December 4, 2020
Having recently read Beth Bednar's book Dead Air, published in 2011, I'm startled by the discrepancy in the account of the morning walk portrayed as a sort of alibi by LaDonna Woodford on Up and Vanished and48 Hours to the account of the morning walk in Dead Air. In Dead Air the morning walk is cancelled without explanation. Bednar does not give a source or reference for her account but she must have notes for the source of this information in her files. I seem to recall reading many years ago that the date for the cancelled morning walk was misremembered by the source to have taken place on June 27, 1995 and that she later corrected it. Could that account for the discrepancy?
But here's the thing about alibis. The popular podcast Serial deftly explored the subject because its case hinged on where the suspect was for 20 some minutes on a particular afternoon. Sarah Koenig, the podcast's host, started the first episode by asking people randomly if they could remember what they did, say, a week ago. And this proved to be much more difficult than each participant thought it would be. But Koenig also pointed out that if a very significant event happened, then one was likely to remember that day in detail. So bringing that back to this case, if you heard on June 27, 1995 that Jodi Huisentruit had disappeared and if you knew that your friend claimed to be the last person to see Jodi the night before, you would know without a doubt if you had walked with that friend that morning. There would be no issue with the date of the walk. You would know with utter clarity that you either walked with your friend that morning or you didn't.
I would like to have these accounts reconciled or explained and I don't know how to do that. I thought of driving to Mason City and knocking at the door of the MCPD, asking to speak to the manager (Chief Brinkley) but I don't where that would get me. And having seen and read his statements about the case (which led me down a bit of a rabbit hole to statements he's made about other issues in the news, including a TED talk he gave) I have a great deal of respect for him. I have no doubt he's doing his job and cares about his community. So for now I will wait. I do hope that the "fresh set of eyes" approach will be allowed with the files in this case. People focus on different things, make connections and see patterns in different ways. After so many years it's time for a fresh look.
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