ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In today's part 2 on the disappearance of Darwin Vest, we cover all of the evidence for foul play, as found in police records and conversations with Rebecca Vest, Darwin's sister, and Annie, another member of Darwin's family. We also discuss why police have previously argued that Darwin drowned in the Snake River that night.
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00Tanner podcast is supported in part by our donors at patreon.com thin air podcast patrons get rewards for their support things like stickers blogs about what we're working on and more once you become a donor you'll have instant access to all of our patreon exclusive content so if you want more that are podcast check us out at patreon.com / Center podcast thanks to Audible for supporting thin-air for a free audiobook with a 30-day free trial go to audible.com than air or text thin air to 500 500 previously on thin air podcast Darwin Fest was last seen leaving the crown bar in downtown Idaho Falls alone sometime around 12:30 a.m. on June 3rd 1999
00:00:59he could also like the next day and he was very uncooperative they had and running down and died cuz I felt lead was the Culper
00:01:10Nigeria's when you hear the rest of the story that he did Escape that I absolutely 100% right of 6 3 1999 early morning hours and he went undetected for we don't know how long he ended up back after work to fill it need that morning we absolutely believe it 100%
00:01:39in contrast the detectives In Darwin's case and there's been a few over the years wrapped up all of their reports and notes on Darwin's case with the following quote there is no evidence of Foul Play and it is likely that Darwin best round in the Snake River the night he disappeared
00:02:20it's the evening of June 3rd 1999
00:02:24Darwin best has been missing for less than 24 hours and inmates at the Idaho Falls Community work center are checking in with guards for the night as they are required to buy the program
00:02:38at 10:45 p.m. a man named Edward sangston is where he's supposed to be checked in with guards and as far as they know ready to settle in
00:02:53Sexton had been in prison for grand theft since 1997 and he was likely at the work center because he was up for parole the work have same is to help quote selected inmates who are nearing release a chance to prepare themselves for a release so in other words the goal is to help inmates to transition back into society by giving them jobs in the community during working hours while they're still incarcerated and under supervision at night so it's kind of like a halfway house for inmates who are getting ready to get out
00:03:29but at 2 a.m. the time of the next regularly-scheduled check this would have now been June 4th 1999 Langston was nowhere to be found
00:03:42just likely Escape through a bedroom window as it was a low security facility the windows were not equipped with alarms police later found a quote screen that was torn and pushed away from its frame
00:03:57Annie Darwin's family member who we spoke to at our last episode talked with us about sangster's Escape Escape report it states the a distinction escaped through a bedroom window
00:04:14and this bedroom windows screen had been torn off and pushed away their work with Prince up and over the fence this bedroom window switch those were some things to me because it wasn't his bedroom window it was a window somewhere within that facility where the screen has been torn off and in this case it happens at 2 a.m. officers at the facility you did not call police dispatch until 3:49 a.m. nearly two hours after he is found to be missing that means that Sexton could have had potentially a four hour Head Start before Idaho Falls Police even knew he was gone
00:04:58Sexton would eventually be found in Florida in 2001 and would return to Idaho to do time for the Escape
00:05:07at the same facility was a man named Don ellingford who attacks Darwin in 1996 and who he ultimately testified against I couldn't find out how long I'm going for it had been at this facility before Darwin went missing but Darwin Stanley had believed that he was incarcerated elsewhere in a maximum security penitentiary apparently he's been on quite good behavior while he was in jail but
00:05:39Darwin he meant to
00:05:44my name is Rebecca vest and wow I'm Darwin some sister
00:05:56Rebecca was in court the day that ellingford was sentenced
00:06:08and he looked over our family my whole family was there we were all there
00:06:14any he said she said something about pay back or like I'll pay you back for this. I'll get you back for this
00:06:27unbelievable
00:06:29did I ever tell you that he or your family that he had been moved to this facility oh no possibly Hamid been wandering around with on a work release and I don't think they knew who was in or out of that work release thing now that there's another joke for you wow
00:06:58will you think you're being protected and and you're not so when singstand escaped less than 24 hours after Darwin went missing from the same facility where ellingford was incarcerated Darwin's family and friends began to believe that it was possible that ellingford could have snuck out that night gone unnoticed during the hours of Darwin's disappearance and weld up back at the facility at the following morning with guards having no idea he was ever gone giving him a solid alibi
00:07:36there was another Force at work the night Darwin went missing and that is the Snake River the Snake River is arguably the most important river in Idaho from its source of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming to its mouth at the Columbia River in Washington majority of its 1078 Mile Stretch Idaho thanks for the southern portion of the state from border to border until it veers north towards Washington the river is a major fixture of many Southern Idaho towns including Idaho Falls the river doesn't quite bisect the town but it comes close the town itself was named after Rapids in the river which later became a diversion Dam now known as The Falls
00:08:26The Falls are 1200 feet long and have a 20-foot drop and they're near the center of the town if you were to get a postcard from Idaho Falls it's likely to be of the falls frames by a large white spider from the nearby Mormon temple in the background
00:08:45in the early morning hours of June 3rd 1999 around 12:30 to 12:45 a.m. Darwin best left the Golden Crown in downtown Idaho Falls never to be seen again as we discussed in our last episode it was thought that he would have walked home which would have taken around 25 to 30 minutes it was raining that night and past weather records note that between 12:01 a.m. and 12:53 a.m. it was lightly raining and windy the Snake River was at a yearly high that night as it was later reported in some of the detectives notes quote the Snake River was having a high water runoff from melting snow the normal volume of water going through Idaho Falls is 6000 CFS or cubic feet per second
00:09:36the volume of water on 6 to 99 was at 27500 CFS the diversion dams were open at all of the Power Plants Downstream from Idaho Falls and quote
00:09:52so did Darwin by accident fall into the Roaring Snake River that night or did someone die on allenford or Lee Curtis or someone else find Darwin after he left the Golden Crown and tell him his body never to be found
00:10:12today we present the evidence that exists for each of these possibilities As Told To Us by members of his family his friend Eric seneff and from detectives notes that have since been made public
00:10:29join us for part 2 of the Darwin best story
00:10:38I want to know a little bit more about your family in general so can you just describe your family for us Darwin and David are both older brothers and my parents are both native from the area as well I'm very very close very close tight-knit family were very close to me
00:11:07thirties and forties and fifties
00:11:11we all remain close
00:11:14Darwin was about 7 years older than me he actually had a snake hat what we called the Snake House out on Snow Road in Idaho Falls when he was probably I helped him take care of his all of his reptiles and amphibians it was like living in a in our house my mom was terrified of snakes I don't know how to get year old sister following him around and in all of his Endeavors and research
00:11:59Rebecca and Darwin were close throughout their lives Rebecca described how both of them shared a passion for science and research and Rebecca and Darwin actually work together at Washington State University in the Venom and toxin lab there at Washington State University I worked with him and a dr. Kenneth card on
00:12:28and the staff there in the serology department with Darwin my gosh for several years working on in a project from the snake venom to the hobo spider and Beyond we did a lot of different research
00:12:46Shaw's very very close very close to Darwin he and I spent many amazing hours all night long and lab in milking snakes processing venom freeze-drying venom
00:13:05we had a lot of time to share a lot of things and talk and we actually really got to know each other very well
00:13:15she was very very inquisitive and he was brilliant
00:13:21how to spell aunt
00:13:23it was shot as well you know he never really really got out there and sold himself the same way in his personal life you know he wasn't incredibly social until he's got in his twenties I would say what up to Moscow Idaho United he had more of a special. Married and then it got called off
00:14:06normal life for an amazing brilliant
00:14:14it was a sweetheart you really was
00:14:22I miss him
00:14:27Rebecca also explained why Darwin left his studies at Washington State early and without a degree
00:14:35when he went back to Idaho Falls my my dad was getting cancer treatment so
00:14:41so they needed help Mom and Dad need help
00:14:47and then he passed away and Darwin had intended on actually
00:14:59and I'm going somewhere and getting back into his research of Liberty University or maybe biotech
00:15:08he lived his office down into my parents basement
00:15:13and I'm not everybody would drop their career to go down and help their parents like darling dad
00:15:24so he was doing very well and things are looking up you know our family was still morning where do our dad was throwing love summertime he mumbling Grumble through the winter but boy oh boy he love being outside meal of the sudden he loves you know
00:15:45going out and I think snakes and spiders and love the outdoors he was a real nature person he loves hiking in a really good way when I just appeared I mean we were all kind of reeling from Dad's lost but but summertime
00:16:11Rebecca was living in Seattle when she found out the Darwin was missing and when she did she was immediately concerned and suspected that something was Gravely wrong it was early in the morning I was at work I have a research site that I was working in it and
00:16:32my phone rang and it was my mom and I knew something was wrong because she would never never call me or
00:16:44you know that's looks like a No-No when I picked up the phone I can tell by your voice that something was wrong and she said that his roommates not in his bed this morning didn't come up for breakfast
00:17:04and write them I knew that something was terribly wrong because that was completely unlike Darwin very concerned and there's something really bad happened and I should probably got to call the police they were so casual about it and I'll get right on it and start looking for Garland they basically just dismissed it it wasn't long before Rebecca was on a plane to Idaho Falls to help look for Darwin family and my relatives my mom and I are around the clock we went all over Idaho Falls look in abandoned cars passed out somewhere I'm at stairwell
00:17:58I looked in every dumpster
00:18:01everything
00:18:04it just wasn't right it didn't click that was definitely something wrong with the scenario
00:18:14for Rebecca Darwin's disappearance has always been centered around the likelihood of Foul Play she believes that Lee Curtis was definitely involved Lee being the last person to have seen Darwin that night
00:18:29we discussed Lee Story and what he said happened to the night Darwin went missing in our last episode but Rebecca noticed first-hand that Darwin was occasionally wary of Lee who seems somewhat unpredictable ever I was in Idaho Falls literally driving in the car we can go up to have dinner somewhere at a restaurant Idaho Falls walking in the door and man that was that we were not going he was he would literally sat down in the car to hide from Lee threatened
00:19:18a couple of people he would like hit on women in the bar and pretend like he accidentally burn them with cigarette actually even said it for me I don't know if I can control myself I I'm going I'm going to tell somebody it might be you
00:19:39so naturally that's right where I didn't even think about really the other
00:19:49possibilities when Rebecca was in Idaho Falls after Darwin's disappearance she tried to talk to Lee's family since he had left town but she didn't have the best of luck I went right to leave I picked up the phone probably house please parents house date they were very angry with me and told me leave leave out at our family farm
00:20:17it's here but he's not here he's a. It I didn't know what that meant
00:20:24I don't know whether to finance or anything but
00:20:28I mean all these things like in my mind and Mom and I were just trying to figure everything out and my mom tried to find out what the sperm was he asks friends and relatives and they were going to drive her out to this Farm wherever it was
00:20:49it was north of town I think somewhere I could be wrong
00:20:54she was just sure that Darwin with
00:21:00being held out there by lady or they were trying to hide him
00:21:08his family was fully aware of his state of mine and that's really you know you try to cover that out with a loved one but wow I got hung up on my mom and I went over and we beg them please tell if anything they're like don't don't call us again and we've already talked to the police
00:21:39that is blue
00:21:43pulling into the category of there's really something wrong here and it has to do with him
00:21:50I don't know where this Farm is Rebecca was the only place that I heard about this it's not in detectives notes and Annie Darwin's other family member didn't mention Rebecca also mentioned that she heard Lee left in the middle of the night shortly after Darwin's disappearance but there's no mention of a specific time in police files I did reach out to police regarding clarification of this detail but I have not heard back yet
00:22:21for me the question of leaves involvement comes back to the idea of means motive and opportunity
00:22:31both Rebecca and Annie expressed that Lee was somewhat unstable and the Darwin and Lee's relationship wasn't the closest or friendliest as we discussed in our last episode there are some confusing moments with Lee's timeline that night and his cab ride home
00:22:50we did leave the Golden Crown before Darwin did and both men were gone around the same time before Lee returned to the Golden Crown alone
00:23:02according to bartenders this is not a long amount of time around 10 or 15 minutes at the most but in theory there is a short window of time where both Lee and Darwin are not in the bar and it is unknown where either of them are
00:23:21so we might have the means and the opportunity but what I keep coming back to is motive for the sure he might have been unstable but that doesn't mean that he wanted to kill Darwin knowing that night reports of any fighting between them so perhaps something happened when the left and Darwin followed that we will never know about maybe something else that happened between them that caused lead to want to hurt Darwin but if that reason is out there it was never revealed to police in interviews also according to Lee's family is home by 1 a.m. which is at most 30 minutes after Darwin left the bar and at the shortest estimate only 15 minutes after Darwin left so there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of time to commit any crime but there is a small window there
00:24:15and perhaps as Rebecca suggests his family covered for him that night saying he was home earlier than he actually was
00:24:26it is also noted in police records that Lee was given a polygraph in September of 2000 which he passed indicating that he was truthful about not having anything to do with Darwin's disappearance but any believes that leave may not have had his own motive but rather helped to hurt Darwin out of his relationship to Don ellingford
00:24:52any believes that lisset Darwin up to later be murdered by ellingford that night he left out the north entrance of the Golden Crown went to the he was attacked right then and there he was set up by Lee Curtis
00:25:11for the people who were waiting for him in the alley and he was a trap thrown in the dumpster they waited for a car maybe we could have went and got his car took him to the home at 879 clareview where the standoff occurred the next night and they murdered him in there in that basement of that house
00:25:36in researching Darwin's case and he came across a series of events that happened in the days following Darwin's disappearance and for her none of these are coincidental the first was of course the sayings to escape on the night after the evening of June 3rd and the early morning hours of June 4th and then on the night of June 4th around 10 p.m. an armed standoff between a homeowner and police later with a SWAT team called in took place at 879 clareview the address and he mentioned that house belong to a man named Mike ellingford John ellingford nephew and not coincidentally according to Annie the other he lives right behind their backyard back of each other to imagine like when we was in Idaho Falls he usually stayed with his parents who lived on a street called Sumit sir
00:26:36the Curtis Family Home & Mike Allen Fritz home don't quite line up back-to-back but they are closed while I couldn't find any police records that indicated this any asserts that the elephants were friends with Lee and that a plan had been hatched by Don ellingford to kill Darwin that night that we was somehow involved in a Zanny described the standoff at Mike's residence two days later was a big deal in Idaho Falls it made the front page of the newspaper the post register for days but what actually happened during the standoff is somewhat unclear even from detailed police reports it seems that Mike had been drinking that day and he began to smash out the window of his house with a shovel and started breaking other things inside when officers arrived they believed they had heard gunshots inside it so that's when they called in the SWAT team
00:27:35the SWAT team then tried talking to Mike to get him out of the house no shots were fired during this time and though it took hours Mike eventually surrendered and was arrested on several Lawrence drinking and said that he did it because he was angry with the police no one else was found inside his house what they did find inside we're five of them and the house itself was a disaster someone presumably Mike ellingford had dug a hole into the foundation which was six feet deep and had begun to dig tunnels underneath the foundation of what had been the garage
00:28:18Outback in and around the garage in the house
00:28:23there was a 4 by 3 by 6 foot deep hole dug in the backyard all along the foundation there was a tunnel that had been started to be dug from the house to the garage garage foundation had been taken out and was exposed for the dirt all along there so their Works tunnels in between the walls of the house compartments I meant I just on the same days that the article about the standoff it was Darwin missing the name of the suspects are related Dawning like going first
00:29:03and nobody like the media never put it together
00:29:08and he began to connect the standoff not only because of its proximity to the date of Darwin's disappearance but from a series of tips which came in years later chips that came in in 2008 and 2011
00:29:26and actually won in 2000
00:29:29so three people came forward seeing that Ellensburg were involved in the murder there were three tips which were noted in the police records and three tips which and he discussed at length the first hip chronologically came in October of 2000 from a criminal informant who is unidentified in police notes the note reads quote the sea I said he had been involved in multiple conversations with Don allenford and William Derek Emery in which they indicated that they were involved in the murder of Darwin best Derek Emery said that he kidnapped and killed Darwin for Don ellingford ellingford was supposed to have been present at the time the murder occurred I look for told the CI nobody would find a body in the Wolverine area meeting that the animals would eat it don't also made a strange comment to the CIA at one time about he could kill someone and put them behind a concrete wall in a basement
00:30:29Ford told the CI the door would had stolen some phosphorus from him and he was sent to prison because of Darwin ellingford had a ring with diamonds in the shape of a spider that he claimed to have cut off Darwin's finger and quote
00:30:44it does not seem the detectives gave much way to the cia's information as it was discovered that every the man who supposedly help telling furred was it a different Work Camp in a different part of Idaho on the night of his disappearance the sergeant at this facility was adamant it was quote not possible for Derek Emery to be in Idaho Falls when Darwin disappeared and quote they also contacted Eric based on this tip Eric being Darwin's friend who we spoke to in our last episode Eric does not remember Darwin as wearing any rings and that he knew of no other connection between Darwin & Dawn other than the assault in 1996 so it seems the police do not take the information from this see I seriously the next tip came all the way in 2008 and again implicated Don ellingford this time it was an ex-girlfriend of my calendar for its and again Darwin's jewelry was brought up
00:31:442008 she was Michael Ellensburg girlfriend and my calendar is the one with the standoff that was shooting out his window and has holes and compartments in pieces of his yard. Up information that she provided included the existence of a ring and necklace ellingford killed Darwin best in the basement of Michael ellingford house 879 Claire view Mike shut off the limbs with an axe and a knife and put the body parts in a cooler filled with concrete through the cooler in the Snake River about 10 miles north of town we advised that Mike to Darwin's gold necklace and John took Sterling firing
00:32:34but again the police do not believe this tip to be credible either to quote from the police report information she provided included the existence of a ring and a necklace there is no ring or necklace in the initial investigation Darwin's family was contacted and they advised the Darwin does not wear necklaces or rings I interviewed her and gave her a fictitious descriptions of these pieces she told me these were the ones for information is false and no further action was taken and quote basically they just credited this girl because he described the jewelry inefficiently which according to family darling didn't have a ring and necklace but
00:33:24I do suspect that he had some jewelry so they just said she is not she lied and so she's also wanted them to not release my from jail so I do recognize these
00:33:47this tip seems to be the basis of what Andy imagined happened to Darwin that night that Lee Curtis assisted and somehow getting Darwin to my calendar for its basement where the man attacked him and later dismembered and disposed of his body the standoff too late Slater demonstrates to Andy that Mike is unstable and dangerous and that the condition of his house and the layout of it proves that it's where the murder took place police did interview Mike ellingford about Darwin's disappearance while he was sitting in jail for the standoff on June 9th 1999 the report States quote Mike said he was familiar with mr. vest and was aware of the case that his Uncle Don was sent to prison for Mike said Don ellingford was in jail at the time and he had never heard talk of Revenge Mike doubted on would be involved in causing The Disappearance of Darwin best
00:34:47Mike said he didn't know mr. vest personally and had nothing to do with his disappearance Mike denied knowing Lee Curtis and quote
00:34:59I was actually able to get a hold of Mike and I asked him about the connection to this case while he declined an interview he said quote I'm not really sure why my name comes up in the best thing it was my uncle who all the suspicion was about someone said that I had buried him in my backyard and the police took it up that's how I have any link to the situation like I said people get me a dawn mixed up all the time I don't know what else I could tell you about it and quote
00:35:29this is the only tip that links Mike directly to Darwin's disappearance but there were others that did implicate his Uncle Don it's clear that Darwin's disappearance was making people talk in Idaho Falls they were coming out of the woodwork Darwin's friend Eric actually describe another incident where a woman and I'm not sure who this is told him that ellingford was responsible
00:35:57weirdo in a woman coming to her story I have a retail store here in Idaho Falls to shopping but the kids told my wife and I'll let you know she knew the only Force personally and that's that somebody their Clan whatever had she had knowledge that they Crossing and killed him and getting him buried him out there somewhere gravel road across the creek call Little Creek and it's about them
00:36:40so 15-20 miles from Idaho Falls I heard that story know that gal anybody knew I would anybody dislike darling him anywhere in the notes but as Eric describes it does seem that police dismissed it rather quickly the final tip in the police records comes from 2011 a man named Travis need claims to have knowledge about Darwin's disappearance and reached out to Idaho Falls detectives via a letter need first name is really just and he goes by Travis need
00:37:40cotton balls in like a Ponzi scheme and he and another man stole a bunch of money from a woman in Coeur d'Alene that was his crime so he was trying to offer information to get a lesser sentence for those crimes in Coeur d'Alene and the way he did that was he contacted the Idaho Falls Police Department and told them that he had been somewhere and he had a receipt to prove where he been that wear a suspect or person had confided in him to the murder and Disposal up darling K vest body after some brief research on this guy it seems that again little weight was given to his information likely because of Travis his reputation as a con artist and fraud but regardless of how valid these tips may or may not be any explained that they all have significance because they all now only
00:38:40just in police reports Because the actual audio and video that existed from the interviews of these tips have since been destroyed and in November of 2011 an officer named Jeremy Galbraith ordered the destruction of the audio and video tape from both ships that came in
00:39:02I called the city attorney last Friday and asked him about it and I called him again and he said he's have evidence person in charge of evidence looking into why they were destroyed and I haven't heard that as to why the 7 was destroyed
00:39:25so after reviewing the tips we are still left with little to assert in the way of concrete evidence for foul play
00:39:35Don ellingford was of course it'll viewed by police shortly after Darwin's disappearance the first thing investigators did was try to establish where he was when Darwin went missing detectives were given paperwork indicating that ellingford was seen at the facility at 9:45 p.m. on the night of June 2nd and again at 2:35 in the morning of June 3rd when asked about the escape the lieutenant working that night said that he quote didn't think there was a connection between sangston and ellingford and quote sangston being the man who escaped
00:40:11the lieutenant also added that quote the windows at the center have bolted screens on them the screens are not alarmed but damage results if they are removed or tampered no damage was detected and quote so this must mean or seems to mean that the screens at the facility are checked daily for damage which they would have to be because Sexton who went missing the next night broke a screened-in trying to escape from the facility but the notes do not reflect this directly so we have to assume that what he means is the screens at this facility were checked between the night of June 3rd and when sangston escapes on the morning of June 4th
00:40:57there's no note in the records about a check between this time frame but this would seem to be with notes are implying
00:41:07Don himself wasn't formally interviewed by police until July 26th 1999 the report reads quote Don said he didn't know anything about Darwin's disappearance and couldn't help me Don denied killing Darwin or having Darwin killed Don denied knowing where Darwin is don't said that he only met Darwin once and that was the night he robbed him and quote the report then notes that Don agreed to a polygraph but this never shows up in the records and soon he is no longer in Idaho falls and they never did something happened between June and September and when an officer went back to the work center to interviewed on again about the appearance and I don't know maybe set up a
00:42:07I told Kim that Don had recently been sent back to the state penitentiary in Boise but I have no record why
00:42:17we'll be right back
00:42:27audio books are great for helping you to be a better you for our audience audible is offering a free audiobook with a 30-day free trial do you want to listen to it Audible has it just go to audible.com did air or text thin-air to 500 500 and browse their unmatched selection of audio content you can download a title free and start listening it's just that easy edible selection of audiobooks original shows news comedy and more is unmatched anywhere you will find what you're looking for and what I'm usually looking for is narrative nonfiction which probably doesn't surprise you I've been listening to killers of the flower Moon the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI by David Grant this audiobook Chronicles one of the most shocking series of murders in our nation's history and I've never heard of them before for example did you know that in the 1920s the richest people
00:43:27the world per capita for the members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma and did you know that someone began murdering all of them leading to a crisis that helped to form the FBI again I had no idea it left me heartbroken and angry and you simply must give it a listen it is so beautifully told on Audible you won't want to miss it and if that doesn't sound like something you'll love Audible has a wide selection of books for True Crime lovers you can dive right into it quitting the new book about the Golden State killer I'll be gone in the dark by Michelle McNamara time to listen to that one and the new and best selling the woman in the window by AJ Finn and much much more in addition to a great selection Audible has so many features that I know you'll love my favorite feature is that audible members get a credit every single month that is good for any audio book and if you have any unused credits they just roll over to the next month
00:44:27and if you didn't like the audiobook you chose you can exchange it no questions asked audible makes it so easy for you to listen to amazing audio books that I know you'll love the books are yours to keep with audible you can go back and read listen anytime even if you cancel your membership there that good so if you want to try Audible and get a free audiobook with a 30-day free trial go to audible.com / tener or text thin-air to 500 500 that's a u d i b l e. Com thin air or text thin air to 500 500
00:45:17I always like to walk to you it was raining the night that he went missing do you think that that would have deterred him in anyway or would he just haven't like I'm just going to go home something I'm over in my mind a lot Darwin was like a cat he hated being wet he hated big cold he actually had a cold that week he was all stuff being had a head cold and you didn't feel really great I mean normally if it were nice warm summer night spiders down there that you know had had a like a bunch of babies and they were in the lava rocks down there and he was keeping data on them and that's when I was down there we had our little spider route who was having babies what spiders are still there part of who we are but so the only reason
00:46:16even near the river would be the black widows which would have been close to the river in the Rockwall there by that there's a little Memorial I think it's a Veterans Memorial but he wouldn't have done that on it raining windy cold night
00:46:38a flashlight is you know his data no data book there was no reason really he would have actually had to walk home he would have bundled up his coat and the direct route
00:46:59it's not clear from police records if the river theory was the first they investigated it seems that they did start by chasing down human leads First In Darwin's case it wasn't until after they interviewed Lee Curtis that the idea that Darwin fell in the river really began to take shape in the notes after Lee suggested that he and Darwin used to travel by a particular Canal investigators words with Parks and Recreation in Idaho Falls to search to drainage tubes which led to the river nothing was found
00:47:35another clue came in the form of a sighting at 4 p.m. on the day Darwin went missing June 3rd 1999 a woman named Dolores Sorenson was driving along the Shelley bridge in Shelley Idaho when she saw something floating in the river
00:47:52woman in Shelley Idaho which is about 10 miles south of Idaho Falls reported a body floating in the river clearly describes it the black matted hair is he the forehead and it was bobbing up and down to see what it was wearing and she tried to stop but a car was behind her she went home call the police Dolores later speaking to Rebecca told her that she was so sure it was a body because of something awful that it happened to her she said I know it was a body and the reason I know is because my husband sounds like 10 years ago and it took him three weeks to find him and when I saw that body I thought I will not let a family go 3 weeks without
00:48:46police reports claim that the Bingham County Sheriff's Office did search the river both June 3rd and 4th and only found a 55 gallon drum which they argued could have been what she saw but Dolores was insistent it was a body face down with black matted hair and wearing a brown plaid jacket I saw a body. A barrel she said
00:49:16along with Dolores sighting of a body just Downstream from Idaho Falls there was another sighting later reported to police but this time it was a police officer who saw something suspicious around the time Darwin went missing
00:49:32the note from the police report reads quote in the summer of 2000 I was contacted by Officer Earl in case he said that during the early morning hours of 6 399 he observed a male subject line in the Grass at the edge of the river the subject appear to be a transient and was very intoxicated officer case had the subject to move farther up the bank away from the river
00:49:57officer case had recently seen a picture of Darwin best in the newspaper and thought that the transient by the river looked similar he couldn't remember any more details and quote. It was literally several years later
00:50:13I was there again sitting at work in Seattle I got a phone call and somebody said to you know that they're currently was a police officer went to the river at two or three in the morning my impression was it was still
00:50:36you know in the early a.m. or sometime between 2 and daylight
00:50:44approach someone on the riverbank of mail that sounded like Darwin the way they describe them and said you know what are you doing here
00:51:01apparently he was going to be intoxicated
00:51:07and he was laying there wasn't nothing about you laying there sounded like he was somewhat delirious and wasn't really functional are able to talk much from what I could tell and they just said well you know he was a transient down by the river and left him
00:51:31they should have taken anybody in that was laying on the River Bank at night they could have at least taking him to jail or anything public drunkenness sleeping by the river whatever there but it would have saved his life
00:51:54when I found that out I just went bezerk I'm like yours you're kidding me in my mind
00:52:08it either been
00:52:13or maybe he had gotten
00:52:18very drunk with leaves that is madness. It's heartbreaking and not it that's got wrenching to think that the negligence
00:52:33inhumane treatment of whoever that person was probably my brother Darwin that could save his life and they never told the family about it
00:52:51but leader police reports contradict the earlier note and change the timeline of the siding from the early morning hours of six 39091 Darwin disappeared to 10 p.m. the following evening the later record reads quote the event register at police dispatch was checked and this event occurred on 63909 at 11:15 p.m. 22 hours after Darwin was last seen at the crown bar and quote police seem to later concluded that this man was not Darwin as their records confirm that this didn't happen in the early morning hours when Darwin went missing but later that same night the event register notes on 63909 at 11:15 p.m. read quote Unknown man down will request ambulance if needed ambulance not needed male subject leaving this event could be what officer case was remembering about finding an intoxicated Man by the river
00:53:53so who was this man on by the river and when did the officer actually see him though these event note seem to indicate that the man was on the riverbank the following evening this could be for something else the officer witnessed the notes do not indicate that this happened close to the riverbank these questions do not currently have answers that are known to the public
00:54:17it looking through police records it seems that the strongest piece of evidence claimed by previous detectives was the volume of water flowing through the river and the fact that nearby diversion dams were open their notes read quote with the volume of water at 27500 cubic feet per second they would have had their diversion Dam gates open to avoid flooding by keeping the water going down stream the gates at all diversion dams lift up and the water rushes through out the bottom I talked with Bonneville County detectives said pool she knows of 5 people who have drowned in the Snake River and their bodies have never been found even when it was known where they fell in and quote
00:55:01I tried to reach out to current investigators on Darwin's case and I'm still waiting to hear back from them but a detective who later worked on Darwin's case and it has summary by writing quote it is very unlikely Lee Curtis had anything to do with The Disappearance of Darwin best. Ellingford was secured in his room at the Idaho Falls work center and was not likely involved in Darwin's disappearance
00:55:26from the information I have obtained I believe that the intoxicated Darwin best probably fell into the Snake River and drowned with the high volume of water going down the river at the time and the diversion Gates were open his body was probably swept Downstream
00:55:42how this occurred at another time of the year his body would not have passed through the diversion Dam
00:55:52but for both Rebecca and Annie this conclusion is an irresponsible one and it makes them doubt the entire investigation
00:56:03we had to find everything out
00:56:06true I believe that my brother David found out quite a bit he was in there all the time looking at the records and he did that for years I mean David mom and I started Vigilant search the day he disappeared and
00:56:29and we kept out up until mom passed away and we just had to back off a little bit
00:56:40look up at the sky and see if it was still blue
00:56:50it's silly it changes changes who you are and
00:56:56and I I really got so so angry that this can happen to Darwin and we could just get kind of blown off by the powers-that-be as in the police department in the detectives didn't care what is really nice and polite but nice and polite doesn't do your job
00:57:28Rebecca argued that police were less than forthcoming with her family and she feels like they do have something to hide I come to believe that that's some of that was going on now very very defensive you know when I go to Idaho point of meeting with the detective and they wouldn't be in I'm determined to talk to him and get update they never do it on their own
00:58:03are our families had to beg them or even the simplest things it should be very straightforward and I'm just not going to share everything with the family but they messed up so many times it later you know which was it did they did they mess up or did they cover up I mean mistakes or forgivable but cover-ups aren't
00:58:31any suspects not only Foul Play In Darwin's disappearance but believes that the police were involved in a cover-up destroying evidence in order to protect people in this case siding the tips that were later lost and the continued assertion that Darwin just fell into the river because we knew what happened to him and someone in your life that would never disappear and you just know that person would not ever just disappear and more than he thought the river because that did not happen it's a really easy out for the police
00:59:14these are the pieces of evidence for the two strongest theories In Darwin's disappearance as presented by police records Darwin's family and friend Eric from people in the town talking to police to sightings which may or may not be connected then we're left still with the question of what really happened to Darwin that night
00:59:45as I attempt to conclude my story I'm reminded again of Darwin's work with the hobo spider and his famous study which works to understand the hobo spider bite Rebecca and Darwin worked together on this research and as she describes their investigation and what they found I couldn't help but think of my own research into Darwin's disappear and the nature of any investigation which seeks to find the truth so can you describe what you guys did like how did you how did you get these hobo spiders to bite the rabbits and what you found and I want to tell you it was the research and I was really involved in rabbit subject protection so we took good care of our babies and they did land a lot to science so I want to make sure people don't think we tortured animals or anything because we didn't
01:00:45Billy wood prep in a little spot
01:00:50on the rabbit usually back around its hip area I believe
01:00:57it separate side we do a little shaving you near so it would be kind of like bareSkin and then we got actually hold this fight
01:01:10right onto the zipper were milking it and spiders would do
01:01:17a defensive bite onto the onto the rabbit
01:01:23and then
01:01:26and we did have some some necrosis as I recall it was never
01:01:33died in the wall about the hobo spider switch a lot of people mistakenly say that that wasn't the main research that actually determine anything and then we laid the foundation for people that work on they've never been able to recreate that
01:01:51never never actually got there I mean it was it was still in the possible
01:02:01well it's possible
01:02:04it was like any other research it's got to start somewhere to figure it out but the thing is with research with any research you don't go into it
01:02:17this is what's happening and I'm going to prove it and go into
01:02:23What's Happening Here
01:02:31Darwin best went missing in the early morning hours of June 3rd 1999 he was last seen leaving a bar called the Golden Crown and it was likely he was headed home for the night he was 48 years old 5 foot 9 and wait around a hundred and sixty pounds he was not known to wear jewelry except for a spider watch and a brass belt buckle with the spider on it if you have any information please contact the Idaho Falls Police Department contact information is on our website Darwin's case has a lot of moving parts and people involved and I'm still waiting to talk to people in this case so I will share more information as it becomes available thank you to Rebecca best and Darwin's other family member Annie and Eric setup for speaking with us I would also like to say a huge thank you to Annie Who provided all of the police records which were a large amount of the information we used in our episodes so
01:03:31a huge thank you to her an incredible work she has done on this case
01:03:41Center podcast is produced by me and Daniel Calderon music in today's podcast was provided by Blue. Sessions check them out at sessions. Blue
01:03:52dinner podcast is supported in part by our donors at patreon.com that are podcast one of the rewards is to be listed as an executive producer of our show the executive producers of thin air podcast our page Llano Adam Barberry Irene Ryan Sarah Donahue L McManus Richard Mobley Skeeter Hall when did Gabourey Susan Anderson Jack and Christy Lupien Drusilla dance Rebecca hardberger Heather could do Bonnie Mortensen mistella Pena Elizabeth farmer and Anthony Loper thank you all so much for your incredible support

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Thin Air Podcast, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.

EDIT

Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.