Episode 80: Faking It

I love the idea of sneaking away unexpectedly for a few days, dropping off the grid, turning off the phone, and shutting out the world. Provided you don’t fake your own kidnapping to do it.

That’s what happened on Tuesday, May 26, 2009, when Bucks County Pennsylvania resident Bonnie Sweeten called 911 from the trunk of a car.  She said she’d been carjacked by two African American men.  These men threw Bonnie and her 9 year old daughter Julia into the trunk of their car and took off.  That phone call initiated a multi county search for Bonnie and Julia.  Police found Bonnie Sweeten’s car 12 hours later in center city Philadelphia, with a parking ticket on the windshield, and no sign of Bonnie or Julia.  Nor was there any sign of these supposed car jackers.  The car jackers didn’t exist, and Bonnie and Julia were at the happiest place on earth.

What would posses someone to fake their own kidnapping, and that of their child?  Why did Bonnie Sweeten fabricate such an elaborate ruse that had her family convinced, at least for 24 hours, they may never see her or her daughter again?  Her reasons for deception started four years before her trip to Disneyworld, and the breadth of her deceit was much farther reaching than anyone realized.

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Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 79: Beyond the Bell

There is nothing I love more than being a tourist in my own city.  You hear me talk about that in so many episodes.  I wander City Hall every chance I get.  I stop at every blue and yellow historical marker, I know the obvious history and tourist attractions, but even more I love the not so obvious moments in history, and the not so obvious history makers.  One of my favorite ways to tour any city is taking a walking tour.

A new walking tour company recently launched in Philadelphia: Beyond the Bell.  Beyond the bell was founded by Rebecca Fischer and Joey Leroux, friends who met at Haverford college who wanted to share other perspectives from Philadelphia’s history, perspectives that amplify voices you may not have heard before.

Beyond the bell tours offer an inclusive history of Philadelphia.  Their mission is to create tours that influence public history and highlight marginalized communities including people of color, queer folks, first nation folks and women.  A quote from their website says Beyond the Bell is built to promote cross cultural engagement and put the people back into the people’s history.

Recently I was lucky enough to chat with Rebecca Fisher.  I was completely enthralled listening to her talk about how and why she and Joey created Beyond the Bell tours, and the stories they tell to provide different perspectives about the history in Philadelphia.   In this episode I share my conversation with Rebecca, she gives us a glimpse into some of the incredible women featured in the Women’s History Tour, we talk about going to a Philly Quizzo night together and we’ll get a sneak peak into some of the other tours Joey and Rebecca have in the works, which really aren’t all that twisted, but sound totally awesome.  Please join me in welcoming Rebecca to TwistedPhilly!

You can learn more about Beyond the Bell Tours on their website www.beyondthebelltours.com.  Follow them on twitter at bell_beyond and on Facebook at Beyond the Bell Tours.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Bonus Episode: Case Update – Jordan Anthony Brown

In almost two years I haven’t had much of an opportunity to provide episode updates.    That changed last week when news broke about Jordan Anthony Brown.

In 2009 Jordan Anthony Brown was arrested for the murder of Kenzie Houk, his father’s fiancee who was 8 and a half months pregnant.  He was only 11 years old at the time of his arrest. Jordan spent almost 10 years in juvenile detention while his father, Chris Brown, and his attorneys fought to prove his innocence.

In this episode I share news about a recent Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruling, which overturned Jordan’s conviction on the grounds of insufficient evidence.  We’ll talk about the details in the ruling,  what that means for Jordan’s future and whether or not New Castle County, PA, prosecutors will reopen the investigation of Kenzie Houk’s murder.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 78: Pennsylvania’s Amityville

There is a house in Northeast Pennsylvania, on a quiet residential street, with one of the worst haunted histories in our country.  It’s been compared to the Amityville Horror House.  This two story brick home with  three small windows on the second floor, what was once a charming front porch and a little yard in the back, was a nightmare for Bucky Johnson, his wife and daughters in the 1970s.

Was it the turmoil between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania settlers 300 years ago that created an environment for hatred and despair?  Did the blood of the men who died in the French and Indian war seep into the ground and curse the land in Wilkes Barre, PA?  Was there a curse on  Agustus Lanning, the man who built the home at 46 South Welles Street in 1860?  Whatever it is, it lurks behind wooden planks where there were once doors and windows.  Pennsylvania’s Amityville is abandoned, or at least that’s what the ghosts would like you to believe.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 77: TwistedPhilly Live Show – the South Philly Robinhood

On Sunday, July 1, 2018, I had the pleasure of participating in the 6th Annual Philly Podcast Festival.  This was my second year in the festival and my second time back at the best bar in Philly, Tattooed Moms on South Street.  Since I was in South Philly I wanted to share a story from the neighborhood and I chose the story of Joey Coyle, a 28 year old South Philly boy who in February, 1981, had the misfortune of finding $1.2 million on the side of the road.

What would you do if you found one million dollars?  Would you keep it, share it, turn it in?  Would you wait for a reward?  On the surface it sounds like that sort of a windfall would make all your dreams come true.  But for Joey Coyle, in 6 days he went from rags to riches to rags again, and landed himself in jail in the process.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 76: The Husband Didn’t Do It

On November 21, 2014, 33 year old Jessica Padgett from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, ran an errand on her lunch break.  Her coworkers at Duck Duck Goose Child Care expected her back within about 30 minutes.  Jessica left work that day a little before 1PM, her youngest child still at the day care where he went with her every day, and she was never seen again.

For five days Pennsylvania State Police, Northampton County police, the community, Jessica’s family and her husband Micah Padgett, searched for Jessica.  Social media posts pleaded for help.  The community responded. Thousands of people searched for Jessica Padgett, everyone hoping for her safe return.  Five days after her disappearance, someone came forward and confessed to her murder.  The killer, and his motive, were more shocking than her family could have ever imagined.  Unlike the cliche’ you see in true crime memes, Jessica’s killer wasn’t her husband.

This case was requested by a number of TwistedPhilly listeners over a year ago and because of the sensitive nature of Jessica Padgett’s murder, and consideration for her family, it took some time before I was able to share this story.

Special thanks to musician Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this and almost every episode of TwistedPhilly.  Emmy’s music is available for download on iTunes.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 75: Collision on the Delaware

Ride the Ducks landed in Philly in 2003.  The company had been around for over 30 years, primarily operating on land and water in more rural areas, but after the launch of Boston Duck Tours in 1994, more an more touring duck companies ventured into metropolitan areas – as long as there was a way to get from land to water, a city could be a great fit for duck touring vehicles.

While Ride the Duck tours was a popular tourist excursion in Philadelphia, Ride the Ducks no longer operates in our city as the result of two tragic and avoidable accidents that took the lives of three people.  The first incident occurred in 2010, the other just 5 years later, and then in 2016 Ride the Ducks closed up shop.  Duck boats are quirky, they’re large, lumbering hulks of metal that instantly trigger feelings of nostalgia, and they can be deadly, not only in Philadelphia but other cities around the country.  The catastrophe on the Delaware river in Philly wasn’t the first time someone lost their life in a duck boat accident, nor was it the last.

Thank you to Nicki, host of Strictly Homicide Podcast, for her participation in this episode!

Special thanks to musician Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this and almost every episode of TwistedPhilly.  Emmy’s music is available for download on iTunes.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 74: TwistedLegends – The Green Man and the Bus to Nowhere

In this episode we get a little spooky, scary and certainly twisted.  TwistedLegends features two Pennsylvania legends: The Green Man from our “west coast” outside of Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia’s Bus to Nowhere, a Philly legend that scares me to my core.    These stories were part of the live broadcast Live Stream for the Cure between May 18 and 20th. This event raised over $11,000 for cancer research and I’m so happy to share these stories with you here on TwistedPhilly.  Grab your flashlight, hug your cat and get ready to pull the blanket over your head because we’re packing loads of twisted terror in this episode! (WARNING: the second story, the Bus to Nowhere, contains discussion about depression and anxiety. Listener discretion is advised.)

Special thanks to musician Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this and almost every episode of TwistedPhilly.  Emmy’s music is available for download on iTunes.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 73: The Dancer, the Cheater, his Wife and her Murder (Stefanie Rabinowitz)

WARNING: This episode contains adult subject matter, including the death of a young mother, which may be upsetting to some listeners.  Listener discretion is advised.

On Tuesday, April 29, 1997, 29 year old Stefanie Rabinowitz and her husband Craig went out to dinner with her parents to celebrate the end of Passover.  After they returned home Craig and Stefanie shared a few beers, Craig settled in to watch the Flyers in the Stanley Cup and Stefanie went upstairs to take a bath while Craig watched TV.

Before he knew it an hour had passed and Stefanie was still in the bathroom.  Craig entered the bathroom to check on Stefanie and found her unconscious and unresponsive in the tub.  Craig Rabinowitz called 911 but by the time Stefanie was transported to a suburban Philadelphia hospital, it was too late.  Doctors were never able to revive Stefanie Rabinowitz.  This beautiful young wife and mother died as a result of a horrible accident, or at least that’s what everyone thought.

Within a matter of days Stefanie’s husband Craig Rabinowitz was arrested for her murder.  As if that wasn’t bad enough a Pandora’s box of deception blew open, revealing Craig to be a lying, cheating swindler as well as a murderer.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/

Episode 72: Elfreth’s Alley

In Old City, Philadelphia, there’s a tiny little street that can’t even be called a street.  It’s an alley, barely wide enough for a small cart to pass through; Elfreth’s Alley.

Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously inhabited street in America.  Other cites like to boast they have the oldest street in the country, but we’ve got the street with the longest history of perpetual residents.  One resident is rumored to have been none other than Ben Franklin.

With just 16 houses on each side of the street, some dating back over 300 years, Elfreth’s Alley is filled with history, charm and ghost stories.  So put on your walking shoes as we take a stroll down a tiny little alley known as Elfreth’s.  Be sure to keep your eye out for the ghost of a revolutionary soldier who lost his life to a hangman’s noose.

Follow TwistedPhilly on Social Media: Facebook the TwistedPhilly Podcast and the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group, Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Instagram TwistedPhilly

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/