Q & A with Nic Edwards from True Crime Garage
In 2017, I was invited to discuss the Melissa Witt case on the True Crime Garage podcast.
True Crime Garage is not only one of the most downloaded podcasts of the true crime genre, it's also one of the most respected. The hosts of the show, Nic and The Captain, captivate audiences with passionate storytelling techniques that showcase their journalistic and investigative skills.
The True Crime Garage podcast was a great experience and that effort renewed interest in Melissa Witt's case on a national level.
In fact, just yesterday some new information was sent in by a woman in Florida who recently listened to the podcast.
I've stayed in touch with Nic from True Crime Garage since the airing of the original podcast and I recently asked him if he would be willing to participate in the following Q & A:
(LaDonna) Q: When did you first learn about the Melissa Witt murder case and what were your first impressions?
(Nic) A: I first learned of Melissa’s case when True Crime Garage covered Gary Michael Hilton. We called Gary the National Forest Serial Killer. He is certainly a serial killer and Gary Hilton is currently serving out 4 life sentences in prison. In these two shows we covered Gary’s life and his crimes. He has killed four people that we are aware of. He likely has killed more. Gary as far as we know did not start killing until his 60’s. This makes him a very rare breed of serial killer. Most start killing in their mid to late 20’s. Some later of course but very rarely do they wait until they’re in their 60’s. Knowing this and knowing that Gary liked to hunt and/or dump victims in National Forests I went looking for victims of unsolved homicides that involved National Forests specifically in the south east of the good old U-S of A. Because Melissa was found in/near the Ozark National Forest and the case took place about a decade before Gary’s first known victim - I thought is this when and where Gary started killing? So we mentioned Melissa’s case as an aside in the Gary Hilton case. We did not really know much about Melissa’s case at the time but that would change when LaDonna and I started to talk. She is an expert on Melissa’s case and told me the full story.
Check out these True Crime Garage episodes: The National Forest Serial Killer - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episodes #77 & 78 (LaDonna) Q: Did your thoughts change after you covered the case for the True Crime Garage Podcast? (Thank you for that opportunity, by the way!) (Nic) A: Yes, my thoughts changed dramatically - really just because I didn’t know much about Melissa’s case. I never was saying that we liked Gary for Melissa’s murder just that there were some very small similarities that made us consider the possibility. This would mean he started killing in his 50’s which I think is likely. Gary is a potential suspect in the murder of Patrice Endres, maybe not the best suspect but a good one. In Melissa’s case there are two much better suspects and LaDonna discussed them with me on True Crime Garage at length. Theres a decent chance that LaDonna herself has spoke with Melissa’s killer. Check out these True Crime Garage episodes: Melissa Witt - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episodes #161 & 162 (LaDonna) Q: True Crime Garage covers an incredible amount of cases - are there any other cases that remind you of the Witt case? If so, which cases and why? (Nic) A: Unfortunately, yes! For unsolved cases my brain works in two ways making a connection to another case based off of victimology and the perpetrator’s method of operation and/or the geographical map that pops up in my mind - the proximity to other unsolved cases. A killer’s signature would be a much better indicator that two crimes might be connected however the signature is often a large part of the hold back information kept secret by the investigating agency. As civilians we do not know this information. Victimology & Perp M-O… Melissa’s case reminds me of so many other cases because again unfortunately this is not the only time that someone abducted a woman and killed her. This is just a gut feeling but I don’t think that there was a strong relationship between Melissa and her abductor. This person would not be easily connected to Melissa even by people that knew her quite well. There is also a chance that this was a stranger abduction. Geography… True Crime Garage has covered a lot of Arkansas cases. Again, unfortunately - Arkansas has a lot of interesting unsolved mysteries. Our first episode ever was titled The Phantom Killer which might be better known in those parts as the Texarkana Moonlight Murders. Later we covered a case in a four hour deep dive that many to this day still tell me - “that was your best work.” This is a case known as The Boys on the Tracks. Yes, I got the idea to cover this from Mara Levitt’s book with the same title. The title was genius and Mara is truly one of the very best true crime writers of all time. I read her book The Devil’s Knot years ago and she was such a talent that I decided I have to read every book she has. Boys on the Tracks is about the STILL unsolved murders of teenagers Don Ives and Kevin Henry in Mena Arkansas. The Devil’s Knot is about the STILL unsolved murders of three little boys in West Memphis Arkansas. Recently we covered the Morgan Nick missing person case from Arkansas.
Check out these True Crime Garage episodes: The Phantom Killer - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episodes - #1 The Boys on the Tracks - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episodes - #93, 94, 95 & 96 The West Memphis 3 - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episodes - #40, 41 & 42 The Forgotten West Memphis 3 - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episodes - #386 & 387 Morgan Nick - True Crime Garage - Podcast Episode - #361 (LaDonna) Q: What tips or advice do you have for me as I continue on this journey to find Justice for Melissa Witt? (Nic) A: You have done a fantastic job keeping this case alive and conducting your own investigation. I am very much looking forward to the Witt documentary that is coming out. With seeing how much effort and intelligence you have put into this case it is hard for me to offer any room for improvement. I think you have done a truly wonderful job. Some ideas I would suggest looking into…
What about a billboard campaign? A Wikipedia page? - It looks to me like one does not exist for Melissa. The Facebook page is great this is just another avenue. Also on that same thought - any database on the local, state and national level where her case may apply - I would reach out to the proper channels to get her case on those databases. Is her case on Vicap? Can we get it on there? Is there any unsolved or cold case databases that we could get her case on. Has the FBI been involved - would they consider it? The Vidocq society would be interesting as well. I would get a local (Arkansas) “expert” involved. This would be someone that is not necessarily an expert on this case but just an expert in a somehow related field. One person that comes to mind is George Jared - author and Arkansas crime expert.
Is there new technology that we can apply? I would see if the M-Vac system is something that could help here. The investigating agency would have to consent to this as well obviously but depending on what kind of physical evidence remains and is available there could be something there.
I would also circle the wagons back around one more time. This likely was done somewhat in the making of the documentary. This would be to see what people are willing to say now after 25 or so years that maybe they might not have been willing to say back then. The documentary will produce persons to come forward again or maybe even for the first time.
LaDonna: Thank you so much, Nic! Your input is incredibly valuable and I am already implementing one of the ideas. It's always an honor. Thank you for your time, talent, passion and ideas. I look forward to finding ways to work together in the future!