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Series: Against the Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth

True Crime Episode Series:

Focus on crimes committed in my current State of Virginia and my home state of North Carolina. The series’ title comes from the homicide indictment in Virginia: “crimes committed against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Virginia”.
When North Carolinian crimes are included, they are explored from the angle of my viewpoint of being a resident at the time. All these crimes are approached from a personal standpoint and unique angles.

Upcoming Local True Crime: Help Save the Next Girl

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Against the Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth

Along with my usual fare of literature, storytelling, and things that go boo, in the next few weeks and months I am going to be telling some local true crime stories, but in my own unique way, naturally. All will have happened (or be happening) either here, in Virginia, or my home state, North Carolina, and I am sticking to cases that I experienced as a citizen.

To launch this loose series, I give you the first national PSA of Help Save the Next Girl, the amazing educational and empowerment nonprofit founded by Gil Harrington, Morgan Harrington’s mother. I will post this video with its full information and links to Help Save the Next Girl on the website momentarily. Please check HSNG out: they have amazing safety tips that don’t just apply to Virginians or to Americans, and you can start up your own branch–even in your middle school! They have materials designed for different developmental levels, designed not to frighten but to empower.

I posted this information on the Facebook page, along with Help Save the Next Girl’s very first national PSA. Here I’ll post their 2017 PSA, along with their links. Be safe, and keep each other safe.

Help Save the Next Girl

About HSNG/about Morgan Harrington

Facebook page



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Episode 7: Big Star in a Small Town

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Against the Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth

Against the Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth, episode 1: the murder of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, and the attempted murder of Vicki Gardner, Smith Mountain Lake, Moneta, Virginia

Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear.

― Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose



This is the video I used to introduce you to Alison throughout the episode; now you can watch it and see how vibrant she was:

Another: WDBJ Remembers Alison Parker and Adam Ward–on this video you will get to briefly see and hear Adam’s reporting

Here’s Highway 66’s map. Given its exit list, and the fact that he had more Glock magazines and disguises in his car, leads me to believe he was headed for Washington, D.C. For what specific purpose I do not know. I can guess.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward, having fun at work as usual
Alison and Adam, happy (in what appears to be the editing room, correct me if I am wrong)


Chris Hurst’s video for Alison, made when he returned to work–you heard the audio in the episode. He is wearing the tie she gave him for Valentine’s Day.

Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.
Macbeth, William Shakespeare


podcast bookshelf at Goodreads, to which I’ve added Macbeth and The Name of the Rose, quoted in this episode; and added the suggested reading of The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker. No one is to blame for another’s violent actions, but de Becker’s refreshing message is to forgo social niceties, politeness, all we’ve been taught in order to keep the peace. We do not have to be kind if we are uncomfortable, we do not have to let the creepy guy at work slide because maybe we’re too sensitive, we do not need to let the “helpful” stranger assist us if we don’t need help. Again, the person at fault here is the shooter, period. But I am a survivor of violent crime myself, and this book was as refreshing to me as a splash of cold water on my face–I am an introverted, shy person who was a people-pleaser. No more pleasing in iffy situations.


Episode 11: Wonder Woman and Highway 29

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Against the Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth

When I was eight I had a friend with a pirate’s smile
Cyndi Lauper, “Sally’s Pigeons”

me and Anisa (r.) on my Girl Scout sleeping bag. She was sleeping over at my house. That poof behind her head on my bed is one of my ballet recital costumes. Anisa loved to try them on and pretend she were a queen or a goddess.

The missing and the murdered

  • Alicia Showalter Reynolds: missing March 2, 1996 while traveling to Charlottesville, VA from Baltimore, MD; found May, 1996
  • Julianne Williams and Laura “Lollie” Winans: murdered May, 1996 in Shenandoah National Park
  • Anne McDaniel: missing September 18, 1996; found September 22, 1996
  • Morgan Harrington: missing October 17, 2009; found January 26, 2010
  • Samantha Clarke: missing September 13, 2010
  • Sage Smith: missing November 20, 2012
  • Alexis Murphy: missing August 3, 2013
  • Hannah Graham: missing September 13, 2014; found October 18, 2014

Please click on each one of these to view full-size, and feel free to save to your own device or computer in order to share, or you may point people back to this link:…n-and-highway-29/

Highway 29 itself

detailed info with photos and maps at

photos of, I think, every intersection and bypass of 29 at wikicommons

interactive at Google Maps

If you have any information on these open cases

If you have any information in the case of Alicia Showalter Reynolds, please call Virginia State Police at (540) 829-7400 or by email at

If you have any information about the cases of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans, please call Virginia State Police at (540) 829-7400.

If you have any information in the case of Samantha Clarke, please contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 540-672-1200.

Anyone with information in the case of Sage Smith is asked to call Detective Wright Settle at (434) 970-3274 or Virginia Crimestoppers at (434) 977-4000.

If you have any information about the location of Alexis Murphy, so that she may be brought home, please contact the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office at (434) 263-7050.

If you knew these young women, any of them, and want to share something about who they were as people on the podcast, please contact me at I would love to speak with you.

Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film by Sharon Gosling

Anisa and I on one of our many trips with my parents to Surfside Beach. I’m the one holding Baron, the dachshund.

other things that it has bothered me to enjoy without Anisa, along with Wonder Woman–I have actually felt guilt and/or anger:
The Hunger Games books and movies:

The Tolkien movies:

Typing these lists made me both angry and sorrowful.

Anisa (left) and I at one of my birthday parties

Quoted in this episode

Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet:

  1. A Wrinkle in Time
  2. A Wind in the Door
  3. A Swiftly Tilting Planet
  4. Many Waters
  5. An Acceptable Time

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

Audible recommendation for this episode

Strange Piece of Paradise: A Return to the American West to Solve My Attempted Murder and Solve the Riddle of Myself by Terri Jentz: audiobook purchase through Audible’s partner, Amazon, or get it free for trying Audible for 30 days. Either way, thank you so much for your support, as always.


In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an ax. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack. Their friendship is shattered.

Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits she will make “to solve the crime that would solve me.” And she makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and its aftermath, and to come to terms with the wounds that broke her life into a before and an after. Ultimately she finds herself face-to-face with the alleged axman.

Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of Terri’s investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of a brave inner journey from violence to hope, this searing, unforgettable work is certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Anisa Jamal Matthews, 1971-2000

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Episode 21: Nine Days and Two Car Seats

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Against the Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth

Susan Smith, Union, South Carolina

My sources for this episode

Further recommended reading


All books have been added to the podcast’s Goodreads bookshelf.


Susan’s extremely peculiar, calm, and seemingly cheerful confession note:



Findagrave: Alexander Tyler Smith (1993-1994)

Findagrave: Michael Daniel Smith (1991-1994)


Murderpedia: Susan Smith


Susan Smith: Child Killer full length documentary

American Justice episode

Tommy Pope. prosecutor, speaks out 20 years later

Steve Harvey:

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