had reportedly been seen at a local Walmart. There are no reports that the FBI re-entered the case after these sightings, which should’ve met the crossing state lines burden if the tips were deemed credible.   In the next couple of months, investigators released to the media that they had questioned a Carroll County teen, and were looking into a rape suspect in Nashville that matched the composite sketch. Both of these leads were fruitless.   In the September 15, 1996 edition of the Jackson Sun, the term runaway is again the term used for what happened to Cayce, not abduction. QUOTE: "   Lieutenant Jerry Hartsfield of the Milan PD says there have been runaways in Milan before, but Cayce is the first one who hasn’t been located quickly. “It really bothers me that all the people at the church said she seemed just fine the night of the party. I think she ran. Maybe she left with somebody she knew, somebody she felt comfortable with and then couldn’t get back.”UNQUOTE   Just from looking at available news reports, it appears that once the abduction word was being floated around, that’s when real movement started to happen. But it appears that the runaway theory was still there as well.    It was four days in before terms like “foul play” and “abduction” were being used in the media. It is also important to note that local media was not as quick to report on this case. The first news report about Cayce in The Jackson Sun that I can find is August 19th, 1996—two days after she was reported missing. It could be that they weren’t contacted by law enforcement, but there is another possibility. President Clinton was in West Tennessee at this time, campaigning for his second term in office. One thing that hasn’t changed in two decades is how politics can make us lose sight of everyday life.   When looking at the timeline, it’s unfair to say that law enforcement were completely incompetent, especially after those first few days. But when dealing with an abduction and possible murder, those first few days are the most crucial.   And if initially classifying this as a runaway is what has thrown this case off from the beginning, you would think that law enforcement would have spent a lot of their time going through Cayce’s belongings for some sort of indication that she was planning on running away.   Remember the interview I did with Dawn who helped bring Valorie the search and rescue dog to town? She also had this to say: Soundclip: Dawn: Cleaning out Cayce’s school locker   In my opinion, going through a fourteen year old’s school locker is the 1996 equivalent of searching email or web site history. In 1996, If you want to know what a teenage girl is thinking, check the notes she writes and receives to classmates. Look at the doodles on her notebook covers. To be fair, I know that police do have possession of Cayce’s diary.   For me personally, my biggest complaint is how police have decided to not cooperate in any way with this podcast. The message I received from the mayor’s office that they didn’t want any media involvement was heard LOUD AND CLEAR. And I get it…to some extent.   But this is the 21st Century. The role that podcasts have recently played in bringing justice is undeniable. Whether it’s the wrongfully accused in Adnan Sayed to a cold missing persons case in Tara Grinstead, law enforcement in this country and others are using the podcast as an investigative tool.   One of my favorite podcasts is from The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and David Ridgen. It’s called Someone Knows Something. Here’s a clip from Season 2.  Law Enforcement agrees to sit down with David, and even though they remain relatively tight lipped, David still comes away with more info than he had when he walked in.   Soundclip: SKS   Naively, this is how I thought it was going to be with Searching For Ghosts. And to be frank: it’s the way it should be.   So I wanted this episode to be an objective look at how police have handled this case. There is no need in just pointing fingers and assigning blame. That isn’t the purpose of this. But law enforcement does need to be held under the microscope to see if there is anything that they missed that help in solving this case.   I’m sure you remember reference of a possible telephone call made from Cayce that night at the church. I couldn’t get that out of my head once I heard that. But what are you going to do? You need a court order to get those records. I’ve heard that police never looked into this but that this podcast had caused them to investigate this now. I wish that I could say that hearing that made me rest easier. But it didn’t.   But in investigating this case and talking to various people, the phone call was brought up almost in passing from a friend of Cayce’s at the time. She agreed to talk to me on the record, but requested her name not be used. Soundclip: Phone call/friend   This is why it is so important to go through this thing slowly, and try to look at everything, especially from the night in question. This might’ve not been a pick-up call from Cayce, this could’ve simply been a call to get permission to stay the night with a friend. But if this were never investigated, how do we know? Since Cindy didn’t have a working phone at the house, who did Cayce call? How many calls did she make? If law enforcement never looked into this, what else was missed?

May 30 2017

15mins

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Rank #10: Special Edition Episode: A Conversation With Holly Bobo Family Representative Rickey D. Alexander

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Candles For Cayce

A conversation with the Holly Bobo family representative where we talk about the aftermath of an abduction/murder, dealing with law enforcement, what the public needs to do, similarities between the two cases and the importance of podcasts in helping solve cold cases.

Aug 07 2017

25mins

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Rank #11: S2 Episode 3: The Hillary Story

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SFG Store

Larry claims that there was someone with Bethany at the mall on Sunday, March, 4th. This would change everything.

But was there someone with Bethany?

If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE-LOST

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

Jan 07 2018

20mins

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Rank #12: S2 Episode 6: Little Rock

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SFG Store

An exclusive glimpse into the trip to Little Rock, AR the weekend Bethany disappeared. 

If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE-LOST.

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

Jan 28 2018

18mins

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Rank #13: Ep.17: The Trail Ends Here

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We’re seventeen episodes in. I’ve been looking into this case long enough now to gain some perspective. There is information that I’ve received over the course of about eight months that I have made note of but never aired. Because some of this information by itself didn’t mean anything. But if you wait long enough and talk to enough people, it starts to come together.

In the beginning, I didn’t know anything. So one bit of information was just as important as another. That’s how you end up traipsing all over creation to hunt down briefcases and the like.

There are more Mr. X stories than anything else in this case. So, in the beginning, that’s where I spent the majority of my time. But after so many differing stories, it became apparent that that dog don’t hunt. There’s no there, there. And my gut always told me that this grand conspiracy with ten or more people was just wrong. I've always thought it was much simpler than that.

The Holly Bobo murder trial is going on, but I can’t follow it out of fear of confusing things in my head with Cayce’s case. But so many have made comments to me about the stark contrast with the mother’s in each of these cases. From what I’ve been told, Karen Bobo has been relentless in her search to find answers.

When I first started this, I had no idea that I would be shut out like I’ve been by Cindy. I think I’ve been fair in giving her the benefit of the doubt. But the story of how the house was found that night, coupled with how it was assumed that Cayce just spent the night with a friend, doesn’t add up. And with the information I’ve received over the last few months, it stinks even more.

I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts

Sep 18 2017

11mins

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Rank #14: Season One Update/Season Two Preview: Where Is Bethany Markowski?

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Season One Update:Coverage by WREG-TV Channel 3 out of Memphis, and talks with the largest podcast network around.

Teaser for the second season: Where Is Bethany Markowski?

WREG-TV segment on Cayce

Nov 12 2017

4mins

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Rank #15: S2 Episode 10: In Just Two Months

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 I want to lay out everything we have found out so far in a single episode. Having this compiled together will give us a better understanding of just how much circumstantial evidence there is that points in one direction.

The second thing I want to drive home is the fact that all of this happened in roughly a two month time frame.  

And the last thing I want to shine some light on is this: There was a reason why Jonnie and Lori were so perceptive about the exact times that certain things happened in 2001. Apparently everyone, including Bethany herself, had an uneasy feeling about this second visitation with Larry.

If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE LOST

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

Tennessee Missing Children's Day Vigil

Feb 25 2018

28mins

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Rank #16: Ep.13: Ground Zero- (The House)

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Support SFG by purchasing the Left Of Nashville EP on Amazon and iTunes!

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Jul 31 2017

15mins

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Rank #17: S2 Episode 4: The Escape

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SFG Store

The backstory on how Bethany and Jonnie ended up in Nashville. A look into the home life that led to the events of March 4, 2001.

If you are currently suffering from abuse & need help, please call: The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE(7233)

Also: The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD(2-24453)

If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE-LOST

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

Jan 14 2018

20mins

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Rank #18: Ep:7 The Devil's Playground

Jun 07 2017

13mins

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Rank #19: S2 Episode 9: Clearing The Air

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Is Jonnie Carter a suspect in Bethany's disappearance? If you look at media reports, one might think so.

A look into when the TBI became involved, who took polygraph tests, and what they found in Larry's van.

If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, no matter how small you think it is, call 1-800-THE-LOST

March 4 is Tennessee Missing Children's Day. Join Team SFG, #justiceforcayce and #teambethany in Lebanon Tennessee.

Tennessee Missing Children's Day Vigil

Feb 18 2018

21mins

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Rank #20: Ep.8: Mr. X

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Please support Searching For Ghosts by purchasing this four song EP.

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Jun 20 2017

25mins

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