The first thing I do when I roll over in bed the next morning is grab my phone and check Reddit. I uploaded my first podcast episode with the edited interview with Brandon McDonal last night, and I’m curious to see the response. Already there are several threads, and I grin as I settle in to read.
Topic: Dead Air Episode 4: The Castle on the Cumberland
FUKU: so, tonight’s podcast. discuss.
CerealFan: Well, I guess it just comes down to Brandon—whether you believe him or not. It’s hard to understand why someone would fake a confession like that.
PodEsq: You’d be surprised, Cereal. According to the Innocence Project, “approximately 25% of convicted criminals ultimately exonerated had, in fact, confessed to the crime.”
CerealFan: Yeah, Pod, but how many of them recanted their confession? I’m guessing all of them if they were exonerated. That’s the thing with Brandon—he seems pretty adamant that he’s the one who killed Peg. He’s still saying he did it 18 years later. Why lie then and why keep lying now?
FUKU: cause of the huge payout his family got. duh.
ScholarDud: First, there’s still no proof that there was a payoff. We only know that his family now appears to have money when they didn’t before. Second, even if there was a payoff, it doesn’t necessarily mean he lied about his confession. Maybe Brandon did it and Peg’s family paid him to plead guilty rather than drag everyone through a big public trial.
Besides, there’s something else to consider: Who else could have done it? Mackenzie laid out pretty strong evidence of the dad’s alibi. And that doesn’t leave a whole lot of other suspects.
CerealFan: Don’t forget about Cox. His horse Socrates won the Derby the year Peg was killed, and he was always trash-talking her.
FUKU: so you’re saying cox killed peg so that her horse would be sad and lose the race? that’s some scooby doo level shit right there.
CerealFan: I’m just saying he’s worth checking out is all.
FUKU: get on it mackenzie!
I pull up the contact info for Curtis Cox at Irongate Farm and try giving him a call again. For what feels like the millionth time I get the voicemail of the house manager. I leave yet another message and hang up. Until he calls me back, I’m at a standstill as far as Cox is concerned.
In fact, I feel like I’m at a standstill with the entire investigation. I thought interviewing Brandon would be a huge help, but it’s only left me more confused. One minute I’m positive he’s telling the truth about his guilt and the next I’m convinced he’s lying.
But if he’s lying, why? That’s the wall I keep banging my head against. I still haven’t come up with a good reason for him to throw his life away. Sure, his family ended up with a ton of money, but there’s no guarantee it came from any kind of payoff, and life behind bars is a high price to pay.
So if Brandon didn’t murder Peg, that means someone else did. But who? Brandon confessed so quickly that the police didn’t have time to dig up any other suspects.
I’m at a loss as to who or what to investigate next. Except fans are going to be expecting another podcast in a week, which means I need to come up with content.
Frustrated, I click to the next topic, hoping for some inspiration. It’s a poll:
Topic: Who Killed Peg Graham?
Brandon McDonal: 61%
Dick Carlisle: 20%
Ryan Graham-Carlisle (Peg’s son): 1%
Camila (the nanny): 3%
Curtis Cox, Irongate Farm: 6%
A stranger: 3%
Someone else Peg knew: 4%
A horse of course: 2%
I chuckle at the one percent to Ryan, who was three at the time, and the two percent to one of Peg’s horses. I can’t picture either one of them wielding a firearm very effectively. But it just goes to show that even Redditors are having a hard time coming up with additional suspects.
Then I notice the number of respondents to the poll and almost choke. It’s well over a thousand. Immediately, I pull up my podcast app and check the stats on my latest episode. It’s been listened to almost five thousand times. In less than twelve hours.
I refresh the page—twice—just to make sure it’s real. It is. I jump out of bed, dancing around my room in celebration. I can’t believe it! I swipe to my contact list, excited to share the news, but my finger hovers over the screen.
Who can I really tell? The first person I always called with good news was Delilah, but she’s gone. My parents don’t know about the podcast, and neither does my roommate, Kara, who’s probably still asleep anyway.
The only person who really knows about the podcast and would understand is Ryan.
Right. Ryan. My stomach sours. After last night, I have absolutely no idea what to think about him. I slump back onto the bed. Seeing him at the bar surrounded by all...