It’s been said that people go missing all the time. According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, 90,000 people are missing at any given time in this country. Where do they all go? How many make it home?
These questions bother me. I’m sure we’ve all known someone who disappeared from our lives suddenly. A co-worker who stopped showing up for work. A friend who took off with a new partner to the other side of the country. Have you ever wondered if those people were taken or led astray? I don’t think that’s as morbid as it sounds. After all, these things happen and they happen everywhere.
They happened right here, in Longview, in the middle of Nowhere almost exactly 10 years ago. Brandi Wells was last seen leaving a popular nightclub just after midnight in August of 2006. She hasn’t been seen since.
But the case didn’t stop there. Her car was found five days later. Three separate men were caught using her cell phone after her disappearance. Then, over three years later, her mother received a mysterious phone call from a man claiming to know where Brandi lived.
Despite all these leads, the case remains unsolved. No one, at least no one who is looking, seems to know where Brandi Wells is. Her case has been featured on national crime shows and now, 10 years later, the local paper is printing her story on the front page.
People are still looking for Brandi Wells. I don’t know if she will ever be found but I hope, for her family’s sake, that the truth comes out. The middle of Nowhere is a lonely place, we need to keep our friends and loved ones close.
Tune in to this episode of the Dispatch to learn about this mysterious disappearance.
I’ve always wondered that. What exactly drives someone to give up their identity to be assimilated into a new group? Loneliness? Fear? Boredom?
I don’t have the answers to those questions but my friend Adam and I sat down to talk about cults anyway. Adam brought up this topic when he found out about a strange Russian cult that worships (of all things) Gadget from the Rescue Rangers. Now, that sounds weird, and it is. Even so, a group of folks, albeit a small group, has banded together with a common cause that many others would find entirely strange, even a bit creepy.
Of course, there are far creepier cults out there. Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. Marshall Applewhite and Heaven’s Gate. Ol’ Chuck Manson and his kooky acid-munching murderous followers. I honestly don’t understand how those people could look at themselves objectively and not reach the conclusion that they were part of a mind-bending, reality-denying train that was speeding towards destruction. Then again, maybe they did and they just weren’t allowed to leave.
Whatever the case, cults are entirely fascinating. Here in Longview, there have been rumors and jokes since I was a kid about the Longview Baptist Temple, or LBT. (Affectionately mocked as “Lettuce-Bacon-Tomato”.) I heard stories about their bizarre behavior as a kid and a teenager. For example, I heard that they locked the doors to the sanctuary during services so that no one could leave, not even to go the bathroom. On the episode, Adam shares some truly creepy tales about the way that this so-called bus ministry tried to snag new recruits.
As we state on the podcast, we are in no way insinuating that Longview Baptist Temple is any type of cult. For all we know, they’re just a standard Baptist church with some weird practices. That’s not really the point, though. The point is the story. We always heard tales as kids that really creeped us out. And that’s what this podcast is all about. Weird, creepy local stories. Every town’s got ’em. And this is one from my town.
I hope you enjoy our discussion. Does your town have any local cults? You might be surprised, especially if you live in the middle of Nowhere.
This summer has burned. Literally and metaphorically. We’ve seen innocent people murdered in the streets and the tally of the dead continues to grow. Racial anger and the violence that it engenders is a massive problem that we, as a society, have refused to acknowledge for a long time.
But it’s not a new problem. Right here, in the heart of Longview, we have witnessed this struggle before. In the hot, reckless summer of 1919, the entire country was wracked by a spasm of anger, as whites and blacks battled for equality, decent jobs and fair pay.
Sometimes, that struggle ended in bloodshed and burned houses. That’s how it went down in Longview.
In July 1919, Longview erupted. People were murdered for the color of their skin and their attempts to make better lives for themselves.
Our current summer in the dread year of our lord 2016 is not so very different.
If we can talk about the things that are killing us, maybe our fellow citizens can stop dying in the streets.