Welcome to the Insta-hood: @fallinepodcast !

Hello everyone, this week I had the pleasure of interviewing a podcast : @falllinepodcast !

  1. How did you come up with your podcast?

“Brooke, my co-creator, came up with the title. The Fall Line is a geological boundary that
marks a shift across our home state (Georgia) and delineates a marked change in climate,
soil, what grows and doesn’t grow, etc.— a stark difference in worlds. We view it as a
metaphor that operates on a few different levels: what cases do or do not get attention
based on where and who they happen to, how things can fall through the cracks (the
“line”), reading between the lines to see the underlying problems and issues, the
intersecting issues or lines that create layers of difficulty for families seeking justice and
attention for cold cases. . . it’s a pretty complex image, for us. It also evokes the South,
which is our home base. We cover stories outside the Southeastern US when someone
needs us to do so, but most of our work is centered here. Now, do we occasionally get
confused with fashion podcasts or skiing podcasts? Absolutely. We didn’t even know about
the skiing thing. There’s not a lot of skiing down here, as you might imagine.”

2. What made you want to start doing the podcast?


“I (Laurah) spent the last decade or so working as an English professor with a specialty in creative writing.


Brooke is an LPC (licensed professional counselor). We’ve been friends since college and were spending a lot of time together in 2016 and 2017, since we have children the same age. Around that time, I had gotten a small grant to develop a podcasting class at the university. I was already experienced in writing narrative nonfiction and in archival research. I’d also been using true crime in the classroom for some time. I liked to use headlines and reporting regarding unsolved cases to discuss social and political issues and to teach my students to identify ethical reporting, and how to sort out plausible claims from conspiracy theories on platforms like YouTube. This was for rhetoric and composition or Honors English. This dated back long before TikTok or Instagram or before I even listened to podcasts—I had no idea where this genre would go. I was trying to show them, for instance, how conspiracy theories about the death of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls operated, and how bad information or reporting operated, how spurious claims form, the effect on legal cases and victims’ families, etc.

By 2017, I had begun to listen to podcasts in all genres and assign them in class, and to look for articles related to subjects to help students understand different issues. This was really helpful in my argumentation courses, which students can find really dull.

As I was teaching myself how to podcast for my upcoming narrative podcasting class—how to use recording equipment—I heard about a case from Augusta, GA that I’d never come across before: Jeannette and Dannette Millbrook, who were 15 when they disappeared on March 18, 1990. I had always followed cold cases, so it was a surprise to me that I hadn’t been aware of missing twins from a city only two hours from Atlanta. Missing twins are rare, especially in a non-familial abduction. At the time I encountered their case, they were one of the only pairs of missing twins (non-familial-related case) in the United States that we were aware of. I believe I heard of their story on The Trail Went Cold or Thin Air. Both podcasts covered them very close together; I later found out an advocate had reached out on behalf of the family. But when I went searching for information, there was. . . nothing. A few articles from 2013, and that was it. A few message board posts. That’s when I found out their case had been closed in 1991, a year or so after they disappeared, and not opened again until 2013. But where were the articles from 1990? Because we are in Georgia, I have access to every possible archive that should have that info. I went into class the next day and did a comparison for my students between the Millbrook twins and the Springfield Three. It wasn’t a perfect comparison, but it was decent: a trio of women who disappeared in roughly the timeframe (1992) and in Missouri. They had hundreds of thousands of Google hits. The Millbrook twins had almost nothing. My class discussed the disparity in coverage from a few different angles: cause/effect (what causes this disparity? What is the effect of it?), evaluation, and looking at calls to action. They also looked at the presentation of headlines and descriptions of the victims and family and phrasing.

I was still bothered by the lack of information available. There was absolutely nothing. Not a single article in the hometown paper. If there had been news footage on TV, it was no longer available. When we eventually went down to the archives at the Augusta library, there was nothing there, either. There was no knowledge base available on the case. I decided that maybe it would be possible to assist in changing that by collaborating with the twins’ family in correcting that and creating a base. After all, I had the equipment. I’d learned to use it so I could teach my classes. I knew how to research and write. What I didn’t have was the skill and sensitivity to approach families who had been traumatized.

 That’s where Brooke came in. She had been in counseling for more than a decade, and specialized in family therapy, where she helped people work through grief and trauma. She agreed to conduct family interviews. We knew the Millbrook twins’ family, and especially their sister, Shanta, was actively seeking coverage, so we spoke to her, and slowly began to develop what would become the first season of the podcast. It was a long process; TFL is always a collaboration between family members and the creators. We had no idea where it would go, or that it would be anything more than a few episodes designed to serve the Millbrook twins. But our listeners raised reward money, and then money for a billboard, and then a bigger billboard. And we are able to fund the rent for that billboard and a therapy fund for families today, all through Patreon. 100% of our Patreon funds go to those two goals.

Now, we’ve been making the show for five years (this June!) and have covered dozens of stories. We  no longer work in long single-topic seasons.

We now cover the missing, the murdered, and the unidentified in one to three episodes. In regard to the missing and murdered, we work with family whenever possible—and we don’t currently cover a case unless there’s someone available to consent, unless there is an extenuating circumstance [e.g., unidentified, all family members have passed away]. Family/loved ones have approval over everything. We’ve worked out a system where family members/ loved ones approve their interview transcripts, then approve scripts.

now I work with a few research assistants who help me pull initial articles and file FOIA (freedom of information act requests), and we were able to hire a producer, Maura, who makes us sound like we’re actual professionals. Our senior research assistant, Bryan Worters, has trained as a genetic genealogist during his time with us and has assisted law enforcement with locating the family of one of Samuel Little’s victims (Miriam Chapman). He’s also fluent in Spanish and helps with translating, as does special content advisor Guadalupe Lopez. Our other assistants, Kyana Burgess and Michaela Morrill, are former students of our friend and  colleague forensic anthropologist Dr. Amy Michael.

 We have permanent content advisors who have life experience we don’t, Brandy C. Williams, Liv Fallon, and Vic Kennedy, who review all our material, and special content advisors who come in when we’re tackling subjects outside of the experience of our regular content advisors. Our hope is that the show can be, above all, a platform that provides knowledge, gets correct case information out there,  and leaves family, friends, and experts feeling good that they participated. No one should be re-traumatized while attempting to get attention for their loved one’s case.”

3. How can someone submit a case and what information do they need to provide?

“We have a case submission form available on our website, which can be found here:https://www.thefalllinepodcast.com/case-submissions

We ask for contact info, a description, and any links that can be provided.

We can’t respond to all submissions, but we do make sure to respond to every family that reaches out. If we can’t cover a story, we try to match you with a trusted friend who we think can over the case.”

4. What if someone wants to help out with a donation or wants to volunteer: how can they go about it?

“We don’t have volunteers, as we think people should be paid for their work! We do encourage people to donate to the following nonprofits:

Black and Missing Foundation

Private Investigations for the Missing

Sovereign Bodies Institute

Trans Doe Task Force

DNA Doe Project”

5. How do you pick out a case to cover?

” We look for cases that have gotten little to no media attention—this would mean no TV specials, not covered on lots of podcasts, and cases must be cold—that means 6+ years. That’s because our skillset is suited to helping with cases that have been left without any activity. We are able to reach out to law enforcement and other experts, like medical examiners, and offer to collaborate on such cases, and have a good success rate. We also have archival skills that are best suited to cold cases. Cases that are still under active investigation are best suited to our colleagues like Voices for Justice, The Vanished, Crimelines, War Cry, Unresolved, Hands Off My Podcast, Trace Evidence, Noir True Crime Files, True Consequences, Murder She Told, Black Girl Gone, and others.  In terms of topic: We focus on unsolved murders, unidentified persons, and disappearances.

We primarily cover cases in the Southeastern United States, particularly those involving communities downplayed or even ignored in mainstream media or, sometimes, investigation. We especially prioritize victims who experienced lack of coverage due to factors like race, sexuality, gender identity, religion, disability, immigration status, involvement in sex work, poverty, housing insecurity, and many other considerations.  We will cover national cases that meet the previous criteria—lack of coverage due to any confluence of factors.”

6. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?

“As for The Fall Line, we’re working on many new episodes, and are remastering several of our early Doe episodes for summer re-release with updates. We are always looking for fascinating expert interviews, so please suggest those, too! You can use the same submission form.

Laurah is currently writing a book (to be published with Hachette) on the topic of forensic science and how it is used to identify people known as ‘Does,’ or unidentified decedents, and her involvement in the recent solve of the case of “Ina Jane Doe,” a woman found murdered in Illinois in 1993, who was identified in March of 2022 as Susan Minard Lund.  The book focuses on all the different kinds of forensic techniques—art, odontology, skeletal analysis, genetic genealogy, and DNA—that have developed and are developing, and the experts that are working to identify the tens of thousands of unidentified decedents in the US. The book should be out in late 2023. It’s tentatively titled Lay Them To Rest.

If you would like more information. The following contact information is below:

Website: https://www.thefalllinepodcast.com/

Instagram: @falllinepodcast

Email: falllinepodcast

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