The Final Suspects
A Bone to Pick is the seventh "episode" in this series of podcasts (actually eight so far plus a short teaser), and it is finally the first podcast with audio from the actual investigation underway into further testing of the DNA of what are claimed to be Lou Smit's top-ten list of suspects.  The subject of that audio is the visit by Doug Longhini and Jameson to Rick Gardiner (Sp?) who was a cook and "salad man" at Pasta Jay's restaurant in Boulder.  It was wonderful to  hear this audio; it provides valuable insight into how the request of a subject's DNA and its subsequent collection can go down, as well as provide assurance that this is being carried out in a professional manner, as professional as can be done by private citizens.  Like Jameson, I am skeptical that this particular individual will turn out to be the contributor of any DNA from the crime scene, but like many others, I've felt for years that this is the kind of effort most likely to succeed in identifying the killer, especially compared to the failures of BPD, the FBI, and the celebrity ciminalists so far.  The only problem is correctly prioritizing which rocks should be turned over first.  This is where a theory of the crime can help.  I personally see this crime more about ego than anything else, with revenge being only a secondary or tertiary motive, and money from publicity being a more likely motive than revenge per se. I also see any sexual assault as adding to the notoriety rather than as an end in itself.  But everyone has their own prioritization, and Lou Smit's is probably as good as one can hope for.  This latest episode is the kind of podcast I've been expecting since the preview episode.

One odd thing about the audio was that Rick Gardiner and John Kenady not only sound similar, but speak in a similar rather unusual manner.  If I didn't know better, I'd swear that the same actor was playing both roles.  It probably actually has a lot to do with Boulder and its culture, itself a kind of American counter-culture that is becoming more and more popular.
Confronting the Hendersons is the "eighth" episode (actually nine plus teaser) of this series of podcasts.  Here again are interesting audio clips from inside this investigation as well as background information about convicted embezzler  Sandra Henderson, her ex-husband, and two stepsons.  Although it does seem a bit of a stretch to include the Hendersons, it's possible that Lou Smit did not have them listed as high-priority suspects.  The actual order of Lou's priority does not seem to be available to these investigators.
In the first half of the "ninth" episode, Pam Griffin, Paula Woodward, and Stephen Singular discusss a bit of the pageant scene in Boulder.  Singular suggests, as he often has, that perhaps the killer was from the world of child beauty pageants.  This is all old news.  The second half of this episode dealth with John Eustace, a convicted child killer and pedophile from North Carolina.  Although an interesting but quite demented portrait is provided, it is very unlikely that Eustace was involved in the death of JonBenét.  This episode does not seem to progress the case at all.  To be quite frank about it,  I am beginning to wonder whether or not the suspects in this entire series of podcasts actually are Lou Smit's top ten suspects.  No doubt they were listed in his spreadsheet, but at the very top of it?  Smit is on record saying that he believed that the killer was a sadistic pedophile.  Eustace is one, but he was almost certainly in North Carolina at the time.  A number of the suspects so far discussed in this series of podcasts are not sadistic pedophiles as far as we know.  It's as if this were Smit's list after some unexplained culling was done.
In the "tenth" episode, Predators, John Mark Karr is discussed at first.  Apparently there are still people who are unconvinced that Karr has been looked at thoroughly enough, and in this episode, Laurie Simpson is given a lot of time to present her views on why Karr should still be considered a serious supect.  Unfortunately, claims of this type involving supposedly new evidence could be made over and over again regarding any suspect, resulting in endless loops of investigation.  In contrast to Simpson, Jameson provides some excellent and convincing reasons why Karr should not be considered a serious supect.  Jameson also talks about how Karr has tried to convince her that he really did kill JonBenét, yet he refuses to provide any proof of this, claiming that he doesn't want to be convicted of the crime.  I find it quite disappointing that yet another unlikely suspect is still being seriously considered by anyone.

The second suspect discussed is Ted Cohen, associated with World Pageants Inc. and Gold Coast Talent Agency, who was charged with molestation of underaged girls.  It's possible that he was a judge at a pageant in which JonBenét participated, but there is no evidence of this.  Furthermore, Cohen was based in Florida, a long way from Colorado.  Doug Longhini interviews a son of Cohen who claimed his father modelled himself after Hugh Hefner, which his son found disgusting and "a lot creepy."  Apparently his father's life consisted purely of politics and beauty pageants.

At the end of this episode, Jameson provides the name of Jeff Owings who appears to be Jefferson Wade Owings, now incarcerated.  Owings was suggested by photographer Randy Simons as someone that should be investigated for the Ramsey homicide.  This recommendation alone makes him a better suspect that either of those discussed earlier in this podcast.
The "eleventh" episode of this series of podcasts, A Way Forward, includes a phone call to a DNA expert, analytical chemist Richard Eikelenboom.  Eikelenboom's wife, who trained as a doctor and worked as a psychotherapist and welfare worker, started an independent testing lab in the Netherlands which Eikelenboom later joined.  Eikelenboom has been a controversial figure in Denver in the past.  At the start of the episode, Doug Longhini and John Andrew Ramsey discuss advances in DNA technology and how more could be done today than could be done in 2000 and 2008. 

The result of the interview with Eikelenboom is pretty much what anyone with some background in a physical science as well as an introductory course in probability and statistics, armed with an executive summary gleaned from mainstream news magazines of recent developments in DNA technology, could easily have suggested.  Also not surprising is Eikelenboom's criticism of the policies of the FBI regarding CODIS profiles which lag behind recent technological developments and don't make particularly good use of partial profiles.  The main problem, of course, is how to obtain and apply resources to accomplish these suggestions.  An accompanying problem is prioritization, optimization of the sequence of testing, to be determined by the questions: Who are the most likely suspects and/or what is the most likely theory of the crime?  For listeners who lack a background in a physical science or in probability and statistics, Eikelenboom straightforward explanations may nevertheless prove informative and persuasive.

Although Eikelenboom didn't mention it, people are so used to hearing quadrillions- and quintillions-to-one results that they fail to recognize that one in 256 can produce an excellent suspect in most cases.  Common-sense techniques of combining age and geographical exclusion with lab results that have been successfully applied for years in other areas, for example in fingerprint analyses, could be applied to DNA testing to make use of partial profiles.

On Edit: I neglected to write that Eikelenboom confirmed that new samples from existing evidence would be needed for genealogical testing.  Genealogical testing requires different information than that developed for the profiles that are obtained for entry into CODIS.  Whether or not developing this information is being done for this case appears not to be publicly known at this time.
The "twelfth" and "final" episode, The Killer Among Us, is a summary of previous episodes and of the series of podcasts taken as a whole.  If one wanted to know what this series is about, not much would be missed by listening only to this latest episode.  Although the host characterized this as a "deep dive" into Lou Smit's "database," I quite frankly think that most professionals involved in research other than investigative reporting, for example career scientists, would characterize it differently, such as a brief wade into the shallow end of a pool.   It was interesting to hear the conversation between Doug Longhini, Jameson, and John Andrew Ramsey on the one hand, and John and Jan Ramsey on the other, as the summary was discussed.  Hope of a revived investigation on the part of the Boulder Police Department (BPD) was raised, given that there soon will be a new Chief of Police who was hired from outside BPD.  The obvious paths of genealogical DNA testing and the testing of additional items of evidence were suggested as possible avenues for the potentially revived investigation.  The podcast closed with an appeal to anyone who might have additional information, much like the appeals of John Walsh throughout his programs.  The best that we could probably hope for is that this investigative work has resulted in some promising additional information that was not discussed in the podcasts.
American Media Inc. executive Dylan Howard is out after more than a decade at the publishing company, Variety has learned exclusively.
Howard’s contract, which expired on March 31, was not renewed. Reasons for his departure were not immediately clear, though rumors of his exit had been brewing internally at the owner of Us Weekly and InTouch magazines for weeks, multiple sources said, with another adding the decision not to renew Howard’s contract was mutual. The unflinching tabloid editor had become the subject of media storms surrounding Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump in recent years.
Howard and American Media did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
Howard most recently served as a senior vice president in corporate development, where he was said to be conceiving scripted and unscripted projects in the true crime arena. Prior to that, Howard spent six years as the editor in chief of AMI digital gossip property RadarOnline, and previously served as chief content officer for all the David Pecker-run publications including the National Enquirer, Closer, Life&Style and InTouch.
Numerous media reports over the past year suggested Howard had been sidelined at AMI with his editorial role being minimized, as he’s switched his focus to TV and literary projects.
The Australian-born journalist rose to prominence as a tabloid reporter by exposing major stories like Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rants and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret child. He was a key figure in Ronan Farrow’s reporting regarding Weinstein’s enablers with Farrow reporting that Howard was a Weinstein accomplice who dug up dirt on women accusing the fallen movie mogul, who is now serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault.
Howard famously threatened to sue the Pulitzer Prize-winning Farrow and his publisher over his best-selling book, “Catch & Kill,” which is about a journalist being threatened by systems of powerful men. (The phrase “catch and kill” refers to the practice of tabloid editors buying stories and then burying them, so they never see the light of day.)
Howard was also accused by Farrow and The Wall Street Journal of burying stories about President Trump with Farrow writing that the Australian tabloid executive shredded incriminating documents about Trump when he oversaw the Enquirer, which never published the documents.
In 2019, Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, accused Howard and American Media of extortion and blackmail after the Enquirer published an exposé about his extramarital affair and included racy texts to his now-girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, which forced Bezos to publicly announce his divorce. The Amazon founder made his accusations known in a lengthy written piece, where he said Howard threatened to print a nude photo of Bezos and Sanchez, unless the Bezos-owned Washington Post eased up on their “politically motivated” coverage of AMI.

Less than two weeks ago, Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos’ girlfriend, sued Howard, Pecker and American Media for defamation, claiming he had not tipped off the National Enquirer about Bezos’ affair and did not leak pornographic materials of Bezos and his sister to the tabloid. Sanchez’s suit said because of AMI, his professional career and reputation have been ruined, and he has become estranged from his own family. In response to the filing, AMI said, “The fact, as we have maintained throughout, is that Mr. Sanchez sold the National Enquirer the story about his sister’s secret affair and was the sole source for its reporting. His frivolous lawsuit underscores what his true motivation is, his own greed.”
Howard was also implicated when American Media Inc. paid $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed an affair with Trump, to buy the exclusive rights to her story, which never ran. Following scrutiny for the McDougal hush money payout and fallout from the Bezos expose, AMI made a $100 million deal to sell the National Enquirer to James Cohen, the heir to Hudson News, which as of today, has still not closed. A source says the much-delayed deal has not been called off, and prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the buyer was still working through details, but with the economic crisis spurred by the pandemic, business across all industries is on pause.
Howard’s departure comes as American Media announced company-wide salary cuts, in the wake of the coronavirus, though the publishing company was financially troubled long before the viral outbreak. All of the company’s titles, such as Us Weekly, cut employees’ salary by 23% on Apr. 1.
When announcing company-wide pay cuts last week, American Media Inc. released a statement to media, noting that no layoffs have occurred. “American Media is committed to doing everything we can during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure our staff maintain their employment and health benefits,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Prior to the coronavirus-prompted salary cuts at AMI, both RadarOnline and Men’s Journal underwent sweeping staff reductions with the men’s lifestyle magazine relocating to the west coast and laying off New York-based employees. Insiders say RadarOnline was hit the hardest, among the company’s layoffs.

American Media’s pay cuts come as the advertising business has been shaken by coronavirus’ impact, causing other publishing company to slash salaries, including Buzzfeed, which recently announced temporary cuts. The entire entertainment industry has been deeply affected by the pandemic with production shut down across television and film and deal-making halted in Hollywood, resulting in the talent agencies being particularly hit hard with layoffs and staff-wide salary reductions. Mega corporations, like Disney, have furloughed employees, as theme parks remain closed and chairman Bob Iger gave up his multi-million annual salary.
After a brief departure from American Media when he ran the celebrity site CelebBuzz, Howard had been back with AMI since 2013 and became editor-in-chief of RadarOnline, and later was named editor of the National Enquirer. During his rise at AMI, Howard was a key lieutenant to Pecker, who remains atop the publishing company.
Dylan Howard, the National Enquirer editor who was caught in a hush-money scheme to silence women who claimed they had affairs with President Trump, has reportedly left the supermarket tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc.
Howard — an 11-year veteran at American Media who in 2014 was promoted to chief content officer, the top editorial post in the company — left when his contract expired on March 31, according to Variety, which first reported the news.
In addition to silencing women’s allegations of affairs with Trump, Howard also was alleged in the Ronan Farrow’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “Catch and Kill” to have helped disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein dig up dirt on his accusers. Howard threatened, but never actually filed, a lawsuit after the book was published.
American Media, which also publishes US Weekly, Star magazine and a host of other celebrity-focused titles, declined to comment on Howard’s reported departure. Howard did not return e-mails and calls from Media Ink.
As Media Ink first reported, Howard was sidelined in early 2019 after he was accused by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos of trying to blackmail him. The Enquirer had obtained steamy selfies that Bezos had allegedly sent to his mistress Lauren Sanchez, prompting Bezos to announce he was divorcing his wife MacKenzie Bezos days before the tabloid published its story.
Howard was said to have threatened to publish the salacious photos of Bezos — including what Howard described in an e-mail to Bezos as “d–k pics”— unless Bezos released a statement saying the first explosive expose on his affair was not politically motivated.
Instead, Bezos posted a story on Medium deriding what he said was a blackmail attempt. After the Bezos controversy, Howard was removed from his role overseeing the tabloids and reassigned as a VP for TV and video projects.
At the time, American Media had already cooperated with a federal investigation into the so-called “catch and kill” stories that it purchased but never published in order to silence accusers of Trump who said they had flings with him years before he decided to run for president.
The Wall Street Journal broke the story that American Media paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claimed she had a yearlong fling with the married Trump. In a second instance, American Media was accused of being a conduit for hush money between porn star Stormy Daniels and Trump’s ex-fixer, Michael Cohen.
Trump has denied the affairs. Cohen is currently serving a three-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty for his role in arranging the 2016 payments to cover up what he called “my boss’ dirty deeds.”
In exchange for turning rat, American Media CEO David Pecker and Howard were granted immunity in the federal case in the US Southern District of New York. But one of the terms of the deal was that the company stay out of legal trouble for the next three years.
The Bezos and Karen McDougal controversies were said to be a major reason that Chatham Asset Management, which owns 80 percent of American Media, sought to sell the Enquirer to extinguish heat the secretive hedge fund was getting from its investors.
In April 2019, American Media said it had a deal to sell the Enquirer and several smaller supermarket tabloid titles to a new company headed by James Cohen, the CEO of magazine wholesaler Hudson News, for $100 million.
Cohen did not return calls and the company has declined comment on the long-stalled Enquirer deal which sources speculated is dead in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Even if completed at the original price, the $100 million in cash would not be enough to satisfy the debt load believed to be around $400 million. In an odd twist due to past financial upheavals, shareholders and debt holders are one and the same at the company.
American Media has been beset by financial woes for quite some time. On April 1, the company said it was slashing all company salaries by 23 percent as a response to the coronavirus. At the time, the company said there were no layoffs.

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