May 4, 2023

From Mystery Inc: The Mystery at Airtight Bridge

From Mystery Inc: The Mystery at Airtight Bridge
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Jinkies! Welcome to the Mystery Inc podcast, where we unmask the truth behind the spookiest mysteries! 

In this episode, we're tackling the mystery at Airtight Bridge in Illinois. It's a place with a dark past, where strange things have been happening for decades. People have reported seeing ghostly figures walking along the bridge, strange noises, and even unexplainable accidents.

Taking us on this spooky adventure are brother hosts, Shane and Josh Waters. They're experts in all things mystery, and they're not afraid of a little paranormal. 

So grab your Scooby Snacks, turn off the lights, and join us on the Mystery Inc podcast. Who knows what we might find? Zoinks!

You can find Mystery Inc here:
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Mystery Inc 4/15 Draft === [00:00:00] Josh: Hello. Shane: You may have to switch chairs. Josh: We're tired. Shane: I know. And you have the absolute squeakiest chair known to humanity. This is what happens when we are. Stuck in a hotel. Yes. Josh is now switching over to, oh, is that on wheels? Josh: I think so, yeah. Shane: Oh, that's fun. Josh: In my own little corner, in my own little chair.[00:01:00] Shane: Josh is now sitting on a little booth thingy that's in our hotel. Josh: It's just a real little bitty, hang on. Ah, welcome back. Shane: There no squeaking. Yeah. Now sounds a lot better. Now, you may only hear in our room, our fridge is making a weird noise and we can't get to it to unplug it, Josh: This room is nicer. It's the same hotel chain, but this one looks Shane: yeah. Josh: completely different one. Shane: One, it has a lot of updates to it compared to our last one. Josh: No toilet Shane: And Mattoon. Yeah. And most importantly, as you mentioned, there's no toilet phone. Josh: That was the first thing I looked at when we got like, Shane: you know, this is one of the only hotel rooms I've ever had that actually has. a hand pump soap Josh: Yeah. Instead of just a little bar. Shane: Yeah. And it's not even a super nice hotel. It's just a normal holiday in Josh: Mm-hmm. Holiday in must be doing Shane: What? Well, evidently in [00:02:00] this area, Josh and I are in a hotel in Champaign urban Illinois, and this hotel is much nicer than the hotel we stayed at last night. For some reason, that hotel was severely lacking. Josh: Yeah. The hot tub was like, they had caution tape over the door, which, yeah, probably a blessing. You know, if we had gone down there, we'd probably have like staff Shane: Well, this morning at breakfast I noticed that they had, like, they were airing it out in there, the pool room. Josh: That ain't ever Shane: Yeah, I know. I was like, well, I don't know what happened in there. Josh: a candy bar in the pool. Shane: That's Josh: whenever I see 'em close down a pool, I'm like, oh, someone Shane: Mm-hmm. Or someone wasn't following all of the instructions. Josh: Like if you've had diarrhea within the last 24 to 48 hours, something like that. Don't get in the hot tub. Shane: Ugh. You know, my biggest thing when I stay at hotels is I love [00:03:00] going into the hot tubs in the pool, especially a good heated pool. However, I do not like to be in there if there are other people, Josh: No, especially kids. Yeah. No offense if you have 'em. I'm sure they're lovely, but not for me. Shane: me. Yeah. Especially if they're making noise, Josh: which they all always are. Shane: Yeah, I just like to have a nice relaxing time in the pool. But a lot of those rooms, they put that, they have those pools in, they're not huge rooms. And the kids and the people, the noises are always echoing. There's no type of sound dampening things on the walls. So it just gives me a quick headache and immediately I'm done with it and I just wanna go back to my room Josh: over it. Yeah. Well, and I think you've mentioned before that, like just all the kids and everything in general, It's Shane: mm-hmm. Yeah. Josh: The whole time the kids are Mom, mom, look, look, look. Mom, look. Yeah. And you're just like, shut up. Shane: Yeah. [00:04:00] I absolutely hate it. Josh: Bless their hearts. Right. Shane: So in the last episode, Josh and I, you heard from us, we were in Mao, Illinois. Josh: It'll be two weeks for you guys, just yesterday. For us, Shane: Yeah. We just left our hotel room earlier this morning and we drove over to Charleston, Illinois, which is just a quick drive. It was very, very quick actually, just right on the highway. That's cute. Josh: little town. Shane: Yeah. We drove over there and it was actually much, much quicker of a drive than what I imagined. We, we stopped and grabbed coffee on our way and before I could even drink it all, we were there. Josh: Yeah. Usually when I travel with you, like our destinations are at least a few hours in between each other, so you get like, you know, settled in and get your snacks and have a nice little drive. This time it's just like 20 minutes like, oh, we're here. Shane: Yeah. [00:05:00] We didn't even have to charge to be able to get to our location. I Josh: I was able to go with no bathroom break whatsoever. It was lovely. Shane: I know. So I'm sure you all are wondering what in the world type of mystery could be in Charleston, Illinois? That would draw the waters brothers over there. And we're gonna tell you, but first I'm gonna give you a little history of the area because you know, this might be a mystery podcast, but one of the things you're gonna take away from it is a nice history lesson because I love a good history lesson, Josh: I will say before you get started in that, just traveling in the mystery machine, if you ever want to make like road travel better, like get your car wrapped and a fun wrap because mm-hmm people drive by you and you just see their phones and, you know, just puts a smile on their faces. But then as we both said, when we were driving to our location today, They see the mystery machine. They [00:06:00] know what we're going to this known haunted area, and they're like, what are they doing? Well, Shane: And also it sticks out beyond just being a mystery machine because of it being a Tesla. That's very rare to see Teslas in areas, especially one that's wrapped as a mystery machine. So Josh: bright blue Shane: and it has a custom license plate that fits the theme of the mystery machine. I'm not gonna give everyone my license Josh: I was about ready to say don't say. Yeah. Shane: Yeah. But it definitely fits. So, uh, what's funny though is like whenever I'm driving around in the mystery machine, Tesla, a lot of people will want to film or take pictures. And normally if I'm stopped somewhere, people will come up and be like, do you care if I take my Josh: my this morning at Starbucks? Yeah. Shane: yeah. A lady did it this morning, Josh: sponsored, but gladly will. Shane: You right. Yeah. We would gladly take a sponsor from a coffee shop. It would save us a lot of money Josh: right? A lot. Shane: and [00:07:00] hotels. But anyway, one of my favorite things though is when people try to do it discreetly and you'll see them like pop up their phone. Like they'll be looking forward and you'll just see, like them pop their phone up, right at the bottom of the window as they drive by. And sometimes they'll drive by and then they'll slow down. And then they'll drive forward again on the, highway. And I'm like, okay dude, I know what you're doing. But then sometimes he's like, there I am. Very awkward and I don't know what to do. Cuz my back windows are, they have a cover on them too that says mystery machine. So you can see inside of the front two windows, but the back two windows you cannot see in. So because you can see. Josh: me, Shane: Whenever people take pictures or videos, I'm not really sure what to do with myself. Yeah. So there I am just sitting there. Or sometimes if I'm waiting for people Josh: pick my nose every time, every Shane: time. Well, when I was at the Rock Shop place, that wholesale place with [00:08:00] our audio engineer, like last week it was actually here in Illinois. They were taking hours, picking out rocks in this rock shop. Don't even get me started on this. Josh: Crystals and minerals and yeah, Shane calls 'em all rocks. So Shane: I had an hour's worth of it. I was done. So I went back out to the mystery machine and I started watching on Hulu in the car. The golden girls and people kept coming up cuz I parked right out front. So people who were going into the shop were taking pictures of the car. Little do they know, I'm inside watching the Golden Girls the entire time, Josh: they're like, do I hear the Golden Girl? Shane: Right. so yeah, so, so that happens all the time. people do the videos and the, and the things, but. I also will have people who will be with me in the car and you forget, and I know that you have this problem, but you forget a lot that the car's wrapped. Josh: flip 'em off or something because you know, they come up and you're like, what's their problem? Or they honk at you and you know, your road rage starts to come out. Like, how dare [00:09:00] they honk at us? Well, we weren't doing anything. And then you're like, oh no, they're smiling and waving. It's the Moery machine. Yeah. My favorite is when, it happened coming back from Gettysburg. A mom like sped up to keep up next to you on the highway and then roll down our window. She's like filming it, like, yeah. Yeah. You see her, like teenage daughters start to come up. She had her seat back down. Like, oh my God, mom, you're so embarrassing. But I'm like, I love it. Shane: When I was in Callenburg just a couple days ago when I was driving around Cade's Cove, I had stopped for a photo on one of the sites and there was a guy who pulled over behind me and he goes, I'm so glad you pulled over. I've been waiting for you to pull over. Do you care if I take a picture of your car? And I was like, yeah, I don't care. So it was just really funny. Josh: I'd mess with them. I'd be like, no, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. Shane: No, but yeah, sometimes if I'm in the car and they're filming and stuff, I'm just sitting there like in the driver's seat, Josh: like, Shane: just [00:10:00] trying to look forward and Josh: these front windows wrapped too. Shane: I just feel very awkward. Yeah. It's just, it's very funny. Josh: But that's been our travels and the mystery machine today Shane: Yeah. As Josh mentioned, when we go places, especially a place like Mattoon or Charleston, when the locals know about these mystery cases that are there. I'm sure they see the mystery machine, Tesla, and they know exactly why we are in town. So we are, searching around a cemetery looking for someone and the people who run the cemetery see us and they know who we're looking for. You know, Josh: I heard a guy at the coffee shop even, uh, on his way out, he was like, oh, there's the mystery machine. I wonder what they're here for. Shane: Yeah. So, as I mentioned, I'm gonna give a little history of the area, for Charleston, Illinois. The area was first inhabited by Native [00:11:00] Americans who lived here for thousands of years prior to European settlers arriving to the continent. Josh, I mentioned before that one of my favorite episodes of hometown history was, Going to interview the Cherokee Nation Yeah. In Cherokee, North Carolina. And in that, , interview with them the, guy that I interviewed. He mentions that he doesn't call these people European settlers. He calls them invaders. So, I when I was writing this, I thought European settlers slash invaders. Yes. One Josh: of. Podcast that I listened to. She's from, Eastern Asia and she calls them Colonial White Devils, so I love it. Shane: Is that the podcast you were on? Josh: Yeah, Shane: yeah. Yeah. Josh: I love it. Shane: So the area was ideal because there was a huge tall grass prairie on one side, and the other side was beach maple forests. And [00:12:00] then in between there were two rivers. This provided the Native Americans in the area access to a variety of resource. In that area, you'll find creeks today named to mark the sites of where those Native American settlements were. Like the Kickapoo Creek. Josh: Okay. Shane: Yeah. I also did notice when I was looking on the map at the different creek names, one of those creek names was Indian Creek, and I was just like, well, they must not have been able to find the name of the Native American tribe or something. Hell plain. when European settlers started moving into the area, they lived somewhat peacefully with the native people, but that changed in the 1810s and the 1820s when poorly documented skirmishes started occurring between the two of them, things were getting really uneasy and intense from then on until all natives were expelled by law from Illinois after [00:13:00] the 1832 Black Hawk War, and by the 1840s, all natives were gone from the. Josh: Did gravy. Yeah. Jesus. Shane: Jesus. The Black Hawk War was a war that was fought with the Native American people. Okay. Yeah, charleston was named for Charles Morton and he was their first postmaster. Josh: Hmm. Shane: The city was established in 1831, and it was incorporated in 1865. Josh: They really honored their mailman. Shane: I know, that's what I thought too. I was like, and it's well-documented. The person who first settled the area and they didn't need him. After him, it Josh: Right. Shane: the postman, Josh: Screw that guy that this guy brought me my mail. Right. That Shane: That's more important. He brought me the mayor, which, you know, well, Josh: that'd be like, that was like their internet back then. Mm-hmm. So, I mean, yeah. I, I can see [00:14:00] that. Shane: Right. I have a really big fascination with the history of Abraham Lincoln and I did a history episode with, Lincoln's boyhood home in southern Indiana recently. So when I, discovered this, When I was looking at the history of the area, it was really fascinating, so I wanted to include it as well. But Abraham Lincoln's father moved into a farm out in the country, just outside of Charleston, Just south of the city. Josh: Good gravy. You're fa you're just following his footsteps. Shane: One of the famous Lincoln Douglas debates was actually held here in Charleston on September 18th, 1858 this was when Lincoln was running for Senator to represent Illinois. The debate was against the current incumbent Senator. Lincoln lasso visited the area in 1859 when he visited his stepmother and his father's [00:15:00] grave. Just a little side note, as of 2020, the census showed that there were over 17,000 residents in Charleston. However, though, in 1980, there were 19,000 people, so 2000 more people, , resided in the area. Mm-hmm. Between 2010 and 2020, I thought this was an important thing to notice or to note. They lost 20% of their population for some reason. I'm not sure. Josh: Hmm. Maybe like a important job closed down or Shane: very possible. Things may have changed and people may have started going into the larger cities. Effingham is just south of Charleston, and where our hotel is for tonight is just north. And that's Champaign and urban. Josh: Yeah. Either [00:16:00] a, a great move off or a great die off, one or the other. Shane: Right. And Josh, I'll let you go ahead and take over our trip to where this mystery happened. Josh: righty. Today we are going to a bridge called Airtight Bridge, and it is located in a small village called Ashmore, which is in here in Coles County. And we are eight miles north of Charleston and it was built in 19. Even the bridge's name airtight, which locals say was given to the bridge because of the unnatural stillness encountered while crossing. It pays homage to the seemingly spectral forces at play. Well. On October 19th, 1980, the body of a woman was discovered by the bridge without its head, feet, and hands. Two fishermen and eventually a farmer were the first to find her body, and it was found around 50 feet from the bridge. That was the day that retired Coles County [00:17:00] Sheriff, Darrell Cox says that he will never forget a quote from, Shane: him. Josh: I spent 36 years in law enforcement and I never saw anything like it before or after. He was the officer who responded to the call when the body was reported. With it being around Halloween though, he initially thought the call was just a prank. Shane: prank. It was just her torso that was found, right? Josh: Yes. Her head, feet, and hands were all cut off. Shane: Mm-hmm. Josh: All they knew was it was a woman. A further quote from him. I got here and two of my friends were on the bridge and I recall them mentioning, well, where's everyone at? He said, I said, oh, come on. This is probably a joke. And I walked down to the bank where what I thought wasn't a body, obviously at that point, and I got close enough and discovered that it was, I remembered looking up at them and saying, yeah, you're. I'm [00:18:00] gonna need some assistance. At first they thought it might have been someone local because this is a remote area, and whoever dumped that body had to have had some knowledge of where airtight was. Furthering the quote from Cox, obviously we thought it might have been someone local because this is a remote area and whoever dumped that body had to have had some knowledge of where airtight was. But that turned out not to be the case. The body belonged to Diana Small and was found four days after she last left her home in Kaki, Illinois. She had recently gotten into a fight with her husband, Thomas Small, on October 15th, 1980. He said that things became heated and he hit her in the head several times with a metal coal poker, which was later disposed of in a quarry. He said at first he placed her body in the attic of their home for a few days until it began to.[00:19:00] Shane: until he Josh: took his wife's body and put it in the trunk of his car and drove down US Route 45 until he came to the Embarrassed River in Coles County. Once he found the right secluded spot, he proceeded then to cut off her hands, feet, and head, and threw them and her body into the. All the while the couple's two year old daughter was in the car the entire time. Shane: entire, there Josh: were scuba divers that did go, searching for the remains of like her head and feet and just anything else besides her body. I think they've done that several times, but nothing's ever been found from their attempts. Shane: Did he say that he threw them in the river also? Yes. Josh: I could not find out if exactly he, the bridge is where he took her and dumped the body, or if it was down river and she just washed down the river and the bridge is where they found her. I couldn't, there wasn't any details on that part. Mm-hmm. [00:20:00] Thomas claims that the location where he dumped her body was completely random. He said that he had no prior knowledge of the area or even knew that the bridge was even there. Shane: The way that they talk about it, it honestly makes me think that he did go to the bridge and dump her body. Josh: Right? I mean, Shane: that was what Josh: even a bridge, like it gives you a spot to. Yeah, Shane: Well, the, in the way that the detectives talk about during his trial, when he does his confession, , it just makes me think that how he confesses it's that he goes to the bridge to dispose of the body. Right? Josh: and October's not generally known and in this area, the country to be. Heavily rainy area and the river, I mean mm-hmm. It's not a huge deep area right there, so it's not like it's, you know, just constantly flowing. Sure. It would've been quite low, so my guess is that the bridge is where he dumped her, but I could not find out to verify that for sure. Shane: Mm-hmm. Right. Josh: Even on our [00:21:00] drive to the bridge, it gave us both the vibes that, you know, oh, if I wanted to get rid of a body, this is the way I would go. It was very rural with a gravel road and nothing but fields and forest. If we didn't know the bridge was back there, it almost feels as if you're driving along. Someone's like long driveway, like private property. Shane: Yeah. Josh: the road is very curvy. You don't even see the bridge until you're like right there in front of it. Like you would have no idea that it was there. It just seems to me that that's odd, that he would just happen to stumble across. Shane: Well, and when we approached it, we approached it coming from Charleston and that would've been approaching it from the south. Okay. So knowing from their home, which would've been from the north, cuz they lived up closer to Chicago Josh: and he came down 45. Shane: Yeah. So he probably approached it from the north and that's how we [00:22:00] left. Josh: Okay. Shane: So that would've even been. A more random chance. It was a lot to me Josh: of a route. That way too. The, after we've left the, Shane: I was, I, it's just hard for me to imagine that he just randomly came across that area. Right. Josh: I try to put myself in like, what would go be going through his Shane: now, see. If it was modern time, like this is 1980. If it happened now, I would say, oh, he was using Google Maps and he looked for a good location that was secluded where there was a bridge, and he thought no one, frequented the area. Josh: a Rand McNally, Shane: Maybe, but he didn't. If, if he's he's doing all this confession, why would he lie about that one small piece? Right. You know? And maybe he did, but, Josh: it's just a, an odd luck. Yeah. Shane: Yeah. Josh: A, A killer. Shane: Yeah, it was just very, very strange. Josh and I have pictures of us driving [00:23:00] out there too, so we'll make sure that we're posting them on social media. A Josh: on Instagram. Yeah. But yeah, it's just driving out there. You're like, how the hell did he, we even said going there like, oh, he must have grown up in the area or like, had been here swimming before. Shane: Well in, in Charleston there is a university. So I thought, well, maybe he has gone to the university. He had a friend or family member. So I thought maybe there was that type of connection where, you know, there was some type of visiting to the university and that's why he knew of the river that went through the area. Josh: Well, and I read that the bridge was, a popular swimming area Yeah. For the area. Shane: It's really old. I mean, it's been there for a long time, Josh: So, yeah, Shane: I mean, I drove over and it like creep. Josh: walked over it about halfway through. I was like, they do say this bridge is haunted and my, butt is up here walking on it. Shane: So you guys have to imagine as we started driving closer to the bridge in the middle of [00:24:00] nowhere, there's no houses or anything Josh: creaking. Shane: Well, there was that car that randomly came by and they looked at us and they knew exactly why we were there. There's the extreme Josh: the mystery machine head to the haunted bridge. Well, back to the case. Diana Smalls was 26 at the time of her death and had a two-year-old daughter named Vanessa, as I mentioned, was in the car while her mother was thrown into the river. Diana's husband didn't file a missing report immediately for apparent reasons. He said that she often would leave when they would fight and stay with family for a few days, so he didn't think anything of it when she didn't return home, but he knew. One of her seven siblings did shortly after file a missing person report, but nothing came of the first one. It didn't seem that the rest of her family pressed on the matter until 1992 when her sister Virginia filed a missing person report with the national database of missing persons Why did she wait so [00:25:00] long? You might be thinking cuz this was over 10 years after her sister had gone missing. Well, Diana's sister, Virginia and her mother were out west somewhere in a religious cult and had no contact with the rest of the family for the better part of a decade. It wasn't until Virginia's sister left the cult and moved. To civilization, I should say. Shane: think, Josh: Mm-hmm. And she, sought out contact with the family and, oh, no one's talked to our other sister Diana for a decade. No. Maybe I should file a report. Yeah. Shane: It's probably also one of those scenarios where everyone assumes that a report was already filed, that someone else already did it. Right. You know, like how they teach you if you are in an emergency situation. You don't just say someone call 9 1 1. You need to point to someone and say, you call 9 1 Josh: Yes. Shane: Or everyone's gonna, yeah, everyone will just [00:26:00] assume that someone's gonna call 9 1 1 everyone. And I feel like that would probably be the same scenario that everyone. Understands is under the same assumption that no one has seen her for so long. But everyone also believes that they've talked to the police and Josh: they're on it. Shane: yeah, I'm sure that the police did a missing person's thing and you know that they did what they needed to do and I think normal people don't know the certain things. Detectives do to put, missing people on those certain databases that there are. So, I wouldn't put fault on the family members for doing that whatsoever. Josh: No, I wouldn't either. Shane: I wonder what cult it was. Josh: I'm not sure. I couldn't find out. I just said a, a religious, I'm using the word cult. They said like a religious community. But we all a religious community out west where you can't talk to your family [00:27:00] for a decade. That was a cult. Honey. Honey, that's a cult. Shane: we have to give up all your money. And there's one man who runs Josh: right. No deodorant, Uhuh, you know they ain't washing their hands after the bathroom. Shane: Well, we know all about them colts cuz in our part of Indiana where we grew up in near, uh, Mune, uh, not far from there, is Lynn Indiana, which is where, Jim Jones was born. Josh: Yeah. Oh, Hoosiers, Shane: Yeah. Josh: you either good or you bad. Shane: Yeah. And if you think, I've never been to Lynn, Indiana. You are Josh: drove? Shane: That's that really tiny town. Yeah, he was actually born in the micro town, right next door. But it's a super tiny town. Like there's probably like four homes in Josh: Oh yeah. both you and I thought it was like the yellow house, I think. Mm-hmm. You were like, that one's giving me the Shane: Yeah, the Josh: heebies. Yeah. Shane: but then he moved into Lynn, which is next door. Slightly bigger town, but it's not very big at all. There's a [00:28:00] Dollar General, but that's it. Yeah. And a little bitty water tower. Josh: Well, not long after her sister Virginia called in and reported her missing. Investigators got a hit off of Diana's details that matched that of a Jane Doe found at the Airtight Bridge. They were then able to collect DNA samples from Diana's parents and her identity was finally confirmed even after the family chose to keep her body at Charleston's Mound Cemetery. For reasons unknown, maybe her body's at peace in the ground. We don't want to disturb her, Shane: It could be a financial reason too. It's very expensive to bury people. Anyone who has gone through that loss knows of the expense, right? And then you also have taken into account that her husband is now going to be going to prison for murdering her. So normally in that scenario, it's supposed to be her [00:29:00] husband who is now supposed to be the one that figures out the financials, in order to pay for those arrangements. So, you know, I can definitely see not wanting to bother her and if she's at rest, , and if people were nice enough , and were able to, provide her that resting place, maybe that had something to do with it too. Josh: Well, and uh, also, she's passed away so she doesn't care. It gets people to come visit her at her resting place. I Shane: Mm-hmm. Josh: we, we got us there. Shane: Yeah. We paid our respects. Yeah. And also we will mention that she was a Jane Doe for a while, and so her stone did reflect that it did have her unknown status on it for a long time until she was identified. Josh: after 1992. So over a decade it had Jane Doe. Shane: Yeah. So they were able to update her stone with her name and all of that information after she was identified. Josh: I will say a fun fact that I learned. [00:30:00] While researching for this is that in 1984 there was a false confession by serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who claimed that she was one of the hundreds of women he had murdered in a similar way. Hang on. I said Serial in my Siri came up on my computer. Mm-hmm. Shane: what issues do you have with your Geez, Josh: Today, the bridge is easy to get to, but the seclusion you feel in the drive only increases the eerie factor. Once you get there, you drive down the windy gravel road hidden between trees and random doomsday prepper looking camping areas. Shane: kidding. Josh: When you finally see it, knowing that Diana's body was found in such a horrible way, it honestly almost brings a tear to your eye. Mm-hmm. But yeah, on your drive there, you, if you ever are in the area and drive there, if you get to a hand painted, hand spray painted camouflaged camper, and it looks like. Walking dead doomsday prepper camp. You're [00:31:00] almost there. Right? Shane: so on March 2nd, 2017, that's when her husband Thomas, a small, pleaded guilty to first degree murder. He was 70 years old when he was arrested for her murder. His home at the time was in, I'm going to mispronounce this name. I'm gonna call it Can Kaki. Josh: Kaki. Shane: He was 70 years old, living in Kaki, Illinois. And I looked up on the map how far away that is from the bridge. It's 125 miles, two hours. Josh: south. Shane: It would take him to get to Charleston at, to the airtight bridge? Yeah. The town that they were living in is just south of Chicago, Josh: Like her husband drove a while with her in the car. Mm-hmm. And his daughter. Shane: Yeah. And that is important to me because of a statement that he made that I'll talk about in just [00:32:00] a moment. But I thought it was also telling that when the detective showed up to his house to arrest him, , he said to them that he knew the day would come when he would be charged with a murder. I thought that was interesting. Josh: Yeah, I, I read that when he finally confessed. It was like with a sense of relief Shane: Yeah. When interviewed in 1992, the sheriff said that small came close to confessing. However, he did not do it back then. Josh: Yeah. They believed it was him the whole time, but they just didn't have anything to Shane: to pin it on him? Yeah. He confessed to murdering his wife. Dismembering, her body, then disposing of her remains in Coles County. As Josh mentioned, Coles County is the county that Charleston is in, and it's the same county that I had mentioned that, Lincoln's dad, is also buried in just south. Smalls ended up getting sentenced to 30 years for her murder, [00:33:00] which I didn't think that was. Does seem, it seems, Josh: 70, I mean, that's a death sentence. That's true. Shane: But I mean, it was such a absolutely horrible, right. Murder. That's the thing is like the, just the extent of it is crazy to me. Murder. Josh: and mutilation 30 years that don't add up Shane: During his confession? I just wanted to go over one more time because I thought it was really important and I wanted to go over it because of something I wanna say about it, of just an opinion I wanted to give. So Smalls said that he murdered her during an argument that they were having in their home at the time they were living in Bradley, Illinois. And the argument had happened on October 15th, Josh: 1980. Mm-hmm. Four days before she was found. Shane: Mm-hmm. Small had confessed that he hit Diana in the head several times with a cold poker. He then threw the coal poker [00:34:00] in Bird Park, Corey. It was never located by divers, which. I highlighted because I thought that was interesting. He then put her body in a blanket and put her in the attic. After two days, the body started to smell, so we placed it in his vehicle and started driving south on us. Route 45. He stopped at the river that we're talking about in Coles. Josh: County Shane: At the river, He cut off her head, feet and hands and then threw her torso into the river. And as Josh mentioned, if the daughter is inside the car and there is that smell already, in my mind, I just, In no scenario could I imagine like that a loved one would go through the process of dismembering [00:35:00] someone, Josh: Right. You Shane: know? Okay. If he confesses that, he flipped out and hit her with a poker, it was an accident. You call the police, right? You don't then Josh: to cover it up Shane: Well, and then you cover it up. But then he goes to the extent of this extreme right, dismembering, so, Josh: is, is, and that shows he's having like, you know, Shane: know, Josh: Sound, not sound of mine. Cause obviously he's cutting someone's freaking head off. Right. But you know, that means he's thinking enough to where he's like, okay, you know, I, Shane: oh, it's over several Josh: I gotta hide it, I gotta do this. Like he's came up with this plan probably. Shane: Yeah. It's just is very, to me, out of character of someone who did something, as he says, as an accident, Josh: couldn't find anything about his life prior to this. Like if he was in the military or, you know, I [00:36:00] couldn't find Shane: well, bless his heart. You can find a picture of him. Yeah. Josh: I don't think he had the, the vision to view in the military. Shane: Bless him. Josh: You can look around the corner looking straight ahead. Bless his heart. Shane: Well, and Josh: I ain't making fun. I'm just describing Shane: Yeah, just describe her. You sound like her grandma. I'm not making fun. I'm just Josh: painting a picture. Shane: Uhhuh. No, but seriously, when you look at a photo of him, it does make me feel like Josh: he Shane: may not be all there and that makes me wonder if maybe he, which you quit laughing. I'm trying to think of how to make this sound Josh: You said he may not be there. Shane: No, he may not be all there. Josh: first thing that I thought was he's over there where he is looking. Shane: Oh my gosh. Good God, please don't cancel us for Josh's inappropriate comments. Hey,[00:37:00] Josh: I am not making fun. I'm just, Shane: and if he wouldn't do horrible things to people, then we Josh: make fun of them. You know, there's not many people we can make fun of these days, but I feel like a white, cis straight murderer is one of them. Like, let me, we, everybody, anybody, if you're feeling bad about yourself, let's make fun of these people. Right? Shane: but I did feel like, I don't know, there was just some inconsistencies and I don't know if maybe he was being dishonest about, it was an accident and maybe he does have some anger issues. And it was way more than just, it was in the spur of the moment type of thing. And that's, why I feel like there's more to the story, Josh: right. Shane: but I just can't, the, the idea of someone accidentally hitting someone with a poker and then going through the extreme over several days of dismembering and then disposing. Like [00:38:00] dismembering Right. Is is, it's just so weird to me. Josh: I mean, just in my experience growing up, I've killed like ducks and chickens and, you know, having to dismember a dead duck and, you know, cut its head off like that. I had to. Pause for a few minutes and make, you know, like just, just do it. Just do it. And it was a duck. Shane: I can't even eat meat on a bone. Right. Josh: right. And these people are doing it to, you know, I mean, he was just married to this woman and, uh, days before they were married together. Right. Shane: on now. Josh: on the car. Shane: I tell you though, as you were describing, that only her torso was found and that, , he had cutting off her hands, feet, and head. as an aside, complete aside, do you remember when I used to do that to your Barbies when we were growing? Josh: And Eat. Eat my Chapstick. I ain't bitter though. Shane: Hey, now Josh: you [00:39:00] remember that I'd go to use my Cherry Chapstick and I w you know, I've always been a queer child. I was a queer child, queer as hell. I couldn't use lipstick cuz I was a little boy and so I would always use Chapstick cuz that was my like, oh, I'm a girl too. I gotta use lipstick. And I'd go to use it and Shane wouldn't use it, but he'd roll it up and eat it. Do the Shane: Why it? It was delicious. I didn't like to use that on my lips, but I taste it good. Josh: I'd go to put it on, there'd be two teeth marks in it and we're like, were you quitting? It's my lipstick. Shane: there was, Josh went with my grandma one time and I, I have such a good memory of this. Well, he went with my grandma one day. I don't remember where you guys went. But anyway, they were gone for a while and I had a couple toys that I was playing with and they were X-men. I remember that. And I was playing over by the fire we had. Josh: uh, the fire Shane: Afar. Yeah. As my grandma Josh: called, we grew up with a wood burning stove. Mm-hmm. Shane: [00:40:00] And it had like, rocks around it and stuff. So I would play with my X-Men around it. And Josh had these Barbies and horses. Well as in every X-Men. Josh: they didn't know Shane: Right? and as with every X-Men movie that you've seen, there's always a damn zone Josh: distress. Oh yeah. Shane: So I had to go borrow one of Josh's Barbies for my damn zone distress. So I went and picked out the prettiest barbie cuz it was always the prettiest girl in the movies. And I was, we were really young, like, this wasn't like last year or something. Josh: And I kept, like, I wasn't one of them kids that drew on my Barbies. I like brushed their hair and braided it and Shane: Well, and I pulled out his prettiest little Barbie and unfortunately, Cyclops. Had a little uncontrollable accident with his eyes Josh: I ain't Shane: and she was, uh, had had an accident so Josh: a little crispy, Shane: well, she, lost her parts Josh: Mm-hmm. Shane: and [00:41:00] so we had a little funeral for her Josh: that was traumatic enough. And these people do it to real well. Used to be real life people. Mm-hmm. Shane: So I, yeah, dismembered Josh's Barbie. And so Josh comes home and he, I didn't tell him, but he saw that his Barbie, I swear, like he was, he went like straight to his room and. Josh: when anything's been Shane: Yeah. And he saw that his Barbie was missing and he's like, I don't remember what that Barbie's name was, but he's like, where's Susie? And I was like, she died. Josh: Where's Empress? Buttercup? She did. Shane: she died. And he's like, where is she? And I was like, she's buried by the tree at behind the house. Josh: I think the most scarring thing that happened to us as kids that I can remember. As like little was when we, you remember when we had hamsters? Mm-hmm. And I had a little tiny teddy bear ham or a little dwarf hamster, and he had a [00:42:00] teddy bear hamster, which was like twice the size of mine. And we came home from school one day and my little tiny hamster had eaten the face off of his hamster. And we were like, oh, he is sleeping. And then we look closely. Yours is dead without his face. And neither one of like, we didn't wanna sleep in that room like we were, like we were done with hamsters. We're like, I ain't touching. It. Eats Uhuh Shane: And that was the last pet Shane Josh: ever. I have dogs and fishes and chickens at a couple points Shane: Now I see this is what happens when we get off track. I forget where we were. Hmm. Josh: Oh, he had dismembered her body. Shane: yeah. Cause that's why we were talking about the Barbie. So another thing that I wrote down during the trial, he was represented by a public defender, the public defender mentioned after the trial that his crime had been weighing on him for a long time. [00:43:00] So he was ready to admit it, and then the prosecutor said, obviously he got away with this for a long time. But with the sentence today, he is not going to see the light of day. My heart goes out to the victim and her family, and then the victim's daughter said she never imagined her dad could have murdered her mom. Then she's quoted as saying, he never gave me a reason to suspect him. I love him for raising me, but I hate him for taking my mom. People who know me understand. I thought that was very interesting. And, you know, I can't blame her for that because, first of all, I can't imagine being in her shoes, unfortunately his decision and his actions put her in a bad situation where he stole her mom from her and. He also took away her dad. Josh: Exactly. Shane: I definitely get that. In one of my [00:44:00] early, podcast interviews I did for foul play, a long time ago, I was interviewing the sister of a murder victim, and it was an unsolved case Josh: and Shane: and we were talking inside. Subway Josh: actually, Shane: oddly enough, we were talking about a lot of things and she said, one of the hardest things I think , that would happen if this case is solved, will be watching the suspect's family have to go through what we went through when we learned that our loved one was ripped away from. Josh: Mm-hmm. Shane: Because it will rip their loved one away from them. Yes, they can go see them or talk to them in prison, but it's not going to be the same. No. You know, their actions not just ripped away their loved one from them, but their actions will rip them from their loved ones. That comment has always stuck with me that there's. Josh: always Shane: Much more, [00:45:00] uh, beyond just the action that took place that day. Josh: I'm trying to think of the word. Shane: a domino effect. Josh: Yeah, I was, I was, I was literally about re say like a ripple effect. It, one act of murder, how it has impacts on so many lives outside of it. And for not just that one generation for generations to come. Yeah. Shane: Yeah. Well, you could also look at it like this, that we would never have gone to that town if his action that day didn't happen, and over Josh: over 40 years later. Shane: Yeah. And then now you at home are listening to us tell a story about us visiting the town where he did this horrible deed and. Dumped her remains in a river just because he tried to get away with it. Josh: I do have just one more quote. Shane: yeah, Josh: It is from Chief Deputy Tyler Helene, who was one of [00:46:00] the investigators who worked on the case, one of the ones who got small to confess to the murder 37 years later. He said that solving this case was one of the highlights of his career because he could bring the family closure. Justice was done. He's paying for his crime. He said the family has got closure and so does the community. We know that it wasn't someone that lives here in Coles County or someone local that committed a murder, so that's something I didn't even think about. The locals, that whole time like, oh my God, anybody in our town who, some, anybody could be a, a killer, a murderer. I didn't think about like the breath of fresh air that even the locals in the town, and, this was just, when was he arrested? 2017. Shane: Yeah. March 2nd, 2017. Josh: Yeah. So, I mean, this was just a few years ago that they were finally able to be like, oh, okay. Whew, we can let the put kids play outside now again. Shane: And it's also really [00:47:00] important because at the time, all the locals seemed to think that it had to be a local that did it just because of where the bridge was. That seemed to be, a place that only locals would've been able to know about. Right. And I mean, I, we could vouch for that because, Us driving through the area would've never Josh: no. Shane: mind looked for it. Josh: so rural, even like if I didn't know that was the way, if I were driving out that way and it turned from a paved road to a smaller gravel road, I'd be like, oh, ain't going that way. Oh, Shane: I don't go on gravel roads Josh: down that way that I need. I've seen deliverance. I don't need a. The hills have eyes and I have two legs going this way, you know? Shane: They're conjuring. No Josh: Uh uh. No, I'm not one of those, you know, nosy like, oh, let me go explore this. I've seen too many horror movies. Nope. Uhuh, if it's questionable, bye. Right. Meet me Pew, my [00:48:00] friends. Call me the road runner. Alright. Shane: No, I'm exactly with you. Same thing. Well, Josh, we could go ahead and start the unmasked episode. Josh: Yeah, everybody. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Mystery Inc. Shane: Yeah. If you guys enjoy the podcast, make sure you leave a review on Apple Podcast or by leaving a rating on Spotify. Josh: On our next episode, we will be back at the studio and bringing you two more mysterious cases. Shane: All right. Well, let's go ahead and start the unmasked. Josh: Bye. [00:49:00]