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"Next Door Mysteries": 89.1 The Point covers cold cases

by Siomara Germain - Copy Editor
Mon, Apr 17th 2017 09:15 pm
Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR

The world is full of unsolved mysteries and cold cases that go on a shelf and are forgotten. Justin Sullivan from 89.1 The Point has embarked on a journey to tackle some of these mysteries on the radio in order to raise awareness about them and hopefully help them get closer to getting solved.
Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR The world is full of unsolved mysteries and cold cases that go on a shelf and are forgotten. Justin Sullivan from 89.1 The Point has embarked on a journey to tackle some of these mysteries on the radio in order to raise awareness about them and hopefully help them get closer to getting solved.

How much do you know the neighborhood you live in? Do you think you know it well? What if your friendly neighbor next door's daughter went missing 40 years ago and authorities never found her? Or that the lady at your local shopping store's son was murdered but his killer was never found? How would you feel about that?

A lot of people know about JonBenet Ramsey and Natalee Holloway but do they know about Shari Lynne Ball? What about Eddie Freson? Or Charlotte Heiman? Or Brittany Drexel? No?

Do some of those last names sound familiar? Maybe your neighbor or your retailer? Like Ramsey and Holloway, those names can be household names too.

Justin Sullivan, a news reporter at 89.1 the Point and a senior at The College at Brockport, recently started an audio series called "Next Door Mysteries" on WBSU 89.1 The Point radio station. In the series, Sullivan and The Point broadcast investigated cold cases that occurred in the local area. Unsolved mysteries is something that Sullivan has been interested in for as long as he can remember.

"I was really inspired by the old 1980s and 90s episodes of 'Unsolved Mysteries' with Robert Stack," Sullivan said. "I always found them extremely interesting and saw how the show's coverage of these cases ended up giving investigators a new lead or even solving them."

Like anyone who has been inspired, Sullivan began to research and what he found made him want to do something about it. Turns out, there are more unsolved cases in the local area than the average person would have thought.

"This had me thinking, 'if these local stories just had some media coverage, maybe they could have been or can be solved,'" Sullivan said. "It is sad that often times these cases are forgotten about, simply because of the fact that the media got tired of covering it."

Hundreds of thousands of people go missing each year and most people don't even know one percent of who some of these missing people are.

A lot of the people who go missing are seemed as less important than other missing people who receive media coverage but that is not the case.

"The media seems to focus on the 'glamorous' or 'high-profile' cases while forgetting that these cases happen every day," Sullivan said. "I like being the person to bring these cases into the limelight."

Now one can think that reviewing cold cases is frightening but for Sullivan it's more of a shock. Some of these cases date back to nearly 40 years and yet no one knows about them.

Imagine how someone would feel if their child or loved one were to go missing or die and no one cared.

In episode one, the listeners had the chance to learn about Shari Lynne Ball. In episode two, Eddie Freson's story was aired. In the next two Sundays, they will learn of Charlotte Heiman and Brittany Drexel's stories, respectively, in episodes three and four.

Each of these cases are unique in their own way. While some of these people are dead, some of them were never found. They all come from different backgrounds, gender, age, occupation and socio-economic status.

According to Sullivan, the only thing they have in common is their ties to Western New York.

"Besides the fact that they were all local, there are many haunting questions surrounding each one of these people's stories," Sullivan said. "It is hard to not get emotionally attached to these people, but the more you investigate their lives the more that you really feel like you know them."

Sullivan is hoping that by doing this audio series, he can bring justice to the victims.

"Even if one more person learns these people's stories, this audio series will be worth it," he said.

Sullivan wanted to find a good balance between expert interviews, such as investigators who worked on the cases as well as Dr. Ann Bunch who is a forensic anthropologist and works at Brockport, and loved ones who felt the pain first hand.

Sullivan was worried about bringing back the pain for some of the victim's families but he said these people's loved ones are strong.

"Their strength is inspiring and a story of its own," Sullivan said.

Branding this as an exclusive audio series gives more focus to these people's stories.

"It gives them more time to think and realize that these happened right next to us," Sullivan said.

This all circles back to 89.1 The Point's brand of being a community radio station that broadcasts beyond The College at Brockport.

According to Sullivan, the station has a job to serve the community and the community should know that these unsolved mysteries exist. 

"I am honored to have been able to broadcast these people's stories," Sullivan said. "I could not have done it without the support from my 89.1 The Point team. They have all been extremely supportive and it means so much to me. A lot went into this broadcast, between the interviews and the production work, but I am glad I can bring it to the limelight." 

Sullivan will be walking across the stage in May with a degree in journalism and broadcasting. This audio series is something he wanted to do before he graduated. Sullivan, who hopes to go into investigative journalism through print or broadcasting, has covered a lot of community news through 89.1 The Point. This special audio series is a capstone to all of that. 

Unfortunately, the four episode series will not continue after Sullivan graduates but listeners can tune in to the upcoming Sundays at 8 p.m. for the half-hour long episode.


sgerm2@u.brockport.edu