Podcast Review: Gone Cold Podcast
Premise and Host
Gone Cold is a Texas-based podcast that focuses on unsolved murders and missing person cases in Texas. Gone Cold began in July of 2017 with the hopes of drawing attention to cases that have been previously overlooked or forgotten.
The podcast is created by a team out of Fort Worth, Texas: Vincent Strange and Erica Lea.
Gone Cold typically spends multiple episodes on each case and releases episodes on a regular basis.
What Needs Nuancing
Some people might listen to the podcast and think that the host, Vincent, purposefully adds an overly dramatic effect to his presentation of the cases. There is no doubt that Vincent uses numerous pauses and has a deep, old-time radio voice. Some listeners even go as far as disparagingly comparing Vincent’s voice to William Shatner’s. Although Vincent’s somewhat old-fashioned and dramatic presentation may not be for everyone, it strikes me as appropriate for a true crime podcast that delves into serious, frightening, and often historical cases. Anyways, as someone who sounds like a 12-year-old Valley Girl, who am I to judge?
What Is Awesome
Gone Cold is often compared to the tremendously popular podcast Serial. I think that this comparison is made because of Gone Cold’s engaging storytelling and stellar research. Each case is meticulously scripted and narrated in such an expert way that you cannot help but binge-listen. Moreover, the research done for each case is mind-boggling, and I feel overwhelmed just at the thought of how long it must take. This podcast team really leaves no stone unturned in their search for case details. Also, you can expect excellent interviews with the family and friends of the victims. This provides a multifaceted perspective of each case covered. Even more, this approach fosters a connection between you and the victim that draws you in; you will gain insight into who the victim really was and the impact that the crime had and continues to have on loved ones and the community. Another one of the countless reasons why Gone Cold podcast is one of my favourites is because it presents multiple episodes on a single case. This format enables the team to really dig deep into cases. In my opinion, one of the most engrossing cases covered by Gone Cold is the 1974 abduction and murder of 17-year-old Carla Walker. If I were you, I would start by listening to their coverage of this unsolved, heartbreaking case.
I listen to A LOT of true crime podcasts, and Gone Cold is, by far, one of the best. I suggest that you subscribe today on whatever podcatcher you use. I enjoy my true crime podcasts on Apple Podcasts and Otto Radio. You can also follow Gone Cold on Twitter, like their Facebook page, and support them on Patreon.
Interview With Gone Cold Podcast
Q – Can you tell the readers a little bit about the team behind Gone Cold podcast? Rumor out there is that Vincent Strange is a pseudonym. Is there any particular reason why you decided not to reveal your true identity?
The podcast is made up of myself and Erica Lea. Aside from being the voice of the disclaimer at the top of the show, Erica researches and keeps my long-windedness in check by editing and contributing to our scripts. I research, write, and, of course, narrate the show. We have a few amazing folks that help research from time to time as well; they actually went to school with Carla Walker, our very first case, but have helped us with other cases as well as our Facebook discussion group. Their names are Dianne and Kim. Dianne also co-founded the Ft Worth Cold Case Club, who meet once a month to discuss unsolved Fort Worth cases and share the research and information collected.
Vincent Strange is, indeed, a pseudonym. Well, the “Strange” part anyway. I’m a private person, perhaps to a fault, so it simply felt natural to not put myself out there completely. I used the same pseudonym back when I was in a couple punk bands, so I just went with that. And, yes, I’m an enormous comic book geek.
Q – What inspired you to start Gone Cold podcast?
I’ve been listening to podcasts since their inception really, though most have been obscure history, comedy, philosophy, and comic book related. Erica has always been into true crime more than me and is probably the reason I became interested in the genre in podcast form. Anyway, we had a few cases that consumed us but received little to no attention, or at least not the amount of attention we feel all cold cases should, and we wanted to do something about the waning interest post-media frenzy. A podcast didn’t necessarily occur to me at that time but looking back it seems inevitable that it would be the format we ended up at. I’ll use the next couple of questions to more thoroughly explain.
Q – I’ve seen Gone Cold podcast often compared to the groundbreaking hit Serial. Did you model your podcast after any particular podcast or podcast format?
Wow! That’s high praise, assuming the comparison was meant as such, that is! Erica and I both have podcasts that inspired, and continue to inspire, us. I did like the first season of Serial very much, but when I heard Undisclosed, I was blown away. The insight, research skills, and experience that each of those three incredibly intelligent hosts individually bring to the podcast medium raised the bar in the genre. Erica introduced me to The Vanished a while later and I became a huge fan of that podcast as well. There are so many more I could mention that particularly motivated us and continue to do so: Unresolved, The Fall Line, Someone Knows Something, to name a few. Having said all of that, we really wanted to do our own thing and have paid close attention to our scripts and production in an attempt to set ourselves apart as much as we can.
Q – How do you choose your cases? For example, what ignited your interest in the Carla Walker case?
How we chose Carla Walker’s case ties directly into why we started the podcast. We’d been talking about doing one casually for a brief period of time, but I’m not sure I was seriously thinking about it until I began obsessing about Carla’s case. The case hooked me immediately; her abduction from a boyfriend’s vehicle while he was also in it, the morphine found in her system, the phone calls. There were just so many strange details about the case. Though I’m critical of the burglary detective who investigated the case after he retired and until he died, his story and his theory were mesmerizing and very much dime-detective-novel material. When I began researching the newspaper articles, though, is when the idea for Gone Cold podcast took fruition. I noticed that she was always, and simply, described as “pretty, popular Carla Walker.” The media failed to give any depth to the victim. I knew there was much more to this young woman than that and was maddened that traditional media sources so often leave the narrative of the actual victim out. That was the catalyst, I think, and we began reaching out to folks that knew Carla to find out more about her and how her death not only affected family and friends, but also Fort Worth as a whole. We learned very quickly that there was so much more to Carla than “pretty and popular,” and that her absence in this world is to its detriment. Of course, the suspects, the evidence, and the investigation, also ended up being much more than what we expected.
To answer the question, I’m not exactly sure how we choose cases. Sometimes it feels like they choose us. For instance, we were approached by a family friend for our upcoming story.
Q – What are the first steps you take when you start investigating a case?
The absolute first step for us is contacting a family member for their blessing. We will cover cases without a family member’s permission only if there are no known relatives alive who knew the victim or victims, such as the case of Margaret and William Patterson. After that, I collect every single newspaper article I can either on internet archives or the old-fashioned way: microfiche. Erica does most of the deep-digging: locating family and friends, hunting down retired police officers who worked a given case, persons of interest police records, and organizing all the information into bullet points. We make Freedom of Information Act requests, though those are generally denied (such is the nature of unsolved, unclosed cases). I also attempt to speak with current cold case detectives about the case or to get a generalized statement on or off the record. Then come the emotionally crippling interviews with family and friends. We allow all of these things to naturally shape the story we tell.
Q – What are the principal challenges and obstacles you have run into when investigating a case, and how did you overcome them?
Locating and getting family members to talk to us is often the biggest hurdle to overcome. They don’t know us, and they’re letting you into their heartbreak and anguish, so trust has to be built. I speak with the family members myself, and I’ve fought giving up the podcast many times due to the emotional toll that it takes. To overcome that, I remind myself that it isn’t about me and my pain, but theirs. Another challenge is distinguishing between folks who have valid information and those who are inserting themselves into the story for whatever reason. This can prove to be very difficult, but generally those who do this become irrational or downright hateful or paranoid when contradicted with known facts. This also ties into the pseudonym thing; we’ve had more than one individual send us less-than-friendly messages. Overcoming anything we run into all comes back to what I mentioned before: we are doing this in an attempt to help folks get answers and, though I’m personally not a believer in closure per se, some comfort in knowing that their loved one’s stories have been properly (we hope) told.
Q – What does a typical day look like for you during podcast production?
Editing “ums” and “ya knows” and hearing myself say “okay” on interview recordings to the point of nausea! It’s a grueling process that literally takes about 20-25 hours per episode when it’s all said and done. That includes the things we enjoy, like research and getting to know folks, of course, but the editing and computer glitches are maddening. I’ve always enjoyed writing papers, particularly for philosophy and sociology classes, so the script part, for me, is the good kind of stress and anxiety. I record in a tiny closet, and I’d be lying if I said claustrophobia wasn’t on my mile-long list of issues, so there’s that as well. I’m rambling, so in short, a typical day of podcast production for us looks like…hmm…two individuals trying to get their affairs in order before a possibly apocalyptic event is to occur.
Q – What future cases are in the works for Gone Cold podcast?
I’m going the ambiguous route here. Our next big undertaking is a story about the kidnapping and murder of a young girl in a county neighboring ours. An immensely exceptional girl at that. Shortly thereafter, we’ll be doing a very old and terrible Texas case that caused mass-hysteria for a Texas town that was, otherwise, one of the most up and coming, progressive cities in the Lone Star State.
Q – What are your three go-to true crime podcasts?
Naming only three is insanely difficult; there are so many. Luckily, I snuck some in answering a previous question! I’ll play by the rules and name only three: Cold Traces, True Crime Story Time, and Southern Fried True Crime. Outlines is incredible as well … oops.
Q – What advice would you give someone who wants to start her or his own true crime podcast?
That’s tough, too. I’d say first that if your passion is to help families or society in general, don’t let anything stand in your way. Start slowly and do it on your time, at your pace if you’re a working-class schlub like we are. Expect to work hard, but never hesitate to seek advice from, or voice your woes to, the incredible community of true crime podcasters out there. We’ve found so many helpful folks along the way. Oh, and research, research, research.
Q – What is the best ways for fans to support Gone Cold podcast?
We’d love for folks to join our Facebook discussion group and share their thoughts. An Apple Podcasts review or a mention to friend or family member is always helpful; the more people who hear our stories, the more likely the cases are to be solved. If you can afford a monetary donation, we are on Patreon. Speaking of which, we have new rewards coming soon, including merchandise such as stickers and t-shirts. Though we’ve struggled to justify offering access to exclusive content on Patreon, because we don’t think unsolved cases should be limited as that wouldn’t provide the exposure the cases so desperately need, we have come up with a way to offer exclusive episodes to our Patrons by utilizing research we already conduct. It’s a win-win, and we’re excited to start offering that sometime in the very near future.
Can I close by saying how much we adore and respect the amazing work that The True Crime Files is doing?