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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

“If you keep your mouth shut, you’ll be surprised what you can learn.”
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United States

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00:00:00support for S Town comes from ZipRecruiter if you're looking for a smarter way to hire ZipRecruiter offers simple tools and Powerful matching technology to help you find qualified candidates fast try for free at ziprecruiter.com s town
00:00:19support for S Town comes from audible presenting West cork a true crime series exploring an unsolved murder and the Tangled investigation that shook a small Irish Community to listen for free for a limited time only go to audible.com West cork
00:00:39chapter one
00:00:41wooden antique lock brakes a clock that's been telling time for 200 or 300 years fixing it can be a real puzzle and I'll clock like that was Handmade by someone it might take away the time of the pendulum the spring with a pulley system might have bells that are supposed to strike the hour or Bird that's meant to pop out and cuckoo it you there can be hundreds of tiny individual pieces Each of which needs to interact with the others precisely
00:01:08to make a job even trickier y'all can can tell it's been done to a clock over hundreds of years maybe there's damage that was never fixed or fix badly sometimes entire portions of the original clockworker missing but you can know for sure because they're really diagrams with the clocks supposed to look like that old doesn't come with a manual
00:01:27so instead the few people left in the world to know to do this kind of thing will I am what are often called witness marks to guide their way
00:01:35eyewitness Mark B A small dent the hole that once all the screw these are actual Impressions and outlines and discolorations left inside the clock but pieces that might have once been there
00:01:47the clues to what was in the clockmakers mind when he first created the thing I'm told fixing an Old Clock can be maddening you're constantly wondering if you just been hours going down a path I will likely take you nowhere and leave me out of these big witness marks which I not even mean what you think they mean so at every moment along the way you have to decide if you're wasting your time or not
00:02:11anyway I only learned about all this because years ago and antique clock restorer contacted me John B Macklemore and asked me to help him solve a murder
00:02:30something happened has absolutely happened in this town there's just too much little crap for something not to happen and I'm about had enough of shittown and things that goes on
00:02:54from serial and This American Life I'm Brian Reed
00:02:59this is shittown
00:03:06John B McLemore lives in shittown Alabama
00:03:09that's the subject line that catches my eye one day and late 2012 well I'm reading for emails that have come into a radio show This American Life emails from John B Macklemore shittown is capitalized I'm an old time listener who just recently rediscovered your show John Wright's I live in a crummy little shit town in Alabama called Woodstock I would like to tell your producers of two events that have happened here recently I would hope you have the facilities to investigate
00:03:37one of the events genright involves a local police officer with the county sheriff's department John's her that a woman has been saying this officer sexually abused her the guys still on the force
00:03:48so that's one
00:03:51the other event is a murder of a guy in his early twenties named Dylan Nichols the murderer John says is a son of a prominent local family his name is Capron Bert the birds are millionaires they have lots of land in the area as well as a large Timber operation with lumber yards and Sawmills all over one of which is right near John's it's called K3 Lumber
00:04:14Johnson seems the bird family has effectively made this event disappear aseptic Abram is now going around town bragging about it quote bragging about how it only took 30 seconds of kicking this boy Dylan Nichols in the head for him to become a paraplegic and only a few more days for him to die
00:04:32we really need people like you to come down to this pathetic little Baptist shittown and blow it off the map John Wright's I would like to talk to you by phone if possible this is just too much to type
00:04:43John hello it's Brian
00:04:49here we are this is happening after about a year it finally happened
00:04:59when I make this call it's been a year since John first emailed we've been back and forth a couple times over the months but we never talked until one day he sent me a message and this time I had a link to a news report the news story was about a sergeant with the Bibb County Sheriff's Department Bibb County is where John lives we've been indicted for pulling women over and forcing them into sexual acts both on the side of the road and back at the station another guy let Julie help cover up this abuse
00:05:26I thought if corruption like this existed in the Bibb County Sheriff's Department then maybe the other room or John had written to me about could also be true then maybe it was possible and murder it happened and then been covered up so finally I get them on the phone and we talk for a while cuz I take care of my mom has Alzheimer's and weird about our separate your fat so sorry about the other day when you tried to call and I'll hell it busted loose know I'm sorry you know considering where I live you shouldn't be the least bit surprised that these people out here just dumped their dogs out on the side of the road it one time I've had as many as twenty one I got 14 12 13 yeah so that was that was really hard cuz that was an old dog in a good dog but yeah it's another one of my projects that I take out I'm sort of a local Humane Society
00:06:26property
00:06:28I like to see if my grandfather's property it's it's a hundred twenty a tigers and you grew up in Woodstock is that right if you look at the demographics chart for the state of Alabama and go to the poorest counties Bibb County is maybe V Worth County to live and we are one of the child molester capitals of the state will have an incredible amount of police corruption we have the poorest education we got 95 churches in this damn County will have to high school no secondary education and we got Jesus because Jesus is coming and global warming is a hoax you know there's no such thing as climate change and yeah I am
00:07:19I'm in an area that just hasn't Advanced for lack of a better word I don't have to eat it comes here so I got that cherry flavored ones that would be the first one to hop out that I have constant acid reflux you had all my life why did you email me which I gave you was just some of the things I've heard about
00:07:49yes I want to go and tell him down here nobody told you about the boy Dylan Nichols who got murdered and apparently that was swept under the rug I guess we'll cover that one first email but there was a lot of detail and I did a little Googling online and didn't really find much so you tell me what is a Dylan Nichols went to school down here at West blocton High School basically I've got these kids out here digging a hole between the house and the yard in the summer and we're going to plant some Cast Iron Plant that's aspidistra Alatorre in case y'all don't know I don't know what either of the things you just said nothing is wrong with cell phone and it's waiting in their YouTube and they're always on Facebook I'm out there on the back porch if you keep your mouth shut you be surprised what you can learn
00:08:49you have grown up so destitute don't have enough sense to be ashamed of things I know just tell if I think Dylan Nichols is in such and such hospital he's a quadriplegic now I just got into a fight with K Bromberg and he's not expected lift of the night buddy what I heard the last name Byrd you know my engine just take I decided I stick my nose in it asking you okay k k lumber mill in Kendall
00:09:30cooking a day or so to do their work out here and they chatted and chatted about it and over the course of the next few days of them tweet and the girlfriends and sweet and other friends that come to pass it in the Double Nickel to die they don't help and Capron burps whereabouts was unknown
00:09:50well later on I have the Goodson's working out here at two boys and I just so happens one of them Jake Goodson
00:10:00apparently I need the cable boy and ride at the darn Little Caesars Pizza in Woodstock just happen to run into him haven't seen him for a year after worry been well I've been in drug rehab
00:10:17that's when the cable bill I just got out there and spill the darn thing and a story that I was told that they were at some party and the Nichols boy came from and his buddy had ganged up on him and was calling her a bitch boy in a big boy or a fish fillet and all that and a boy sexually smacked one of them and they jumped on it
00:10:41well the bullet they jumped on I still in Nichols pulled out a little knife and cut the throat of Caitlin's friends well his belt off and wrapped it around the neck of the friends his throat got cut and got the Nichols body on the ground somehow and kicked him in the head repeatedly and kept kicking him in the head until he was basically unconscious
00:11:07of course you know the rest of the story from the first person I told you the other boy paraplegic died in a few days he asked him how did just get Bye Felicia you know what bullet Cable number to tell them they just cleaned it was self-defense in the other guy kept his damn mouth shut course cave and families got plenty of money so naturally it wasn't better so you're hearing this from a guy named Jake Goodson he ran into cave rum and it can't Abram told him that we told the other guy to keep his mouth shut and we claim self-defense that's what he told them are you go now it sometime I was up there at the hardware store in Kendall of Caleb's father is back there on the phone yeah can that big mouth all these big mouth Rush Limbaugh tops Love Glenn Beck running that mouth
00:12:01what I heard come out at office was he's my son I love him but he's guilty as hell and I know it makes finally realizes and pulled up slam the hell out at damn door and then got a lot quieter with that conversation really we've obviously got too much little dipstick gossip going around for something. To happen we've got the kid out bragging about it for a Little Caesars Pizza Hut and we've got a little snippet of conversation inconveniently audited over at the store when afternoon so and it's just a living in town now
00:12:49we already covered up with tattoos he's almost Skin and Bones he looks like a crackhead I contacted you for a while and you don't go to sleep stages of depression when you live in an area like this it's like the Darfur region of Sudan you realize you're the one of these areas for stuff happens and you can't help it
00:13:16and after this dude got arrested you know that recent email I sent you about that Ervin Lee heard that have been you know basically falsely imprisoning women and use them for sex life no one talks about the urban Lee heard is the name of the Bibb County police officer Goodman sexually abusing women he pulled over depression I need to get over this attitude problem I've got that you don't know nothing can be done
00:13:47and tell someone some of the crap that goes on down there when you get depressed about
00:13:55oh my God I am 49 years older than 48 149 I should have I should have got out of God damn fucking shit town in my twenties I should have done something useful with my life
00:14:16I love my home I don't know why you don't live here all my life my mom is up here on her life my dad lived here most of his life and Grandpa Miller's lived here all his life places like that should be important I'm looking at over yard Rose Garden here that's 300 fucking feet long is out here Google Maps and enter 33.202461, negative 87.1 move slow down for a .204 6-5, negative 87.1 a couple coordinates here for John's privacy I type into Google Maps
00:15:16forest and then they're in the middle of the woods is a huge Labyrinth made of concentric circles of Hedges with a path weaving through them you can swap the solution around it actually has 64 possible solutions depending on how you swap the gates around
00:15:39that's crazy do you ever just go in and get lost in the maze
00:15:51yeah it is another word for asking. I use it to walk around and when I'm thinking church sometimes I Do Ya Head Over the trees here and I realized that the people in the South 40 trailer park have a much worse life and I do but I think the thing that's happened is I've got myself an almost you know for the prison of my own making where you're all my friends have died off because I only had contact with people much older than me even when I was a kid in school I didn't want to hang around other kids cuz your kids are talking about getting girls or deer hunting or where is that was interested in the astrolabe sundials projective geometry New Wave Music climate change and how to solve Rubik's Cube but you can't tell a redneck that the Greenland melt falling
00:16:51play into the less dense water or the thermal hey line connector normally hits backs out it's sufficient first we try to explain that the Earth is more than 5,000 years old. Is there anyone down there that you're able to talk about these grapes or ideas with and you feel like you're on this year on the same page
00:17:14everything I'll talk with you about I'll talk to him about it he lived in Tuscaloosa he's got too much sense for the living down here but absolutely
00:17:28oh you're you begin to figure it out now aren't you
00:17:32so why don't I move
00:17:35there's got to be people in Fallujah right now or bayreuth that just asked each other the same question you know what the hell does she get out of here her son you know the answer is I don't know it's probably made him put it all over herself has to clear up or some of them something they keep thinking okay maybe one day I'll get better although secret he knows it never will you can't be a redneck and live in Alabama without a damn Ford truck have you and I keep thinking
00:18:18can I put everything that I would put in that truck and drive down that driveway for the last time
00:18:26but then again who take care of mama who played the puppy who water the flowers to prune the mummies
00:18:35you must understand its home
00:18:40I'm sorry if I got off the subject in all that I can play for a little bit why do you think it's important to try and figure out what happened with this I believe we have a genuine murder that resulted from some kids probably picking on the boy that defended himself almost certainly been covered up
00:19:17after the first conversation with John I do some research online and I find no evidence of this murder
00:19:26I see there is a place called K3 Lumber owned by the bird family K3 Andrew Alabama is that just a coincidence
00:19:34family also owns a large Timber operation John called it the KKK lumber mill but it's actually think I can keep the ink and on their website they explain the pic I can and key and kite and key refer to the three brothers who currently run the family business Kyle Kendall and Keith Burt K Bromberg is Kendall son his name begins with a K too by the way I just gave her a Facebook page for Capon bird in the area with just a single disturbing post that tells people to raise hell and kill black babies that uses the word other than black I don't know if Caper made this page or what I also find court records for DUI charge the suggested maybe he did disappear for a little while like John mentioned at one point there was a stretch of court dates he didn't show up for and a notice from his lawyer telling the court he had been able to reach came from
00:20:23other than that I find nothing nothing about a murder or even assault involving a broom or an obituary for Dylan Nichols or any event newspapers or court filings that seems like it could be the fight John's talking about honestly there's not much about Bibb County online at all
00:20:40John kept emailing me he kept insisting this was a story I needed to cover it when I call him back to say I was having trouble finding anything or to just quickly double-check something with him almost without fail we'd end up on the phone for hours with him going on and on not just about the murder but about his life and this town we talked on weekends once you get in touch at 1:30 in the morning because a bunch of cops have been in his yard and I had the praetorian class howling behind that uniform air force of will John was opening the portal between us and calling out through it calling from his world a world of proleptic Decay and decrepit food or So eventually I decide I'll come check it out this house without a warrant to think they need it that's right after this
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00:22:13support for S Town comes from audible presenting West cork a true crime audio series days before Christmas in 1996 a woman was found dead Outside The Weeknd home in the Irish Countryside the Tangled investigation to find her killer shook a small community and 21 years later it remains a mystery follow the hunt for the truth in this audible original true crime series to listen for free for a limited time only go to audible.com West cork
00:22:48Johnson's is home town is filled with proleptic Decay and decrepitude I'm not ashamed to say I had to look up the word proleptic it means using a word or phrase in anticipation of it becoming true
00:23:00when I go to Alabama I don't want to cause any trouble for electrically speaking so John and I discuss a plan after all what he's alleging about the murder the cave Amber has beating someone to death feels comfortable enough to make small talk about it out in the open and a bunch of people know but no one has done anything it's pretty scary a reporter showing up from New York asking questions who knows that people might react
00:23:24I do not want to do anything that's going to put you in any kind of danger you've got more experience with this than I do this is your stock and trade well I've never gone into a small town investigated a murder
00:23:36and this is your small town. And I agree when I come I need to keep a low profile I won't talk to any authorities yet I one thing I want to do I tell him his meat with Jake Goodson that's the guy John originally heard the rumor from the one came from supposedly admitted everything to outside a Little Caesars you guess so today I'm like the back out now I don't see that's what I don't want
00:24:16John's Road
00:24:19on a windy afternoon in October 2014 I'm driving through Woodstock Alabama about 40 minutes Southwest Birmingham headed to meet John for the first time to get to his house rather than use his address is it just that I navigate by latitude and longitude and even then I misplaced the first time past it just stick Woods all around on the road I've no idea there's a house back there when I come back by I noticed there's an opening in the trees and a dirt driveway cut through the forest
00:24:48text me deep into the woods trees arching over it until finally I reach a clearing with an old wooden house with three chimneys that looks like it hasn't changed since the Civil War
00:24:58the whole place feels like it's of another time and it is literally John doesn't follow daylight savings so it's properties in a time zone separate from the world around it the front door of the house open and a man confounding out of it
00:25:18I hope it's so nice to meet you back no how you doing no handshake John just takes off around the side of the house with a pack of dogs following him Lake
00:25:31he's a redhead with red goatee and glasses looks a bit younger than his 48 years and ready jeans and ready sneakers and a Sherwin-Williams t-shirt that he probably got for buying a can of paint at the hardware store A Better Way presumably he's giving me a tour but I'm scrambling to keep up with them he's naming the plants all around us as we move Goldenrod Russian sage a climbing lady banks rose there stone walls everywhere wild the colored bushes a giant bag of purple petunias stretching for hundreds of feet there apple trees leaning on trellises tilted at a precise angle to lengthen their stems there's a sweet smell floating on the breeze the smell of the thorny Ellie Agnes Bush John tells me
00:26:12John 13 dogs running around freely and leave a dog house that is an actual house with two floors and a small swimming pool outside Made of Stone John I go past his Workshop which I later learned is filled with disassemble clocks as well as the rare machines and tools and chemicals he uses to restore them we go past a big trailer and to old school buses one yellow and one blue they're filled with lumber for John's house that he's aging to get the wood as close as possible to what they used to build the house 200 years ago we go through small gated Cemetery for the people who built this place have been buried since the 1880s having finish lights Duty 1 foot Stone reads they now sweetly rest
00:26:59later will also meet John's mother Mary Grace McLemore
00:27:04I'm sorry
00:27:07myself very much I'm enjoying myself very much she's a tiny brittle looking woman who I swear to you can go a whole conversation without blinking once she's been on the slander whole life forever seems about right
00:27:27how old
00:27:31time I reckon
00:27:36Rosemary the the Winter Tales in old house it looks like nice for raw to finally done and I reach a hill we come to the crest and there it is the maze stretching out below us though he and I have completely different reactions to it oh God here we go see the brown from here on my gosh John subset they've been in a drought 4 weeks if you wonder oh he's been monitoring it places the hedges turning brown but I'm just an off the maze is so cool oh my gosh of climate change
00:28:10I mean you may see climate change but this is an incredible approach John you know we're going to have to get the damn Cutters I said before y'all came out here I was going to get out here and do something but it never happened I just got miserably depressed and said ha screw it I'm like I have chills Shale is the position of three dates inside a new solution
00:28:43often there you go that's all screwed up now this is a series of splits 1/2 comes to an end then it splits left and right each of those pads in the least bit left and right over and over again you to choose which way to go John and I are walking through trying to reach the middle of April sale
00:29:09I do feel like I'm walking around in your brain or something just imagine when it gets over your head
00:29:15st. John's computer is a comic and when I think about it now I realize it captures his world you perfectly it's three drinking glasses with arms and legs and cute little faces each with the same amount of liquid inside the first one smiles and says I'm have full the next one frowns and says I'm half empty the last one throws both arms up and says I think this is piss
00:29:41later jungle take me on a tour Bibb County and this world you will be on full display the rattle of a constant stream of grievances as we go historic buildings are being demolished overnight Dollar Generals in Walmarts are popping up in their stead serving a populist is getting fatter and more tattooed by the day no positive comment no matter how come one point I mention that the landscaper on here is really quite pretty there you go there's our Legacy going down the road Lumber Truck
00:30:13cardinaleway that pretty landscape one tree at a time in the afternoon it'll start a thunderstorm something John has been saying all day that they desperately need to combat the drought so that's good right 10 ways to lie everything I say beautiful butterfly flies as we should have this year either or something else it disturbs the comprehensive tour went to HighSchool I like to call it ouch wits yeah it looks like a high school with a baseball game going on the front
00:31:01before the JonTron shittown back inside the maze. And I've stopped walking for a second Wii Fit dead end after dead end and that John is cleaning his neck and scoping out our options it is it's kind of funny to be lost and something you designed yourself isn't it
00:31:22we're stuck are you really lost you put it on for me and my niece isn't that exciting
00:31:34evidently while the various gait combinations create 64 different solutions there was one combination that leaves you with absolutely no way out it's like a null set or something I can't tell if John's being straight with me John seem so smart and in control it's hard to believe he could actually be stumped by his own mais I can see imagineering the situation to make things more I don't know literary Conjuring this Garden Path metaphor that he knows I won't be able to resist
00:32:08free sourdough grass
00:32:12on the phone before I got here John it said he could introduce me to Jake Goodson Jake again is in his early 20s he's one of the guys John hires to work on this property and who John first heard about the murder from take someone to learn about it from Cave Run outside to Little Caesars pizza but now that I'm in Woodstock all of a sudden John can't reach Jake he's been working long hours at the local steel mill John says a job they won't be around much longer by the way what's our supply of cheap fossil fuels and close but anyway John's call Jake's wife and his brother to trying to reach him but still no luck eventually I had to my hotel and John and I check in later on the phone no work right yeah yeah I'm just kind of annoyed that I can't get a hold of Tony damn nerves and I know you're on the schedule you ain't got time for a bunch of bullshit
00:33:01John keeps emailing me updates not a damn thing so far he writes an hour later just a subject line quote so far the null set 8:38 p.m.
00:33:13I had to leave Bibb County to find a hotel so I'm in Bessemer a small City about 15 miles down the highway where the far reaches of the Birmingham Metro Area dissolve into the rural counties like Bibb to the West I'm at a Best Western just off the exit ramp behind a Waffle House even though I'm exhausted from traveling I turn on the lamp and plug the Bedtime reading John's giving me bedtime reading that's what he called it
00:33:37did William Faulkner short story A Rose for Emily narrated by the gossipy Collective townsfolk of imaginary Jefferson Mississippi to tell the tale of Miss Emily grierson and unmarried middle-aged Outkast who lives alone with her father and after he dies holds up in her house for years there's the key to maupassant story The Necklace about a woman who Longs for much grander more spectacular life than the one she has and gets it for a single night only to have to pay for it dearly every day for the next 10 years
00:34:08and then there's the Renegade by Shirley Jackson about a woman who recently moved from the city to a small Country Town whose family dog lady is Accused one morning of killing a neighbor's chickens the woman listens and growing dread throughout the day as townsperson after townsperson laughs at the torture and death that will befall Lady of the result including finally the woman's own children who describe two ladies space in Glee full detail how they will use a spiked collar to chop off her head
00:34:38I noticed a unifying theme to all the stories for creeping sense of foreboding in these places that are allegedly home to play society and undercurrent of depravity
00:34:58morning comes no word from Jake in the meantime I try to come up with some other ideas the obvious one in situation like this would be the contact the victim's family but at this point I still don't know if anyone's actually died and so that's an awkward phone call to make I can't get local hospital records I try but they're not public did it with death records in Alabama also not public again I found no Obits or new story about any of this in the papers I was able to find to Dylan Nichols in Bibb County Boe through the right age or early twenties one spelled his first name d y Lan the other spell Dillon it look like Dylan at play football good County High School a few years earlier but other than that he had basically no footprint online which is strange for someone his age like maybe that means you're dead
00:35:49Dillon on the other hand appear to be alive and well and actively maintaining his Facebook page not only that you've gone to Cambridge High School and was Facebook friends with them which made both John and me wonder if somehow the rumor got messed up and maybe Dylan wasn't the dead guy maybe he was the friend with Kate from who got his throat cut and kept quiet about the whole thing so I held off on contacting him
00:36:11so too afraid to talk to the cops too afraid to talk to the birds or the Nickels is I'll add another idea to John my thought is we will leave the murder happen sometime in the summer of 2012 if we can somehow I'm there all the time. To just a couple weeks maybe we can go to the public library and look for the archive a good County's local newspaper the Centreville press the old issues on online so maybe there's an obituary or some other clue in there that I haven't been able to see John has an idea for how we can nail down a more precise date what is this makeshift Ledger where he keeps detailed track of all the projects on his property we sit on his twin bed and he flips through and shows me his whole system how we know it's the people who worked each day a rotating crew of young guys and handyman types around town what they were working on how much you paid them
00:37:04the red means it was for the yard for us if it doesn't have the red it's at the house if you see a letter M with a circle around it at me we were plant in the Maze pretty sure they were laying the sleet area behind his house when we was going around about the murder whatever they working on that that's probably what happened he says yard shed roof tar it working dog pants like bridge this what this event would have happened right around this time. August of 2012 August 7th August 8th and then August 12th at the same
00:37:42well then you can have 20 bucks in August 12th oh yeah that makes someone have enough gas to go home
00:37:54can we pinpoint any closer than August probably pinpoint between the 7th and 21st with some real good stuff close to share brother Gibbs 27th the 21st 7th and 21st
00:38:13so we're off to the library to the microphone machine in the back room so by this point I'm noticing that John's been acting kind of weird weird for him like evasive I'm trying to get him to look through the newspaper archive with me but instead he's just wondering over by the bookshelves avoiding me are saying we're trying to figure out this guy died places in Florida with a mission
00:38:45then as we're going through issues alright Centerville news I don't know feel like he's trying to rush me through this like he doesn't want me to be as thorough as I'm being or something if we go all the way to September don't find anything I bet there's no well you probably don't even notice need to go past yeah it's just September
00:39:09look at this from page or is this is this is Wednesday September 15th the broker microfilm wheeled my finger I read through every issue of the Centreville press mid July through September it gives a pretty detailed snapshot of the summer 2012 in Dade County Alabama some cousins drove in from Forsyth Georgia with a four tier cake for Kelsey Connell sweet 16 party 1965 people called complaints into the Sheriff's Office 20 people violated probation and police discovered 14 illegal piles of garbage the mayor of Centerville started campaigning for reelection two brothers went up to space camp together a guy I hired a Hitman to unsuccessfully trying to kill the west blocton police chief and Jean Ingram serve chicken salad for lunch one day to Benny and Joe Russell
00:39:51no did not happen in the summer 2012 according to the reporting of the Centreville press
00:39:56murder that guy named keep him first or the death of a guy named Dylan Nichols
00:40:05after looking at every police blotter every obituary we've got nothing nothing nothing nothing. John doesn't seem to care that we're not making much progress he's goofing off one afternoon I find I'm going to shop with Tyler Goodson Jake Goodson's brother Tyler does working John's yard to he's here to chop up a fallen tree but it's all so clear he and John know each other pretty well they chat easily and Tyler has a power belongings that he's keeping here at John's house was trying to get a permanent place to live you know he must be going to court at least that's what his mom will tell me one day today apparently he's not on the docket because he's standing here shirtless and tattooed with an anatomical heart in his chest that says misery loves company sharpening a chainsaw tooth by tooth
00:40:56John's Plumbing to the bottle of wild turkey on the workbench
00:41:07lucky sticker poke out
00:41:10I bet he don't hit it like I do John is getting drunk Tyler is filing away telling stories about run-ins with the cops I am standing in an antique clock shop in the middle of the woods I take a drink then Tyler and John show me the 19th century French Carriage clock the restoring that they found of the junkyard its pieces scattered about the bench and one point suddenly for no apparent reason and certainly not because I asked John Yanks up his shirt and flashes me the entirety of chest is tattooed and shoulders to know it's all perfectly covered when he's wearing a t-shirt flashing is quick so I can take it all in but I see a glimpse of with possibly a beaker and maybe a clock type thing it takes me back because John has made clear to me how much kilos tattoos they're one of the things he hates about shittown I believe he wants called them an expression of hopelessness doesn't compute that's at your entire chest John and nipple piercings
00:42:11send as if of course this is the next logical subject of discussion John gets on the topic of the small quantity hazardous waste generator is regulation of 1998 and its effect on the electroplating trade you know K light up the solution with the single-celled potassium cyanide buffer the pH shrimp 10.4 and you know what usually operate a hunter 4206 degrees Fahrenheit it you know 2 or 3:00 amps per square foot if you have a spare coin John asks he wants to make me a souvenir idea got a dime for my pocket he starts fussing around in the back room of the shop
00:42:51Chernobyl after the blast cutting wires feeling of beakers like a drunk and mad scientist
00:42:59do not read any of that if you smell anything that smells like almonds I'd say it's about this point that I ask myself is John fucking with me is he just a board guy who contacted me on a lark never expected me to actually follow through is this murder not real and he knows it is not only the fact that he's right now pouring potassium cyanide into a bucket in front of me and makes me wonder this
00:43:27it's all the little moments from our conversations over the months that I've ignored or written off as just one of John's quirks for example the couple times months in when he casually raise the possibility that you know what maybe telling Nicholson actually died and it's one of those two for the times he seems kg about putting me directly in touch with Jake Goodson being investigated he might get real scared and get real quiet if you call it what you want to allude to the fact that I had spoken to you or all the times John offered to reimburse my employer for my travel expenses to Alabama no matter how much I told him I'd never let him do that because he was so worried that the investigation might turn out to be a goose egg we are very lucky we're good and then just so many odd little interactions I've had with John The Poetry recitation sees giving me the NeverEnding emails about every topic imaginable the long personalized lectures on climate change
00:44:27be uncomfortable moments like this one when I was talking to John about how he would explain to people in town what I was doing down there if they saw me with them that would be a really good way to introduce me to your neighbors
00:44:42Dow Jones acting as if he's not interested in the murder I'm possibly breathing in dangerous chemicals what am I still doing here
00:44:49which I'm sure it is in the shop Tyler continues to sharpen the chainsaw and John drops my diamond to a bucket in the large sink hooks up wires to a car battery runs them into the bucket and then zaps it cranking up the current until the dime turn to Gold I might be dead and gone one day but you'll have a souvenir from shittown Alabama
00:45:14a gold dime can go play.
00:45:26Thousands and thousands of years we did not have clocks or calendars or any method for telling time in the way we think of telling time now and time was happening on the less as humans we must have sensed it maybe we heard it the rhythm of it as we sharpen to Tool
00:45:44it's amazing if you think about it the sheer variety of methods we can talk to it over the centuries to keep track of time before sand through glass we swing pendulums back and forth we count the cycles of radiation coming up and Adam we count Mississippi's
00:46:00when John was a teenager he became fascinated with what was possibly the very first formalized way humans came up with to keep track of time watching the sun and the stars and the phases of the moon evil does own version of something called an astrolabe which is showing me where we're standing is the Zenith at this point over here the astrolabe looks kind of like a clock crossed with a compass it's a flat dial with a map of the night sky laid over it and a pointer or I guess a site attached on top of that
00:46:31the biggest star in the sky a name the site at it twist the Sky Map until it aligns with a sight in a certain way and then the dial shows you your direction as well as the month day and time it's a beautiful complex device as a kid John long to figure it out to put himself inside the brains of the people who puzzled through the earliest versions The Greek astronomer hipparchus who devised the mathematics behind this or the 10th Century Islamic scholars who are find the invention to help them time their daily prayers
00:47:03John wanted to go through what they had to go through to create an astrolabe which is why he made his own design specifically for the coordinates of this house and hangs on the wall of his mother's bedroom that's what he's showing me his astrolabe when Skylar Goodson happens to walk in the front door where is the wife of Jake Goodson the guy I've been desperately wanting to talk to she's 21 outgoing the other little son with her who's crawling on all fours are feet pretending to be a dog we make some small talk and eventually of casualties I can I ask her you don't happen to know about the incident John and I have been talking about do you she knows Johnson's quietly but Skyler seems confused remind me of the big fight between K member and that dude John tells her that resulted in the dudes death
00:47:57I can see Skyler recognizes what he's talking about yes she says yes he straight up told us that he killed him cold-blooded murdered him he told you that to us she said she was with Jake when it happened
00:48:14the Little Caesars sink apron for the first time at 3 Van Ness for awhile came and telling them he claim self-defense and gotten off according to Skyler it all went down just have John said it did in those words pretty much said that he had murdered the guy and just so not murder killed a little bit of everything like it was a casual conversation like hey how you been well this is going on in my life I got arrested because I murdered somebody and yada yada yada and let me tell you about it and it's just like there was nothing to it
00:48:59that he had to beat him to death
00:49:03and I can't just I just can't imagine sitting there and repeating the hidden me somebody until they die
00:49:19what did you guys say I mean where were you like just stood there just stared at him
00:49:32it didn't sound like it was something that you should be having casual conversation about it seems like he should have still been in hiding
00:49:43Schuyler said she'd actually heard about the murder before talking to k bro that it was kind of an Open Secret that's the thing the freaks are almost about this even a couple years after it happened the fact that so many people know and still have done nothing the complicity I mentioned my trip to the library to her I hope that there be some record of this in the newspaper but she has no Illusions about that not even in there what do you mean this town has a way of forgetting information and hiding information if somebody don't want people to know about it then it won't be there
00:50:29Johnston's by Skylar talks he's uncharacteristically quiet a small grin on his face I'm hanging on Skyler's every word I can't believe I'm finally getting a first-hand account of all this but John is, matter of fact like what's the big surprise it's a shittown this is what I've been telling you all along
00:50:55, is he ugly
00:50:58the sky is overcast
00:51:08she watches her flowers
00:51:12please come and go together in each other roses from Andrews there's nothing you can do. S town is produced by Julie Schneider and me with editing from Ira Glass Joel level Sarah Cain and Neil drumming Whitney Dangerfield is our digital editor starlee Kine is a story consultant fact-checking and research by Ben Phelan set Linda's our director of operations mixing by lyrus Smith Matt Tierney is our technical director the s-town staff includes Emily Condon Elise bergersen Julie Whitaker and Kimberly Henderson music for the show is composed by Daniel Hart Trey Pollard a lot of negro Nick thorburn and Matt McKinley music supervision by Damien Grace special thanks to Tracy
00:52:12and Cory Wong at Studio Rodrigo Rich Horas Jack hit on heat Alani Sarah Dockery Jordan Strickland. Dung Anthony Roman and balerud evolve who did the incredible art and illustrations for a website s Town podcast. Org that's s-town podcast. Org where of course also on Facebook and Twitter and you can follow us on Instagram at s-town podcast reminder that you don't have to wait for chapter 2 all seven chapters are available right now s town is a production of cereal and This American Life

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