AP NEWS

Podcaster: ‘Hell and Gone’ returning soon with new episodes

March 25, 2019

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — The true-crime podcast investigating the unsolved murder of Rebekah Gould will return for a second season later this year, the podcast’s author said.

Catherine Townsend, a true-crime author, licensed private investigator and host of the “Hell and Gone” podcast focusing on Gould’s murder, said the series will return with new episodes in late May or June, The Baxter Bulletin reported.

“We’re getting closer. We ended (season one) by saying we are not stopping,” Townsend told the Mountain Home Rotary Club recently at its weekly meeting at Big Creek Golf & Country Club.

Rebekah Gould was last seen alive the morning of Sept. 20, 2004, at a Melbourne convenience store. According to reports, the 22-year-old had gone that weekend to visit friends in Guion, a small town south of Melbourne and failed to return to junior college in Fayetteville.

Gould had driven her boyfriend to work the morning she disappeared. When investigators searched the Guion residence Gould was staying at, they found her car, keys and purse, as well as a large amount of blood in various parts of the house.

Her body was found a week later off a 35-foot embankment beside AR Highway 9, about five miles west of Melbourne. The cause of death was ruled a single blow to her head. The case remains open and the State Police have never charged anyone with the murder.

“Hell and Gone” debuted last year with eight episodes and takes listeners through Townsend’s on-location murder investigation. The podcast covers several major theories in the case and includes interviews with suspects and round-table style discussions about the case with Townsend and her investigative team.

“We started by going through the case, finding witnesses and investigating every angle of this,” Townsend told the crowd of about 50 Rotarians and their guests. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve found witnesses that did not come forward before. We’ve learned a lot about what happened that day, but we still need help . We need to know what happened on Sept. 20, 2004, and we’re not going to stop until we have answers.”

Since debuting last fall, “Hell and Gone” has drawn strong reviews and made several best true-crime podcast lists. The show was mentioned on an episode of “Saturday Night Live” in a skit lampooning true-crime podcasts.

“It’s been an amazing response. There have been millions of people who have downloaded (the podcast) so far,” Townsend said. “I’ve had people calling me from the other Melbourne — not Melbourne, Arkansas, but Melbourne, Australia — so people are seeing this all over the world.”

The podcast is produced by School of Humans, an Atlanta-based production company, in partnership with iHeartMedia and HowStuffWorks.

“When you work on a lot of true-crime cases, usually within the first two or three minutes you can kind of summarize it and figure out the conclusion. This wasn’t like that,” Townsend said. “There were a lot of different people, and a lot of different suspects who could have done it and it would have made sense.”

Previously a writer based in New York, Los Angeles and London and now a licensed private investigator, Townsend has several Arkansas ties that initially drew her to the case. She grew up in Pine Bluff, and her sister went to high school with Gould’s younger sister in Mountain View. Townsend’s father is a deputy sheriff that lives in the Melbourne area.

“I believe this is a solvable case,” Townsend said. “There is compelling evidence that points to a motive, a reason why she was killed. There are new witnesses; I just spoke to someone yesterday that the police have never spoken to.”

As an open investigation, certain documents in the case are not open to public inspection. Townsend said she would like to see some sort of legislation that would allow greater access to open case files if there have not been any developments in the case after a certain amount of time.

“Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh set of eyes on things. Cold cases get solved every day because someone comes in with new information or new physical evidence or a witness no one knew about,” she said. “I totally understand that it’s complicated. If you open the files and let anyone look at it, it might compromise the prosecution of the case. I think you have to be very careful there. Maybe (the answer) is a review process; I think it should be done in cooperation with law enforcement, and I think it should be something that everyone looks at together.”

Townsend is employed by Discovery ID and splits time between New York City and northeastern Arkansas, she said. She plans to continue the Rebekah Gould investigation to its conclusion, she said.

“I’m not satisfied when people say, ‘Well, we kinda know who did it, and we don’t have enough evidence.’ That’s not a stopping point,” she said. “You find more evidence, you convict that person, or you admit you were wrong, but you don’t stop there.”

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Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com