The After Party (S1, E4)
Season 1, Episode 4
Date of Release: July 25, 2022
Welcome to Simply Vanished, an investigative podcast about missing persons. The show is produced by Trembling Leaf Media in Minneapolis and hosted by civil rights lawyer Josh Newville. Alternating between serial and episodic format, Simply Vanished digs deep to tell the stories of unsolved disappearances. In this first season of the show, Josh dives into a story that hits especially close to home for him—that of Joshua Guimond, a college student at Saint John’s University in Minnesota who disappeared in the middle of the night on Saturday, November 9, 2002.
Before getting into the fourth episode, we hear from Josh Guimond’s childhood friend (Bart), Guimond's mom (Lisa), her long-time partner (Ricky), and Jeremy--a new and important witness who just came forward this past week. In addition, Josh was able to get in contact with Anthony, whose story was mentioned in previous episodes. Anthony confirmed the essential elements of his story, clarified that all 4 vehicle occupants were men, reported that the men searched for him with flashlights after he ran into the woods, and identified the precise location to which they brought him.
Next, Josh returns to the computer evidence on Guimond's computer. First, he takes a moment to address the need for poise, nuance, and perspective for the nature of the discussion--which is extremely private and intimate. The facts are that in the month of October 2002, Guimond was exploring his sexuality, at least on some level, as evidenced by his online activity. Additionally, Bart tells of an instance in their younger years where Guimond revealed some attraction to him.
When someone is secretly exploring their sexuality, it substantially increases the likelihood that they may engage in risky behavior. Based on these facts, it’s possible that Guimond arranged a meetup for the night of his disappearance. The timeframe this was happening was a time when the internet was suddenly becoming a new force of social medium and was being used by sexual minorities, especially gay and bisexual men, for dating. The dangers were not well understood then, including the possibilities for blackmail and people pretending to be someone they were not.
Though the theory that Josh might have arranged a meet up with someone from online the night of his disappearance is plausible, it is not the only theory we are exploring. As our investigation uncovers more incidents of college men being targeted by other men in the same area and time frame as Guimond, it’s beginning to seem like we may be dealing with at least two different groups of aggressors.
When episode 3 was released, Josh received a call from a man we will refer to as Jeremy, who shared a haunting story. A few days later, Josh met Jeremy in St. Joseph, where Jeremy relived the traumatic event. Jeremy was walking home from an after-bar party late at night when a car approached him and two large, male passengers got out and began walking directly towards him, leaving the car doors open and the car in the middle of a road lined with fencing, blocking Jeremy's path. As they approached Jeremy aggressively, he turned and ran away as fast as he could. Luckily, he found a group of 4-5 guys who helped him get to safety. While Jeremy was not harmed physically, the experience has shaken him for 20 years.
Jeremy thinks the two men were approximately 40 years old, weighed more than 200 pounds, and were taller than 5' 10". They had gruff facial hair and were driving a late 80’s or early 90’s dark colored car with a red interior and a built-in luggage rack on the top of the trunk.
Please share this information and continue to talk about Josh Guimond's case. Together we are making progress. The episode concludes with a message from Lisa to those who are calling in with tips, and a plea to those who aren't talking.
Please rate the show and subscribe on Apple podcasts, and download the Simply Vanished app! You can find more information and resources on our website.
If you have any information about Joshua Guimond, please contact us or the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department. You can submit tips anonymously on our website or via our tip line at 415-969-LOST (5678).
Bart (00:00): Even to this day, he's probably the smartest person I've ever met in my life. As you've probably heard and learned, to his ability to speak or even argue scenarios, I remember being third/fourth grade and just watching him get into an argument with his mom or dad, or an adult or someone, and just win the argument because he was so good at it. He was just always so even keeled. Always had his wits about him.
Lisa (00:30): He used to take my camera, and take and take pictures of himself sitting in a chair, smiling and ****. And I'd be looking through my pictures on my camera, and here would be a bunch of Josh that he'd taken of himself.
Bart (00:42): One of the fondest memories I have growing up with him was his mom and dad had a boat. And he'd always go out on the boat. So, anytime we got to go out, I basically learned how to water ski going out on the boat with him and his mom and dad. And learned, I remember the first time I even went out, I was scared even with a life jacket on. But over time, that's where I learned to swim and just be on the lake as a whole.
Ricky (01:12): Another time, we had all the kids. And we're in this little apartment. And we're having one of those mini squirt gun fights. And I pretended like my squirt gun was empty. And I ran into the bathroom and turned the water on. And Josh comes running around the corner, and I squirt him right between the eyes. And he turns around and he runs right into the corner of where two walls met. And he turns around and he looks like he's going to cry. And I can see a red line down the center of his face where he hit the wall. And I go, "Oh, Josh. If you broke that wall, your mom's going to be so mad at us." And he started laughing.
Lisa (01:58): He was always happy. But he was a mama's boy. So, if he got hurt or something like that, he was a mama's boy. But he liked to do things with his dad. He liked to hunt, liked to fish. He liked to learn. And the people that he worked with at Target, there was an older lady there that he would help her out or give her a ride home. And there was people from church that he would go over and he'd mow their lawn, or he'd help them out. Nobody's forcing him to do this. He wants to do it. I think he was a nice, helpful, personable young man. I think he really felt that he could make a difference.
Josh Newville (03:09): You've had a long time to think about what may have happened. In your heart of hearts, what do you think?
Lisa (03:23): I know that Josh did not disappear of his own free will. Something happened. I'm not sure if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and someone snatched him. Or, he willingly left with somebody that had bad intentions, and did not realize it. But it was someone he knew or something.
Ricky (03:54): I think somebody grabbed him either on campus or off campus. Somebody took him somewhere.
Jeremy (04:12): Just looking here, those guys, had I gotten too close to them, or had I let them get too close to me, I would've been on that freeway in their car within 10 seconds.
Josh Newville (04:25): How close did they get to you prior to you running?
Jeremy (04:31): I'd say three, three-and-a-half, four feet. I mean, it was as you and I are standing here today, probably about this close, if not just a little closer. And as they got close, I started backing up. And they kept coming forward. And so, I kept backing up. It happened pretty quickly. I'm certain that they wanted to grab me. I mean, there isn't any plausible explanation for this experience or interaction, other than that.
Josh Newville (05:29): This is the Simply Vanished podcast, produced by Trembling Leaf Media in Minneapolis. I'm your host, Josh Newville.
Welcome back to the podcast. Before the introduction, you heard from Bart, one of Josh's childhood best friends. Josh's mom, Lisa. Her longtime partner, Ricky. And then Jeremy, a brand new and very important witness who just came forward this past week. You'll hear more from all of them, especially Jeremy, in just a bit.
On August 1st, 2002, just three months before Josh Guimond's disappearance and only 45 miles away in the sleepy town of New London, Minnesota, 18-year old Danny Newville disappeared in the middle of the night. 54 days later, officers received an anonymous tip that he had been murdered.
On October 31st, 2002, just 10 days before Josh's disappearance and 1 hour and 15 minutes away, 21-year old Chris Jenkins vanished after leaving a bar in Minneapolis. His body was later found as though it had been staged, with his own hair clenched in his hand.
Both men are believed to be victims of homicide. And as of today, neither of their cases has been solved. We'll discuss both in future episodes. But a brief note for listeners in Minnesota. This coming Saturday, July 30th, 2022, is the Ninth Annual Memorial and Awareness walk for Danny Newville. It will start at 10:00 AM in New London. And although I am not related to Danny, I am planning on attending, and hope you will consider joining. More info on the Find Danny Newville Facebook page.
A brief note and update before we move forward with today's episode. Remember that above all else, our primary goal here is to help advance the official investigation into the cases we are covering. That means that this is not pure traditional journalism, nor is it your average true crime story time, or just a biographical memorialization of the missing person's recovering. Although our show does feature some elements of each of those things, it is not completely or exclusively any one of them.
For example, in episode 2, I told you a story about a man we're calling Anthony. I also told you that we confirmed his story to have originated in November of 2002. I did not tell you his real name, to whom he made that report, nor how we confirmed that he did so at the time. I did, however, give all of that information to law enforcement. We reported what we knew of Anthony's story, even though we had not yet been able to connect with Anthony himself.
We did that for 3 reasons. We were supremely confident in the reliability of the source that we did have. It had the potential to be extremely important to Josh's case. And we knew that getting his story out there could encourage both Anthony and others with similar stories to come forward.
And you know what? That's exactly what happened. In addition to hearing from Jeremy, I was able to talk with Anthony this past weekend. He confirmed the essential elements of his story, clarified that all four vehicle occupants were indeed men, reported that after he ran into the woods and hid, they searched for him for a time - with flashlights. And he identified the precise location that they took him when they pulled over. Unfortunately for now at least, I can't give you the precise location details. But I do have an update for you regarding the description of the men. And we'll talk about that in a bit.
First, we are going to return to the evidence on Josh's computer. And we're about to talk about extremely private, intimate, and complex stuff that none of us could ever imagine being publicly discussed about ourselves. I do not take this discussion lightly. It's a conversation that requires poise, nuance, and perspective. And regarding perspective specifically, let's be clear about something.
Nearly 20 years after his disappearance, Josh Guimond is still missing. In that time, there have been no substantive leads. Again, this is an investigative podcast. Our primary goal is to put some heat on this ice cold case. And so, the reason I am broaching these subjects is precisely because of their potential implications for Josh's disappearance. And even then, I'm only doing so after having already discussed them with both Josh's family and some of his friends.
I tell you this for a couple of reasons, including a message that I received after episode 3. A person who called himself Robert anonymously wrote the following message to me late on Tuesday night.
Robert (as read voice actor) (10:09): I am saddened that you went so far as to share Joshua's private Internet searches. This is a tremendous breach of his dignity and to his memory of family and the community. Imagine Joshua's grade school teachers, neighbors, religious leaders, professors, et cetera. They cannot unhear the information about Joshua's private life that you so aimlessly shared with the world.
I don't care how many wonderful things you said about him. You went way too far. Think of how Joshua likely faced some form of terrified trauma that night. Think of him as that young college student, as a victim in his journey in life, and where he was developmentally. If he might somehow hear what you have shared about him now and reflect on what you have done to help his search, I imagine he'd be pretty ******* angry at you for going there.
I live in Central Minnesota. It is a small place. While I did not know Josh, I know someone who knew him. As soon as I learned of this podcast, I sent a link to this person via text. While I can only assume that they would be aware of this by now had I not shared the link, I feel a little gross for knowing I shared the podcast with them. You went from two pretty wonderful episodes to a I'm not giving that asshole anymore clicks listens. What a dick move. Joshua's private life and dignity matter. That was a scummy used lawyer-like move. You lost total credibility.
Josh Newville (11:24): Look, sexuality is a fundamental part of human existence. It's an integral part of all of us. But by no means should it singularly define us. And nor is it inherently bad. Let's be real here. We're adults. We should be fully capable of maintaining our respect, admiration, and care for Josh regardless of whether we also know that he--gasp--talked sexually in some online chat rooms.
But here's what's especially troubling about that mindset and the other reason I shared this message. In the initial months and years following Josh's disappearance, various people tried raising the question of whether Josh was secretly exploring his sexuality. And unfortunately, some of Josh's friends reacted quickly and defensively, as though the mere suggestion was somehow slanderous to Josh and those close to him. That response shut down all discussion on the topic. And as it turns out, may have killed what is potentially one of the best leads in this case.
I will not let that happen again. So, if you are unable to hear a thoughtful and educated discussion about these matters without somehow seeing Josh as less dignified, then please stop this podcast now.
Here are the facts. In the month of October 2002, Josh appears to have been on at least some level exploring his sexuality. Throughout the month, he spent many hours on all types of porn sites, in sex chat room, and in webcam rooms. Mostly though, Josh focused on Yahoo chat and webcam rooms. In doing so, he used a total of three Yahoo profiles. And of those, he predominantly used one in which he presented as if he was a woman.
Josh talked with both men and women. But it seems that he mostly talked with men of all sexual orientations, straight, gay, and bisexual. In some cases, he also talked to people in rooms geared towards lesbians and bisexual women, although it appears he may have also talked to men in those rooms as well.
We know that Josh viewed dozens, if not hundreds, of profiles, exchanged photos with many people, and watched numerous webcams. It appears that towards the end of the month, Josh became particularly interested in chatting and camming with heterosexual couples. Although Josh had web camera software on his computer, it is unclear if he himself ever went on camera.
While Josh had previously looked at porn, just like most 20-year old college guys, the nature and intensity of his October 2002 activity appears to have been a significant departure from his prior online behavior, especially in light of three other things that we also know. This requires further scrutiny.
First, there's the complaint that Josh filed with Yahoo on October 28, 2002, in which he reported another user for violating its terms of service. Recall that he submitted that complaint almost immediately after having a 27-minute phone call, and immediately before deleting and wiping the entire Yahoo chat program from his computer.
Second, there are the other events that were occurring in Josh's immediate backdrop, such as various attacks on college men in the vicinity, at least one of which was also sexual in nature, and the ongoing monk sex abuse scandal--which has previously received a lot of attention in this case on the theory that might somehow be connected to Josh's disappearance.
Third, there's the fact that Josh suddenly and inexplicably left the gathering at Nate's dorm not long after arriving. Recall that at least one person thought that it seemed like Josh had somewhere to be.
When people hide something such as the exploration of their sexuality, it substantially increases the likelihood that they'll engage in risky behavior. And collectively, these facts are consistent with the possibility that Josh may have secretly arranged a meetup for the evening of his disappearance. We don't know that for sure. But the facts are highly consistent with that possibility. And so, we have to explore it.
I asked Lisa and Bart what they thought of this information, whether it surprised them, and whether they had any further information that might be helpful on the subject.
Lisa (15:46): I don't know that it surprises me. I mean, not that I expected it either. Ever since the boy was growing up, he had a thing for Katie **********. So, that's all we ever heard about was Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie. So, I never thought anything of it I guess. And then when he got older, of course, and he got finally got with her, and they were together in college.
The only thing I questioned was is this a good idea anymore? Because neither one of you know what you're going to do with your life. Don't make it, I'm going to go to four years of college, oh, gee whiz, and let's get married. No.
Josh Newville (16:25): So, one of the things that I learned from Josh's grandparents, Gene and Marge, is that when they went up for family weekend, I guess about three weeks or so prior to Josh's disappearance, before that, Josh had called them in advance and had told them about the breakup with Katie. And that I guess he also told them that others, such as yourself at the time, didn't yet know that they had broken up. And he asked them to please not say anything to anyone. Did you ever get an explanation from Katie or anyone else as to why Josh wasn't telling you?
Lisa (17:05): No. And I don't know that I ever thought to ask Katie that particular question.
Ricky (17:17): Yeah. I don't think anybody has said why they broke up that I know of.
Lisa (17:23): No, I have no idea why they broke up.
Bart (17:26): Yeah. So, one of the things, at least for me growing up, and Josh, and other friends close to me were aware of this, is... And I don't know with what you were mentioning... I don't know if this is what made Josh comfortable to try, but I was made fun of--called "gay boy" through probably junior high up into 10th, 11th grade. But Josh did attempt to kiss me one time when we were hanging out. And I told him, Sorry. That's not what I'm into or anything along those lines.
And let him know, I was like, "Hey, no. I'm not upset at you. You didn't make me uncomfortable." You are who you are type of thing. I was, I guess I'd say, relieved in a sense - that he felt comfortable enough as a friend open up in that sense. And we just let it go from there and moved on.
So, yeah, throughout the years, I never really told anyone that because I just didn't know... Well, one, back then it wasn't the most accepted thing the way it is nowadays, for sure. And I didn't know family and other friends, what they would know, or think, or how they would react off of it.
But yeah. There is definitely - I've always wondered if that was there with him. I mean, knowing what I knew of Josh through the experience that we had, and going forward, and hearing about some of those scandals that they had there. It's always been in the back of my mind. Wouldn't surprise me if that's what it was. But it's tough. It's tough to just go tell somebody that that's what you think it is, and have them listen to you in that sense.
Josh Newville (19:26): Dr. Michael Ross is a medical doctor who also holds a PhD in cross-cultural health psychology, and degrees in criminology, and sexual health education. Formerly a sexual health education chair at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ross has studied sexuality and sexual and mental health for more than 30 years in a half dozen countries.
He's published more than 500 publications and books, has practiced as a clinical psychologist. And is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the British Psychological Society. I shared the facts of Josh's case with him. And asked him for his thoughts on the possibility that Josh may have secretly arranged some sort of hookup or meetup for the evening of November 9, 2002.
Dr. Micheal Ross (20:13): Yeah. Well, we're talking about 20 years ago. We're talking about a time before Lawrence v. Texas in the Supreme Court. We're talking about, and I don't mean this in a negative sense, about small town, country Midwest. And we're talking about a setting at a major Catholic university where there are additional sensitivities about homosexuality.
And so, if you have the history that you've mentioned -- of exploration of gay porn sites amongst other erotic sites, then it points very clearly to exploration. It doesn't point very clearly to labeling, which is where people get upset. But it's very clear that there's some exploration going on. Even if people do eventually decide that they're not gay or bisexual, they are still likely to experiment. It doesn't necessarily mean its inevitable path.
And if you look at the trajectory of what most young men do as they're forming their identities, the first is that they will be looking online and looking at erotic material online. And then it usually does get to a point of starting to go to chat rooms, and meet people as people's sexuality becomes firmed up, and they decide to move into an actively sexual phase. So, that would be it would not only be the normal trajectory, what I would say be the normative way that things tend to go.
So, I would say there's the time, the place, the age of the young man, of Josh, the phase he might have been in, and it's certainly all consistent with a meeting with someone. Timing, getting in a car, going someplace where sexual activity could take place. None of it raises any surprises in my mind. This would be a fairly typical way of making a contact that had been established beforehand, probably on the Internet.
I think when we are thinking about this in the very early 2000s, we have to realize that this is a time when the Internet was suddenly becoming a force in terms of being a social medium. And of being used by sexual and gender minorities, particularly gay and bisexual men, for dating. And it actually started its rise around 2000. And it was a very, very steep increase, if you look at the graphs up to about 2003, 2005. You can actually see this precipitous rise.
And so, it was a new medium. But the downsides of it, the dangers, were probably not well understood. There are many reports of attempted blackmail. There were lots of people posing or being things that were not particularly accurate when compared with real life. So, it was a dangerous time. People were still beginning to realize that everything that looked good on the Internet wasn't. And it would also be a great boon for somebody in a very isolated situation.
So, then you're talking about a young man who is in what we call the candy store phase, where suddenly they realize that there's a big wide world out there, and quite a lot of other gay and bisexual people. And it does look a bit like being let loose in a candy store. And then to balance that, in most gay subcultures, people learn by being taught by their peers about what is dangerous, where not to go, what situations can happen, what's dangerous. That usually occurs in the first one or two years. But if there's no gay peer group there, then none of this knowledge can happen. So, we are dealing with the lack of peer acculturation support, warning systems, people to share experiences.
Josh Newville (26:21): What do you make of the fact that he was primarily presenting as a woman in these chat rooms and webcam rooms?
Dr. Micheal Ross (26:29): Nothing particularly, except that if you want to meet men and talk about sex, and most of the men on the Internet are heterosexual, then it's not unknown for people to pose as other people, as different ages, as different characteristics obviously, younger, older, more attractive males, females. The Internet is the great deceiver. And I think deception of some level or another is I think well-accepted. So, I'm hesitant to make too much of that at this point.
Josh Newville (27:24): What are some things that we should be looking for to try to get a better sense for if it was a meetup scenario, or hookup scenario, some sort that went bad for some reason?
Dr. Micheal Ross (27:34): I would think we'd be looking at other situations where there were young gay or gay questioning men at the same university at the same time. And what the usual mode of operation was because we're talking about a college campus. And people are not usually able to take people to their rooms, unless they're other students. So, any meeting is going to have to involve meeting somebody and going somewhere else.
And so, I would ask other people there at the same time and place where they would be likely to be taken or to go, if this was in fact the usual scenario, which I would expect it was not isolated. And try and build up a scenario from the recollections of people who weren't involved in being attacked or put in difficult situations. Where would they go? Where would the scenario play out? There's also the question as to whether it was premeditated or whether it was not? If it was premeditated, then you can think of endless possibilities. If it was not, then it probably narrows it down.
Josh Newville (29:22): So, we have a solid framework for the possibility that Josh may have secretly met up with someone on November 9, 2002. And something may have went wrong, whether that was intentional or not. But as you know, that's not the only possibility that we've explored in this case, nor that we will continue to explore. So far, we've briefly discussed the possibility that he made it back to his dorm room that night. And the extremely frightening prospect that he was attacked by other men.
You've heard the stories of Kyle and Anthony who each described being targeted by four men. And Anthony told me that, although he was very drunk, he believes that the men were likely in their younger 20s. He really couldn't remember anything more than that. He cannot recall anything specific about the vehicle, at least today. And so for now, we'll have to defer to the report that he made at the time, which was that it was likely a double-cab pickup truck.
As our investigation uncovers more and more incidents of college men being targeted by other men in the same area, and in the same general timeframe as Josh's disappearance, it's beginning to appear that we may be dealing with at least two different groups of aggressors. One or some may have been opportunistic, such as petty thieves. And others may have been far more sinister.
On the day I released episode 3, I received a call from a man I'm referring to as Jeremy. As I sat alone in my office after a long day at work, Jeremy proceeded to tell me a story that, by the end, had me shaking. Last weekend, we drove together to St. Joseph, Minnesota where Jeremy and I further discussed his story.
Jeremy (31:13): Anyway, that was the party. Afterward, I cut through this neighborhood. I'll show you where. And I would've wandered through here, I mean, intentionally avoiding the streets because everyone was on edge that Josh had disappeared. And this was the first weekend we had gone out following Josh's disappearance. We, me and the group of folks that I was generally hanging out with. So, I came up to this park. And there's the front road. You can see behind that St. Joseph baseball scoreboard.
Josh Newville (31:53): Yep.
Jeremy (31:54): So, I remember the night I popped up right up from this hill, from the baseball field. And this is where I was walking, right on the right-side of the road.
Josh Newville (32:07): So, you've got fences all the way down both sides here. And no direct view into anyone's home, other than maybe the back of this one I guess.
Jeremy (32:18): Do you want to get out here?
Josh Newville (32:19): Yeah, sure.
Jeremy (32:20): Let's do it. Hang on a second.
Yeah. Down here, down this hill. This is where I cut through, coming from the after bar, coming from the party. Yeah. I mean, imagine you're the only person at night, and you're walking down this. And when that car made that turn, I mean, I could hear it the whole time. And it took so long to pass me. By the time that thing passed me, my heart rate was already blasting.
I mean, this is freaky.
Josh Newville (33:00): So, let's walk over here where the car was again.
They get out of the car and they leave the car in the middle of the driving lane?
Jeremy (33:12): Yeah. It might have been a little to the side. But I mean, it was parked as if it was a real fast stop.
Josh Newville (33:18): And-
Jeremy (33:18): They weren't pulling to the side.
Josh Newville (33:20): And so, they leave the doors open, right?
Jeremy (33:27): Yep.
Josh Newville (33:28): And they both get out. And they both start walking at you immediately?
Jeremy (33:31): Yeah. I mean, I was probably 30 yards from them maybe 40 yards from them, when they first stopped. And I kept walking. I hadn't gotten out yet. And I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. I was just creeped out because of Guimond's disappearance. I mean, I was thinking that. It's unlikely that this is something that's happening. But as I got closer to them, and then they got out of their car and started approaching me, it was clear that they were getting out of their car to interact with me on some level.
Josh Newville (34:06): And are they staring at you the whole time they're walking at you?
Jeremy (34:09): Oh, absolutely. They got out and walked directly at me or toward me.
And I want to say these guys were, I don't know what this audio means, but I think their car was right here.
Josh Newville (34:28): So, we're at basically, we're just past the fence area, but blocking you from being able to go forward any further.
Jeremy (34:38): Right. Their car is here. So, that's kind of a barrier in and of itself. Their doors are wide open.
Josh Newville (34:44): And so, they get out. And then they start walking back towards you. And you're over in the fence area still.
Jeremy (34:52): I'm probably just getting past it. Okay. And I would say that the interaction occurred between the three of us, probably right about where this pole is. But equal distance with this pole, but on this side of the street.
Josh Newville (35:10): And so, they get out. They're walking at you, "Hey, do you know where the after party is?"
Jeremy (35:14): I said, "Oh, yeah. You mean the after bar?"
Josh Newville (35:17): And as they're [inaudible 00:35:18]-
Jeremy (35:18): It's right over here. And I'm slowly backing up. Yeah, right over here. And I start pointing. They weren't looking where I was pointing. And they weren't slowing down. They kept coming closer and closer. And so, I started backing up a little faster. And it was like you could see in their eyes, you could see in their body language, they had no interest in the after bar. And they had no interest in taking any direction.
So, I turned and started to run. One of the guys said, "You don't need to run." And that's where I was saying, "The hell with this. I'm going to run as fast as I can."
So, I ran through the fences, made a hard turn on Birch Street, hard right. And ran along the front side of those houses.
Josh Newville (36:01): Did you ever look back when you ran?
Jeremy (36:05): I don't think so. I mean, I for sure didn't see them. Between the tree that I was hugging and the door of this apartment building, I didn't see the guys.
Josh Newville (36:15): How confident are you that they were trying to grab you or do something to you?
Jeremy (36:20): I'm absolutely certain. There isn't any question. And they weren't hoping to shake hands. And they were imposing. They were big. And it was 2:00 AM. And there isn't any reason they would both get out of the car to come and approach me. And they weren't recognizable faces.
I didn't have a game plan. I had nowhere to go. It was, call it 2:00 AM, everyone's asleep. And they were between stucco and where I was hiding. And I was either going to run back toward the campus, the St. Ben's campus, or hide. And I was breathing heavily, terrified.
And I could see these guys all, maybe four or five guys come out of this apartment building, out of the front door. And they all lit up cigarettes. And that was it. That was the only option I had. I mean, there wasn't a soul in this town that was awake around here. And so, I bolted right through. Good walk. I wonder if these guys are wondering what we're doing. I came bolting down this hill. And at this point, my legs could hardly keep up, or I could hardly keep up with the speed. I was coming down this little hill. And I get to here, and I can see the car was still sitting right there at the top of the street with the dome light on.
And the doors open. So, they're for sure behind me somewhere. I couldn't see the guys up there. I flew right up to this door. I was in tears, and huffing, and puffing. And did my best to explain to the guys why I was freaked out. And I said, "These guys up here, they're chasing me. They're trying to get me. I need your help." And they put out their cigarettes. And said, "Let's get the hell inside." And I spent the night on their couch. And at that point, I mean, I would've hidden in a culvert. So, it was nice. That was the only option I had.
Josh Newville (38:32): So, what did the car look like?
Jeremy (38:35): I had it had, I don't know what they're called, luggage rack. The pin-striped luggage rack that runs parallel to the car's direction.
Josh Newville (38:46): That raise up out of the trunk or the roof?
Jeremy (38:48): Yeah, yeah.
Josh Newville (38:48): Or, I mean the roof of the trunk? Sorry.
Jeremy (38:49): Something that you'd put, I mean, I don't know that people use it for it, but something that you'd put luggage on without scratching the paint of the trunk.
Josh Newville (38:56): That's exactly what it was for.
Jeremy (38:57): Right.
Josh Newville (38:57): Yep.
Jeremy (38:58): And I mean, I don't know that I'd ever seen anyone use those. But it was an older car, probably in '89, '88 to maybe '90, '91 or two. I mean, it was-
Josh Newville (39:13): Anything distinctive about the car other than the luggage rack? The doors, or anything?
Jeremy (39:17): It was a darker colored car. I drove a car, a two-door car in high school. I know that the two-door cars of that age had longer doors. That was one of the ways they made it easier for you to get into the backseat. And these doors looked like, I mean, they were long. It looked like it was a two-door car, long doors. You could see the span of the doors when they opened in front of me. And other than the car being dark, I couldn't tell you what color it was. I'd tell you that when the interior light came on, it was a red interior.
Josh Newville (39:52): Is that your memory imposing that on 20 years? Or, are you confident that it was right?
Jeremy (39:56): No, I'm positive. I mean, that's what I was telling. That was one of the few details I was absolutely certain of.
Josh Newville (40:03): So, you told people this story after this, right?
Jeremy (40:07): Absolutely.
Josh Newville (40:08): First, you told these guys that were in this apartment building over here, right?
Jeremy (40:11): Yep.
Josh Newville (40:11): How many guys were in here?
Jeremy (40:14): Probably five or six. There were-
Josh Newville (40:16): It was a multi-bedroom apartment? Or, was it one guy's apartment, and people were just hanging out at? Do you remember?
Jeremy (40:22): I think two or three of them might have lived there. But they for sure had a couple of friends over. And they may have just been friends from somewhere else in the apartment complex. But I mean, I came in there aghast, huffing, and puffing, in tears. It didn't take more than five seconds to convince them that I needed help. And they had put their cigarettes out. We went inside. One of the guys offered me a beer. And I mean, I was like, "No." So, shaken. I don't know that... I mean, I went to sleep on their couch almost immediately. And they shut the party down. It was such a dramatic or traumatic event.
And in the morning, I remember waking up. One of the guys made something to eat. I think the guy was like, "You want to ride home?" And I said, "Absolutely." So, he hopped in his car and he drove me back to the campus. And the second I walked into my dorm, my roommate looked at me and said, "Where the hell were you last night?" And I lost it, broke down in tears. And I mean, it's still scary to think of what could have happened, what did happen. And the fact that had I tripped, or slipped, or fell, or had those guys not opened the door to that apartment, there's a really good shot that no one would've seen me again.
Josh Newville (41:49): So, this was traumatic to the point that ran crying to strangers. You started bawling the next morning, telling your neighbors about it, or your roommates and such. You told a lot of people about it in that immediate aftermath. Do you know did anyone else ever tell you any stories? Did you hear about any other stories of anything similar happening?
Jeremy (42:14): I don't know that I did. And nothing to this extent, absolutely not. And I mean, I lost sleep over it. I would wake up in sweats, or sweating, just panicking. It stuck with me for a long time. And obviously, I mean, it's still hard to think about. It's still frightening.
Josh Newville (42:38): Did anyone ever raise the possibility that it may have been connected to Josh Guimond's disappearance?
Jeremy (42:45): I mean, I made that connection. And this was only a couple of two, three weeks after he had disappeared. It was the first time I had gone out after his disappearance, and gone out to the bar, gone out to a party. And candidly, I felt guilty about it a little bit. Maybe we were pushing it. Maybe it was insensitive.
Josh Newville (43:10): So, people are going to ask, why didn't you report it then?
Jeremy (43:16): It was one, because I had been drinking. Two, I was out late. And so, my recollection of the facts were foggy. I mean, they're no different than they are today. But I couldn't have helped anyone draw a picture of the guys. I couldn't tell you what color the car was. I could tell you that it had those luggage rack, trim pieces on the trunk. And that they were bigger than me, and older than me. And for sure, weren't students. And for sure, weren't interested in attending the party.
Josh Newville (43:48): You talked about feeling guilty about being out to begin with.
Jeremy (43:51): Yeah.
Josh Newville (43:51): What did you mean by that?
Jeremy (43:53): We had spent probably two weeks on campus in huge groups of students walking through the woods, walking through the fields, looking for any sign of any evidence. Anything that would help lead us to help recover Josh, find out what had happened to him. And so, part of that guilt was based or premised on the fact that I should have known better to begin with.
I probably shouldn't have been outside. I shouldn't have been alone. I shouldn't have been out drinking. And I felt like on some level it was so insensitive that maybe I had deserved that kind of interaction or that experience. And that sounds twisted and absurd. But that was it. I also didn't want the attention. And I was scared shitless.
Josh Newville (44:45): So, we're obviously using a fake name for you. Why come forward today?
Jeremy (44:53): I think I received enough encouragement to come forward after your podcast had started, from roommates and friends that I had shared this story with at the time. And I kicked it around by myself, and thought about the pros and cons. And it was maybe easier to come to you than it would've been to go to the sheriff at the time. And having had the opportunity to think about it for so long, and have it weigh on me for so long, it felt like the right thing to do.
Josh Newville (45:31): Prior to calling me, you hadn't, and still today haven't, listened to the podcast, right?
Jeremy (45:37): That's right.
Josh Newville (45:39): And so, this recollection, and thank you, by the way. I know this is hard. But this recollection hasn't been influenced by any other stories or anything, right?
Jeremy (45:51): No. No. Absolutely not.
Josh Newville (45:57): The friend in the stucco house. Did you ever tell him what happened?
Jeremy (46:02): I did. I don't know that I shared with him the level of detail or the intensity of the situation with him. But for sure.
Josh Newville (46:12): And you told sounds like something like 8, 9, 10 people at the time?
Jeremy (46:16): Yeah. We lived on campus. And we had a block of rooms. My roommate, and I, and a handful of buddies that we had lived with for the previous two years. So, they were all the closest friends I had. And I for sure shared it with all of them. And in hindsight, I can't offer a good explanation for why I didn't call the police from that apartment.
I just don't know. I've got to imagine at some point one of the guys would've said, "Should we call the police?" And I don't remember saying no. I think my adrenaline was just so crazy high that I don't know that I was thinking about it.
Josh Newville (47:05): You went to an all male private men's college, or I mean, private religious college, right?
Jeremy (47:13): Yeah.
Josh Newville (47:15): It was 2002. I mean, we're in a rural part of the state. Do you feel like that factored into why you didn't call the police? Or, why you...
Jeremy (47:30): I'm not sure that it did. I look at it now and think, in hindsight it was that I was young and could have made a better decision. Right, I mean, who knows? I don't know that I had any fear of the police officers, or the sheriffs, or maybe some disconnect just generally speaking, because I was-
Josh Newville (47:52): I guess I don't mean so much fear-
Jeremy (47:54): ... less experienced.
Josh Newville (47:55): I guess I don't mean so much fear. I mean, more if we were to take your story and the only thing we were to change in it is to make you a woman, college like a St. Benny at that exact same age, can you imagine?
Jeremy (48:10): Oh, my God. No. I mean, that's I think it's frightening to think about as myself. You put anyone else in those shoes, and it's terrifying.
Josh Newville (48:32): This is a really, albeit we can see the road, the highway very nearby, this little almost cul-de-sac, this little circular neighborhood, it's extremely residential. It's not like there's any businesses or anything else like that. It's just-
Jeremy (48:50): I mean, it's a frontage road. That's all it is. It's a frontage road with a bunch of homes on it. And just looking here, those guys, had I gotten too close to them, or had I let them get too close to me, I'd of been on that freeway in their car within 10 seconds.
Josh Newville (49:09): Were you able to see all four of their hands?
Jeremy (49:14): I don't know. I don't know that I can... I mean, these guys were... I'm sure I saw them. I don't remember they ever... I don't know that they ever showed me a gun, or a knife, or any weapon of any kind.
Josh Newville (49:33): How close did they get to you prior to you running?
Jeremy (49:39): I'd say three, three-and-a-half, four feet. I mean, it was as you and I are standing here today, probably about this close, if not just a little closer. And as they got close, I started backing up. And they kept coming forward. And so, I kept backing up. It happened pretty quickly. I was already on edge, as I said, because Guimond had disappeared.
And the interaction as these guys drove past me, I don't think they were going more than three or four miles an hour faster than I was walking. So, I heard them coming for a long time before they passed me. And by the time they passed me, I mean, I knew I was in trouble. I knew this was something that this was an unusual interaction already. They hadn't set foot out of the car. They hadn't stopped the car. And I already felt like I was a target.
Josh Newville (50:40): You were already on edge even before you got here. You had been drinking.
Jeremy (50:45): Oh, yeah.
Josh Newville (50:46): Do you think there's any way that in your maybe drunken state, and hyper emotions, and all that adrenaline, do you think that there's any way you misconstrued it and that they were just asking for directions or something?
Jeremy (51:03): No. It's possible, it's not plausible. I mean, I wouldn't buy that for a second. There isn't any chance in hell I would approach any stranger the way they approached me.
Josh Newville (51:17): In the middle of the night.
Jeremy (51:17): No chance. If I needed directions, I would've gone to the gas station. I wouldn't stop-
Josh Newville (51:25): Or, even yelling out-
Jeremy (51:25): ... 20-year old drunk guy on the side of the street in a college town.
Josh Newville (51:29): Or, even just yelled out the window and asked.
Jeremy (51:31): Yeah. I wouldn't have gotten out of the car. I mean, it was absolutely terrifying.
Josh Newville (51:37): Why do you suppose they left the car running with the doors open?
Jeremy (51:44): I'm certain that they wanted to grab me. I mean, there isn't any plausible explanation for this experience or interaction other than that.
Josh Newville (52:01): Had Josh Guimond not disappeared a few weeks before and had you not been on edge already, do you think that interaction may have gone differently?
Jeremy (52:15): It absolutely could have. But I think I still would've been highly suspicious of this interaction. You wouldn't do that to a kid on the street in the daylight without scaring the hell out of the kid, college age or not. You wouldn't do that to anybody. I mean, the interaction while they were in their car was still terribly imposing and frightening. There isn't any chance that they had any other intention. And there is a chance, it's highly improbable.
Josh Newville (52:53): So, you must have been about 30 feet back from their car by the time they get to you.
Jeremy (53:00): Yeah, I'd say about that.
Josh Newville (53:02): What were they going to do? I mean, that's what I don't get is do they knock you out with something? What do they do?
Jeremy (53:09): I mean, that's the (beep) that I woke up in sweats over. I don't know. But they weren't looking for a friend, you know?
Josh Newville (53:20): Yeah.
Jeremy (53:21): There was nothing about it that was appropriate. I mean, it absolutely felt like I was a victim in the make. They saw me, and had every intention of getting a hold of me. What the hell they were going to do with me? I couldn't tell you.
Josh Newville (53:51): Jeremy thinks the two men were approximately 40-years old, weighed more than 200 pounds, and may have been taller than 5 feet 10 inches. They had short and gruff facial hair. And were driving a late '80s or early '90s dark colored car with a red interior and a built-in luggage rack on the roof of the trunk. The car had longer doors and was likely a two-door car. Some potential makes and models include Oldsmobile Cutlass, Mercury Cougar, Pontiac Grand Am, Buick LeSabre, Chevy Cavalier, and Chevy Beretta.
Please continue to share this podcast and talk about Josh's case. Together, we are in fact making progress. Please also share any information that might be helpful. You can provide anonymous tips via our website or voicemail. Our website is simplyvanished.com, where you can also find more information about the case and donate to the GoFundMe page that's being organized by Josh's dad.
As of right now, my tentative plan is to release 8 numbered episodes for this season. I'll outline the approximate schedule on the message board at simplyvanished.com. Please note that between episodes 5 and 6 on August 15th, 2022, I will host a question and answer bonus episode in which I'll address various questions from listeners. For today, I am going to give the last word to Josh's mom, Lisa.
Lisa (55:23): Thank you to the people that are calling in with the tips, and the people that are listening, and spreading the word. I mean, to me, this is awesome. Yeah, I think this is great. There's not a lot of people that would do it. And the people that Josh's friends, the people that he went to school with from college, the ones that have more insight than everybody, if they could just please open up, talk.
This isn't an inquisition. It's something that you're trying that will help hopefully, lead the way to help solving what happened. What maybe did we miss? What insight don't we have? That's the kind of information that people need to realize that you're looking for. And sometimes I don't think they think that. They worry more about themselves. And it's like, "It's not about you."
So, I wish the people that are having a hard time dealing with talking, I wish they would just, I'm sorry, get over it. Move on. Step up. Grow up. Help. That's all we need is help.
Daniel Gunnarson: (singing "The Rivers Told Me Lies")