Sinners Among Saints

Episode 69: The Nick Markowski Murder: My Brothers Sins

February 02, 2024 Megan and Lindsay Episode 69
Episode 69: The Nick Markowski Murder: My Brothers Sins
Sinners Among Saints
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Sinners Among Saints
Episode 69: The Nick Markowski Murder: My Brothers Sins
Feb 02, 2024 Episode 69
Megan and Lindsay

Send us a Text Message.

Ever felt the chill of a home that refuses to warm, despite the thermostat's promises? Our latest chat opens with the all-too-common struggle of seeking comfort in the small things—be it battling the cold or staying awake through your favorite show. But as we peel back the layers of day-to-day life, we sink deeper into the abyss of the human condition, exploring the darkness of crime and the resilience of those it touches. You'll hear us recount the harrowing story of the Markowitz brothers, the perplexing twists of family dynamics, and the dire consequences when children stray into the criminal underworld.

Through the lens of personal experiences and societal reflections, we tackle the delicate act of parenting a troubled teen. We traverse the rocky paths of Ben's life, from the journal exchanges with his stepmother Susan to his brush with gang violence, and the heartbreaking developments that followed. The conversation then takes a turn, examining the lure of the drug trade and the slippery slope that led to a devastating murder plot involving Jesse James Hollywood and his associates. The gravity of our discussion is palpable, yet interwoven with the transformation and redemption found even in life's darkest corners.

Our episode concludes on a note of hope and the power of human spirit, pulling back the curtain on the aftermath of tragedy. You'll witness the strength of Susan as she battles mental health issues, Ben's eventual rise from the depths of his past, and the impact of their stories on those around them. We also carve out a moment to celebrate the triumphs of inclusivity, shining a light on Bitty and Beau's Coffee, a remarkable venture that champions people with disabilities. Join us for an episode that doesn't just confront sorrow and struggle, but also honors the indomitable will to overcome and the unexpected joy that life can bring.

The Family Histories Podcast
A genealogy addicted guest, a Life Story, a research Brick Wall..... and a time machine.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Thanks for all the support!! Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok, or email us, and remember we now have a Patreon!!
patreon.com/sinnersamongsaintspodcast
sinnersamongsaintspodcast@gmail.com
Tik Tok @sinnersamongsaints

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ever felt the chill of a home that refuses to warm, despite the thermostat's promises? Our latest chat opens with the all-too-common struggle of seeking comfort in the small things—be it battling the cold or staying awake through your favorite show. But as we peel back the layers of day-to-day life, we sink deeper into the abyss of the human condition, exploring the darkness of crime and the resilience of those it touches. You'll hear us recount the harrowing story of the Markowitz brothers, the perplexing twists of family dynamics, and the dire consequences when children stray into the criminal underworld.

Through the lens of personal experiences and societal reflections, we tackle the delicate act of parenting a troubled teen. We traverse the rocky paths of Ben's life, from the journal exchanges with his stepmother Susan to his brush with gang violence, and the heartbreaking developments that followed. The conversation then takes a turn, examining the lure of the drug trade and the slippery slope that led to a devastating murder plot involving Jesse James Hollywood and his associates. The gravity of our discussion is palpable, yet interwoven with the transformation and redemption found even in life's darkest corners.

Our episode concludes on a note of hope and the power of human spirit, pulling back the curtain on the aftermath of tragedy. You'll witness the strength of Susan as she battles mental health issues, Ben's eventual rise from the depths of his past, and the impact of their stories on those around them. We also carve out a moment to celebrate the triumphs of inclusivity, shining a light on Bitty and Beau's Coffee, a remarkable venture that champions people with disabilities. Join us for an episode that doesn't just confront sorrow and struggle, but also honors the indomitable will to overcome and the unexpected joy that life can bring.

The Family Histories Podcast
A genealogy addicted guest, a Life Story, a research Brick Wall..... and a time machine.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Thanks for all the support!! Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok, or email us, and remember we now have a Patreon!!
patreon.com/sinnersamongsaintspodcast
sinnersamongsaintspodcast@gmail.com
Tik Tok @sinnersamongsaints

Speaker 1:

Hi, I'm Lindsay and I'm Megan, and welcome back to another week of centers among saints. How's your week been?

Speaker 2:

It's been pretty good. It's been so like warm Well, I guess not really warm, but warm.

Speaker 1:

It feels warm. Does that make sense?

Speaker 2:

It's like been like 46 degrees and sunny. Yeah, it's like cold if you go hang out outside.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but it's warm, like when you walk, like when I walk in and out of work. I don't ever even need like a jacket, yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's kind of weird.

Speaker 1:

I feel like my house is actually colder than outside.

Speaker 2:

Our downstairs is cold. We didn't go upstairs and I want to kill myself and we have a fan and an AC unit in our bedroom and they're still running. So that's how I feel about that. Okay, we keep them up like we keep the AC unit up to like 73. So it only kicks on like when it gets above that, but I still have them running. Yeah, I have my heater running a lot, but we do have the heat on too, because you have to heat like the rest of the house, right? Oh, my word, yeah, that's stupid.

Speaker 2:

But yeah it's been a good week. Nothing to know, everyone's somewhat alive and Did you? Watch Salt Burn. No, damn it, no I haven't watched it yet.

Speaker 1:

We have to, you have to watch it so we can talk about it. Yeah, I have not watched that yet there's so many things that I'm frustrated by in that entire movie and I just need to talk to you about it. Yeah, I saw it.

Speaker 2:

So we always watch TV at night when we go to bed. We like turn on usually like disappeared, or we've been watching People magazine investigates or something like that. Okay, it's on, probably Hulu or something, but I saw it up there and I was like, oh, I need to watch that.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, we started watching American Nightmare and I think my husband's going to kill me because I'm so exhausted by the end of the night that we started and I fall asleep, and so the next night he's like watched a lot of it until he realizes that I'm asleep and then he shuts it off.

Speaker 2:

So the next night I'm like. I don't remember where it was, so we have to rewind it and start like.

Speaker 1:

I don't know what it is. If I'm up moving, I'm okay.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

As soon as I sit down and we always watch it in our room, so we're like in bed, I'm all like showered and I'm in my pajamas and I get all cozy and then I just like zonk out yeah, it's terrible.

Speaker 2:

I don't, and it does not matter how freaking tired I am all day, how like I just have dream about my bed throughout the day, and then it's time for bed, it's like nighttime and I just can't go to sleep. I stay up till 12 or one every day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I have become like a morning person and like I want to be in bed by 10 every night. Yeah, I am just. I just can't do it.

Speaker 2:

We can have bed and Cody literally can fall asleep within 30 seconds, and I I don't know how he does that. I'm like, how are you already asleep? And so, yeah, that's me. I can't fall asleep.

Speaker 1:

I can like hit the pillow and just like close my eyes and I'm done.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, I can't do that. I can't. I don't feel like it takes a super long time for me to fall asleep. Once I get to that point where I'm like tired, but man, he can just lay down and then he's just out and I'm like, how do you do that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm just tired all the time, so I don't know what's happening.

Speaker 2:

I am too, like I literally all day long like I'll be sitting in the car because I'll have a few minutes waiting for my kids to get out of school and I'll like literally like nodding, like going to sleep, and sometimes I'll set my alarm for like 15 minutes and just like take a quick, like little nap. I'm so tired. But then as a night wears on, for some reason I just come back.

Speaker 1:

Well, you've always been like a night out. I am, yeah, I've always been a night out and, like someone who likes to sleep in, like maybe eight, usually, like even on the weekends, were up by like seven, seven, 30.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, that would be miserable.

Speaker 1:

So I just can't. I'm just like one of those typical old people who can't sleep in, yeah, and then I just want to go to bed, really early.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I just don't like it, I get sleep.

Speaker 2:

I got up and took my kids to school this morning with and I don't have to work on Fridays and so I went home and I walked in the door and I had like this feeling for a second where I was like maybe I'll do this or this, like downstairs, and then I was like nope, I'm going to go get back in bed and got like right back in, like took everything off, got in bed in the dark with my like fan on, just look through my fight and go back to sleep. I just like laid there and like look through my phone and.

Speaker 2:

I played a game and just like laid there till literally like 1030. Then I was like, okay, I guess I should get up and get ready for the day and like make my bed I can do that for sure, do all that stuff.

Speaker 1:

But people that like can get up and like do stuff and then like two hours later or an hour later or 30 minutes later, like go back to sleep. My mind does not work that way.

Speaker 2:

I can only do that if I'm like sick or like I can't do any of that, like any like there has to be like something else going on for me to be able to like go back to sleep.

Speaker 2:

Even if I'm like really tired, I usually can't like go back to sleep, but on Fridays I do like to just go home and get. Either go get in the tub and just like relax, or go lay back down in bed and just like lay there and look through my phone and just do nothing for like a couple of hours. I'm like there's no one here, there's nothing I have to do. Yeah, it's pretty nice.

Speaker 1:

All right, well, are you ready to jump into this case? Sure, okay, this one might be a little bit longer. I tried to summarize as best as I could, but there's a lot. So this story, as we go on, might sound a little bit familiar, because it was the true story that a very popular movie in 2006 was based on. So I will tell you at the end of this what movie it was, because I want to first give you all of the sad details of the story and see one, if you recognize it, but two, I want you to get the backstory, because the movie doesn't really talk about like. It kind of just picks up on the action when it starts, but you don't get like any of the backstory, and this has a lot of backstory. So Ben and Leah Markowitz were the children of Jeff and Phil in the Blank, his wife. I read a book on this and everything refers to her as Ben's mom or Leah's mom, but I don't know her actual name.

Speaker 2:

Weird Even in the book.

Speaker 1:

Even in the book. So that's bizarre, I know Phil in the Blank. But the parents did end up getting divorced and they had a very, very tumultuous relationship after their divorce, especially when Jeff moved on fairly quickly and met his new girlfriend, susan. Susan had always wanted to be a mom and was excited to have step kids. She then became pregnant with a son that the couple would go on to name Nicholas, and Susan vowed that she would treat the kids all the same and would not play favorites with her biological son. So the two later married and Ben and Leah, primarily, were living with their mom and only saw their dad and Susan every other weekend, so they lived a pretty privileged life.

Speaker 1:

Ben was a really good baseball player and was involved in private school and a lot of private baseball clubs, and he had a large group of friends. But around age seven or eight he started having issues with acting out, and by the time Ben was nine the couple had joint custody of Ben and Leah and Ben was forced to stop attending private school due to the rising costs, and so he had a switch to a new school, which was really hard on him. He was having a ton of behavior issues, especially in school and his grades were really, really suffering. Nick was said to be very soft spoken, kindhearted and gentle and he had really good manners and a really big heart. He was more sensitive and he didn't really love sports. He was more of like an analytical child. He loved to read and he loved to learn.

Speaker 1:

He excelled in school and was in advanced programs in elementary school and he also started playing the piano. Nick absolutely adored both of his siblings, but especially wanted to be close to Ben. He always looked up to him. According to a book written by Susan Markowitz called my Stolen Son, in second grade Nick had to do one of those, you know the fill in the blank books where they're like my favorite color is, my favorite food is, and there was one question which I thought was a weird question to begin with, but it was, I worry about, blank.

Speaker 2:

Oh, it was interesting, and his answer was my brother.

Speaker 1:

So in second grade he was already like worried about his brother.

Speaker 2:

We saw that his brother like struggled in life. He was like struggling.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he just adored him how sad. And then began getting into more trouble and when he was 11, he was caught by an off-duty police officer and him and his friend were going around poking holes in people's tires with a screwdriver and apparently this off-duty police officer was just like out for a run yeah, excuse me and picked him up. Another time he went to a friend's house and walked into their house Like he got there and knocked and no one was home. So he just walked in, saw the keys to the family car sitting there, oh no, and decided to take it for a joy ride at 11. No, and he ended up crashing it into three other cars, I'm sure, and they ended up not nobody was hurt, luckily, but they ended up not getting reported because Jeff, sort of like his dad, came to like save the day and was like listen, I'll just pay, let's just not report this. And everyone agreed.

Speaker 1:

So this is when Jeff and Susan were like listen, we need help, he needs help, there's something wrong going on. So they got him into a psychiatrist for help and he was diagnosed with ADHD and placed on Ritalin. Now Susan reports that this really helped with his schoolwork, but it also made him hyper focus on other aspects of his life, like getting what he wanted. Okay. So I have never heard of this happening with like stimulants. I prescribe a lot of stimulants, yeah, and I think like Ben at a young age was just sort of manipulative and this gave him just like hyper focus in all aspects of life. It doesn't really say how long he ended up taking the Ritalin, if this was a long time thing, it just sort of briefly mentions it.

Speaker 2:

I wonder though if because once you start taking your stimulant right, your brain kind of like unscrambles right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Because before that, especially if you have like pretty bad ADHD, like it's just so chaotic in there, yeah, and then you're just like I'm just doing it, and then it kind of all straightens out, and so maybe he was doing stuff like that beforehand, but you know, they're all kind of all over the place. This just made it so that he could like focus on this and focus on this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So then they like noticed it more, like, oh, here's what he's doing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So Susan was kind of like I don't really know if I like this, yeah, but to me it kind of points to Ben maybe having something other than, for sure, ADHD, but it was in what? The nineties, nineties, yeah. So he started fighting a ton with his biological mom and they even got into like physical fights where at one point he she like grabbed his arm and bit him so hard that she left a mark. I mean, she's so yeah.

Speaker 1:

So he was like trying to leave the house and he like pushed her out of the way. That like it got all physical and then she just grabbed his arm and bit him and by the time he got to Susan and Jeff's house he still had the bite marks on him. And so they didn't really like get the police involved or anything, but they were like listen, it's gotten too bad, you guys are not doing well with each other. So let us just take him for a little bit. And in Susan and Jeff's mind they thought that this would really help his behavior if they could just if he could just live in one place?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and they would be able to get him on a strict schedule and routine. And they were they kind of were like listen, his mom isn't a great mom and so we could do better, yeah, and so they were actually really excited to have him come live there full time. And so he did, and he didn't even end up speaking to his mom for about four months. Oh wow, when he was 12, his parents found out that not only has behavior not improved, but it was getting worse and worse day by day.

Speaker 1:

And they found out that he had done an initiation and been jumped into a local gang called Down to Serve, or they just went to DT by DTS, which I was like the hell kind of name is that Down to serve, Right, Like that sounds like a church group. Yeah, Like we're down to do some service. I don't know. This is the stupidest game.

Speaker 2:

I've ever heard. I mean, it's not scary, that's for sure. You sound like you want to go around and do shit for everybody?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, down to serve Like do you need your lawnmode? Yeah, Can I help you shovel your walkway?

Speaker 2:

Down to like, serve you like a sweet dance, Like what are you certainly?

Speaker 1:

going to understand. I think it was supposed to be. They were going to serve you a whooping of kick ass. Oh, I'm sure everyone else felt the same.

Speaker 2:

I think everyone else felt the same too.

Speaker 1:

And maybe it was because it was the time, maybe that was like a cool thing.

Speaker 2:

Maybe that's when the you got served thing was about.

Speaker 1:

I don't know, but Down to Serve is the stupidest game I've ever heard. So stop it. So they found out that he got jumped into this game when he came home with a broken arm, claiming that he had fallen off his bike, but he didn't have any other scratches or anything on him, yeah, so they found out that that was his, is his initiation, was the gang member just like broke his arm.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that like gives me the heebie-jeebies. Like that's disgusting At 12. Oh, no thanks.

Speaker 1:

He was lying about where he was going and who he was with and they this game was mostly about like just small vandalism things. They would go tag buildings like stupid stuff like that. But then they started to think that they were a little harder and so they got into some car theft and so Ben, still at the age of 12, stole his first car, while still a second car, yeah, but he actually physically stole a car and drove three hours to Palm Springs to attend a party with another 15 year old boy, and apparently the 15 year old didn't know how to drive. So the 12 year old was like I got this and drove on the interstate to Palm Springs.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I guess I just live like a completely different life. But even if I was like in my early 20s and throwing, throwing a party like in my own home and some 12 year old walked in, I would be like what are you doing here? I'm sorry, excuse me.

Speaker 1:

It is past your curfew.

Speaker 2:

Go home. It's past your bedtime. Go home, child.

Speaker 1:

There's a lot of this in in this story and I'm like what? Who are these people that are hanging?

Speaker 2:

out with these young kids. I mean, I guess like in that kind of a world like I've, like gangs and like drugs, like everybody just kind of is accepted and no one is like you are like 12.

Speaker 1:

When you're in DTS, you're in DTS.

Speaker 2:

You are DTS, you're in so bizarre. It's weird. What do you have, like? I don't even know if you're 19. Like, what do you have to talk to a 12 year old about? Right, I don't even understand. No, I'm still having to like be told to go shower because they smell like. Yeah, what are we doing?

Speaker 1:

I don't want you in my gang. No, actually.

Speaker 2:

I don't want to hang out with you.

Speaker 1:

But I think this gang was more like younger kids.

Speaker 2:

anyway, Sounds like it probably.

Speaker 1:

And they lived in a suburb of LA. And so it's like a lot of crime, a lot of gangs. It's like the cool thing to do with the 90s.

Speaker 1:

Anyway. So they head to this party with this. The two boys, 12 and 15, and his dad ended up finding out what was going on because he told his dad he was going to the movies and the dad was like I don't believe you. So he ends up going to the movies to look for him and he's not there. So then he waits for the movie to get out and then he, of course Ben doesn't come out, and so then he goes around and just like interviews all these people and is like where is he?

Speaker 1:

He finally finds out what happened, and so the 15 year old boy's older brother is actually a police officer, and so they head down to Palm Springs and basically like do a stakeout and just wait for them. And they find them and Ben sees his dad and the older brother and freaks out, and so he decides to take off in the car, and so it's like this high speed chase and he ends up t boning another car. So he ends up getting arrested for car theft and then when they open up the car and I don't know if this was their gun or if it was in the car randomly, but there is they have to add an illegal gun possession because they found a loaded 22 in the trunk.

Speaker 2:

Oh no, it was probably just whoever's gun that owned the car. Like, doesn't that suck.

Speaker 1:

That sucks so hard, so he ends up going to Juvie and he's only there for three weeks for this because he's 12 in their life, whatever. So after his release he tried to channel his energy into baseball and then his parents also got him into Taekwondo. So Ben was really, really good at sports and that was his thing. He loved them. And so Nick was like, hey, I want to do something. And Nick started doing Taekwondo with his brother and he was okay, but sports just really weren't.

Speaker 1:

Nick's thing In the movie that we'll talk about later. It kind of makes him seem like he says he was a black belt and that he had all of this Taekwondo experience. That's not the case. He did it, but it was mostly to spend time with Ben. He wasn't any good at it.

Speaker 1:

So he wasn't like some hard ass that knew how to fight. So things would seem to go great for a while and then they would take a turn for the worst and Susan ended up buying Ben a journal for the two to communicate back and forth with, and so she gave it to him and they would like write notes back and forth, which actually was kind of cool. He'd write anything that happened that was good in his day. He'd write bad things. He'd write when he was upset. This was him and who, and his stepmom, susan, and he would talk about things that they were doing as parents that he didn't like, and then Susan would always write back. So after he wrote he'd leave it in a certain spot and then it was her turn to write back and he didn't hold back with this. So he was actually really good at communicating and Susan would always try to respond and be supportive. She would write lots of fun little notes Like you would think that you would write in your kid's lunchbox or something like that.

Speaker 1:

But then when there was stuff he didn't like, she would try and explain their point of view, and so some of these were really good conversations and in the book she actually writes them out so you can read things that they were writing about.

Speaker 1:

And Ben really took to this and seemed to like it. He seemed to open up more with writing rather than speaking, because he was such a quick to temper person that it was like when he had to write it down he was just better able to communicate his thoughts, and so it was working really well for them. He started getting really good grades and things were great. But then Susan and Jeff saw him outside with a group of kids and they were all passing a gun back and forth and Ben claimed that a friend had given it to him and that he had started carrying it for protection against bullies at school, which, first of all, not a good idea.

Speaker 2:

No, that's an escalation right there.

Speaker 1:

And his parents were terrified because he already had this like gang connection which had kind of been broken by this point after he went to juvie. He kind of was able to. It wasn't like the gangs that were really hard to get out of right, they're just these like stupid gangs and so they were worried that he was getting back into gang affiliation when they saw him with this gun. And they also did not know that he had been being bullied. He had never mentioned that. So they were like what is happening?

Speaker 1:

so this is when Susan's mind kind of shifted, because up to this point she was really trying to be supportive of Ben, trying to do everything she could as a step mom, you know, get him Counseling, get him on medication in this journal thing, getting him in sports, getting him involved, like it was just sort of she was doing everything she could think of and In my mind she was doing a pretty good job. But at this point is when her mind shifted because she began to get worried how this would eventually affect Nick. Yeah, she didn't want gang activity coming back on them and she even threatened to leave and like get a different house. Yeah, so Ben was still in counseling, but in the book she writes that it wasn't like a dedicated counseling where you go like twice a week. It was like kind of as needed. Oh. So it seems like they only took him to counseling when he was like getting in trouble right right.

Speaker 1:

Which is not really how counseling should work no no, um, things settled down again, and by this time Susan had become a really big snoop. She did not trust her step son and would go through his things constantly. During one of Susan's snoop sessions she found a gun clip in his drawer and at this point she was like listen, I can't do this, and the parents decided to have Ben move out of the house. Yeah, so it seems like Susan was just really terrified about what affect the behaviors would have on Nick. She's not really worried about them or herself or Leah, it just seems to all go to Nick.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and I should mention here that I mentioned that she had always wanted to be a mom. Yeah, so after Nick she got pregnant on two other occasions, and one ended up in a miscarriage, and then the second one she got pregnant with a little girl, and at 19 weeks she went to her ultrasound and found out that the baby had like a neural defect and it wouldn't survive, and so she had to go get an abortion. And she talks about how she goes to this abortion clinic and it's like people who are there like kind of joking about it and they you know, because they are probably there, because it's probably not their first time, she talks about how they are just doing it as like.

Speaker 1:

Like, it's a decision right, yeah, but she felt like she didn't really have that decision. Yeah, and so at that point is when she stopped trying to get pregnant because it just wasn't going well. No, that's so depressing, yeah. So the book is actually. It's really sad if there's so many things where I especially towards the end and she's talking about things and I just like cried oh it was, it was really sad. But in her book she talks about how scared that, that how she was scared that Ben would bring dangerous people into their lives and that she didn't want Nick getting involved.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so Ben went and stayed at his grandparents house Jeff's house, or like Jeff's parents house for a little while, and then his sensei from Taekwondo offered to take him in. Oh, and this seems like a really great option. And so Jeff ended up paying a thousand dollars a month for room and board to Ben sensei to keep him on a strict, on a strict schedule, and he did a lot of money it is a lot of money and he had workouts before and after school and he also had to help train the younger kids, which gave him more responsibility. Yeah, and this also meant that he got to see Nick on most days because Nick was doing Taekwondo. Okay, both boys enjoyed, all right. So during the six months that he lived with his sensei, he didn't really get into a lot of trouble. Things were going well. Things were going well. And then they were like, okay, he's doing well, I think we can stop paying this money. It's getting expensive. And so he moves home.

Speaker 1:

By this time he's 15 years old and the family ended up deciding that you know, he's old enough that he probably needs some space to himself. So they converted his garage into a bedroom for him to hopefully help him feel like just important and wanted and have some space to himself. And so he gets home and his dad tells him that he needs to help paint the bedroom like it's. He had converted the whole thing. He did all this work. The last finishing touch was for him to pick a paint color and help his dad paint. Okay, okay.

Speaker 1:

But Ben wasn't happy about that because he had planned to go see some friends and it led to a huge fight and Ben and Jeff got into a physical altercation. Ben laid hands on his dad and so Jeff ended up wrestling Ben down to the ground. So they started to become very concerned with how angry Ben was and that his mood could change so quickly without prompting. They figured that he was doing some sort of drugs and they ended up getting him back into counseling session the very next day and Jeff ended up attending with him. And so at this point, jeff's like laid down the law. He's like listen, I'm going to set forth some rules of our house and when we get home, you are following these rules, and if you don't, if you can't follow those rules, then you can get out. Yeah, so when they got home from the counseling appointment, ben ended up leaving the house because he's like I'm not living by your rules. Yeah, so if that's my two options, peace out. This is where it gets.

Speaker 1:

This is so weird to me, but a few weeks before this big fight happened, he was down town with some of his friends and he met this random older guy. Okay, remember him, and his friends are like 15, 16, yeah, and this grown ass man his name was Eric was a bounty hunter and also owned a tattoo parlor, okay, and they got to talking and he's like listen, it sounds like you're having a rough time. Here's my number. If you ever need a place to stay, just give me a call. And so Ben did. He called this random guy he had met one time Okay, that is a grown man. And Eric was like, yeah, come on, come, you can come stay at my house. No, so he did, and Eric ended up teaching him how to tattoo. So, okay, I mean, I know it's like kind of cool, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, eric didn't like do anything negative. Okay.

Speaker 1:

And he had like a strict no drug policy. Okay, which was great, but he was like listen, I'll teach you how to tattoo. And so Ben started tattooing himself, like practicing on himself, uh huh. So by the time he finally decided to come home, because he eventually got kicked out of Eric's house because one of his friends brought over drugs and Eric's like nope, you're, you're gone. I told you the rules.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so he calls Jeff and he's like I'm ready to come home. And so Jeff goes to pick him up and says that he pulled up to the parking lot and didn't even recognize his son. He had shaved his head bald like a skin head and he had tattoos all over his body. Oh no, so he had changed from like this nice looking kid to like this thug In the months that he had been gone. So at that point Jeff decided that it was best to just get an apartment for just the two of them and try to work on their relationship. That's what he did To me. I just think Susan was like listen, I don't want to deal with him. I don't want him around. Nick, yeah, I'm done.

Speaker 2:

She probably did tell him like you're more than welcome to have an apartment with your son. Yep, not going to tell you not to see him, but like he can't come back here, I'm not taking him back.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, so they got a one bedroom apartment and Ben had been expelled from school again, so we had to find another school and Jeff would take him to and from school and then pick him up and then make him go to work with him after school.

Speaker 1:

And so this was working OK. But then, after a couple of months of this, ben was doing really, really good and Jeff and Susan got asked if they wanted to go out of town for the weekend. Ok, so they left for a couple of days and Jeff was like listen, I need to be able to trust you, so I'm going to give you a little bit of leeway. And that was the wrong thing to do, because when they, when he got back from being out of town for a night, the apartment manager came and confronted him in the parking lot and was like listen, you guys are done, you can't stay here anymore. While you were here, while, while you were gone, your son had a huge party, there was a bunch of people doing drugs, there was a bunch of damage that was done to the building and you're out of here. And so they left for a couple of days and they were like they were out of town.

Speaker 1:

And you're out of here. And so Jeff was like OK, so he goes to pack up their stuff. And Ben had disappeared. He was gone. He had no clue where he was. I'd be so pissed, I know. Like like, listen, you little shit stick. Yeah. Like like everyone is trying to help him out, man, but it's just not working, nope. After that Ben stayed with a family friend named Rose. Now Rose was someone who sort of had like a halfway house for troubled youth. She sort of just started taking kids in that needed a little bit of help. He started in an alternative school, like an alternative high school, and was doing OK. But then about a month in he got expelled again for quote, inciting a race for.

Speaker 2:

Oh no. So if you like a real skinhead now, he's really not.

Speaker 1:

He's really not, but he is.

Speaker 1:

I think there is a point, I think he's just looking for like, like his people Right, and he ended up getting initiated into another gang that was called the Black Hearts Pariah, what, what, what Stupid ass names. They're so stupid, they're so dumb. But some kid at school started a rumor that Ben hated blacks, and it wasn't true, and so Ben decided to not only confront the kid, but he essentially just walked into the kid's classroom, didn't even wait till class was done, found out what kid, what class this kid was in, walked into his classroom, doesn't say a word and just knocks this kid out cold.

Speaker 2:

Imagine if you were in class. And I just walked in and just walked in and knocked out another kid in class, like without anything being said, and I'm like what just happened. I would have been like it would have been so exciting for me because I love watching like it just like it's so much drama.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Like, oh my god, but so crazy.

Speaker 2:

Right, like what is happening yeah.

Speaker 1:

So this kid's just laying there, knocked out cold, and Ben just leaves. Can you imagine?

Speaker 2:

if you were the teacher. Doesn't even say a word.

Speaker 1:

Just walks in cold cocks this guy and then just walks out. If you're the teacher, you're just like I do not Get paid Right. Especially in an alternative high school. You're like what is this, like what is happening? My life choices I'm questioning them all right now.

Speaker 2:

Man, that's crazy yeah.

Speaker 1:

But so then his gang friends kind of caught wind of what had happened, and so they all met up at the school and were waiting outside for the students who had just got knocked out to get out of school, and they were going to beat the shit out of him further. And so, oh and by the way, the kid was black. That started the rumor. So I'm like, so this kid starts a rumor that you hate black people and you do this, and instead of like buying him a Starbucks or like making a men's hugging it out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you go in and cold cock him and then just wait outside with your gang, who's probably a bunch of white kids. Right, this doesn't help your cost. No, it really doesn't, okay. So luckily the police were called and no additional fighting ensued, but Ben was expelled.

Speaker 2:

I'm surprised I didn't have police on campus like at an alternative school. They might have actually. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Because it seems like it was like it ended pretty quickly. Pretty quickly. Yeah, shortly after this, ben was arrested when he went to the beach and punched a guy while wearing brass. Knuckles Right, whitey punch a guy. So one of the other girls that was living in Rose's house, uh huh, like this gang of misfits, yeah, they all go to the beach and she just tells some of the kids that I think that's a guy that sexually assaulted me.

Speaker 1:

Oh, no, and so, instead of like anything being said or yeah he just goes and punches this, he puts on his brass knuckles and is like I got this and just like he just goes around and punches people who needs brass knuckles at the beach.

Speaker 2:

That's right, ben does. Ben apparently does, so that's crazy.

Speaker 1:

Then he gets out on bail and he ends up being pulled over in a stolen car. And at this point he says that he didn't know the car was stolen. Okay, I don't know if that's true or not, but he gets pulled over, they run the plates it's stolen. And so back to Juvie. He went, yeah, cause he's not even 18 yet right, no, he's 15.

Speaker 2:

He's still 15? He's 15. My God, there's a lot that has gone on in this like short period of time. Yeah, and he got expelled the first time, I think, when he was nine, and so he's been expelled from multiple schools.

Speaker 1:

by now he's been in Juvie two or three times. He's been two or three times he's been in. He's stolen three cars now. Oh, ben and Rex in two of them. Man, I thought he was like close for.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't even close her, like 17 by now. No, a lot of shit in like a short amount of time, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Nope, he's still 15. So he goes back to Juvie and at this Susan and Jeff are actually relieved. They're like, good yeah, we know we can't get in trouble, that's right where he needs to be. Maybe he'll learn his lesson Right. He does really really well in Juvie and he starts getting really good grades and he starts talking about taking his GED. And he wrote to his family often. He wrote them really long letters almost every single day and he especially loved to write to his little brother, nick. He really wanted to be close to his brother and he wrote in his letters that he was sorry for the behavior he had exhibited thus far, essentially, and that he wanted to be a better brother and a good example to Nick. He was released home in February 1995 at the age of 16 and Nick was so excited to have been home Again. Things went well for a while and then shit just hit the fan again.

Speaker 2:

Some people do not do well out in society no, you know what I mean Like they do far better like in an institution which is so sad.

Speaker 1:

Or with a sensei who's like a prison Right, that's like yeah.

Speaker 2:

But, I think, yeah, it is. You just don't have access to all of the other stuff, and it's almost like the real world is too overwhelming for you to be out in.

Speaker 1:

And it's like, even if parents are that strict right, you just don't have the same respect for them, and so it's totally different. Yeah, so from then on, ben really didn't stay in one place for too long. He would stay with friends, girlfriends, couchsurf. He'd go to his parents' house for a while and Jeff was clear that he could always come home and he always had a place to stay, as long as he followed the house rules, and that just wasn't his thing.

Speaker 2:

Can you imagine your life being like you don't really know where you're going to sleep every night? No, like that's so beyond for me At 16. I just can't even like fathom how that like you get up in the morning and then like maybe use their shower, if they let you, and then you just like do what all day and then just search for another place to like, crash, crash, yeah, because it's exhausting. It's so sad and sad that like that's kind of what you prefer to do.

Speaker 2:

You would prefer to do that, then to just follow some fairly, I'm sure like regular rules as to like what any normal parent would like. You know, like you can't do drugs in our house, you can't like. You know you have a curfew.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you can't bring weird people over like just normal stuff that anybody would want in their household Like fight and be physical, even if it was a roommate, like someone your own age, like you know you have like these same similar rules.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like you just have to be normal. Yeah, and you would rather just like live so chaotically?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so sad it is really sad and Nick really longed for more time with his brother, but Susan was set on them not spending any time together because she just didn't want Nick to turn out like Ben. I can understand like her. Like you want to treat all the kids the same right, you want them to all be treated the same.

Speaker 2:

But then you have this one kid that like, realistically, at the end of the day, is not your kid, so you really don't have final say in anything that happens in his life, because he has parents and they're the ones who get final say. But you have this other kid that, like, is your kid and you legally like that's who you're in charge of, yeah, and this other kid just seems to have been so lost and so I like I can see her like protective nature for her son and just wanting, you know, not, I'm sure she didn't think Ben was like a horrific person, but it's like my son is also the younger brother and he looks up to you and he thinks everything you're doing is cool and doesn't understand.

Speaker 1:

Protect your child, Right, Like I mean. Maybe if you were just getting into trouble but there wasn't the gang stuff, it would be different, but you're bringing all of these people into their lives and it's like yeah, that's pretty serious, yeah, that's serious. Like that means like you could harm someone with a gun now on two occasions and with a gun clip on two separate occasions. Yeah, like that's scary, it's terrifying.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's really scary because you don't have a child who's very reactive and like angry, yeah, you never know what's going to happen with them and kids like that too, that are like super impulsive, they there's no thought process in the moment, right, they just react. And then after the fact, a lot of times are like that was really stupid move, like I regret doing that now, because now I'm in trouble and, like you know, I shouldn't have done it, but like in that moment there is no reasoning or like any sort of logic thought that goes on and they just react and that doesn't matter how harmful it is.

Speaker 1:

No, and you're going through puberty, so they're having this testosterone rage and like surge of hormones.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And it's like I wouldn't want to be like that, like someone in my house, like that with a gun.

Speaker 2:

Well, in kids with ADHD, to tend to like mature a little bit slower, and because they're I mean just from my experience I guess I'm no like psychologist or doctor or anything but their minds are going so fast they like seem to be less aware of like their body and what's happening with their body and like what any of it means. Like they don't realize, like I feel angry because you know, like I'm going through puberty and whatever. Like it's just, it just cares them healthy ways I could deal with that, like they just don't.

Speaker 2:

It's just like burst of outrage, burst of outrage, yeah, and they don't even necessarily notice that it's like they're angry, they just it just kind of happens and they're just it's so so much.

Speaker 2:

So he's in that phase right, so hard. Because if you are parenting a kid like that, there's a point where you're like you are an ass hat. Yeah, I'm so tired of your shit, nothing I can do like it's helpful to you. But then when you look at it from like an outside perspective, like as a grown up and as a parent yourself and an adult, you're like he's like he's so young and their brains are not like fully developed and he's got stuff working against him obviously, like at least with ADHD, if not more, and like all of these things. That it's like man. Part of that is like he's got some shit working against him For sure.

Speaker 1:

And his I mean his parents don't get along, they like don't fight or they don't even talk. Susan and his mom really don't get along and in the book. It talks about more fights that happened with them, but one time he witnessed his mom try to run Susan over with a car. Oh my God, like it's so much, yeah, that he experienced at a young age, yeah, and it's like I think he's just an angry kid.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, and yeah, when you have a kid that's already kind of built that way, a kid that's not built that way can see that stuff and it might give them like some anxiety or it's going to affect them, the sons, they're not going to be affected but it's not going to make them like necessarily act out or go, you know, get arrested and get into drugs or gangs or whatever, right, but you have these other kids that are a little bit more sensitive to that and they don't do well when they witness that and then it does kind of send them into these, this wrong path. Yeah, so sad, I mean I don't know, I guess at the end of the day, if I should feel bad for him at the end.

Speaker 1:

But right now I do. I still feel bad for him. I feel bad for him the whole, the whole time, actually. So soon Nick was in high school and he started also having his own little identity crisis, like most kids do in high school For sure. Yeah, he had always hung out with drama kids and suddenly he was feeling like I'm not cool enough. Yeah, he started changing his appearance. He started putting safety pins through all of his clothes to make him look like hard.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that was so 90s, and like God, so 90s oh so 90s, his parents wouldn't let him wear certain colors because of gang affiliation, and black was one of them. Oh no, and so he would just take his other clothes and try, and you know, identify that way, like he would put safety pins in them and yeah. So his mom was really, really strict on the way he could wear his hair and what clothes were acceptable, because they were so versed now in researching gang culture.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, with Ben, and they just wanted him to be safe and so hypersensitive to like that, like what could happen, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And it's not that I think that Susan was that overbearing of a mom, but she's kind of overbearing, yeah, she's sort of like mama bear to Nick and I get it Right. I really do with what she went through with Ben, but at some point it's almost to like a little bit much.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there's like a fine length and I was like about 13 and my cousin started kind of like you know, going down, maybe like a little bit of like hanging out with the wrong kind of people or whatever, and I still hung out with them a lot then. But I remember my mom telling me like I wanted some pants one time. They were like super baggy right, because that was so 90s and my mom was like you can't wear those.

Speaker 2:

You cannot wear pants that are that baggy Like you just can't. I'm not going to allow it, but I could like color my hair, or you know what I mean. Yeah, Like when I was 16. I was like I'm going to wear this in some way.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Like I wanted to pierce my tongue when I was 16, which I didn't at that point but my mom was like you want to, like I'll take you. But there was like certain things where she was like, no, I don't want, like you can't do that because you know that's just right, Kind of maybe going down the wrong way. But yeah, there's like a fine line and it's so hard, especially when it's almost like your first right because she's has, she's had been, but it's so atypical of like how how a kid's going to behave and what's going to happen.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And for me, with, like Lily, being 13, almost 14, like that's a hard transition to them becoming like teenagers. It's so hard, yeah, so I get like that. But yeah, you can't be too overbearing. Yeah, yeah, I mean, no matter what you do as a parent, you just screw them all up.

Speaker 1:

It's true, and I get it, because it's like she became a step parent before she was a parent. Yeah, I was that way too, and it was weird. It was like you kind of think that you know better ways to do things and so you think, like what are they like, what's their mom thinking with this, right? But then you get and you actually have your own child and it changes your perspective on everything, for sure, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And it's not that either way is the right way or the wrong way. It's just different and you have to parent differently with every child, and I feel like she never treated Nick and Ben like they were separate. She was just so worried about Nick turning into Ben that she probably created a lot of the problem with him by being too strict. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

For sure.

Speaker 1:

That's my opinion on reading the book. Yeah, so like she even admits in the book that like she would stand over him, like she would sneak into his room at night and stand over him and like he and just watch him sleep for like a long time even when he was in high school. Why?

Speaker 2:

That's creepy, yeah, but it's almost like you think about like religion, like religious people I mean around here at Zeldia that's like the main religion and I had more than one like friend, especially in college, that were raised super strict religious and then it's like the second. They get some of that freedom. They like drugs and alcohol and sex and like they just go so crazy. And I just remember being like whoa, like you don't have, like you woke up where and you don't remember anything. Like maybe you should tone it down, but it's like you can take it step by step, yeah, but it's like if you go too much and you know make something so bad and you can't do this because it's terrible and it'll whatever. Like it like naturally makes people want to rebel.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, this is natural. That's why some of those like super strict cultures have the week or whatever the two weeks that the kids can just go do whatever the hell they want. Well, they do. And then they decided to come back to the family. They have like a purge week.

Speaker 2:

Yeah it really is crazy. I didn't know that.

Speaker 1:

What's the why can't I think of it? The ones that like make all their own food, the Amish? The Amish, they have like a two week period when the kids graduate high school, where they go and party because there's no like drinking or drugs, or right yeah, sex, nothing like that.

Speaker 1:

So they get to go, do whatever they want. They don't have any rules, and I think it's like a two week period and then at the end they have to decide if they want to come back and live the Amish life or if they want to go their separate way. But if they go their separate way, they don't see their family ever again.

Speaker 2:

No, I mean, of course, I watched all of the reality TV show. That Amish, was it becoming Amish? Oh yeah, anyway, I watched all of that and, yeah, there was, like you know, a few of them that had become English is what they call it. Yeah and yeah, like the church leaders would like punish the parents if they got caught like visiting with their son or whatever, that doesn't live the Amish life.

Speaker 1:

So anymore, if they choose to go the other way, but yeah, you're cut off. That's crazy. So Nick ended up starting to sneak off to parties and was dabbling in smoking some marijuana and cigarettes and also drinking, and which I think is fairly common at this age. For sure, susan was a self proclaimed snoop and her habit of going through the boys stuff was even worse. With Nick. She would read all of Ben's notes from his friends or girlfriends and she even wrote in the book how she. It would take her like a long time to figure out how to fold them back up into their origami shapes.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God, do you remember that?

Speaker 1:

Like I remember, like the stars and like the crazy shapes. I couldn't, I don't think I could fold them like that again. But yeah, my friends, we used to pass notes like that all the time.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I totally forgot about the folding of them. Oh my God.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they're like so elaborate and she's like so I had to figure out how to fold them back in the same shape. So, like that, the words on the outside match Stopper. He would know that I went for this that is hilarious.

Speaker 2:

I know I was like she's like writing a diagram as she's unfolding it, Like how the hair and then do this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and that was before. You could just like Google it, right yeah, you can do any of that. So she wanted to keep such a close eye on her baby and every time Ben would screw up, her obsession grew even more. Oh no, and this really, really bothered Nick, because he just wanted trust and privacy. Right yeah, like every teenager does.

Speaker 2:

He's like, why am I being punished for his shit behavior?

Speaker 1:

And he hadn't really like done anything that bad? Yeah, like, yeah, sure, he maybe is doing a little bit of pot and stuff here and there, but I think that was just normal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1:

He also really just wanted to hang out with his brother and he always felt like a little bit of an outsider because he was only the half brother to Leah and Ben, while Ben and Leah were full-blooded.

Speaker 1:

And so he. This really kind of bothered him and he always wanted like a full-blooded sibling Sad, I know he. He began going to parties with his older brother and at one point he even started selling dime bags of weed to his friends. Okay, and his grades started to slip and he even had to attend summer school one year, which was really weird because if you remember that he was like so academically driven, yeah, and had always school has just come really easy to him. So it wasn't because he didn't understand, it was just because he didn't want to do the work.

Speaker 1:

Nick saw Ben as the cool older brother and wanted to be just like him. He had a big group of friends. They partied all the time. He always had a girlfriend and in Nick's 15 year old eyes, ben's life was exciting and amazing. Yeah, he would even go hang out with Ben's friends from time to time. And once he got upset with his mom, they got in a fight and he ended up running away, which terrified Susan oh, I bet. But later, a couple hours later, ben called to say hey, he showed up at my house, he's here, he wants to spend the night, I'll keep him overnight and then I'll drop him off at summer school the next day, and so Susan's like, okay, that's fine.

Speaker 2:

Did you ever this is just reminding me a little bit Did you ever watch Breaking Bad? Yes, do you remember Jesse and his little brother? Yes, it kind of reminds me of that a little bit. It does. Where, like Jesse, just was the quote unquote like screw up and was in so much trouble, and then, like the little brother was smoking weed and the parents find it and Jesse takes the fall for him.

Speaker 2:

His brother was kind of like dabbling a little bit but like so sick of kind of being treated the way he is because of Jesse and like it's so similar in that aspect.

Speaker 1:

Well, and it's weird because Ben was said to have like warned people that if they found, if he found out, that Nick was partying with them, he'd beat their ass. So he was like trying to protect Nick from this life, but then he would also take him to parties. Oh, interesting. Let him do stuff when he was there, oh. So it's just kind of a weird that is weird.

Speaker 2:

I was going to say my cousins were the same way, where, like they would never have done anything like that, like in front of me or with me, or like allowed anybody to like they would have beat him up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

But they wouldn't have taken me to any of that either.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so that is interesting. It's like a weird dynamic.

Speaker 2:

Only I can give him drugs or like alcohol or whatever he can smoke weed with me, but that's it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, when Nick got home that day after school he told his mom that he just wanted them to stop keeping him from Ben. That was their big fight. It was he was his brother and Nick loved him and he just wanted to be allowed to see him more. And Susan rarely let them like hang out because she was so worried that they would just go party.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I still just like feel for him, like he just wants to be with his brother.

Speaker 1:

Just loves his brother. So Ben was friends with a guy named Jesse James Hollywood, and that is really his name. God given name, jesse James Hollywood.

Speaker 2:

Well, jesse James is a person, right, he's an outlaw that.

Speaker 1:

But his last names Hollywood, and his parents decided to name him Jesse James. Stop it. I mean it's kind of fun.

Speaker 2:

Jesse James Hollywood. Because Jesse is like a normal name, so like it's like your normal day to day is going to be pretty okay, but when people find out your whole name like then it's like what? That's a crazy name.

Speaker 1:

That's a stupid, it is stupid but it is.

Speaker 2:

I was like I went to school with a kid. His middle name was baseball.

Speaker 1:

Are you serious? His middle name was baseball.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, nicholas baseball Burnett, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Nick Burnett's middle name was baseball, or is baseball? Yeah, yeah, I didn't know that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yep.

Speaker 1:

And he did not play baseball.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

No Interesting, no Interesting.

Speaker 2:

I never knew that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think stupid or stupid it is.

Speaker 2:

I feel like with the middle name you can do that, because, like barely anyone, knows it? No one knows it, and so it's just kind of fun because it's like niche.

Speaker 1:

But can you imagine like, as a parent, I always call out their middle name?

Speaker 2:

But see, if you have a kid like Nicholas, like with Lily, because her name is Liliana Mireja but I don't yell that out when I'm pissed off at her it's Liliana. So this is so. If you have a kid with like a longer first name, your kids all have short names. So you got to throw the middle name in there. Yeah, because Nolan is Nolan Shane when he's in trouble, nolan Shane. And then when you yell my full name, I'm like, oh no, what did I do?

Speaker 1:

Okay so. I just can't imagine Nick baseball Burnett.

Speaker 2:

That's why I was like Nicholas that's why I'm picturing is like the mom, just like Nicholas, okay, and then him being like shit, I'm in trouble. I'm leaving the house right now. Yeah, because if you don't have a ridiculous middle name you can't like, how do you yell at?

Speaker 1:

someone Kind of cool, like because you know middle names are sometimes just like grandparents names or kind of yeah, whatever, yeah, but it's nice that like it's kind of fun to have a middle, like a fun middle it is yeah.

Speaker 2:

I've always liked my middle name, just because it was different. It was Spanish, so it was just always fun. People are like whoa, I've never heard of that.

Speaker 1:

So the two had known each other since playing Little League, and Ben was two years older and although they weren't on the same team, Ben had known all the kids. So in fact most of Jesse and Ben's group knew each other from Little League Baseball.

Speaker 1:

So they had been friends for a long time. Yeah, ben took Nick to a couple of parties at Jesse James house. Okay, and so Jesse was not a great guy, he was a drug dealer, but he was really just kind of following in his father's footsteps to take over the family drug trade.

Speaker 1:

Oh, Well his dad, who's named Jack Hollywood, was said to have been a big time marijuana dealer in the area and he had made a really good fortune by doing this. I mean, yeah, and aside from money, he also made a lot of friends who were willing to help him and his family in basically anything. Okay, it's all about who you know, right? So he was allowing Jesse to sell drugs and Jesse then recruited his friends to help him move the drugs. So, essentially, I think most drug trades are like this, but you give them the product, they sell it each week, and then they give Jesse his cut, right, and then everybody gets rich, right? I mean, jesse's cut is much bigger, obviously, yeah, jesse was known to have made upwards of $100,000 in one drug transaction what One transaction. And by the time he was 19, he owned a super nice house in the West Hills. He had several expensive custom cars and was just living the life at 19.

Speaker 2:

What Like one that's a mind blow, I mean I get like a number. Yeah, I get why people like sell drugs and then they go to prison and they get out and they just go right back to it because it's such quick money, yeah, and you make a shit ton of it.

Speaker 1:

You get to like live the life. Yeah, that's insane in the 90s too Like it's a lot of money, that's so much.

Speaker 2:

It's a lot of money.

Speaker 1:

So Ben started selling for Jesse and he really likes the quick money as well and the other main members of this crew were Jesse Ruge, William Skidmore and Ryan Hoyt. Now Ryan Hoyt was like the little bitch of the group. He always owed Jesse Hollywood money and Jesse would make him work it off by cleaning the house, picking up dog shit, doing yard work and just sort of being his slave.

Speaker 1:

And Jesse. It was kind of like Jesse would say jump and Ryan would say how high he was, a huge suck up and didn't seem to really have a backbone and would just do whatever Jesse told him to do. Jesse Ruge was a 22 year old. He was the oldest one of the group. The rest of them were around 1920 and 21. And he split time between both of his parents. His dad was a greenhouse manager at the University of California and apparently developed this like crazy weird plant that he was known for.

Speaker 2:

I mean, that's going to make it good for you if you're trying to grow marijuana.

Speaker 1:

In the movie it shows him like growing marijuana there. I don't think that was real. He was a greenhouse manager, but I don't think he grew drugs. But they had a lot of things to like care for plants.

Speaker 1:

In 1999, ben and Jesse drove to San Diego to collect on a drug deal debt of $2,000 that came from an acquaintance of Ben. And when they arrived to collect the money, the guy didn't have it and he was totally broke. They knew they weren't getting anything out of this guy. And so the guy's like but listen, ben, you know me, I know where you guys can get a bunch of ecstasy to sell instead and get your money back. And so they came up with this plan to meet the ecstasy dealer and then hijack the product and not pay for it.

Speaker 1:

And Ben trusted this guy and told Jesse that they should do it. And Jesse was like I don't know, this seems real sketchy, I'm not really in the ecstasy trade, I don't know anything about this. And but he trusted Ben and was like okay. And Ben's like listen, the $2,000 debt will be mine now, so I'll pay it back, I'll do everything. So he's like okay. So the guy comes to their window to sell them 200 ecstasy pills, and so the two grab the bag and just drive off. Now Ben was hoping to turn a quick profit by selling each pill for $20. So that would have been about $4,000 for the 200 pills.

Speaker 2:

How long does ecstasy last Do?

Speaker 1:

you have any idea? I have zero clue.

Speaker 2:

Because, like, if I'm going to pay 20 bucks for one pill like that, better be like a while, wow, in the 1999, I wonder what ecstasy goes for now.

Speaker 1:

20 bucks for one pill, that seemed a little steep to me too.

Speaker 2:

I googled how long does ecstasy last and the first thing that pops up says help is available. It's confidential, free help from public health agencies and it's like an 800 number and it's like big, like oh my God, it's like literally all these national help lines. Don't do it. It really is Just don't start, don't I just even? I don't know, but it must have. The half life of MDMAs are going on eight to nine hours in adults.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so it does last a good amount of time it does. Yeah, it lasts for a little bit.

Speaker 1:

All right.

Speaker 2:

Can be detected in your urine for up to three days. Don't take that before you get a new job. Yeah, that should be there for a minute.

Speaker 1:

So Ben was hoping to turn this profit. But he soon started getting complaints from his clients that the product wasn't working. So Ben was like okay, I got to check this out. So he took one of the pills and indeed nothing happened. They were fake and they had been duped. So he went back to Jesse and told him the situation and he's like listen, I'm not selling these anymore. Yeah, I'm their bogus.

Speaker 1:

And Jesse refused to let Ben walk away from the debt because he agreed to take on this guy's debt, yeah. So he's like I don't care what you do, but you're giving me my money. And so Ben's like listen, I have $600 from the pills that I already have. And he was able to borrow $200 from his dad. So he gave Jesse $800, but that left him $1,200 short. He refused to pay Jesse and basically was like I'm not paying, you fuck off.

Speaker 1:

So this caused a big problem between the two, and Ben was not one of Jesse's pushover friends. He was like the muscle of the group and he was more of like I don't give a fuck what you think you are going to do to me. It's not going to happen, I'm not paying, like. And Jesse knew it. He knew that he was a badass. He knew he was a good fighter and was deep down kind of scared of Ben, but he also had his reputation to uphold. So Ben stopped selling drugs for him at that point and he started working for his dad and he was like I'm, I got to get out of this shit, I'm turning my life around. So he went to work for his dad and Ben and Jesse stopped hanging out as much, but they would like occasionally run into each other and it didn't really seem like that big of a deal. But soon that would change. What did his dad do I?

Speaker 2:

don't know actually, I was just wondering if I could remember if he'd said no, okay.

Speaker 1:

I don't. I don't remember it saying in the book. Actually, maybe it did, but I don't remember. So Jesse and his girlfriend went to eat at this restaurant where Ben's girlfriend was a waitress. So they get the check and he didn't pay and simply left a note that read take this off of Ben's debt, which left Ben's girlfriend to have to pay their bill. Oh no. So she goes home and tells Ben and this pisses Ben off this girl ended up becoming his fiance. So they were like really close. It was like nope, nobody's going to treat my girlfriend like that. So he left a voicemail for Jesse saying, quote you're a little fucking punk and you aren't getting a dime from me.

Speaker 1:

And then Ben retaliated in a big way. Oh no, jesse had claimed that one of his cars had been stolen and was waiting for a $35,000 insurance settlement on the car. It was apparently like this custom. I mean, it was just a small car. I was surprised it was worth that much. I want to say it was like a civic or something like that. But they had done all this custom work on it and he was waiting for the settlement. And Ben anonymously informed them that the car had not been stolen but that he had evidence that Jesse had stripped it and then crushed it and told them exactly where and how this happened. So then that's when shit really starts to go down. The two started leaving voicemails back and forth, threatening each other, and Jesse and Ryan Hoyt actually showed up to Ben's house and we're going to confront him. And Ben is driving by. He wasn't home and sees them there, so he just keeps driving. And the next day he moved out and bought a gun. So now Jesse has no idea where to find him. He doesn't know where he lives. So then Ben goes to Jesse's house and ends up breaking a couple of his windows, and later Jesse found his two pit bulls dead on his lawn and he was certain that Ben had poisoned them. There was no proof of this, and in the book it never says that that actually is something that Ben did, but who knows? So at this Jesse vowed to retaliate, and that was truly like his last straw.

Speaker 1:

On August 5th 2000, nick came home an hour before his curfew which was not common for him and his sister, leah, her husband and their brand new baby were all there. And when Nick walked in, leah and his mom noticed that his eyes were bloodshot and super glazed over. His sister had been known to call him out for being high because she didn't want him to go down that route either. So she calls him out and is like you're high right now. And he also had a noticeable lump in his pocket. And when Susan confronted him about what it was, he ended up booking it out of the house and disappeared.

Speaker 1:

And soon after Leah ended up leaving, they were on their way home and she sees him walking and stops just a few blocks from the house and he begs her to let him come and stay with her that night at her house. And she's like nope, you picked to do this, you go home and you face your consequences. Yeah, I'm not covering for you. So when he got home, his mom had just been freaked out that he had left. So she gives him a big hug and they all agreed that. You know what? Right now it's not the time to talk about it.

Speaker 2:

You're high still yeah.

Speaker 1:

So we just go get some sleep. We'll talk about it in the morning. So there wasn't like a big confrontation or anything, but it was something that Nick knew was looming over him for the following day. Yeah, the following morning, on August 6, susan got a phone call and went and woke up Nick to ask him a question about a friend's phone number. Then Nick's dad was about to leave to play tennis and so he went in and told Nick goodbye and that they'd talk when he got home. So Nick went back to sleep and Susan went downstairs and was making them all a big breakfast. And so when Jeff got home from playing tennis, she went upstairs to wake up Nick, but his room was empty. He just didn't want to deal with things at the moment, and so he had got dressed and snuck out the window and started walking away from the house. So he left that morning sometime between 9 and 10 30. He, nick, had just received a pager as an early 16th birthday present but was required to answer his mom within 10 minutes or he'd lose it. So she starts paging him immediately when she sees that he's gone, but he doesn't respond.

Speaker 1:

The same morning Jesse had decided to confront Ben and they had gone and just and figured out that he had moved out of his place. And so he and two other guys, jesse Ruge and William Skidmore, thinking that Ben was hiding out at his childhood home with Jeff and Susan, drove there to confront Ben. On the way, they saw none other than Ben's little brother, nick, walking just a couple blocks from the house. They pulled up in a white man. They all three jumped out and started punching Nick and asking him where Ben was. He said he hadn't seen his brother and didn't know where he was. They continued beating the 15 year old, hoping that it would force him to talk, but Nick really did not know where Ben was.

Speaker 1:

Jesse Hollywood told Jesse Ruge and William Skidmore to grab the kid and put him in the van, which they did. The van drove off and this entire scene was witnessed by two people. A woman named Pauline Mahoney was driving home with her three kids from church when they saw the whole thing happened. She memorized and continued to recite the license plate number and as soon as she got home she called the police. The other woman was a UCLA student named Rosalia De La Cruz-Gatau, who was walking and also saw the whole thing and immediately called the police, unfortunately both dispatchers, so two separate calls. Both dispatchers coded the calls incorrectly and it wasn't relayed as a kidnapping in progress but as a possible assault. So police respond and they combed the area but could never find a victim.

Speaker 2:

This is in the Los Angeles area. What is with? They had a shit police department back then and apparently their dispatch was not much better.

Speaker 1:

So they can't find a victim of assault. So they're like well, I don't know the officer that the first dispatch came through that had the license plate, even looked up the registration to the van and found it belonged to a man named John Roberts, who was one of Jack Hollywood's good friends. But they didn't follow up because they said it didn't seem important without a victim. So no one ever followed up on it. This is where the first bad thing happens. In the van, nick's pager was going off and Hollywood took it and saw that it was his mom and threw it on the dashboard. He then searched him and took a small bag of marijuana, his wallet and a baggie of volume, which is what he had in his pocket the night before. He also tried to take a ring that Nick always wore. That was his dad's, but Jesse Ruge told him to give it back to Nick, and the Hollywood did so. They let him keep his ring.

Speaker 1:

At that point they didn't have a plan, because this whole thing just sort of happened and the group were all headed to a festival, I guess, which is a five day festival for Spanish culture that is held annually and it's just like a big party fest Festivus for the rest of us, that's right. And they went to pick up another one of their friends named Brian Affronti. And so he gets in the van and initially he just thought it was another friend but soon realized that this wasn't the case. When Hollywood kept screaming at Nick and he would scream things like if you run, I'll break your teeth Brian didn't question it, he just kind of sat there and was like I don't know what's going on. Yeah, Hollywood ordered Ruge to take Nick to his house, but Ruge was like my dad's home, like I can't just take him over there Getting our kidnapping victim to my dad's house yeah, he's like, but I know where we can take him.

Speaker 1:

So they went to Santa Barbara to Ruge's friend, richard it's called Ho Flinger. Okay, ho Flinger Literally spelled like that, all right, ho Flinger. So they went to Richard Ho Flinger's house instead, and in the back bedroom. So they get there and Ruge is like hey, can we borrow a room for a minute? And the guy's like, sure, whatever, yeah, and so they head back to the back room.

Speaker 1:

They end up duck taping Nick and put a sock in his mouth, and a girl and a girl that was there and Richard both saw this, but they just decided to knock it involved because they feared Hollywood and they knew Hollywood had a gun. So basically, hollywood starts swinging his gun around and is like we're dealing with this, get out. And so they leave their own house. So the group that was there leave and go to the festival and just leave the men in the apartment alone with Nick. No, william Skidmore and Brian Affronti waited, wanted nothing more to do with this, and so they were like, listen, they made up an excuse, I think one of them was like I have it.

Speaker 1:

I actually remembered I have a date, so I gotta get home.

Speaker 2:

My mom's calling. It's my curfew, it's time for dinner. I gots to roll man, I have a lot of things I was going to do. Gotta go.

Speaker 1:

So Hollywood ordered them to stay while he went home to shower. It's like the weirdest thing. So both of the Jessys get in the van and take off and leave the other two men there with Nick.

Speaker 2:

They could have left.

Speaker 1:

They could have let him go anytime if they didn't want to be involved, but they didn't. And so when the Jessys come back after Hollywood showers, the other men left and take the van and leave Hollywood later, left and just basically said all right, jesse, ruge, you get to deal with Nick Like he's your problem now. And Ruge was like what am I supposed to do with them? So he ends up having to sort of babysit Nick for the next two days, two days, two days, a few days, so I think it ends up being three, oh man. So Ruge ends up untaping Nick and they walked two miles to Ruge's dad's house. Ruge's dad was home and they come in, but he doesn't really question who the young kid is. Right, ruge is just like, hey, this is one of my friends from LA, and his dad's like cool, have fun. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And the following day Nick's family reports him missing and began calling everyone they could. Ben came over and even called Hollywood and left a message saying, quote listen, I know we're not on good terms, but I really need your help. My brother has been missing since yesterday morning and if you hear anything, please let me know. Oh, ben had heard from a mutual friend that Nick had been seen partying with Hollywood, and so Ben thought that Hollywood was just trying to piss him off, because he knew how much he hated it when Nick partied with people.

Speaker 1:

Right, right. So he thought he was just doing that to get back at him for breaking his windows. Okay, he never had any idea or any thought that it would go this far. So the family made posters to hang up and just continued to search for Nick.

Speaker 1:

Hollywood went to the family lawyer because every drug dealer has a family lawyer and his name is Stephen Hoag it's spelled Hoag, h-o-g-g but it's pronounced Hoag and told Hoag his friends had kidnapped a younger brother of a boy who had busted out his windows. He told them he couldn't tell him where, but that he was just smoke and grass, taken valium drinking and playing video games. Hollywood freaked out when Hoag told him that kidnapping was up to eight years in prison and could be life if there was any ransom involved. Hoag told him, according to Hoag, he said that you needed to get the boy back home in good condition and maybe that they could get it down to false imprisonment, but not to hurt the boy. Yeah, but according to Hollywood's friends, hoag actually told them that they were in deep shit and they should, quote, dig a deep hole. So Hollywood left and then Hoag was trying to reach him and couldn't reach him.

Speaker 1:

So Hoag contacted Jack Hollywood, jesse's dad, and was like listen, some shit's going down. Yeah, this is what I was just told. You can't reach him now, so you need to figure this out. So Jack starts calling his son and also isn't able to reach him. So he's like hey, actually Jesse was moving, so he was leaving his house after it got vandalized and he borrowed a van from my friend, john Roberts, and so let's call him and see if he's returned to the van, if he knows where anything is. So he's like nope, I haven't seen him. He returned my van and immediately the sky went and just cleaned the van so that if that was used in the kidnapping he couldn't be involved. Oh, that was their first move.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

You, son of a bitch. Yeah, at Ruge's house, jesse invited over friends to party and so apparently he's treating Nick really well. Okay, so they have him taped. They just like are sleeping in his room together. Yeah, they're partying, smoking weed, getting drunk, getting high, playing video games, just kind of hanging out, okay. And so he invites some more friends over and remember he's 22. Okay, so he invites some a 17 year old Natasha Adams, 16 year old Kelly Carpenter and 17 year old Graham Presley to come over and play games and drink.

Speaker 1:

So Jesse told them that Nick was just a friend from LA visiting. But then they're like this is weird, because Jesse starts bossing Nick around and making him do chores and treating him not like you would treat like a guest, right? So then Jesse ends up leaving them all at his house and he's like listen, I got to go meet Hollywood for lunch. He leaves all the teenagers there at his house by himself. So this is when he so this is the first time that he wasn't with any of his original captors.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and this is when Nick finally tells them like what's going on? Yeah, so Nick said that he was worried about Ben and he didn't want to make things worse for him. He's like I don't want to cause problems for my brother, they're not going to hurt me. They've been treating me fine, like I'm just going to stick it out, yeah, and they had told Nick that they were just holding him until Ben gave him the money that was owed. And so he's like it's fine, my brother will get the money, like everything will be fine. I don't want to make waves, cause I don't want Ben to get in any more trouble.

Speaker 1:

So that night Natasha went to her mom, who was also a lawyer, and told her she's like mom, I met this boy that had been kidnapped, but I'm not sure what to do, and her mom essentially gave us rule 17. The mom is like, yeah, you probably should go to the police, but doesn't like take her to go to the police, doesn't like initiate any of this. She's just sort of like yeah, you need to tell the police.

Speaker 2:

That's why these kids act the way they do, Because even with like parents who aren't drug dealers her mom's a lawyer they're still not really involved. They're just like, yeah, you should probably tell someone who cares, Can you imagine?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, here's the quarter. Call someone who cares Cause it's not me, yeah, cause. I don't give a shit, I'm not getting involved. You should probably find someone else. And he's like feeling guilty, she knows something's wrong. And she's like, hey, mom, can I talk to you about something? And the mom's like, yeah, there's the phone, go call the police.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you should probably tell someone.

Speaker 1:

So she says she didn't call the police because she was afraid of Hollywood Everyone is, and she's 17. Right, yeah, and a girl, and a girl yeah. So the following day she goes back to Ruge's house and Ruge had confided in Graham Presley that Hollywood had offered him $2,000 to kill Nick. But Ruge told Hollywood that he was nuts Like. At first he thought he was just kidding. He's like no, I'm not doing that Like.

Speaker 2:

I'm not killing somebody.

Speaker 1:

So Hollywood did end up playing it off like a joke and it was like, of course I'm joking, like I don't want to kill the kid.

Speaker 2:

You know how the you know people are when, like, they say some stupid shit and you're like you think, you think they're being ridiculous or you like, and they're like oh, it's just kidding, Gosh, I'm not even personal.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like, come on, don't you know me? Yeah, so Natasha goes over there and Graham's telling her this story and she just starts crying and she's like saying how worried she was and how she's like Nick is not supposed to be here and I'm worried they're going to do something to him and we need to help him.

Speaker 1:

And Ruge is like listen, I promise you, nothing is going to happen to Nick, we are working it out. He's going to be home soon. I promise you, I will take him. If I have to, I will put him on a bus tonight and give him $50. Like, it's almost done, he's fine, I promise. But unfortunately, when Ruge told Hollywood he wouldn't kill Nick, hollywood called his little bitch Ryan Hoyt and was like listen, dude, I need, there's a problem I need you to take care of and if you do this, I will clear all of the debt that you owe me, which, by the way, was only $200 to $300.

Speaker 2:

That's not up.

Speaker 1:

Two to $300. And I'll give you an additional $400 on top of that. And Ryan was basically like great, I'm sick of being the laughing stock and the whipping boy for the group. So I'm in, Wow, Essentially for six to $700. Yep, Okay, that Tuesday Ryan and Hollywood met up and Hollywood gave Ryan a blue duffel bag that contained a semi-automatic gun and an additional $400.

Speaker 1:

Jack and John Roberts finally met up with Jesse and was like listen, this has gone far enough. Where is this kid? We're going to go pick him up. We're going to bribe him to keep his damn mouth shut, We'll handle it and we'll take him home. And Hollywood's like I don't know. Here's Ryan's pager number. He knows where he is and then he just leaves. So they page Ryan and they're like Ryan, we need to talk to you, Come meet us. So Ryan comes and meets them and he claims that he has no idea where Nick is and he doesn't have any info. And Jack's like listen, here's my phone number. You go find him with whoever has him in your friend group. You go find him and you call me and tell me where he is and we're going to come pick him up and take him home.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And Ryan thought that he was acting on Hollywood's orders to kill him and he didn't want to mess things up with Hollywood by giving Jack any info. So he just plays dumb. Ruge moved the party with all the teenagers to this hotel. So they all start. They rent a hotel room, they start drinking, getting high, swimming. Nick still refused to leave, saying he thought he was going to go home soon and felt like he wasn't in danger. At 11 pm that night Ruge kicked everyone out of the hotel other than Graham Presley and is like someone's coming to pick up Nick. We everyone needs to leave.

Speaker 1:

So the girls had become close to Nick because they were all kind of his age and had been hanging out with him for a couple of days, and so they all exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep in touch. Ryan showed up with the duffel bag and Ruge said he immediately knew something was going down. Ruge had asked Graham Presley to stay behind and Presley saw Ryan cleaning the gun in the bathroom, but he didn't say a word because he was scared. So then Ruge and Ryan got into a car, which is a small red Honda Civic that Hollywood had borrowed from a friend and given to Ryan to use and they go to Ruge's house and picked up two shovels and some duct tape and Ryan told Ruge that they needed a place to dig a grave and he was like I don't know the area very well. Presley's the hiker, like he knows he would know where to go. So they go back to the hotel and he drops Ryan off. This whole time Nick is passed out sleeping from being so drunk and high.

Speaker 1:

So he's just chilling there. He has no idea. They're like prepping his death.

Speaker 1:

No idea that they're prepping his murder, no, and so then Ruge is like hey, you need to go with Ryan. So Ruge picks up Presley and they drive 30 minutes away to this place called Lizard's Mouth Hiking Trail. They got out of the car and started walking up the trail and Ryan told Presley after they got a little bit off the trail. Ryan told Presley to dig a grave and he did, and later the 17 year old because remember, he's still a child yeah, and he said that he thought he was digging his own grave and was terrified. Oh my gosh. Yeah, he just thought that Ryan was going to kill him there for being involved and they were just tying up loose ends, oh shit. And he knew what had been going on and so they didn't want him to go to the police, so they were going to kill him.

Speaker 2:

Oh man.

Speaker 1:

So Ryan has the gun out the whole time that this is happening and after he gets done he's like okay, let's go back to the car. So then they go back to the hotel to pick up Nick and this time all four men drive back to the trail and they get out and they're walking up to where the grave is and Presley at this point figured out that the grave was for Nick and he's like I am not going there, I can't be here for this, I can't do this, and he just ran back to the car and the two older kids just let him. He turned back and the other three continued on and it was pretty dark by now and they even passed two hikers who were coming down the trail on their way home. They finally head off the trail a bit to where the pre-dug shallow grave is and Ryan told Rugey to duct tape Nick's hands and feet, which Rugey did, all while telling Nick and reassuring him the whole time it's going to be fine, I'm not going to hurt you. Like even told Rugey while he was taping him it's okay, I know that we're boys and I know that you won't hurt me. Oh my God.

Speaker 1:

At this point he still didn't realize he thought that someone was going to be there to pick him up. So he thought that they were just tying them up until somebody was picking them up as like the drop point. So then Rugey places tape over his nose and mouth and this is when Nick starts to get visibly scared and starts to freak out a little bit, and at this point they said that he realized he was going to die. So some accounts say that one of them hit Nick in the head with a shovel and some say that he just pushed him into the grave. But they knock him into the grave and he's laying there in his back and as soon as he's down, ryan pulls out the gun and empties nine shots into his head and torso.

Speaker 2:

Oh my.

Speaker 1:

God.

Speaker 1:

And it said, any one of them would have been fatal. He would have done even more, but his gun jammed, holy shit. He then wiped the gun down and threw it into the grave and then Rugey places two shovels of dirt and then almost throws up and leaves and Ryan ends up burying the rest of Nick. When they got back to the car, rugey was upset and was almost vomited and had almost vomited, but Ryan, as soon as they got in the car, literally said quote that's the first time I ever did anybody. I didn't think he would go so fast. Wow. Then he turns around and he threatens to kill Presley if he ever said anything to anyone which, after just seeing what had happened, presley believed him.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, rugey called Natasha later that day saying or the following day saying we dropped off Nick, everything was great like, everything was fine, he's home, safe, and she said that he was his normal happy, easy going self. Three days later, on August 12th 2000, darla Gatzik and her two friends were hiking the trail and heard a buzzing sound and they thought it might be a swarm of bees, which to me, I'm like. If I hear a swarm of bees in nature, I'm not freaking following it, but they are not me and they wandered off the trail to check it out, but they smell a really bad smell of like something rotting and they realized that the buzzing is flies and not bees.

Speaker 1:

They assumed it was a dead animal, but they didn't see a carcass. So they kicked some dirt around and after just a little bit they saw some jeans and a shirt. So the friends go down to call the police and the other girl waits with the body until the police arrive. And Susan, jeff and the rest of the family were notified that they had found their missing son, but it wasn't with good news. Nick had been murdered and Natasha saw the picture and the story on the news later that day and she went directly to police and told them everything she had witnessed and the men responsible.

Speaker 1:

By August 16th they had arrested William Skidmore, graham Presley, ryan Hoyt and Jesse Rugey, but they could not find Jesse Hollywood. In interviewing Ryan Hoyt they were asking him how he had felt in the day since the murder and asked if he was having trouble sleeping, like if he woke up thinking about someone saying please, please. And Ryan said sort of, but that's what the duct tape around his mouth was for. I didn't do that. That was Jesse Rugey, and the detective says so you're saying he put the duct tape on because he said that you did it and Ryan's response was simply the only thing I did was kill him.

Speaker 1:

The only thing okay so he's like I didn't dig the hole, I didn't kidnap him, I just killed him. I just killed him, okay, but like the worst thing that's the worst of all of them. Yeah, that's the worst one, I'm not sure you idiot.

Speaker 2:

That's like when Ed Kemper was like I I Didn't punch her yeah but I you know when he's like talking about her broken nose or when he tells a friend. I was like I didn't, I wouldn't hit her, like I didn't hit her, hit her, I murdered her and never hit her. That's terrible. What monster would do that?

Speaker 1:

Yes, like what is going on in your brain, yeah. So, as soon as all this happens, jesse ends up cashing out all of his bank accounts, um, collecting money that he was owed by other people, and he leased a new Lincoln. So he ended up fleeting. Fleeting. He fled to Las Vegas, and, which seems like an odd place to lay low, because I'm like there's cameras everywhere in Vegas, right, yeah.

Speaker 1:

But then he ends up heading to Colorado and he paid an old friend to drive him back to LA, which I'm like what, okay, what is happening? Which is a 15-hour drive, and he ends up then going to a friend's trailer and staying in the Mojave desert, okay, for several months, and at this point he's added to America's most wanted list, at and at the time he was the youngest to make the list Wow, I want to say he was 1920, wow. He then ends up going to Seattle, where he pays someone to smuggle him to Canada by boat. So he leaves the country and nobody can find him and they, the police, get like all these Tips on where he is.

Speaker 1:

Just seems like there's always a step behind him. Yeah, so in November of 2001, ryan is charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to death or, I'm sorry, not charged, he's convicted of first-degree murder and Sentenced to death and was taken to San Quentin Wow, and I think he is still there because I think that's when they got rid of their death penalty, so it like everything just got life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah converted to life without pearl. The following year, in 2002, the court ruled that Jesse Ruge's taped confession was coerced and they were unable to use it in court. So, without the confession, jesse changed his story saying he wasn't even there when Nick was murdered and had ran off when he heard gunshots. He was convicted of aggravated kidnapping with ransom or extortion but wiggled out of the murder sentence and was charged and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but served 11 and he is out. Wow, ryan Presley ended up actually having two trials.

Speaker 1:

The jury was deadlocked on the first one and so it was a mistrial and he had to go back. He was the only one who openly admitted his role in the crime and said how sorry he was for what he had Done and what he had not done. This was Graham Mm-hmm. It was felt that with his age, he just said he was terrified to go against the older men and he just really didn't think that Nick was in danger because when he was around them they were all just partying and hanging out. Yeah, he didn't realize, like, the gravity of the situation and by the time he did, he felt he like feared for his own life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, which I totally get, though for sure. Um, and he ends up getting convicted of second-degree murder. Okay, so I'm like how you and they all testified like even Rugee testified that he wasn't there for the murder oh yeah, he cuz he went back to the car. But Rugee said he went back to the car and like ran off and he was like he got out of the murder charge. So it's like a very weird, yeah. But so he's 17 and he is tried as an adult but he ends up getting sentenced as a minor, which Susan and Jeff later said they thought was a really good thing because they couldn't imagine him going to like adult prison.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we've talked about that before. Yeah, started to do those split sentences because it really isn't good.

Speaker 1:

It's not for children to be in prison with adult men no and I don't really think he had like this big Like role in this right. Yeah, I really feel like he. What he got was probably even more than he should have.

Speaker 2:

Yeah cuz.

Speaker 1:

If you put yourself in his shoes, I would be freaking terrified. Yeah, and you're 17, you're an idiot. And you're high, yeah, and drunk when all this is happening. Yeah, two older men with guns, Mm-hmm, no. So he ended up going to juvenile prison until he was 25 and then he's released.

Speaker 1:

In 2002, a filmmaker named Nick Cassavetes, whose daughters have gone to the same school as Nick, approached the Markowitz family about making a movie based on Nick's story. The family agreed, but had some conditions he had to put some money up to find Jesse James Hollywood. The filmmaker doesn't found. He still isn't found. Oh man, the filmmaker does something strange and ends up hiring Jack's dad or Jack Jesse's dad, okay as a consultant to the movie, thinking that they could get like some inside tips, okay. And they also end up working with the DA who gave them all of the files on the case and this would kind of come back to bite them a little bit. But this film was Alpha dog, which was released in 2006. So at this, when they find out this big movies coming out and there's a lot of big names in it yeah, it's like Justin Timberlake and he plays. He plays his character really, really well. Which one does he play? He plays Jesse Rugey. Okay, so it's him. Bruce Willis is Jack Hollywood. Okay, sharon Stone is Susan Markowitz.

Speaker 2:

I've seen the movie, but it's been so long.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I rewatched it after I read this book and it's like it's not the best movie I mean it's hard, it was good in 2006.

Speaker 2:

It was, yeah, I remember it being good.

Speaker 1:

But I think now that I'm like older and I know more about the story, I'm like, and they really do follow it pretty closely. Okay, there's not a lot that's like dramatized. There's a few things here and there. Right, the partying like in the in the movie when they go to the hotel it has like this sexy scene with the two girls and Nick and Like all these things that didn't really happen.

Speaker 1:

Okay, but they follow it pretty, pretty closely, okay. So the police are like well shit, as soon as this comes out, we're gonna have a bad rap like we need to do anything we can to find Jesse, and so they hire like a whole nother task force and someone working on this full time again to like figure out where he is and Just expand the resources. They had leads that Jesse James Hollywood was in Brazil and they would end up being correct.

Speaker 1:

So by 2005, jesse Hollywood had obtained a fake passport and a visa under the name Michael Costa Garot and was living in a coastal region outside of Rio de Janeiro and that was from.

Speaker 2:

He went to Canada and then Canada to Brazil, brazil.

Speaker 1:

Using his father's connections, of course. So Jesse ended up meeting this girl named Marsha and got her pregnant, which was actually like a big part of his plan, because he had read that, first of all, they're not like an extradition Okay, country okay. But he had read that if you have a Brazilian baby, that they can't get rid of you, like they can't get you out of the country, oh. And so he's like I'm gonna knock somebody up as soon as I get there. Okay, he does. He knocks on this girl up named Marsha and For work. He was sort of teaching English lessons, walking dogs, and his dad was somehow sending him $1,200 a month to help him survive. Okay, so the police set up the sting and they find out that Jesse's cousin had made plans to meet him in Brazil and so they're waiting for him instead of his cousin. It's like the police. So he walks up and he's thinking it's gonna be his cousin and they're like, surprise, they place them at handcuffs and Because Jesse was in Brazil illegally and didn't have a valid passport, they're like these rules with the Brazilian child don't apply unless you're in our country legally and you're using a fake passport. Yeah, so they deport him and Then he's arrested.

Speaker 1:

Just before all this went down, the police had carefully planned the timing and arrested Jack Hollywood For producing and selling the date rape drug, ghb. Oh, and they did all of this so that they could have him in custody for when they Got his son, so that he couldn't use any of his contacts to get him out. So actually pretty smart, yeah, smart. So the trial had issues due to alpha dog being made and there was like Because it hadn't been released yet, doesn't release till 2006. So there's like a gag order that they're trying to say you can't release this because it's gonna make him look like this villain and then he will never get a fair trial.

Speaker 1:

And this goes all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was finally decided that the hearing could proceed. So, four years after his arrest in May of 2009, jesse James Hollywood is convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder. In 2010, he sentenced to life in prison Without parole and was sent to Richard J Donovan correctional facility located in San Diego. While in prison, he ends up meeting this woman online named Melinda Enoce, and they wrote and spoke over the on the phone for years without meeting. They fell in love and eventually got married in prison, oh, why not.

Speaker 2:

He's there for Life, right life.

Speaker 1:

Yep, he'll never get out. Susan talks in her book about how she was really lost after Nick's murder and she even ended up writing is a childless mother, still a mother, okay, and I was like that is like a heartbreak yeah. If you think about it from there on out, people who don't know her are gonna be like so are you a mom?

Speaker 2:

any kids. Well, yeah, but he's dead. Yeah, oh, that's so terrible.

Speaker 1:

She says in the days after next funeral she found his Bible and it was bookmarked to this quote To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven a Time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck that which is planted. A Time to kill and a time to hill, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a Time to mourn and a time to dance and this was a sign to Susan to breathe, to embrace, to love and if even for just a moment, oh, but it's really sad. She talks about how she struggled so much and she didn't talk to Ben for years because she really just blamed him. Okay, and she had Multiple, multiple attempted suicide. Oh, sad. She was in and out of Hospitals for years and years.

Speaker 2:

I mean it kind of sounded like her mental state went downhill over the years with Nick, just like being overprotective and like every time Ben would get in trouble with like kind of Aggravated it as well. Yeah, but did you say what, like what happened with Ben?

Speaker 1:

I didn't, just because it was already so long, but yeah, so Ben actually got so. In the movie it portrays him like this big, big druggy the whole time he didn't. He smoked some pop, but he wasn't like a big druggy. He got into some more hard-core drugs after Nick's death and he really, really blamed himself.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure he's gonna say he probably felt very guilty and he ended up getting in some trouble and going to prison for a couple of years and then he got out and then he totally turned his life around, oh wow.

Speaker 1:

He ended up getting married. He has a couple of kids and Is doing very well in life now. He's like a productive member of society. But the men Susan don't really have a great relationship so hard. And she talks you guys have to read the book. Yeah, I stole and son and it's. It's just so good. She goes into so much detail and it's a really easy read. It's like almost 300 pages or something. Okay, but it's really an easy read and it has so much information and it is just heartbreaking. Yeah, like she just talks about just how hard it was at like, all the struggles that she went through and how she never wanted Jeff to miss out on being a dad to Ben, that but she just like couldn't. Yeah, like she couldn't forgive him and yeah, it was just so hard like I can't imagine being in that position. Did they stay married? Yeah, they're still married. Well, yeah, wow. So at the very end of the book it says that they finally started talking after he was like after he'd become a dad.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and he ended up marrying the one waitress. Oh, we did Uh-huh. Oh, they've been together for a long time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I stuck through everything with him. Yeah and he's like really turned his life around and she said that after that they started writing letters back and forth, uh-huh like so fitting, yeah. And she said she finally forgave him. Yeah, which took a lot, but she doesn't like it never. That's where it ends. It doesn't really say like right, if they have a relationship now.

Speaker 2:

It's so hard cuz. Yeah, I'm sure she knows deep down that, like Ben never wanted anything to happen today. Yeah, that like he that was never like the intention, but he also continued to do some shit that like brought stuff to their house, yeah, to their family, and so I can. Oh, it's be so hard, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And then poor Ben and I know, I feel I just feel so bad for Ben because I feel like he has done. He has had so much shit in his life. Yeah, yeah, he was. He had some issues, mm-hmm, but I think deep down he was like a good guy. Yeah, he just didn't know what to do with himself. Right yeah and he loved his brother and his brother loved him.

Speaker 1:

And to carry that guilt with you, like, oh my god, this was your drug debt of $1200 and $1200 and it escalated because you were being an idiot and like went and broke windows and Well on this, because this 35, that like it would have never got to this point right could have ended a lot sooner, and to know how many people Could have saved Nick Mm-hmm had they just spoken up. Yep Is Like the saddest thing ever.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, in this stupid Jesse James Hollywood, like I hope he is just Like the lowest man on the totem pole in prison, because I feel like outside of prison it was just like Trying so hard to be like top dog and I'm so tough and I'm so this and so I'm gonna take a $1200 drug debt, just because for the principle of it, and murder this kid's brother. Yeah, even when everyone else that was there was like why, like what are?

Speaker 1:

what are we doing? What is like? What is going on?

Speaker 1:

Man and I really think that his dad Could have convinced, like I'll bet they would have just told Nick, listen, just don't say anything about this, we're gonna drop you off, yeah, we'll pay you guys some money, whatever, and It'll be done Right. And they and he would have said, okay, yeah, like he just didn't want his brother to get in trouble. So if he just said, listen, you don't tell a soul what happened, will drop your brother's debt, mm-hmm, and we'll leave you guys alone, he'd have been like great, yeah, he wouldn't have done anything, no, he wouldn't have told anyone.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

Like he did not need to die.

Speaker 2:

Yeah there's no reason for this, and even I mean even, yeah, even Jesse's dad was like what are you doing? Yeah, like where is this kid? Like you, let us handle this. Yeah, let the grown-ups handle this now, because, yeah, I just have fucked it up beyond like Comprehension.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so you idiots like and it wasn't even planned out.

Speaker 2:

You know no, just sort of like oh.

Speaker 1:

This seems like a good idea at the time. Well, it wasn't no terrible idea and you ruined your entire lives, yeah, and it's sad, I feel like. I feel like Jesse Ruge probably should have got more time. But I also think that he wasn't a bad guy either and he really didn't want anything to happen to Nick and he treated him well, yeah, and he said he genuinely liked Nick. Yeah, and he Refused to kill him when he it was. You know him. Yeah. But I also think when you knew that this guy was coming with a duffel like when he showed up at the Hotel with a duffel bag and you said in your mind you knew shit was gonna go down that's the time when you say, okay, listen, I'm taking him to get some stuff from my house. Presley, get him out of here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and anytime so many things that could have happened anytime you can call the police anonymously.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you don't have to say hey, I'm Jesse Ruge and this person's doing like. You can just say like there's some shit that's gonna be going down, I think someone's gonna get murdered or at this motel, like, or this place or whatever and Hopefully, dispatch cross.

Speaker 1:

Figure out how to do it right and send someone down there, but yeah, you can reported as correctly Kidnapping in progress. Mm-hmm, shit would have happened a lot faster and they could have tracked this kid down before anything happened. Yep, yeah, it's, it's awful, it's like a sad story. Yeah, all around it's terrible. I Think we need to get into our soul once. Yep, okay, so our soul cleans.

Speaker 1:

This week came to me from our friend, jasmine, and she she follows these guys on Instagram Okay, and it's called bitty and bows Coffee and it's a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop where people with intellectual and developmental Disabilities are valued in the workplace. It's a place where diversity isn't just appreciated, it's celebrated. Bitty and bows coffee shop proudly employs 400 individuals with disabilities nationwide. So this family their names, it's, their names are Ben and Amy, right are the proud parents of four children. So they have Lily, emma, emma, grace, bow and bitty, and.

Speaker 1:

And Lily was born with autism and then bow and bitty were born with Down syndrome and I think that they might be twins actually, and these are all for their biological children, all for biological. So three of their four have special needs. How hard. And after learning that over 80% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed, yeah, the rights decided to create a place where people with disabilities are valued and given opportunity for meaningful work, and so they started this coffee shop with an unforgettable staff that changes the way people see other people.

Speaker 2:

I love it I know it's like.

Speaker 1:

You guys have to go check out their Instagram because it's like the most adorable people you will ever see. It originally opened in January of 2016 in Wilmington, north Carolina, and it employed 19 individuals with disabilities, and they have expanded to 18 shops across 11 states and they now have 400 plus employees.

Speaker 2:

That is so Freakin cute it's so cute.

Speaker 1:

I love it. Says that having a job gives great purpose and immeasurable value to people with disabilities. The radically inclusive model of Biddy and Bose coffee Inspires customers to intentionally include people with disabilities in their own life, whether it be at school, at work or in their social circles. It's so cute I.

Speaker 2:

This is gonna sound stupid for a lot of people, but I don't remember exactly where the podcast festival is this year, but it's in Colorado.

Speaker 1:

In Colorado because they have a bit in Denver Right because I was gonna go to a Broncos game, but it's too early because they have a biddy and Bose in Boulder, I was gonna say if it was close enough it would be so.

Speaker 2:

So fun to do it like pop in and just like see all the people, because that is amazing. I love like Down syndrome kids are so cute and they're just so full of like love and happiness and like they're just so cute. Kids with autism I mean not that they're not cute, cuz our Alexander is like adorable, but, depending on how severe the autism is, like stuff Can be a little bit harder, cuz you know, xander could do a little bit of stuff, but like he doesn't talk very much and so you wouldn't be able to like cash people out or make a coffee, but he likes, but he likes to do certain things like that too. You know what I mean? Yeah, so I think that's so cute.

Speaker 2:

I just love it like I'm sure, and I'm sure because they have a daughter with autism, so I'm sure they find little things that like kids or people adult with autism can do. You know, like you can stock the cups, you can probably. They loved stacking things so you can stack all the cups over here, or sorry, you Just do these little things that. I love that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's so much. It's so cute. She showed me that and I was like, oh my gosh but it like warms my heart.

Speaker 2:

Oh my god. Yeah, the pictures are so cute.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so go check them out. Biddy, b I t t y and bow, be a you. Yes, biddy and bows, which is like such a cute, the cutest name to.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I wonder if bitty and bow are boy and a girl they are okay, I'm bowing a girl girl and bow is a yes, and there were pictures of them that I found and I think they're twins. Okay, I think they're twins, so anyway man, some people, like Some people would take that life of four kids, three with disabilities, and be like, so, like, why me? And I'm sure they have those moments because the best of people.

Speaker 1:

Have to the best of people.

Speaker 2:

You just have those days where you're like they're all, yeah, having a hard day because you know your kids like all Feed off each other and get a special needs, especially because they're really attuned to like that kind of stuff. So I'm sure there's some days where it's like why, like what, I can't do this? It's so hard. But yeah, they're also like Doing something that you know like our kids need something to, yeah, and so we're just gonna make it happen, so they can have jobs and they can, you know, be fulfilled as as adults.

Speaker 2:

And it's just so Freakin cute it is.

Speaker 1:

It is really Wow. So thanks Jasmine for that. Yeah, thanks Jasmine. If you guys have any like any soul cleanses or Cases or anything like that, please reach out to us. And I'm sorry this one was so long. I really narrowed it down actually.

Speaker 2:

It was still really long. It's good, I'm sorry.

Speaker 1:

He's okay, but go follow us on all of the things.

Speaker 2:

Check out our patreon check out your extra content.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and rate and review us please, yeah, and remember to keep listening if you want in on the sin. Bye, guys.

Discussions on Sleep and TV Shows
Childhood Troubles and Gang Involvement
Struggles With Parenting and Troubled Teenager
Ben's Troubled Youth and Expulsion Spiral
(Cont.) Ben's Troubled Youth and Expulsion Spiral
Challenges of Parenting Troubled Youth
Teenage Identity, Parental Strictness, Rebellion
Drug Dealing and Family Dynamics
A Rocky Relationship Fueled by Betrayal
Kidnapping and Escape
Teen Murder Plot by Bribe Scheme
Shocking Murder Confession
Jesse James Hollywood's Escape and Trial
Struggles, Suicide Attempts, and Redemption
Bitty and Bose
Cute and Grateful Episode Promotion