Originally posted Monday, August 20, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Atlanta resident Payne Lindsey set a super high bar with his first “Up and Vanished” podcast focused on a missing Southern Georgia woman Tara Grinstead.
The exposure his podcast created indirectly led to the arrest of two men charged with her murder. The podcast has been downloaded more than 200 million times, a runaway hit. It led Lindsey to a TV deal with Oxygen.
Lindsey is feeling the pressure to come up with an equally compelling season two of “Up and Vanished.” After sifting through hundreds of candidates of missing person’s cases largely sent in by fans of the first season, he hopes he found his second hit in a tiny town in Colorado.
The second season, which debuts today (August 20), focuses on Kristal Anne Reisinger, a former Denver resident who disappeared in 2016 shortly after moving to Crestone (population: 146), known as the “New Age Religious” capital of the world. Foul play is suspected.
Listen to episode one here:
He was drawn to Reisinger’s personality. “She’s a very unique person,” he said, “She had all these different piercings and tattoos. She was a very energetic person. She had keen sense of the world around her. She was very spiritual. She had psychic abilities. She was into tarot cards.”
She also had a five-year-old daughter Kasha. “I never met Kristal but I swear I felt like I did,” Lindsey said. “Her daughter is a spitting image of her.”
Lindsey said he had no problem getting people to talk, a problem he had with Grinstead’s case. It helps that he now has a track record. “I’m not just some guy who has a podcast nobody has ever heard of,” he said. “People were very passionate about getting Kristal’s story out there.”
He liked that this case hadn’t really gotten national coverage, was in a town in the middle of nowhere and featured a woman that didn’t fit the usual template for these types of missing person’s’ cases. “This story would never get the kind of exposure that we could provide,” he said. “We can have a positive outcome on the case.”
Given the relative paucity of information up front, he said, “every step forward was some sort of progress.”
Crestone is four hours south of Denver, a small town where drum circles and consuming organic almond milk are the norm.
“It’s a place people go to find spiritual enlightenment,” Lindsey said. “It brings all walks of life and everyone has their own story. Nobody just ends up here. People come here for their own reasons.”
The town itself provides “a layered listening experience,” he said.
During the first episode, her ex boyfriend Elijah Guana, said Reisinger possessed a keen sense of the world’s energy around her and sought an understanding of the world. Crestone was a great place for her. “The energies there were amplified,” Guana said. “The earth’s natural energies. She was very sensitive to a lot of things. She was sensitive to the earth, the rocks, plants, people, animals.”
There has been no body found and no confession, he said. It doesn’t appear she just walked away. “Kristal’s family believes Kristal was either murdered or some sort of accident took place, Lindsey said. “No matter what, this is a homicide case.”
Like during season one, he has purposely not finished the podcast. He hopes that listeners will help advance the story.
This podcast comes on the heels of Lindsey’s partnership with How Stuff Works about the early 1980s Atlanta child murders called “Atlanta Monster.” He spoke extensively with the alleged murderer Wayne Williams, who has been in prison for nearly four decades but denies his guilt.
Williams is imprisoned for charges of murdering two adults, not the 30-plus children that encompass the serial killer case that received national notice at the time it happened.
“It was cool to get all these different voices and major players who were still around,” Lindsey said. “We were able to tell their sides of the story and lay it out so you can make your own call.”
Although Lindsey never says it during the podcast, he said he is convinced Williams did murder at least some of the children, though not all of them. “At least 15 of those murders probably had nothing to do with him and remain unsolved,” he said. “That’s a true injustice.”
That podcast has been downloaded 30 million times and was the most popular podcast for 34 days earlier this year on the iTunes list.
Lindsey is well aware of the pressure to succeed again with this newest podcast but he said it’s primarily self induced. “I’m still pushing the envelope,” he said. “I’m still raising the bar for myself in this story. I’m trying to tell a bigger, deeper story. That means a new set of challenges. Can I pull this off?”
He realizes that listeners will either connect with this case or not: “The one thing I can control is telling a great story, doing it justice and rallying listeners around this community and this missing person.”
He is planning a dozen main episodes and several side episodes for folks who want to learn more about Crestone.
Lindsey has already shot a couple of episodes of the Oxygen “Up and Vanished” TV series and said more information about that will come out soon. He also hopes to get into scripted TV and podcast series.
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