Exploring Foul Play (S1, E7)
Season 1, Episode 7
Date of Release: October 3, 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.
In this this episode, we consider whether foul play against Josh resulted from a planned or unplanned meeting with someone he knew or otherwise encountered.
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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).
Josh Newville: On October 3rd, 2002, 20 years ago to the day, Josh Guimond sent an email to his ex-girlfriend, Katie. She was headed home for the weekend, and Josh asked if she would fetch the fleece liner for his Columbia jacket. The next day, Friday, October 4th, Katie ran into Josh's dad, Brian, at the Walmart near their hometown. Afterwards, she replied to Josh and confirmed that she would grab the liner and also grab his Gap sweatshirt, which she had previously borrowed. Katie explained that it was difficult seeing Brian and having to talk about Josh and think about him. She wrote, "I don't feel too sad all of the time, but I miss you. I miss us. It will get easier, I'm sure."
This is the Simply Vanished podcast produced by Trembling Leaf Media in Minneapolis. I'm your host, Josh Newville. Welcome back to the podcast. Thank you for your dedication, your patience, your support as we work our way through our very first season of the show. I started this as a nights and weekend kind of side project, and I never could have imagined that it would've taken off this fast and in this way. I am very, very grateful that we've had the tremendous support that we have in terms of tips and listener support. And I want to do more of this. I want to help more than I already am. That means I got to make some changes. I'm a full-time civil rights attorney. I love the work that I do. I'm very proud of it. I've been with my firm for 12 years. My name is on the door, and so I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm going to leave my law firm and go solo. I'm going to practice by myself, meaning that continue to be an attorney, but I'll take fewer cases and try to free up a little bit more time to work on these kinds of cases.
Right now, I'm the only host, the only producer, the only investigator, the only website manager; you get the idea. On top of all that, I am trying to be a husband and have some semblance of a social life. And so what I'm going to do in terms of freeing up time will hopefully enable us to continue the incredible growth and expansion that we've had already with the podcast and eventually bring on some additional support. I'd love to have investigative help, to have production help. We're not there yet by any means, but if we keep moving in the direction that you've all helped us move, we could be there sooner than later potentially.
So a couple things. One, please take the audience survey that's now live on simplyvanished.com. On the homepage, there's a blue button. It says Audience Survey. If you can click that, provide some really basic demographic information, that will help us and our hosting provider, our potential show sponsors in terms of understanding who you are, and help us better figure out in terms of geographic coverage as we look to additional cases. Where are our listeners? Where are you interested in hearing about stuff? Obviously, you can also send us tips and feedback at simplyvanished.com via the contact form, but that audience survey would be very helpful. And of course, you should check out our insider program. You can throw us a few bucks a month, help us expand and get behind the scenes updates as we not only look to expanded coverage of additional cases, but also continue to cover the Josh Guimond case in the background.
We're on episode number seven of eight numbered episodes in this first season, at least for now. We'll never close out a season until the case is officially solved, meaning that even as we expand and we start looking at other cases, we're still going to work on this case in the background. And so when we have major updates in a case or in the investigation, we will provide additional numbered episodes that get to that. And in the meantime, we'll do behind the scenes updates.
A lot to cover today in episode number seven. Let's dive right in. Number one, I have been really, really grateful to have continued conversations with Nick and Katie. As you know, they were the closest people to Josh in his final days at St. John's University. And Katie dated Josh even prior to that. Her and Josh met when they were kids. They dated in high school, they dated into college together. They stayed friends even after they broke up just a few months prior to Josh's disappearance. And Josh's closest friend and roommate that he spent the most time with, was arguably best friends with, Nick. Him and Katie continued to be friends. They were friends as a result of meeting through Josh, and then remained friends after Josh went missing. They've been more and more helpful as time has gone on. And I want to tell you that even though the open lines of communication that I imagined or envisioned aren't quite there yet, they have some reasons.
And I haven't been able to tell you this until now, but one of those reasons is that early on when I reached out to them, they both explained that they were pretty emotionally exhausted from having spent the better part of the last couple years filming for an Unsolved Mysteries episode. And I can tell you that now because I just saw a Google alert the other day via IMDB that Netflix has announced the launch of its third season later this month, and they're going to be doing a case on Josh Guimond, or I'm sorry, an episode on Josh Guimond's case. And so that'll come out I believe on October 25th, possibly October 18th; I'm not quite sure from what I'm seeing online. And it's going to bring millions of new viewers, new people to Josh's case. And that makes me very hopeful that we'll continue to see the progress that we've already been seeing. And so Nick and Katie have explained that that was actually quite difficult to film. And so the idea of doing a really in depth podcast and talking so much about Josh really has just made it hard for them to continue with their life when this was so traumatic for them.
Nonetheless, they've been talking here and there, not super in depth, but they've been answering more and more smaller questions, and I really appreciate that. And I want to thank them for that and ask that Josh's other friends really consider doing the same, because we really are making progress more and more with their help. I want to give you an example of one of the updates that I've received from Nick as a result of talking to him more. And that's that on the evening that Josh was last seen, the night of November 9th into the early hours of November 10th, 2002, Nick gets back to his dorm room, looks across the hall from his own room and sees Josh's door open and that Josh is not in that room. Nick then sits down at his computer, opens up AOL Instant Messenger.
For those of you that remember AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM as we called it, there was a buddy list. And if you had your privacy settings like most of us had them, it would display if you were idle or if you were active at that time. Nick recalls that when he got back that night that Josh's buddy icon indicated that he had been idle for something like two or three hours. And although Nick doesn't recall that precise time that Josh had been idle at that point, he does recall that he provided that information to investigators in the immediate aftermath of Josh's disappearance. And so what's really good about that for us is that it tells us that investigators have a timeframe that they can then compare to the music player information and the other data points that we're getting, and helping us determine whether or not he made it back to his computer or not that night, whether he made it back to the dorm room.
As you know, there's no badging data to suggest that he came back in. There are no witness statements that he came back in, but it seems like there were only one or two roommates of his even home that night. They would've been on a different floor and perhaps sleeping. And certainly there was never a report from them that they saw Josh come back that evening. And so the weight of the evidence as it stands right now seems to suggest that Josh didn't make it back, although we still can't be certain. We're going to continue to work on that angle, as well.
But assuming that Josh did not make it back to his dorm room that evening for the sake of argument and assuming that he didn't accidentally drown or fall into quick sand or be eaten by snapping turtles or something ridiculous, the question then remains, where is Josh? Where did he end up that evening? There are really four categories of likely explanations, and they all at this point involve some level of foul play by another person or a group of people. The first is that Josh had some sort of planned meeting with people that he did know. The second, that it was a planned meeting with someone that he didn't know, perhaps a meetup from online or something like that. The third, a unplanned meeting was someone that he knew. So he came across someone, for example, that he knew. The fourth, that it was an unplanned meeting with someone that he did not know. There, again, are tips, leads information on all for fronts, and we are working all of them. We are to the point where we are looking at individual names and groups of people. I can't share a lot of that information with you, although I'm going to give you one example of a specific name here in a bit.
But first, I want you to hear first from Josh's dad, Brian. Brian is the kind of person that what you see is what you get. What he says to you is what he means. He's very straightforward, very direct, and I really appreciate that about him. Parents of missing children deserve our respect, are kindness, and more than anything, they deserve to be listened to. For the better part of 20 years, Brian has maintained that Josh was set up and grabbed. He doesn't really care whether it was a planned or unplanned meeting, whether it was someone that Josh knew or didn't know. His point all along has been someone took his son. Brian's convinced that Josh is still alive. He has been working with two people in his own investigative way for a number of years. And he'll give you some specifics here in a moment. He's not going to get super specific, but the people that he is been working with, he thinks that they've been able to track Josh's movements. And he has a couple friend that the wife believes that she saw Josh in Las Vegas in 2003. So take a moment and listen to Brian and his friends, Mike and Sue.
Sue: We were walking and there were a ton of people. When I walk, I look down because I'm a clutz. And anyways, I had seen the loafers, the white socks, the print shorts, and a dark Saint John's sweatshirt. And I was looking at this kid from the bottom up. And I looked at his face, he was flushed red, he looked tired, he didn't have any glasses, but he had his hair spiked like you've got yours. Can I read to you what I have on my journal?
Brian: Yeah, go ahead.
Sue: This is day nine, March 28th, 2003, location Las Vegas, Nevada. We were up bright and early ready to head down to the strip. We walked there again, stopping at Circus Circus and then catching the trolley to Mandalay Bay Casino. We walked down the strip taking in the amazement construction of all the casinos. I seen a young man wearing St. John's University sweatshirt, which immediately caught my eye. He looked very much like Josh Guimond, the son of our friend who had been missing since last November. I told Mike to turn around and look at the kid, but by the time we turned around, he was gone. It bothered me the rest of the day.
Brian: Yeah, see this part, I knew nothing of this until later that summer.
Mike: Brian had told me that had somebody that might be... If Josh is alive, where he might be at. And then he was saying, "Well, right now he possibly could be in Vegas." And then he had made the point about down by towards the Luxor. And then that's when it just kind of just... Didn't know what to say at first.
Brian: Right, I remember that is like-
Mike: Then I told Brian I saw him.
Brian: He was serious as a heartbeat when he says, "I got something I got to tell you." I remember that.
Mike: Yeah, so [inaudible 00:13:49], "I got to tell you something," and then I told the story of what we just said, how we saw that Sue saw that individual down there.
Josh Newville: So are you aware of any, other than Sue, are you aware of any other sightings, reported sightings over the years?
Josh Newville: Okay.
Brian: I don't remember if I told you this. Remember I said I was looking at some things and talking to another individual, helping, and there's certain things there that, yeah, no, that was Josh you saw that day.
Josh Newville: People are going to push back. They're going to say it's you wanting to be hopeful, wishful thinking, stuff like that.
Brian: There's absolutely no evidence he's dead. These methods do not work on dead people. You can call this what these methods are is remote directional locating. Quantum physics and electromagnetism are involved. And yeah, I mean there's this thing with the sighting. Them two didn't know each other.
Sue: We never spoke to each other.
Brian: You can't make that up. That's not a coincidence.
Sue: And I would never make something up like that to hurt Brian. I wouldn't dream of it.
Mike: Well, and even sometimes after I told Brian, Sue I talked about it, was it the right thing to do? It was just because do I want to get his hopes up? But the fact was, Sue's reaction to it was so strong that I felt I had to tell him, because there's people that disappear maybe voluntarily for six months. So there's always that chance.
Sue: Did he just take a vacation and didn't tell anybody? We didn't know.
Josh Newville: What do you want to see happen? This is your son. We're coming up on the 20th year anniversary. You've got a public's attention right now.
Brian: Well, somebody needs to get a conscious is all it's going to take.
Josh Newville: Thank you to Brian, Mike and Sue for sitting down with me, for trusting me to talk about this. This has been very tough for Brian to trust that people will listen to him, give him the time of day and try to help him in his search for his son and looking for answers. Brian set up a GoFundMe years ago to try to get additional resources, and it's just really sad how few people have donated to that. And he hasn't been able to pursue some of the leads, the theories that he's been hoping to explore because he hasn't had the funds, the resources, and the official investigators, especially in those early years, didn't really do a whole lot to consider and explore the things that he wanted them to explore, which really was the whole idea of foul play to begin with. And so please take a look at the GoFundMe that Brian's got going. We have a link to it on our website. You can also find it via Google and consider supporting him in his private investigative efforts.
One of the leads, and there's actually a lot of leads that go to this angle, is the idea that Josh may have encountered someone that he didn't know in some kind of unplanned meeting and that something bad may have happened. Here's a couple examples that go to it that we can talk about. One, in 1999, two University of St. John's students were sitting in a computer lab, two men, when a man came in with duct tape and rope and asked them to tie him to a tree. They were freaked out by this, and of course declined. And the man took off running. And there's been no further information that they're aware of regarding that man's identity or any other similar reports. We're asking you to come forward if you have any such information.
As we've talked about in the past, there is a story that has been reported that we've heard from a couple different directions now, but are still struggling to get further information. About a year or two prior to Josh's disappearance, a college student, or prep school student, we've heard competing information, was dragged into the bushes near St. John's University and his head held underwater. That's all we know at the moment, but there's enough information, timestamped information that we need to continue to explore that angle. So if you know anything, please, please reach out. Please contact us. We've also received additional reports of potential suspects, potential names in terms of those who targeted Anthony, Zach, and others. And we're working those angles.
Now recall that there's two distinct groups that seem to have emerged through the tips that we've received thus far, and that continues to be the case. There's a younger group of men that appear to have been targeting other college-aged men around the time. And then there seems to be an older, as far as I can tell, more sinister group that also seems to have been targeting younger college-aged men around the time. One of the leads to this angle that we found, and there are actually quite a few, but I'll give you an example. One of them is a man named Ed Lanphear. Ed is currently serving prison time and will likely be in prison for the rest of his life. He abducted a 20-year-old and a 23-year-old, both men in central Wisconsin in 2008. He sexually assaulted them. He chained them up in his home in separate places over plastic. He taunted one of the men when the newspaper published reports from the, and this is going to sound familiar, when the local law enforcement suggested that the man had drowned.
And one of the tips that I'm working on is that he had a boat and that he was scrambling to try to retrieve that boat from a place that had been working on it at the time of these abductions. He abducted these men. One of them was in a vehicle parked behind a bar. He was avoiding drinking and driving, and he grabbed one of the men that way. The other man was walking down the street, and Lanphear pretended to be a police officer. He brought them both home, chained them up, sexually assaulted them. And if it wasn't for the luck of one man being able to escape when Lanphear went to get cigarettes one day, he ran naked and still partly chained to a neighbor's house where he was able to get help. And law enforcement came, and both men managed to survive. But it seems, based on the evidence, that that was a low probability if Lanphear had kept custody of them.
What is the likelihood that this sort of, and I haven't even told you a lot of the details, that this sort of aggressive behavior, that this was the first time that he conducted this? Well, that's a good question we don't know the answer to, but we are exploring that. Did Lanphear always operate alone and always operate in the area that he lived, or is it possible that he had acquaintances, and/or that he made the journey a few hours away to Minnesota? We don't know. But the kind of person that it would take to target a college-aged man, multiple of them it seems, there can't be, at least I hope, that many of these kinds of people that would target men in this kind of sadistic, aggressive way and be able to get away with it. And so we have to explore the angle of these kinds of people.
And there are other sexual predators. There are registered sex offenders that had been in the area, that lived in the area at the time of Josh's disappearance. We've received tips relating to some of them, including one that was reported to go out at night, specifically driving and looking for college-aged men. And we have to look beyond the traditional criminal registered sex offenders as we look for these kinds of people. We have to look at, for example, the monks and lay faculty at St. John's University who had been known to target young men. And you might think as I did early on that, well that targeting, that kind of predatory behavior, it's not the same as some of these other sex offenders. Well, that may only partially be true. Some allegations regarding Roger Gerkowski. Gerkowski was long gone by the time that Josh went missing, but he had been at St. John's University for a number of years. He even had, for a time, a home in Flynntown, the area that Josh was last seen. And famed University of St. John's football coach, John Gagliardi, had a home for 50 or so years in Flynntown. In fact, his home was right behind Metten Court. It was just feet from where Josh was last seen. And I'm not meaning to imply that Gagliardi had anything to do with Josh's disappearance. But listen to this story.
So the allegations, as I understand them, are that one morning Gagliardi opened his door into his garage from his home and found on the garage floor a visiting student who had been assaulted reportedly by Gerkowski sexually. If that kind of behavior was known to have existed at the university to the point that Gerkowski even lived reportedly at a time with college students who, because of his known behavior, took steps to protect themselves and each other from his advances, if you will, which is a perhaps massive understatement. If that kind of behavior was tolerated and known. And the kind of monks who associated with him, including from what I understand, Finian McDonald was known to repeatedly visit Gerkowski and spend time. Finian McDonald is a monk who was around at St. John's University at the time of Josh's disappearance, who was a self-described sex addict, who had his files released by St. John's University for preying on young men. If people like him and so many others at the university were willing to turn a blind eye to that kind of behavior, that behavior of Gerkowski for example, imagine what may have gone on that we don't know about.
Again, I have no idea whether anyone at St John's University had anything to do with Josh's disappearance, but I am not for a moment going to ignore that possibility with this kind of evidence. And so for the four or five people that complained about episode six because they thought that it was horrendous that we would dare criticize without more evidence, well first of all, I don't know what kind of evidence you want. There are more potential connections between Josh and that scandal than I ever thought were possible when I first dug into this. And it doesn't change the fact that the kinds of people who target others are very often motivated by sex. And when you have this many people who are engaging in this kind of behavior in one small concentrated area, it would be negligent not to take notice and not to dig into it.
And I'm not sure to what extent that's been done by investigators or others in the past. And so as difficult as it is, as hard as it is to raise the prospect that some of these men who unquestionably committed misconduct and did horrible things, that may have gone further than that somehow. As uncomfortable as that is, we still have to do it. Not doing it out of some mistaken sense of propriety or respect is a disrespect and an impropriety to Josh and his family and the other victims that, many of which, we do not know about that these men have targeted.
One especially concerning report that I received recently is that a monk at St. John's University, and by the way, this monk was around at the time of Josh's disappearance and may have done this around the exact same time as Josh's disappearance, that this monk may have drugged a student. The allegations that we continue to receive are some of which I cannot even begin to broach here, are beyond frightening. We're going to explore every angle. The sexual angle is only one of them, but consider how it plays into every one of the four likely explanations that we started talking about. We started this conversation by talking about unplanned meetups with people or unplanned meetup with someone that Josh didn't know. And it could very well be motivated or have something to do with some kind of sexual conduct or targeting. And we've bled over into the possibility that it could be with someone that Josh did know, and that it may have been planned. And when you consider the other evidence that we continue to receive, it requires, it mandates that we explore fully the sexual angle. And that really could come in many forms. It could be through a planned meeting, it could be through like a hookup, for example, or some kind of cruising scenario, or it could be completely random. And these roadside examples that we've talked about present another scenario for that.
I want you to consider a young couple who I'm calling Megan and Derek, who in the fall of 2020, it was October, 2020 they believe, were walking on Fruit Farm Road less than a mile from where Josh was last seen. So Fruit Farm Road is the road that Metten Court, Nate Storm was on at 10:30 or so at night. And they describe a story that is eerily similar to what Jeremy and Jeff described. Now, the reason for sharing this is of the concern that this conduct wasn't limited to November of 2002. In fact, we received other reports from the time prior to Josh's disappearance and to time after Josh's disappearance. The way, the manner in which they describe this man's conduct is frightening. And it hopefully will do more than scare you. Hopefully it will have people who will live in the area who may recognize the description and/or the conduct continue to come forward to us and/or the Stearns County Sheriff's Department. Take a listen to what Megan and Derek have to say.
Derek: Right when we got to the bend at the end of the road, we were probably going to turn around anyway, but this car slowly came around the corner. And we felt awkward just because it was dark out, and it was just us in this car.
Megan: And no other cars had passed. It's a pretty desolate road.
Derek: Yeah, there's no one on the road. And so this car comes by us. And then naturally, we're like, "Okay, let's turn around and go home." But then the car, once it gets about 50 to 100 yards away from us, stops.
Megan: Yeah, pulls over and stops.
Derek: And I kind of waited to figure out what was going on. And it was probably only 10 seconds, but felt it like a really long time. And then someone opens the door, the driver door.
Megan: The driver opens the door, yeah.
Derek: And gets out and just stands there. Because-
Megan: And we had stopped... Oh, go ahead.
Derek: Because it's 10:30 at night, we can't really see his face. We can only see the red of whatever lights the car was producing.
Megan: Oh, yeah. We stopped walking, too, at this point because it was like, "Oh, the car stopped." It was either you keep walking further away from campus into-
Derek: ... to darkness or something.
Megan: Yeah. There's not streetlights or anything. So it was either that, or I didn't really know. And he also turned his lights off.
Derek: His headlights off.
Megan: Yeah, his headlights off. So initially I had thought that the car turned off, but it was just the lights because the inside stayed dark so the interior lights didn't come on at all. So you couldn't see any facial features or clothing color, literally anything because it was so dark. And he was a very tall, burly-
Derek: Yeah, we could tell that he was big, though. He got out and was-
Megan: Over six foot, for sure, and just kind of... We couldn't see his eyes, but was facing in our direction. So very much so looking at us, I guess.
Derek: So we waited, and I think I was going to say something, but then we think that'd be a bad idea just because, I don't know. And then luckily between us and him, closer to us-
Megan: Probably 10 yards in his direction.
Derek: ... there was a driveway leading to a house, a really long driveway with pine trees on each side. So I thought, "Okay, let's just confidently walk up this driveway together like we're going home." So we did that, and we got about halfway up the driveway and then ducked behind some trees/bushes. And then the guy waited probably a few seconds, and then got in his car and drove towards campus.
Megan: Then that's like you go around a curve that way, too.
Derek: So north. He went from south to north and went around another curve toward campus.
Megan: Yup, toward the Flynntown area.
Derek: So we're like, "Okay, let's get back to the house apparent now." So we got back on the road and started jogging.
Megan: Quickly walked, yeah.
Derek: Quickly walking. And we see headlights coming back the way that he went from campus. So we're like, had the idea let's get in the ditch.
Megan: Just in case, because we didn't know for sure if-
Derek: Just in case it's him.
Derek: So we did.
Megan: And it's a pretty deep ditch, which is nice, too. So we were able to completely-
Derek: Yeah, he couldn't see us.
Megan: ... be under the road.
Derek: And we knew it was him because he drove at a snail's pace, and it was really scary.
Megan: Yeah. He could've really easily stopped. It was that slow that it was like, "Is he stopping? Is he not?"
Derek: Yeah. And then once he was completely gone, once he went back south-
Megan: Around the corner away from campus.
Derek: ... yeah, we got up and-
Derek: ... booked it back to the house.
Josh Newville: Why doesn't he say anything?
Derek: That was the biggest red flag to me, because first of all, just the car stopping I thought was weird at night when there's two people alone in the woods is kind of a red flag. And then when he got out and said nothing, that's when I got really scared and kind of froze for a second and then started to feel like if we don't move now, this is going to be something foul.
Megan: Bad, yeah. I don't know what we would've done if the driveway wasn't there, because my initial thought was walk in the opposite direction of this guy, which would've been further south, away. But then Derek pulled me into the driveway because he had the plan, but we didn't really want to talk much, because it was like he would've heard us probably if we were talking. But yeah, the lack of speaking and just the standing there-
Derek: He was trying to scare us, it felt like.
Megan: Yeah, it didn't make sense. And the thing that I really don't get is, and looking back at it, too, we didn't call the cops. And that seems to align with a lot of what people said, too, but the way that we thought of it was nothing officially happened. It seemed like something bad could have happened, but it was just scary.
Derek: Sure. Had we known about the previous times this has happened in the past, I would have.
Megan: Yeah, I would've felt more inclined to. But it felt like it was setting up for something that could have advanced to be really bad.
Josh Newville: If you have any information concerning this incident as described by Megan and Derek or any of the other incidents you've heard about on this podcast, including the men and/or vehicles and/or any of the other tips and leads that we've discussed, please come forward. You can submit tips anonymously at simplyvanished.com, or you can also find a link to submit tips anonymously to the Sheriff's department.
We will see you on November 14th for episode number eight, which will, of course, come out after both the Unsolved Mysteries episode about Josh's case and the 20th anniversary of Josh's disappearance. And I'll be at the memorial service for that and hope to provide you some updates and additional comments and perhaps interviews from some other people connected to the case by that time. In the meantime, you can stay up to date with the case and hear about some behind the scenes developments at simplyvanished.com. You can visit the discussion forum. I will otherwise see you in a few weeks.
Thank you very much.
Daniel Gunnarsson: (singing "The Rivers Told Me Lies")