Earlier this month, FindJodi.com co-founder Gary Peterson and his wife, Gladys, joined me for a wonderful evening in the company of members of an Elk River book club. The event was primarily a social one for the Petersons, having a personal connection with one of the book club members. For me, it was social as well, along with the opportunity to discuss the Jodi Huisentruit case. My book, Dead Air, had been on the club’s reading list, so they were interested in meeting the author. But they got so much more that evening – in fact, you might say the audience scored a triple-whammy.
You see, Gary and Gladys themselves are two in a million. They’re interesting characters whom I am lucky to count among my friends. As a pair, they are easygoing, affectionate, and hospitable. Married nearly fifty years, you’d think they’d be ready to settle into a comfortable retirement. But don’t be ready to write them off just yet.
The Peterson’s have shared interesting work over the years, Gary as a former television newsroom professional and former travel speaker, and both of them as professional photographers. Those careers are now spoken of in the past tense, but what is really fascinating is what they do in the present.
Years ago, they began work as accredited medico-legal death investigators, of which there are only a few hundred in the United States. Their expertise as death scene investigators is critical to southeastern Minnesota’s Fillmore County, where they are on call to respond to cases involving natural deaths, accidents, suicides, and homicides – those deaths that occur outside of hospitals and nursing homes. His incredible forensic mind, rational problem-solving ability, and direct nature propelled Gary headlong into the Jodi Huisentruit case, as well as other missing-persons and true-crime cases around the country, including the infamous Casey Anthony case in Florida. Gary alone can fascinate an audience for hours in talking about these proceedings, but the addition of Gladys made our book club meeting a superior event.
The mostly female audience soaked up Gladys’ stories of some of her experiences … details of a life not many mature women would pursue on their own. Gladys is not only an astute observer of human nature, but (or perhaps because of it) a very canny and insightful investigator in her own right. Her keen mind, combined with a gentle nature, makes her particularly effective in dealing with sudden death cases in the Amish community in Fillmore County. Many Amish tend to distrust “outsiders,” requiring Gladys’ special touch.
Despite the sobering topics on the agenda, the evening was full of conversation and laughter, and the three of us shared the spotlight in discussing the Jodi case. It’s something we’re happy to do, because at FindJodi.com, we believe keeping the case in front of a larger audience is important, and may help lead us to a resolution.
In my “real job” as a professional speaker and corporate trainer, I am used to working to engage an audience all by myself. This particular appearance, shared with the Petersons, was a real “piece of cake.” You might call it the perfect trifecta!