Join Ladygang’s Jac Vanek, true crime TV producer Alexis Linkletter, and investigative journalist Billy Jensen on a chilling ride into the darkest corners of your worst nightmares. We’re talking murder, serial killers, cults, conspiracy theories and beyond, all told through the eyes of a guest who is one degree of separation from the story itself. From Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer to an unknown heinous murder in your very own hometown, The First Degree will bring a new and refreshing perspective to the true crime phenomenon. And who knows… you may be our next guest.
Here's the Latest Episode from The First Degree:
Two people fail to come home after a day at high school. One is a 14-year old student and soccer player who just moved into town. The other is a 24-year-old math teacher. After a frantic search, police access the school’s surveillance video and watch a gruesome horror story unfold. In episode 103, Jac, Billy and Alexis delve into the tragic story of Colleen Ritzer and Philip Chism.
It’s now 2004, and BTK has been lurking in the shadows of Wichita, Kansas for 30 years. The murders have stopped, and it looks like he got away with his crimes...until a newspaper publishes a story on the anniversary of his first murders. And the killer just can’t help himself. In episode 102, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore how Dennis Rader’s narcissism helped police track him down, how his own daughter unwittingly aided in his capture, and the “grand finale” murder he planned to commit right before he was captured. You will also hear the killer in his own words confess to the crimes.
After murdering five people, the killer known as BTK made his first contact with the media. But now he’s disappeared. For three long years would waits, before forcing his way into the home of a woman and slaying her while her children listened. Nine months later he would kill again, and continue to taunt the police, writing “Do the cops think that all those deaths are not related? Golly-gee yes the MO is different in each but look--a pattern is developing.” The pattern was laid out for all to see. But even when he resurfaces six years later to kill once more, the cops are clueless. In episode 101, Jac. Alexis and Billy are again joined by Denis Rader’s daughter Kerri, and they attempt to answer the question: how do the circumstances in a killer’s “normal” life change the way he chooses victims in his sadistic life.
A mother, father and their two children are found murdered in their Wichita, Kansas home. When a group of men falsely confess to the crimes, the real killer directs the police to a letter. He writes about the monster inside of him. The monster who needs to kill. “Maybe you can stop him. I can't. He has already chosen his next victim or victims. I don't know who they are yet. The next day after I read the paper, I will know, but it's too late. Good luck hunting.” In this landmark 100th episode, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into one of the most twisted serial killers of all time, Denis Rader, who for forty years was known by the initials BTK. Their first degree guest is the killer’s daughter, Kerri Rawson, who had no idea the loving father who raised her was harboring a monster.
Two young women, their bodies beaten and strangled and found less than a mile from each other in the hills near Stanford University. For 40 years their killer went undetected. Then, during the hunt for the Golden State Killer, a name pops up on law enforcement’s radar: John Getreu. In episode 99, Jac, Alexis and Billy tell the tale of a family man, a boy scout leader, a loving father and grandfather who was attacking and murdering women for decades—and how he was finally captured.
A teenager is getting ready for a school dance. She’s quiet and shy but tonight, her friends are making her look and feel like a million bucks. It’s the summer of 1963, and they will all be dancing to the early strains of rock n roll. But for Margaret Willams, it would be the last dance she would ever attend. The next day her body would be found half naked on a nearby baseball field. Her killer is swiftly captured—but that is just the beginning of this story. In episode 98, Jac, Alexis and Billy look into a serial killer whose crimes spanned across decades and continents—and who was finally captured during the search for The Golden State Killer.
You drive past a lakefront mansion, see kids playing in the yard under the watchful eye of a smiling couple and you wish you could be that happy. They have it all. But what if there was something lurking in the shadows? Not everything is perfect. In episode 97, Jac, Alexis and Billy enter the home of the Short family on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, and discover that not everything is what it seems.
In the middle of the night, a man bangs on the door of a suburban house. A mother and daughter huddle in the bathroom. A father goes to the front door to investigate. Within minutes, both the mother and father are killed with shotgun blasts. And the daughter was kidnapped. In episode 96, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by a true crime obsessive who followed the crime—who learned of her unthinkable connection to the case after Jayme’s miraculous escape. For Killing Time, they discuss the death of Robert Fuller, a black man found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California.
The story of how Keith Raniere became an international self-help guru — and, later, a convicted sex-cult leader — is one of those cautionary tales that’s not unfamiliar. A man who is a master of manipulation, able to seduce, exploit, alienate and control countless individuals after developing keen abilities to select precise prey, bait them, and slowly coerce them into doing exactly what he wants. In episode 95, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by Josh Block of the podcast, Uncover: Escaping NXIVM as they dig into the cult that branded women, controlled their entire lives and eventually was brought to justice.
This week, we are handing our mic over to our Black listeners to share their experiences of living in this country as a Black American. To everyone who sent their stories in, thank you. We appreciate the time and energy you gave us, and we feel honored that we can amplify your voices.
The story of Lorena Bobbitt drew media attention in 1993 for being one of the most and disturbing domestic dispute stories to ever hit the news. Lorena was not the first woman to ever fight back against her husband- and she wasn’t the last. But her story was one of the first to demand change in the way the world perceived domestic abuse and sexual assault. On episode 93, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by Lorena, as they reexamine the impact of the single cut that forever changed pop culture and sent shivers down the spine of domestic abusers around the world.And thank you for this episode's sponsors:Caldrea = Find your signature scent. Free shipping on orders of $50 or more at Caldrea.comMadison Reed = 10% off + Free Shipping on first color kit. Go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use promo code: FirstDegreePodcastNoom = Go to Noom.com/firstdegree to start your trial today!Daily Harvest = To get $25 dollars off your first box, go to www.DailyHarvest.com and enter promo code: FirstNative = 25% off your first purchase. www.nativedeodorant.com and use promo code: Degree
You get a call that your father is dead. You rush home and find he has been murdered. He was tied up, stabbed 31 times and beaten over the head. What could be worse? Police believe your mother—who was found tied up and locked in the bedroom closet—is the lone suspect in his death. In episode 92, Jac, Alexis and Billy tell the story of the murder of Jim Melgar, and how law enforcement disregarded key evidence and employed tunnel vision to zero in on Sandy Melgar as his killer.
It was a trial that seduced, consumed, and horrified the nation— Jodi Arias, facing the death penalty for the murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. Over the course of four months, Arias was up against a mountain of physical and circumstantial evidence. How did she defend herself? She went on the attack, grasping at straws, telling shocking and fabricated lies about Travis. In episode 91, Jac, Alexis and Billy examine the evidence against Jodi and explain how one woman spared the most hated woman in America from death.
Travis Alexander was found Murdered in his shower—shot in the face, stabbed in the back, his throat slashed ear to ear. Many of his friends pointed a finger at his ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias. But police had to piece together her whereabouts on the day of the murder—and her calculating actions made that incredibly difficult. In episode 89, part two of a three part series, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into the investigation of Jodi Arias, including blood evidence, her bank and credit card statements and the most shocking discovery: a camera found in the washing machine containing images of Travis’s last moments—shot by the killer.
Jealousy. Suspicion. Rage. And a calculated murder. You may think you know everything about Jodi Arias, the woman who killed Travis Alexander. But in episode 88 of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with a first degree who had a front row seat to their ill-fated relationship, and learn details about Jodi’s actions that have never come to light before.
A Detective is trying to solve a murder at a local truck stop. His only lead is a grainy image of a yellow truck. One day, When a yellow long haul truck passes in front of him, his eyes widen. It’s a long shot, but Sgt. Pat Postiglione stops the driver. Inside his cab, he finds a bag of bloody clothes—evidence of other murders. In episode 87, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into the murders of trucker serial killer Bruce Mendenhall.
A woman is found murdered at a truck stop in Nashville Tennessee. She is nude, displayed grotesquely, and a chunk of her flesh is missing. Was it to hide her identity, or did the killer take a trophy? In episode 86 of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy not only speak with the sister of the victim, but also with Detective Pat Postiglione, who was tasked with finding the killer-who soon learns that this wasn’t his first kill.
Jose Ramirez frantically called the police. He told them that his house had been ransacked, his parents were missing—and there was dried blood on the floor. When the police arrived, they didn’t find professor Susan Brill De Ramirez or her husband Antonio Ramirez Barron. But what they would later discover would shock the community of Peoria’s Bradley University to its core. On episode 85, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the details of the case, the mind frame of those responsible, and search for an answer to the ever-pressing question: why?
Sheila Bellush had been discovered brutally murdered in her home, her four quadruplet babies covered in her blood after being left alone with their mother’s body for more than 6 hours. A supposedly random person drove 1700 miles to kill her. But why? In episode 84 of The First Degree, Jan, Alexis and Billy dig deep into the relationship of Sheila and Allan Thornburg and uncover the twisted lengths an ex-husband can go to to get revenge. Plus, on Killing Time, they talk about, what else? Tiger King: Joe Exotic.
Sheila Bellush is found dead, her throat slashed and shot in the face in the laundry room of her Florida home. The only witnesses to her murder? Her 23 month old quadruplets, covered in their mother’s blood. In the 84th episode of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy unravel the tale, which takes them from the beaches of Sarasota to the golf courses of San Antonio, uncovering a wicked tale a revenge.
In true crime, the story always seems to start like this: they had a perfect life, a loving family, a great home. Then we talk about how everything goes to hell. When parents seemingly do everything right. Work long hours. Raise their children in a supporting and loving household--And they’re still punished. We have to try to make sense of it. There’s a reason we say at the top of every episode: this could be you. No matter how good of a person you are. No matter how hard you work and how much love you give--This could be you. In the 83rd episode of The First Degree, Alexis, Jac and Billy tell the tale of two families torn apart by a reckless act in the story of Alexander Ernandes, a West Point hopeful who was betrayed in the worst way by one of those closest to him.
Do you think you can always guess who the killer is just from a few details? The husband did it. The boyfriend did it. But sometimes, it’s not so simple. When Mackenzie Cowell was discovered murdered, the small town of Wenatchee, Washington was shook to its core. Fingers were pointed, claims were made, until the man with a Hannibal Lector tattoo emerged from the shadows. On episode 82 of the First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into the twisted case of a serial killer-obsessed killer and the life he took away.
In 2005 a 30-year-old pageant queen and teacher named Tara Grinstead went missing. The community, her family and law enforcement were baffled- but all of that changed the moment a filmmaker named Payne Lindsey started digging into the details. On episode 81, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by Payne Lindsey of the groundbreaking "Up and Vanished" Podcast. Payne shares the details of the investigation, the story of how he became totally immersed -- at times obsessed -- with this fascinating case, and what really did happen to Tara Grinstead.
"Welcome to the house of fun. I'm Trey.” This is how teenager Trey Sessler introduced himself to the world on his Facebook profile. What was so fun about Trey’s house? He lived with his best friend brother and their parents. He was obsessed with anime, and had a popular Youtube channel where he commented on different movies and TV shows. And he liked guns. And one day, the house of fun turned into a house of nightmares. On the 80th episode of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy tell the horror story of Mr. Anime—and what he was planning on next.
What if you were at a party and someone looked through your purse? What if they found something that to you was completely innocent—but to them was a threat? On Episode 79 of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into the 2018 case of missing 19-year-old Megan Metzger. A case that deals with a chance Facebook message, a three-day long party, crazed paranoia, a car set on fire and a pact between “friends” that would change many lives in a small town in Virginia.
You’re awakened at night by a prowler entering your home. What do you do? In the case of Kinney Glasson, you grab your gun and investigate—to devastating consequences. In episode 78 of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy begin with a home invasion, which then opens up into a world of exotic dancers, biker clubs and desperation.
He was an eccentric doctor in charge of fighting VD in Los Angeles. He held lavish parties at his Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, entertaining famous artists and actors. He went to trial for raping his 14-year-old daughter. And he is the suspect that makes the most sense in the biggest murder mystery in American History. On episode 77, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined Yvette Gentile and Rasha Pecoraro of the Root of Evil podcast, and together they delve deep into their great grandfather George Hodel, investigate the horrific things he did to their family and stack up the evidence that shows how he may very well have killed Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia.
The body of a woman is found in a vacant lot in suburban Los Angeles. She has been mutilated, cut in two with surgical precision, and her face has been slashed at both ends of her mouth, giving her a ghastly, horrific smile. In episode 76, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into Elizabeth Short’s life in Hollywood and the lives—and lies— of the early suspects of the case, before landing on the one man who checks all the boxes of the psychological profile of the killer.
A mother and her two children seemingly disappear from their home in rural Missouri. An officer searching for them from the air spots something strange floating in a pond near their house. When he lands and investigates, a horrific nightmare begins to reveal itself. On episode 75, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore a case that begins in the countryside of Missouri, spans the United States with a national manhunt, and ends with two perpetrators confessing to one of the most sickening crimes—and one of the most brutal causes of death—ever covered on The First Degree
Aurora Duran was busy getting her children ready for school when she heard a commotion at her front door. When she went to investigate, she saw two men dragging her 17-year-old daughter out of the house and into a waiting car. It was the stuff of nightmares for any parent. On episode 74, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into one of the most unique cases—and speak with one of the most unique guests— in First Degree history.
On New Year's Day of 2014, the parishioners of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church were waiting patiently for morning mass to commence in Eureka, California. Father Eric Freed was slated to lead services, but when he failed to show up that morning, concern began to fill the room. Worry grew to panic when a horrific discovery was made in the church rectory. On episode 73, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the case, recount the bizarre events that proceeded the crime, and attempt to find a motive in a case of senseless violence.
On today’s very special New Years Day episode, Jac, Alexis, and Billy revisit one of the nations most infamous child abduction cases. On October 1, 1993, s 12-year-old girl was abducted from her room during a slumber party. Her name was Polly Klaas, and abduction and murder were a catalyst to vast policy reform.
On episode 71 of the first degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss Alexis' most recent first degree connection which acts as a chilling reminder for the fact that a murderer could be hiding in your family whether you realize it or not.
Comedian Margaret Cho joins Jac, Alexis and Billy to tell the harrowing tale of how she found out a former romantic flame had taken a turn towards darkness. The story begins on a high note: Cho in Hollywood for her big break, a sit-com based on her life. Living the dream and working on the show, an accomplished TV writer caught her eye. The relationship never went far, but years later, Cho happened to google his name. His description had changed a bit. Now it read: American sit-com writer, television producer, and convicted murderer. On episode 70, Cho and our hosts explores her intimate connection to a man who went on to kill his own wife, hiding her body in his attic for weeks until he was caught
New Years day, 2003. The small town of Fillmore, California. A horrific discovery is made in a drainage ditch. The community is in shock. But as they file out of the church after the funeral, their shock multiplies when the location of the crime scene is revealed. On episode 69, Jac, Alexis and Billy examine the ripple effect of tragedy within a small town—and the evidence that led police to capture a budding serial killer.
It was January of 2013 when friends and family lost touch with sisters Rose & Daisy Edwards. The radio silence from the girls would come to destroy a family and baffle the community of Billings, Montana. On episode 68, Jac, Alexis & Billy are joined for the first time by two first degrees on opposite sides of this story; the brother of the victims and someone who grew up with the perpetrator.
They crossed paths by an abandoned house in Dayton, Ohio. 27-year-old Curtis Gray and 51-year-old Daniel Mooty were strangers, but this chance encounter would drastically change the course of one of their lives...and immediately end the other. On episode 67, Jac, Alexis and Billy deconstruct the evidence with Courtney, one of Curtis' best friends and our First Degree guest.
Things didn’t add up when a neighbor found Becky Sutton’s two year old strolling the apartment building courtyard unattended. Becky was known to be a responsible parent, and the two of them were known to be joined at the hip. On episode 66 Jac, Alexis and Billy look into her mysterious disappearance which turned a quiet suburb upside down and took several false starts and over a decade to crack.
What happens when you fall for a bad boy—a boy your parents refuse to let you to see? On episode 65, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss a tragic murder case that destroyed an entire family and took away First Degree connection Audrina's best friend in high school. Through Audrina, they delve into the months leading up to the crime, the toxic influence on her friend's life, the horrific details of the murder, and finally, the pain in the aftermath.
Mike Gargiulo was a chameleon who possessed the ability to blend into the gritty backdrop of Los Angeles, slipping into the lives and proximity of his targets without a trace. Gargiulo committed crimes that both proceeded and followed the murder of Ashley Ellerin. His method of choice? Stalking each beautiful woman from the outskirts of their lives, acquainting himself with each of their habits before Striking at their most vulnerable moment. On episode 64, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined again by Ashley Ellerin's childhood best friend Carolyn Murnick, as they discuss the hunt for the monster who would come to be known as The Hollywood Ripper.
22-year-old Ashley Ellerin was standing outside her Hollywood home next to a car with a flat tire when a handsome guy approaches and insisted on helping. This "chance encounter" would eventually be revealed as the first step in a carefully choreographed scenario designed to win Ashley's trust. It’s through this story that America would be introduced to a methodical serial killer; one who would leave a path of destruction and catch hundreds of people -- from a close-knit family in Illinois to Ashton Kutcher in Los Angeles -- in his wake. In episode 63, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore Ashley's life and the mysterious identity of the man who stole it.
One student is last seen at a Metallica concert. Her remains are found three months later. Fast forward five years, another student is last seen on late night surveillance video walking from bar to bar in the same town. And someone else is seen on the video—following her. It would be the clue that would capture a serial killer—-one who it seems could have been stopped much earlier. In a special crossover episode with Billy’s other podcast, Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore how a high school football star turned into a sexual predator and serial killer.
When a fire breaks out at a Texas drive-in theater, everyone assumes it was an accident. But once the firemen entered the ticket booth, they learned the truth— the fire had been started intentionally in an attempt to conceal a horrific crime. In episode 61, Jac, Alexis and Billy dig into the details of the case, the unexplainable events that happened in the days that followed, and speak to two members of the Stotts family whose lives were forever altered by the events of that evening.
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On the morning of June 28th, 1999, Darlene Anderson failed to show up to work. Darlene always showed up to work. After a massive search, police made an awful discovery that led them to believe that she may have crossed paths with a serial killer. On episode 60, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the decades of violence inflicted by Roger Fain. They'll discuss the many cases he's been linked to, the tactics he used to select his victims, the flawed system that allowed him the opportunity to kill over and over again and the police work that finally took him down.
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25-year-old Jaymie Adams went out to meet a friend in Oklahoma City. When the pregnant mother of four failed to return home, the community watched as a bizarre case unfolded, and a likely suspect emerged. On episode 59 of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy examine the crime, the investigation and explore how personal biases possess the potential to ruin lives.
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The body of a young woman is found under a bridge in Birmingham Alabama. She had been stabbed and sexually mutilated. Her murder sent shock waves through the bible belt community, this was 1986, and rumors of a connection to witchcraft and devil worship spread through the town. On episode 58, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into the evidence, theories, the investigation, and discuss the impact this woman's murder had on the 14-year-old girl who discovered her body.
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Glen Rogers charmed his way into Linda Price’s life at the Mississippi state fair in the autumn is 1995–and in less than three weeks she would be found murdered in the bathtub of the apartment they shared. The police soon learned that Linda was not the first beautiful redhead killed by the man come to be known Casanova Killer. And she wouldn’t be the last. The hunt for Rogers was an urgent multi state effort that landed his name at the top of the FBI's most wanted list. On episode 57, Jac, Alexis & Billy conclude Linda Price's story through the first degree experience of her daughter Chrystal, and delve into Glen Rogers' reign of terror—which he continues to inflict upon the families from behind bars on Florida's death row.
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On a fall evening at the Mississippi State Fair, Linda Price was approached a blonde stranger named Glen Rogers. He was charming, mysterious, and exactly what Linda had been looking for. But what started out as a storybook romance quickly turned into a nightmare, when Linda couldn't be reached by her family on Halloween night. On episode 56, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with Linda's daughter Chrystal about the horror she and her family experienced at the hands of Glen Rogers, also known as The Casanova Killer.
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On Sept. 10, 2010, Marti Hill was savagely attacked and left for dead in the basement of her Kansas home. On episode 55 of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis, and Billy speak with Marti’s daughter Mackenzie, and try to understand why her mother was targeted, and if it’s possible to keep ourselves safe if no clear motive can be detected.
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On October 3rd 1995, 100 million Americans watched as a jury declared OJ Simpson not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman. The verdict rattled faith in the justice system, stained popular culture, and the strategies implemented by Simpson’s defense team heightened police distrust. The country has (seemingly) moved on, but the emotional ruins left in the wake of Simpson’s acquittal continue to affect those who loved the victims.Research Sources & Credits: We could not have done this episode without the incredible work and observations made by Dominick Dunne, reflected in his Complete O.J. Simpson Trial Coverage for Vanity Fair.Get an exclusive intro offer of 6 bottles of wine for only $29.95!! Just go to TryFirstLeaf.com/FirstDegreeShop with confidence by signing up FREE at JoinHoney.com/FirstDegree
On the night of June 12th, 1994, two people were murdered in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood. This double homicide would change the world, shatter the lives of the victims' families, and forever fracture our faith in the justice system. On episode 53, Jac, Alexis & Billy are joined by Kim Goldman, the sister of Ronald Goldman, a 25-year-old aspiring restauranteur who was stabbed to death attempting to protect his friend Nicole Brown.Use coupon code " FIRSTDEGREE " for $10 off your first box at www.fabfitfun.com
On the landmark 52nd episode of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by Justin Evans of the Generation Why Podcast. Justin shares his first degree connection to the bizarre disappearance of his high school friend, 18-year-old Crystal Kipper, who vanished from the side of the highway in the winter of 1997. A twist of fate would reveal the truth about what happened to Crystal, and the story would be the stuff of nightmares.
Episode Research Sources & Credits:
Oscar Avila, Benita Y. Williams, and Mark Wifbe for the Kansas City Star & the St. Joseph News-Press.
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On episode 51, Jac, Alexis and Billy delve into a double homicide that rocked the small town of St. George Utah over Christmas in 2010. Two men were immediately arrested, but the bizarre nature of the killings provided more questions than answers, and as the suspect motives were called into question, onlookers were left wondering: Were these senseless murders committed by willful and deliberate choice or were they the result of fear, compulsion and addiction?
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The disappearance of a 15-year-old girl named Elyse Pahler was initially ignored by law enforcement. But months later, a 16-year-old boy confessed to killing her—and claimed that her murder was a part of a carefully concocted plot by him and his friends to sacrifice her to the devil. They believed the killing would be their ticket to hell—and it would in turn make them better at their instruments, which they wielded in their thrash metal band. On episode 50, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss the chilling case and explore how the band death metal band was dragged into a precedent- setting lawsuit accusing music companies of intentionally introducing youngsters to a violent, X-rated world of devil worship, human sacrifice and necrophilia.
At 2:00 am on June 17th, 2019, 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck got off a plane in Salt Lake City, took a Lyft to a suburban park, and then vanished. Police followed the digital breadcrumbs left by Mackenzie to a house where a slew of nightmarish clues were discovered—clues that told the story of Mackenzie's fate and lead to the arrest of a suspect. On episode 49, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with a first degree connection—a woman who encountered the suspect on a dating app and actually met him for a date. They detail his chilling characteristics, his reported need to build a sound-proof dungeon in his home, and explore the complex dichotomy of straddling dating and safety in an ever-evolving world of technology.
A 10-year-old girl goes missing from an indoor amusement park in Smithtown, New York. The family friend caring for her calls the police and dozens of officers begin searching for little Katie Beers. In the first two weeks, they don’t find her, but they do uncover stories of abuse amidst the disturbing cast of characters entrusted with her care. On episode 48, Jac, Alexis & Billy tell the tale of the race to find Katie, the chilling details of her captivity, and explore how the system left a little girl so vulnerable to a series of dangerous predators.Episode Research Sources & Credits:'The Katie Beers Case; Mystery Surrounds Suspect and Underground Chamber', Ralph Blumenthal 'Girl, Missing for 16 Days, Is Found in Secret Room' by John T. McQuiston for The New York Times, Jan. 14, 1993. Newsday The New York Times
On Episode 47, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude with part two of the story of Joel Rifkin. In 1993, the discovery that a serial killer had been operating in the shadows of New York dominated the headlines. Rifken’s gruesome confessions—recounting his sexual perversion and utter disregard for human life—tore at the fabric of the quaint suburbs of Long Island, shattering the sense of security that the people in the suburbs were supposed to represent. New York’s most prolific serial killer was one of their own.
The police chase that began in that late evening in June revealed the body of a murdered woman in the bed of a pickup truck driven by Joel David Rifkin. At the start of his interrogation, there was one murder victim. By the end, there were 17, all buried throughout the Tri-State area, all killed by the hands of Rifkin. On episode 46, Jac, Alexis & Billy recount the bizarre life, disturbances, and horrors the most prolific serial killer in the history of New York.
On May 5th of 2019, police were called to an apartment in the Dallas suburb of Denton. The door was ajar, and the scene inside was straight out of a horror movie. But the most ominous thing at the scene was ironically not what they could observe, rather… what was missing—which was the head of the victim. On episode 45, Jac, Alexis & Billy explore an active case that's still unfolding with a first degree connection who is still reeling from the recent events. They examine the timeline of inexplicable behaviors and a decent into mental illness exhibited by the suspect that ultimately culminated in one of the most heinous acts imaginable.
There's a moment in every child's life when they discover what death is, whether it's through losing a grandparent or flushing a pet fish down the toilet...” In episode 44, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with special First Degree guest Jared Monaco (lead guitarist for Emo band The Maine). Jared takes us back to when he was force fed the concept of mortality at the age of 9-years-old—when the life of his boyhood friend Kenny Thomas Jr. was stolen under horrific circumstances. They'll delve into the details of the case and investigation, the concept of insanity, and the loss of childhood innocence in the wake of tragedy.
It’s a case nightmares are made of. As Kaitlyn mentioned this week, we’ve got your sneak peek into the new true-crime series, 22 Hours: An American Nightmare. It's the frightening story of a D.C. power couple, their 10-year-old son, and housekeeper who were held hostage, tortured, and brutally murdered inside their burning D.C. mansion. You won’t believe what happened during those last 22 hours alive, and the shocking trail of evidence that led police to the killer! Did he have help? Hear from key witnesses who reveal never-before heard details. Will this investigation lead to the release of discovered confidential audio recordings, so the public can hear the trial for the first time ever? Listen to the first episode now: http://bit.ly/2Mzf5Ks
New episodes from this 10-part series will be available every Monday on PodcastOne.com and Apple Podcasts.
Don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review.
A 19-year-old student at Kansas State University home for the summer, was found by her father murdered in a pump room at a community pool in Leawood, Kansas. In episode 43, Jac, Alexis & Billy discuss the harrowing details of the case, the innovative methods implemented during the investigation, and one father's relentless pursuit to catch his daughter's killer.
On August 20th, 2016, Terra Newell was attacked on the roof of her apartment building by her mother’s estranged husband, John Meehan. Against all odds, Terra was able to fight him off, fatally wounding him in the process. Her story is the focus of the popular podcast and series of the same name, Dirty John. In Episode 43, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by Terra in the studio to discuss her heroism, her trauma, and the life that she built on the other side of a nightmare.
On episode 42, Jac, Alexis & Billy examine the bizarre 2009 disappearance of 54-year-old Gloria Marmolejo, who vanished mysteriously from her El Paso home after a months-long vacation in Phoenix. The investigation into her disappearance was puzzling, and would come to expose the sadistic serial offender who was responsible, as well as a dark family secret.
On episode 41, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude with part two of the story of Bob & Diane Ward, and their two daughters' decade-long fight to prove their father's innocence. We learn about the Space Chicken, the struggle against the media and how they found an incredibly key piece of evidence years after their mother’s death.
On the night of September 21st 2009, police responded to a 911 call at the Isleworth mansion of Bob and Diane Ward. Inside they found Diane dead from a gunshot wound. It launched one of the biggest courtroom sagas in Florida and a textbook example of trial by media. In Episode 40, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by First Degree guest, Sarah Ward-Rupp as she walks us through trauma of losing her mother and the decades-long battle to exonerate her father.
On episode 39, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude the puzzling case of family annihilator William Bradford Bishop. The international manhunt for Bishop has spanned nearly four decades and lured law enforcement across international lines. Many questions remain, did Bradford Bishop use his international savvy to relocate abroad, or is he in the US hiding in plain sight?
In March of 1976, police were drawn to a fiery stretch of North Carolina woods. At the time, first responders had no idea that the horrors revealed there would prompt a world wide and decades long search for the person responsible. On Episode 38, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the mysterious force that unprecedentedly and unexpectedly snuffed out what appeared to be a perfect family.
Psychopaths make up about one percent of the general population. We work with them, we're friends with them—and some of us even date, fall in love with, and marry them. On Episode 37, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with two sisters whose lives were uncomfortably intertwined with a dangerous psychopath, and how they were able to survive him to tell their tale.Higher Education Skincare - Head over to HigherEducationSkincare.com and use promo code FIRSTDEGREE for 20% off your first orderLiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampooScentbird - Visit Scentbird.com/firstdegree and use code FIRSTDEGREE for 50% off your first month
Black Friday is the name assigned to the notorious shopping day after Thanksgiving. Although the original derivative of the term has been diluted, some say that the phrase was originally coined by police in the 1950's to describe the mayhem prompted by a high volume of shoppers who cause traffic accidents, trample over each other, and resort to intentional brutality... all in the name of a bargain. On episode thirty six, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss the details of a chilling Black Friday case that boasts all the trappings of what some believe the day itself represents; chaos, materialism, and violence-inducing greed.Higher Education Skincare - Head over to HigherEducationSkincare.com and use promo code FIRSTDEGREE for 20% off your first orderLiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampoo
There is no crime more difficult to comprehend than the murder of a child by his or her own parents. Nevertheless, tales of the killing of newborn children are as old as time. On episode 35, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the elusive concept of neonatacide, and delve into the incredibly disturbing case of the Debeers, who didn’t stop at killing just one of their newborns.SeroVital - Try SeroVital Advanced by texting FIRSTDEGREE to 246810 and enjoy your $70 discount now
Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two week window after leaving their partners than at any other time during the relationship. And on Episode 34, Jac, Alexis and Billy profile a case that illustrates the horror of that statistic and shows the devastating aftermath when they’re joined by a first degree connection who was at the very center of the story in the worst possible way.SeroVital - Try SeroVital Advanced by texting FIRSTDEGREE to 246810 and enjoy your $70 discount now
On April 19, 2015, a 21-year-old named Samantha Young was found brutally murdered behind her ex boyfriend's house. Her killing was horrific; but even more chilling was the revelation of the months of planning the perpetrators undertook before the murder. On episode 33, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss the facets of the case, the conspiracy, and how dysfunctional puppy love can lead to a decent into madness.Buffy - Go to Buffy.CO and enter Degree for $20 off your comforterLiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampooSeroVital - Try SeroVital Advanced by texting FIRSTDEGREE to 246810 and enjoy your $70 discount now
Is there a serial killer gang murdering college-age men in the waters of America? Jac, Alexis & Billy conclude the story of the Smiley Face Killer theory, with the help of Kevin Gannon, Mike Donovan, Anthony Duarte, and Doc Gilbertson.Daily Harvest - Go to Daily-Harvest.com now and use Promo code FIRST for 3 free cups in your first boxKopari - Check out KopariBeauty.com/FIRST for $5 off your first subscription
Dozens of young men found dead in bodies of water in the northeast and Midwest. Most were last seen leaving parties or bars. Most of their deaths were classified as accidental drownings. But a group of retired detectives believe their deaths are the result of something much more sinister—an elusive network of individuals who are murdering these young men. On episode 31, Jac, Alexis & Billy explore both sides of the "Smiley Face Killer" theory. The various cases, the shared characteristics between victims and interviews with the detectives while at the same time weighing the conflicting evidence—that most of these cases were just tragic accidents.Buffy - Go to Buffy.CO and enter Degree for $20 off your comforterCare Of - Go to TakeCareOf.com and enter code degree50 for 50% off your first month of personalized care of vitamins
22-year-old Todd Geib goes missing after an orchard party in rural Michigan. For 20 days, his family and friends frantically search for him. On the 21st day, they find his body, floating upright in a private lake. Was Todd's death an accident, or did he fall victim to something sinister? In episode 30, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with Todd's mother, examine the evidence, and deconstruct the curious case of Todd Gieb.Buffy - Go to Buffy.CO and enter Degree for $20 off your comforter
A married couple is found murdered in the bedroom of their home. Their teenage daughter runs out of the house screaming that someone killed her parents. In episode 29, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss the case of Sarah Johnson, shedding light on the motives, the opportunity, and the pink bathrobe that held one of the secrets that led to a conviction. But they also show the coverage and concern it received in contrast to the same-town murder of Maggie Guardado, the focus of episode 28.A memorial scholarship has been established in Alan and Diane Johnson's memory: https://www.alandianejohnsonscholarship.com/Kopari - Check out KopariBeauty.com/FIRST for $5 off your first subscriptionLiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampoo
On episode twenty eight of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis and Billy tell the story of the vicious murder of Maggie Guardado. When the charred body of 16 year Old Maggie was discovered in front of her house, suspicion immediately fell on her much older boyfriend. But Maggie also had a jealous ex. Police use cell phone records and a dried blood stain to piece together who killed Maggie and set her on fire.Daily Harvest - Go to Daily-Harvest.com now and use Promo code FIRST for 3 free cups in your first boxGreen Chef - Visit GreenChef.us/degree for $50 off your first boxZola - Check out Zola.com/firstdegree to get $50 off your registry
Have you ever gotten mad at a sibling? Sure. But have you ever conspired to kill them? On episode twenty seven of The First Degree, Jac, Alexis & Billy dive head first into the curious crimes committed within the Hawes family, a case as perplexing as it is gruesome. A family conspiracy, numerous crime scenes, hidden weapons, and a second death that remains a mystery to this day.Care Of - Go to TakeCareOf.com and enter code degree50 for 50% off your first month of personalized care of vitaminsKopari - Check out KopariBeauty.com/FIRST for $5 off your first subscription
In episode twenty six, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude with part three of the Ted Bundy series. Covering Bundy's time on death row, his bizarre romantic relationships, his desperate last minute confession, the ensuing media circus, and finally, his execution. The chilling details of Ted Bundy's final moments are shared by First Degree guest Tony Panaccio, who at 23-years-old watched Ted Bundy die in the electric chair.Kopari - Check out KopariBeauty.com/FIRST for $5 off your first subscription
In part two of this First Degree three-part special on Ted Bundy, Jac, Alexis and Billy detail his horrific killing rampage in Florida following his second escape, his capture after killing a 12 year old girl, and his trial where he represented himself and cross-examined witnesses.
January 24th is 30 years to the day that serial killer Ted Bundy was executed at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida. In part one of this special three-part First Degree series, Jac, Alexis and Billy revisit Bundy's infamous reign of terror, examine what drove a charismatic, educated and attractive man to kill and how he escaped justice for so long. They speak with Tony Panaccio, who was 23-year-old journalist when he won the lottery to become an eyewitness to Bundy’s electric-chair execution.Daily Harvest - Go to Daily-Harvest.com now and use Promo code FIRST for 3 free cups in your first boxZola - Check out Zola.com/FIRSTDEGREE to get $50 off your registry
In episode twenty three, Jac, Alexis & Billy delve into the 2011 Tucson mass shooting and assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, an attack in which six people were killed and thirteen injured. While they explore the mind of the shooter and his last steps before the massacre, they focus on one of the heroes of the day, Gabe Zimmerman, who was safely inside while the shooting starting and rushed outside to take bullets meant for others.Kopari - Check out KopariBeauty.com/FIRST for $5 off your first subscriptionLola - Visit MyLola.com and enter FirstDegree for 40% off when you subscribe
On Episode twenty two, Jac, Alexis & Billy discuss Father Yod and The Source Family Cult. With the help of former member Magus The Aquarian, they detail all of the bizarre sex practices, the murders, the ruined lives and the Manson Family crossover—all the makings of one of the most fascinating stories of cult behavior that you've probably never heard of.
On episode twenty one, Jac, Alexis & Billy explore a baffling murder case that stretches from the bright lights of Hollywood to the wheat fields of Northeast Colorado – two fledgling actors, a secret life, and a deadly high speed chase.Sunday Scaries - Check out SundayScaries.com and use promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping
Holiday hijinx abound as Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the bizarre case of Milan Ross: a celebrity vegan Chef with a secret past, a dark food obsession and history of violence that culminated in a triple homicide on Christmas 2017.Sun Basket - Visit SunBasket.com/FIRST to get $35 off your first orderSunday Scaries - Check out SundayScaries.com and use promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping
On episode nineteen, Jac, Alexis & Billy close with part two of The Jonestown Massacre. They'll explore the events of one of the largest mass murders in history accompanied by The First Degree perspectives of survivors Jim Jones Junior and Jorden Vilchez.Blink - Check out www.BlinkForHome.com/FIRSTDEGREESunday Scaries - Check out SundayScaries.com and use promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping
In episode eighteen, Jac, Alexis & Billy explore what some call the one of the biggest mass murders in history. The First Degree connection to the Jonestown Massacre are two people who were able to escape with their lives; including Jim Jones Junior, the son of The People's Temple Founder Reverend Jim Jones.Blink - Check out www.BlinkForHome.com/FIRSTDEGREEExpress VPN - Go to ExpressVPN.com/FIRSTDEGREE for 3 months free with a 1 year packageLiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampooM.Gemi - Get $50 off your first pair at www.MGemi.com/FIRSTDEGREE
Jac, Alexis & Billy conclude with part two of the Thad Reynolds story, a case that deals with conspiracy, manipulation, and incredible acts of adultery, all which culminated in an act of ultimate betrayal; murder.Blink - Check out www.BlinkForHome.com/FIRSTDEGREEDaily Harvest - Go to Daily-Harvest.com now and use Promo code FIRST for 3 free cups in your first boxSun Basket - Visit SunBasket.com/FIRST to get $35 off your first orderSunday Scaries - Check out SundayScaries.com and use promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping
On episode sixteen, Jac, Alexis & Billy examine a grisly murder that left the conservative town of Rome, Georgia reeling. Thad Reynolds, husband, father and Church deacon was stabbed 19 times in his office. His savage slaying left the members of his church devastated; and the only thing worse than losing Thad, would be learning the truth about who was responsible.Blink - Check out www.BlinkForHome.com/FIRSTDEGREEExpress VPN - Go to ExpressVPN.com/FIRSTDEGREE for 3 months free with a 1 year packageSunday Scaries - Check out SundayScaries.com and use promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping
On episode fifteen, Jac, Alexis & Billy speak with two First Degree guests who were plagued by the same fiendish stalker for decades, a stalker they came to call “Internet Satan.” They cover the twisted details of his crimes, his tactics of torment, the physical and psychological aftermath, and his ultimate capture.Blink - Check out www.BlinkForHome.com/FIRSTDEGREELiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampooSunday Scaries - Check out SundayScaries.com and use promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping
On episode fourteen, Jac, Alexis & Billy conclude the Travis Forbes case by exploring the details of the attack on his second known victim, the evidence that broke the case wide open, the demise of sociopath Travis Forbes, and finally; the truth about what happened to Kenia Monge.Blink - Check out www.BlinkForHome.com/FIRSTDEGREEExpress VPN - Go to www.ExpressVPN.com/FIRSTDEGREE for 3 months free with a year packageMadison Reed - Visit www.Madison-Reed.com and use code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off plus free shipping on your first color kitM.Gemi - Get $50 off your first pair at www.MGemi.com/FIRSTDEGREEResearch Sources & Credits: Denver Post, stories by Jordan Steffen, Jessica Fender, Kirk Mitchell, and Monte Whaley
A teenage girl goes missing and a smooth talking modern day Ted Bundy has all the answers. Follow Jac, Alexis and Billy as they explore the unthinkable crimes committed by Travis Forbes with the help of not one but two First Degree connections.Blink - Check out Blinkforhome.com/FirstDegree now for peace of mind starting at $99Daily Harvest - Go to Daily-Harvest.com now and use Promo code FIRST for 3 free cups in your first boxMadison Reed - Visit Madison-Reed.com and use Promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off your first color kit and free shippingResearch Sources & Credits: Denver Post, stories by Jordan Steffen, Jessica Fender, Kirk Mitchell, and Monte Whaley
On episode twelve, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the horrifying case of serial killer Paul Ezra Rhoades. The terrifying details of his crimes and the emotional aftermath that followed is accompanied by the chilling First Degree perspective of a 17-year-old girl who won the lottery to witness his final breath through the window of his execution chamber.Madison Reed - Go to Madison-Reed.com and use Promo code First DegreeLiving Proof - Visit LivingProof.com/FIRST or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampooExpress VPN - Go to ExpressVPN.com/FIRSTDEGREE for 3 months free with a 1 year package
On episode eleven, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude The Nightmare On Hickory Street case. They dive into the details of this gruesome double-homicide and attempt to understand what could turn a typical suburban kick back party into a slaughterhouse.Madison Reed - Go to Madison-Reed.com and use Promo code First DegreeResearch Sources & Credits: The Joliet Patch, stories by Joseph Hosey, John Ferak. The Chicago SunTimes The Chicago Tribune
On episode ten, Jac, Alexis and Billy examine a disturbing and senseless double-murder known as "The Nightmare On Hickory Street." In part one, they'll delve into the details of the crime scene, the possible motives, and the minds of the young killers who are responsible.Express VPN - Go to ExpressVPN.com/FIRSTDEGREE for 3 months free with a 1 year packageM. Gemi - Check out MGemi.com/FIRSTDEGREE for $50 off your first pairResearch Sources & Credits: The Joliet Patch, stories by Joseph Hosey, John Ferak. The Chicago SunTimes The Chicago Tribune
On episode nine, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the puzzling trail of destruction left in the wake of Sons of Anarchy actor, Johnny Lewis. They'll track his rapid decline, his decent into madness, the grisly murder of his elderly landlady and ultimately, the discovery of Johnny's body in the driveway of a Hollywood hills mansion.Leesa - Leesa.com/FIRST and promo code FIRST for up to $235 off and free shippingDaily Harvest - Go to Daily-Harvest.com and enter code FIRST to get 3 free cups in your first box
Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude with Part 2 of the Luka Magnotta story, a case which deals with a fame obsessed, narcissistic killer who first murdered kittens and posted the videos online before escalating to killing a human victim, posting the video online and sending his body parts across the continent.Leesa - Leesa.com/FIRST and promo code FIRST for up to $235 off and free shippingMadison Reed - Madison-Reed.com and promo code FIRST DEGREE for 10% off and free shipping on your first kit
Jac, Alexis and Billy encounter one of the most demented killers of the social media era, Luka Magnotta. The details of Luka's infamous crimes are told through the First Degree perspective of a determined citizen detective who hunted, identified, corresponded with, and was ultimately taunted by Magnotta himself. This episode follows Luka's path of destruction, his desire for fame and his escalation from kitten killer to one of the most gruesome and publicly viewed murders in history.
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On episode 6, Jac, Alexis and Billy examine the murder of a beautiful San Francisco socialite named Joan McShane Mills. The characteristics of Joan's slaying and the events that followed have all the makings of a twisted Hollywood thriller; two open ended homicides, double lives, stolen bodies, decoy caskets, poetic justice, and a man accused of taking the law into his own hands.
On episode five, Jac, Alexis and Billy cover The Bellevue Slasher, a silent assailant who calmly stabbed five strangers during a slashing spree in Midtown Manhattan on November 11th, 1980. Don't bother trying to google the case, you'll get nowhere. This elusive story is told through the First Degree perspective of The Bellevue Slasher's fourth victim, Dr. Robert Wolfe; a man who narrowly escaped with his life and lived to tell the tale. They'll dissect each vicious attack, the pain, the hunt for the assailant, the psychological aftermath and the disturbing surge of stranger slashings that plague New York City today.
On episode four, Jac, Alexis and Billy dismantle the minds of serial sex offenders through the perspective of Detective Jordan Mirakian; a dedicated law enforcement officer who uncovered a horrifying personal connection to a series of chilling sexual assaults.They cover the psychology of predators, serial killers with sex-offender pasts, and the likelihood of escalation.
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In episode three, Jac, Alexis, and Billy delve into a nightmarish murder that sent shock waves through the picturesque hamlet of Nesconset, New York. After hearing this chilling First Degree perspective from one of our very own hosts, you'll come to truly understand our phrase," keep your friends close, but not that close.
In episode two, Jac, Alexis, and Billy dive head first into Jac’s first degree story. Growing up in a cookie cutter neighborhood of Orange County, the last thing Jac expected was to be one degree away from a sinister homicide. This episode encompasses all of the elements of a made-for-TV movie story: sex, cheating, sugar babies, a love triangle, pro athletes, master manipulation, and of course…murder.
In the debut episode, Jac, Alexis, and crime journalist Billy Jensen examine the tale of Ryan Jenkins, an alleged Canadian millionaire with a dream of making it big on reality television. His wish was granted when he landed starring roles on VH1’s Megan Wants A Millionaire and I Love Money 3, but the real life drama that followed was far too twisted and explicit for TV. After a strange disappearance, a trail of gruesome evidence, and an international manhunt, it became clear that his fairy tale love story would never have its happy ending.
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Debuts Wednesday, August 15th 2018.