« True Murder: The Most Shocking Killers


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September, 1955, Nealy Buchanan, a trustee at the State Prison of Southern Michigan, was denied parole. Because of his trustee status, he was assigned to pick up local trash from area farms in a prison truck, which provided the perfect opportunity to escape. Running out of gas near Stockbridge, Michigan and continuing on foot, he hid out inside the barn of Howard and Myra Herrick, an elderly farm couple. Buchanon was planning to steal their car to further his escape. Surprised when Howard Herrick returned early, he killed the elderly man by crushing his skull with a hand grinder. Hearing the commotion in the barn, Myra Herrick came in and was viciously bludgeoned her to death next to her husband. Their killer quickly hid their bodies under bales of hay. Buchanon hitchhiked to Mason, caught a cab to Lansing, and bought a bus ticket, and fled to New York using Howard Herrick's identity. Thinking Buchanon was still in the area, fearful residents armed themselves, and looked upon strangers with suspicion. Ingham County Sheriff Willard Barnes led the hunt for the killer, searching for months, but the investigation came to a dead end. Harry Doesburg, a neighbor to the Herrick's, raised a $3000 reward, much of it his own money,  to find the killer. Doesburg sent wanted posters across the country, and paid for 'wanted' ads in various newspapers and magazines. Thirteen months later an informant in Baltimore, recognized Buchanon from a wanted ad in a magazine and turned him in. Buchanon was quickly returned to Michigan, signed a confession, pled guilty, and was sentenced to life in prison, all within a 72-hour period. Ten years after his sentence, Nealy began appealing his conviction on numerous grounds, including police misconduct, racial threats, and improper court proceedings. For twenty-five years, Nealy had not been represented. A SLAYER WAITS: The True Story of a Michigan Double Murder-Rod Sadler.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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You are now listening to true murder, the most shocking killers and true crime history and the authors that have written about Gacy, Bundy Dahmer, the night stalker Dgk every week, another fascinating author talking about the most shocking and infamous killer crime, room murder, with your host journalist and author Dan Good evening September, nineteen, fifty five
Nearly Buchanan, a trustee at the state prison of southern Michigan, was denied parole because of his trusty status. He was assigned to pick up local trash from area farms in a prison truck which provided the perfect opportunity to escape running outta gas near stock br. Michigan and continuing on foot he hit out inside the barn of Howard and MIRA Herrick an elderly farm couple. You can was planning to steal their car to further is a scape, so prize when Howard Herrick returned early. He killed the elderly man by crushing his skull with a hand grinder, During the commotion in the Barn MIRA, Herrick came in and was viciously bludgeoned to death. Next to her husband, there killer quickly hid their bodies under bales of Hay and Buchanan Hitch tight to Mason, caught a cab to Lansing and bought it bus ticket and fled to New York used.
Howard herricks identity, thinking Buchanan was still in the area fearful rez. Arm themselves and looked upon strangers with suspicion. Lincoln County sheriff, William Willard Barnes, led the hunt for the killer searching for months, but the investigation came to a dead end, Harry Dillsburg and name to the herricks raised. A three thousand dollars reward, much of it his own money to find the killer. Those burg sent wanted posters across the country and paid for wanted ads in various newspapers and magazines. Thirteen months later, an informant in Baltimore recognize Buchanan. I wanted ad in a magazine and turned him in Buchanan was quickly. Return to Michigan signed a confession, pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison all within a seventy two hour period. Ten years after his sentence nearly began appealing his conviction on numerous grounds, including police misconduct, racial threats.
An improper court proceedings for twenty five years nearly had not been represented. The books were featuring this evening is a Slayer weights, the true story of a Michigan double murder, with my special gas journalist and author rod, Sadler Welcome back to the program, and thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. Rod Sadler! Thank you, Dan. I appreciate you having me on here and I'm looking forward to it. It's always. Pleasure. Thank you very much to hello. I must go with was last time that was very fascinating book. Let's get to this story, how did you come to want to or need to write a slayer waits? it actually began in the 1960s, not necessarily my desire to write about it, but I grew up in M County Michigan in the 1960s and
and we lived all I'm gonna, say probably fifteen miles from stock bridge, a small town in the southwest corner, I'm sorry, the SE corn. Ingham County, and I remember driving with my folks and and they pointed out a barn one day, and they said that's where that couple was killed. Well, you know, is a kid news, seven or eight or nine years old. You hear about that, and- and I just glanced over at the barn, and I always remembered that barn. For some reason and- and then I forgot about it- I forgot about it for the rest of my life until a couple years ago, I'm a consultant on the side and I was chatting with an attorney that I knew an He happened to mention that he used to work for the Ingham County prosecutor. Is office in the 1970s and that he had handled an appeal for this particular killer. Well, I remember the case very vivid
I remember that day driving up day driving fifty two and and my parents, pointing out that barn. And he began to go into all these points that the Miller had made in an attempt to appeal his conviction, an I had, just decided that I had. Already published my first book and since I had a contact there that knew a lot about it. Maybe this would be an interesting second book, and so that's how it kind of all started. Now tell us a little bit about this area that we're talking about that's featured in this story. Describe this general area in southern Michigan. Well, Ingham County is located in the center of the state. As you know, Michigan is shaped like a mitten, and if you were in just about in the center of the state, you would find Ingham county, it's the the
The capital is Lansing Ann, that's located in the Nw Corner of Ingham County there's small towns Townsend on the county in villages on the western side you of Mason, which is actually the county seat. I misspoke myself. Mason is the county seat, but the circuit court Work for Ingham County is both in Mason and Lansing, both there's a small town south of that called Leslie along the the the county is William Stone and along the east side of the county, is a small town called webberville. And then, if you go to the South eastern corner of the county, there's a small town called Stockbridge, these small towns in nineteen. Fifty five, as you can imagine, if you're older, I guess the best way to describe it.
And I was trying to think of a way to describe it the on the way in here tonight. If you could think of the the town of Mayberry You know life was, A lot easier back then or seem that way anyway, to those of us nowadays, but deals were made on handshakes strangers were were welcome with open arms people left doors unlocked you know. Families got together for for picnics and whole communities got together for picnics and Sunday dinners, and it was due, It was a lot. It is a lot easier time back then, an animal county was no exception, nor with stock bridge it was just an easy way of life. Back then- and you know the the country was- covering from World WAR two and the korean war.
The economy was booming. It was It's really a good time to be alive. On the flip side of that there there's also the civil rights movement that was just starting and the book touches on that to some degree, but all in all Ingham county was a nice place to grow up a nice place to live back in nineteen fifty five. Now, let's talk about the character of the main character in this story. Neely Buchanan and you talk about as you do in the book, his father Porter and his mother Gladys an he's. One of seven children he's the first child, so tell us about his life before we get to. His team life, where it seems things, go off the rail, but let's talk about his early life and what his family life was characterized by Tulsa little bit about that. You know his early life
there wasn't a whole lot of information available on that. I will tell you that he was born in Alabama, I suspect, that his family was lower income and it it didn't Furlong by the age of of I want to say six seven years old, They had already moved to Michigan, they had one point lived down in Monroe, which is along the state line with Ohio and they subsequently ended up in the town of Flint I'm you're familiar with Flint water crisis right now, but that's where they ended up and and he he was well liked by the neighbors by the the
people that he grew up with in that area, all his neighbors liked him. Eventually he got into trouble at a young age in it started you well with small steps and things like that, even at a young age before he became a a teenager and that's when that's. Why is life really took a turn and I think that's really when it all began. You talk about him being deemed incorrigible at fifteen after assaulting his father, and he went to a place that was first called the industrial school for boys later boys vocational school here, I've there in nineteen forty describe as you do the conditions at this school kids at the boys, vocational training, school or whatever. You choose to call it because,
the names changed quite frequently, but that actually was built in the 1800s? and it was essentially a correction institution for for a young man it. Actually, began as a coed facility back in eighteen, but quickly turn to males. Only the kids lived in dorms there were door Small dorm scattered around the the campus if you will, It really resembled like a large, church or or big business building. If you will is large, brick building and had these small cottages all around and each day, the kid
we went through a regimented routine and that included calisthenics. It include, did marching three time today formation included classroom sessions. The kids were given specific jobs to do. And beyond that, the troubled kids, those that didn't go along with the program, were punished in one way or another, and the one that sticks out the most to me is they were forced to stand on a line for hours on end, and that was a sort of punishment. They had a a cabin number five. I believe it was that
was used specifically for punishment and those were the severe cases a lot of times, the kids that ended up in five as they called it would end up trying to burn mattress, is or causing damage the building or screaming. Yelling assaulted, behavior things like that, so that was kind of the the uh atmosphere. If you will around the boys vocational training school, it was actually located in Lansing was located on Pennsylvania, near Shiawassee ST. There was a big facility
so even into the end of the 1970s, when it was still open, the Lansing Police Department would frequently get calls of runaways from that particular facility until it was eventually closed. There was a Report issued back in the 1940s. Actually, while Buchanan was still there. That said, all of the types of punishment that were going on there needed to stop that. Wasn't that wasn't the way that that facility was intense
and it was shortly thereafter that that you can and cut out of there. But I don't know if that sets the stage well enough, but I don't think it was a very pleasant place to be. You talk about that. He was released in a couple years and and what happens is that he's soon after got seven more charges? So how does his tell us? What he does to of avoid these charges and further incarceration? What is well, he you have to understand that the intention of the boys regional training. School was forty. Four the child to be rehabilitated to the point where he could be returned into society, and so when nearly was
eventually released He began to get in trouble again and he eventually joined the service to avoid prosecution, to avoid jail time, and so he joined the service and and during world war. Two he served over in Europe and he actually drove an ammunition truck over in Europe for two or three years, and he was released from the army had an honorable discharge. It came back to the states. He had his wife and he was in the army and was married Ann. And came back. They moved is the Detroit area and he began trying to support her and ended up getting back into trouble again.
You talk about the kind of trouble that he got in if we go just slightly backwards. What he does is he has to rejoin the military after three years in the military, because he's convicted of peeping Tom offenses. Note there again yeah he was, he was convicted of of being a peeping Tom. There was, I think there was some theft charges in their in, I think back, then they they base it a lot. Also on on maybe his juvenile record to the assaultive behavior toward his father, the petty thefts. The driving without a driver's license. Things like that. It got to the point where they said look either re, join the military or you're going back to jail. And so he did, he did re join the military. Now you talk about, he got married met his wife and 40s nineteen, forty six and then one thousand nine hundred and forty ninety Mary Jeanette Anna nineteen Fifth,
two he's convicted of arm robbery. Two to four years: twelve dollars for Mcabee and he just been laid off, and you say that that at this age, twenty eight years old two hundred ten pound, auto mechanic. He started his sentence and his wife Jeanette said see you later. That's right, she did not at least morning to the records that I found She did not communicate with him once he was convicted of that armed robbery. He had been fired. From a job as a window. Washer and honestly, I honestly believe he was probably trying to get money for his family but he did an armed robbery of a cab driver in in the town of
Eastern Michigan down by Detroit, and he was quickly convicted and he was he was sentenced to the state prison of Southern Michigan, which is today known as Jackson, which is Jackson Prison, which is the world's largest walled institution. And it's not a very nice place to be, and so when he got sentenced to prison, he did his time and he that paroled he was allowed out on parole. And it was Shortly after his release on parole, then he chose to break into A Chevy dealership called funds. Open Chevrolet in Detroit and he was quickly caught
and I have to admit I don't know if he was caught inside the building, but he was caught immediately and he knew he was going back to prison. He knew that he'd he'd have to go back before judge and that the judge wouldn't be happy because he was out on parole at the time and a judge quickly, sentenced him to one to fifteen years in prison for the break in of Funston Chevrolet and said at the same time that when he completed that he should complete is serving his sentence for the armed Robbery in Inkster also, so he was facing some serious time, but to him he figured If I watch my peas and queues. If I do what
I'm told maybe I can get paroled again and that's what his plan was to get paroled a second time now he did everything as you are alluding to he. He was a model prisoner. He did everything he possibly could to stay out of the way and not get any negative attention and I guess plan. Does he news that you have to do for parole to be eligible for parole. So tell us about the parole hearing and its result. Well that what happened was he he figured he could he could do this time is soon as he could as soon as he would be eligible for parole, he would apply for it and he would he would likely get a parole hearing, Well, he'd only been serving about ten months into his second prison sentence, and
He was allowed applied for and was given up a parole hearing. He didn't know what to expect parole hearing, and so he went in before the parole Board and they determined that it was just to simply too soon for him. He'd only been back in prison for ten months he had been paroled before and had broke done a break in, and so they decided. No, you need to just spend a little bit more time, and so they said your parole is denied and they told him that he would not be able to re apply for parole for at least two years. This occured answer timber it was. It was late August or like September. First, one thousand nine hundred and fifty five. It was literally two days before he ended up escaping from
he had already been given in that. For ten months that he'd been back in prison. He had already earned trustee status, we allowed him to be housed outside the prison walls. And to do menial tasks go In this case he was allowed to use a prison truck, go around to the local farms and pick up garbage from the local farms, and then he would bring that back to the prison that would be given to the hogs that the prisoners raised. Jackson, prison or this state prison a southern Michigan at that time. Really it was a city within itself they grew their own. Produce. They raised their own farm animals. They had. Wood shops- things like that, so it really was a city within itself and the whole per
this of nearly Buchanan being loud out as a parolee. To pick up, the trash was simply to bring it back and it would be fed to the hogs and the livestock that they were raising within the prison. Now you talk about the history of escapes at this prison. We won't go into some of the more sensational ones, but tell us about just its ability to secure its inmates, its track record on that in its history. You know I didn't find a whole lot of information on that that that I did find I garnered from the former director of the Michigan Department of corrections. A guy by the name of Perry, Johnson, who wrote an outstanding book called Jackson, the rise and fall of the world's largest prison. He talks
briefly in his book, and we had lunch together and he shared some of the escape stories with me, but it was very, very difficult back. Then it seemed like to keep track of the prisoners. It seems that there was frequently walkaways. They were. Very creative and how they escaped. Some would hide in crates and buy taxes and you know he carried out on trucks, Some of them want crawled through prisons, a couple of am actual, took over a guard tower and and actually end up in a shootout with the prison guards prior to this, and and that it seemed as if at least in in the communities around Jackson that the Lok residents were always calling in about escapees The press was always talking about the escapees from the prison and it just
didn't seem that a lot was being done about that at the time and It became a real issue, especially after the merge. The power to my rare act. No talk about the plan that nearly Buchanan has to escape and how he does it and tell us then a little bit about how weird and Myra Herrick and in their little place of Stockbridge Township. Well nearly decided that he would have no part of the Parole Board's decision that he would. To wait two years he wanted to see his family and the only reason that I know that is uh, I had the opportunity to interview his appellate attorney, though and we'll get into to that a little bit later in the interview. But who is actually-
still practicing law and he shared a lot of information with me that that he was allowed to but nearly wanted to get back with his family. He missed his wife and he had two little girls at that time and they were very, very young I think one was. The oldest was three at the time and youngest was probably born either. Just before he went back to asian or shortly thereafter, but he set up to take the prison truck out and get the pick up the trash from the local farms and he said, about one hundred morning and he never turned back he that prison truck at his disposal- and he was so posed to be outside. He was supposed to be away from the prison and he it would be a while before they noticed weather. He came back so he started north from J,
action along his route. Picking up the trash any add to the small town of stock Bridge in the Se Corner of Ingham County and truck was getting low on gas and so rather than run out of gas found a roadway and be more noticeable. He ditched it at the local high school in stock bridge and he set out on foot. It was still dark out when he abandoned it at the ah the high school and he set out walking n uh, huh paralleling the state highway. At that time it was M ninety two and he walked through woods and fields all day. Well he's doing that. Uhm about four miles north of bridge. There was a small farm and it was owned by an elderly couple and I say elderly and I have to apologize for that. I'm fifty six years old,
and I think that Mister MRS Herrick were in their mid 60s, so they were look shorter than Maine, and I don't. Consider myself elderly, but beyond that they lived on, this farm of eighty acres and all land There was only a their farm house and and a barn, and this was the farm that MIRA Herrick had been born in her parents Live there, she had lived there all her life until she met Howard and they were married and she moved out once her parents passed away, Howard and her moved back into that home and they had lived there and and had raised their children there. Their children were adults were moved out of the house Show Howard in MIRA live there by themselves. Howard was a retired chicken farmer. He still had a brute
chickens in the barn on the lower level. And every Sunday the entire family would come over to the hair. Farm and and they'd have a big meal and and the kids would play in the barn and Jump off the hay and the Parents would sit on on front porch and so top stories and it, and it was sort of a I don't know how much disk but other than to tell you, maybe a Norman Rockwell painting. If you will, it was just an easier time, back, Howard, so Howard in live there across the street from Howard in Myra's house was a little general store it, is owned by a guy by the name of Harry Doesburgh. Harry lived there with his wife. And they had little grocery items in their store, they had cold cuts, they saw, gas
and then north of there about two miles was the very small village, and I say small, because it it was another general store, a church and the school in it was called the the Millville that Just two miles north to Howard and Myra's home and Sprint store. The state highway mm to which, which eventually became in fifty two north and south, between Stockbridge Bridge and another town into the next county, called Perry, and it was just a really simpler time. Back then, so nearly Buchanan sets off walking through the woods in the fields and she walks all day he's trying to stay concealed. He knows that going to eventually find that prison truck, and they do. He abandons it.
Probably around six hundred am five or six hundred am and starts out walking through the woods in the fee. Worlds in about eight hundred and thirty, the sheriff's department gets a call about this abandoned prison truck at the at the stock bridge schools. Dozen Take along to determine that number one. It shouldn't be there and number two. The driver missing so quick call. Out the prison. They determined that nearly Buchanan has escaped and The story continues from there Neely upon the Herrick home after dark that night. He said it was still dark when he got there and he chose that barn simply because he wanted to rest he went in there and and lay down and figured he was going to sleep. He could see that the lights on in the house and inside the
barn was fifty two Desoto automobile and he figured the next day. When the farmer came out, he would get the keys from him and further escape from there. He was tired of walking, I guess in His plan was to to knock out MR and take the keys to the car. Show in the barn is a large chopping block that Mr Herrick used to slaughter his chickens shown maybe you can and takes that chopping block, and he sets in the rap actors right over where the car is and he figure the next morning, when mister hair it comes in, he will push that off the rafters an he will
knockout Mister Herrick grab the keys and take the fifty two desoto and escape that's what his plan was, unfortunately, for the herricks. It didn't turn out that way. Now you say that while prison officials are looking for him and hot on his tail in stock bridge, that is hiding in the barn and he has this plan. Let's find out what he does and how that plan changes and what happens to the herricks. Well. He misses his opportunity to push the the chopping block Down on to Mister Herrick, he knows- and he said this in his confession: He knows that when that shopping, black hits Mister Herrick, it's going to kill him.
Unfortunately, Neely sets up a wall of hay bales in the barn so that he can conceal himself and sleep Mr Herrick comes out, gets in the car and leaves before nearly has the chance to push the block off and so he's missed his opportunity. He's got every chance well to just simply leave the barn and continue on foot, but he wants the keys to that car. He knows that Mister Herrick is going to come back. He knows he's going to have a chance again, so he waits well. Mister Herrick comes back at three hundred in the afternoon after leaving his part time. Job to me. Lily Lily is out walking around in the barn because he's bored any
you looking over Mister Herrick Stools and he said to in his confession. He said the car was really quiet and he said he was surprised when the car pulled in and he was standing there nearly had a hand grinder in his hand, and he was looking at it. One mister Herrick pulled into the barn. Mister Heracles parked his his Desoto inside is barn and let me back up just a little bit just prior to the Neal he's looking around the barn, mister hair. It gets back and it's a Saturday afternoon and he stops at Harry Doesburgh store across the street. This is something that is routine, he does it. Every Saturday Harry Doesburgh comes out doesn't even ask what Mister Herrick wants, because he knows Howard Herrick is there to have his gas tank filled up Ann, an and
passenger seat of the car, there's always Mister Herrick's lunch pail and there's a clean, uniform from Wyatt Industries where he worked in Mason. So Howard, her it pulls into Harry Doesburgh store. They chat a little bit hairy pokes his head in talks to Margaret Haritos Berg's wife. Margaret says: what do you? What are your plans for the weekend? All he says we're going up north to see some cousins. Oh that's great! So here, Howard Hair, it gets back into his car drives literally across the street up around behind the house and pulls into the barn, and there is nearly Buchanan standing there with a hand grinder in his hand, next to tool Bench Howard says from inside the car. He says: what are you doing here? Nearly Buchanan keeps calm. He says.
I'm just looking at your tools. He says I wondered if you wanted to buy that. If you wanted to sell this. Howard Herrick says he's getting out of the car. No. Well, Howard Herrick was blind in his left die, and I was never able to determine how that happened. But as he's getting out of his car Ann Buchanan say Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to sell this Howard. Stepping out of the car nearly comes in cross with the hand, grinder and hits Howard Eric in the head, knocking him down to the barn floor and briefly knocking him out. She put the the hand grinder down and he starts going through Howard, Herricks pockets and he's looking for his wallet and his money and he's looking for the keys to the car. About that same time, MRS Herrick notices that hour
hasn't come out of the barn, so she goes in to see what's going on and imagine or so cries when she walks into see nearly Buchanan Nealon over her husband, who is now unconscious and bleeding and going through his pockets. She says what's going on in here, nearly grabs a ball. Peen hammer and attacks are and she's able to fend off several blows. The pathologist that did her autopsy found. So several bruises on her hands in her arms, where she I was trying to fend off the blows from this ball peen hammer nearly Buchanan finally connects with her head and Naxxar out and then hits her again
then in the head, with a ball peen hammer unbeknownst to him. She is still alive but she's unconscious about this time now, Howard here it comes to and he starts to get up. So nearly hits him a second time in the head, crushing his skull and killed him instantly now he's got to decide what to do. He knows that somebody is going to check that barn eventually, so he drags both bodies over into the hay area. Where the baled hay is stored and he covers both bodies with bales of hay in an attempt to conceal am and then he goes back to the car and he rifles around looking for the keys to the
bar. Unfortunately, for him when Mister Herrick was getting out of the car and was struck and he fell, the car keys fell under some hey in nearly never found him, so he had to set off and continuous escape on foot. Now you talk about how the bodies are discovered. The next day actually do not, discovered immediately, and you can tell us why you talk about the next day and Howard in MIRA's son and his involvement and his just routine of coming over and getting some eggs. So tell us what happens the next day and from there on merit. Yeah lived in the small,
Gregory, which is in Livingston County. It is it's not too far from Stockbridge Stock Bridge is pretty close to the county line, and so. Lester, their son was coming over to get some eggs. Because Howard still had a large brood of of uh. Chickens down in the lower portion of his barn. She comes over with his wife and They walk in the back door that the house is unlocked the win. Those are open, everything is normal, except his parents. Aren't there. That seemed a little bit odd, so, So he went out to check the barn 'cause. He knew that his dad always parked the car in the barn. Well, the car was in the barn He didn't go up and look in it, but he notice the car was in the barn, so he figured that they must have left.
They must have went somewhere in a hurry with some friends, for some reason and so he talks to his wife says they must must have had to go somewhere I'll. Just talk, he gets the exit he needs and he leaves the next day he shows back up, and everything is the same as it was the day before. Or the cars still in the barn parents are nowhere to be found an he notice, something pick. You'll. Your Howard in my red hair can appear at Kate and MRS Herrick love that parakeet and she said that bird every day, except he noticed the bird hadn't been fed. You knew something was wrong, so we call. Little brother and his his brother, lived on the other side of the county in a small town called an Dega and
brother, Harold said yep something's wrong mother would never leave without feeding that parakeet. Now something must be wrong He says I will meet you at the farm, so he heads out it on the way to the farm they swing through Mason and they stop at Ingham County Sheriff's department, and they speak with Captain Versal Babcock. Who was the chief of detectives at the time and and Captain Babcock actually knew the herricks. He had met him the year before and he agreed yeah something just doesn't sound right He knew about nearly buchanans escape. He knew that the prison truck had been found in stock bridge. He knew something was wrong at the herricks. He was starting to put two and two together other, but he didn't want to worry the Herrick boys because they hadn't heard- probably
or probably hadn't heard about the escapee 'cause they I haven't mentioned it, but he agreed to go over with them to check out the residents. It was now dark out. It was September. Third, September. Third was the day they were killed was December or so sorry September. Fifth, it goes over He checks the house. Everything is in order. Mrs Herricks pocketbook is laying on the the kitchen table, the windows are open, parakeets, obviously still hasn't been fed. The Herrick boys checked with Howard in Myra's best friends in Dansville. They said no, we haven't seen them so that just added to the to the concern so
they go out. Captain Babcock and the sons go out and they begin to check the barn and one of the boys goes down to check where the chickens are and he notices some red fluid dark, dark red fluid. On top of one of kitchen Cajun chicken cages and it goes up and he realizes that it's blood and that it has through the floor from above. She goes back up and by that time, Captain Babcock and the other son had been searching around with their flashlights and they discovered sticking out from, under one of the hay bales was arm and a leg, and it was Mister Herrick's body and that's essentially how they were discovered. I have to tell you that that is entered the bar,
and it had been two days in extreme heat and Captain Babcock and and the the deputy that that was with him a new. I think once they entered that barn, what they were gonna find just because the older so as they start to process the scene, they secure the scene, they get help common and as their lifting the the hay bale off Mister Herrick's body. They notice MRS Herricks foot sticking out from a second out from under a second hey, babe, and then they discover her body also now, as a result of this with Babcock the press, the police is it official that they released that there's a killer on the loose. They do and they know who the killer is an. I will
tell you that that I've been. I served, a police officer for thirty years and there's a certain point where you just you just know. You just know who the killer is, and in this particular case inside the barn they had discovered. Prison clothing behind the wall of hay bales that nearly had built, so they knew and prison inmate had been in there. They knew that the prison truck had been abandoned, four miles south of where they were. They knew that it was nearly Buchanan they just to prove it and so We called in the Michigan State Police, crime, laboratory who came and they lifted a finger from the automobile.
Nearly had gotten into their Mister Herricks Desoto, and he had pulled the dash panel down near the floor in an attempt to hotwire the car, but he didn't know how to do it. So we just left the car there with his fingerprints on it. They were able to quickly match Buchanan's, fingerprint with The fingerprints that were on file with the state because he'd been in prison and so within within a day or two. They knew absolutely without any doubt that nearly Buchanan had murdered Howard in Mayer Eric that night. That particular night Sheriff Barnes had been woken up and Anne, had gone to the scene and and he ordered his men to start going door to door in the middle of the night, to see if anybody remembered anything well, he goes over the day.
He goes over to Harry Doesburgh store, hey then he begins to to ask doesburgh if he seen anything unusual. Well. Those burg had seen a black man hitchhiking on Saturday afternoon, and he pay, no attention to it. It was a little unusual, but never thought anything of it and it was after Howard had filled his gas tank. There. Shortly after Howard left the gas station or Harry Doesburgh store, his wife was working and she suddenly heard some screaming And she thought it was unusual, but she is that Howard in MIRA, Herrick were hard of hearing, and so she figured it was their television she never realized at the time that it was
power to MIRA Herrick being bludgeoned to death. She was listening to her neighbors being killed when the deputy shows up in the middle of the night. He begins to question Harry Duisburg. It's going to be so anything telling him his neighbors been murdered. Mrs Doesburgh comes out He suddenly realizes the screams that she had heard weren't there, television, it was Howard in MIRA being murdered, so Harry describes. Harry describes the black man that he saw hitchhiking any new than another local farm. Where had given that guy a ride and she said yeah Jarvis Wireman gave that guy right go talk to him, so they go over to Jarvis, Wireman's house job requirement says yeah. And Mccoy was we may go over and talk to Mccoy, so they go to the other farmers house and they show
some pictures of Buchanan and he says yeah, that's the guy, that's the guy! That was in the truck with us. They go to the next store up the road to Millville, where Buchanan had gotten a ride to from this Jarvis Wireman an and he identifies him. Yeah. That's the guy that was in the store and You got a ride from over to Mason. So they go over to Mason and and they notify the Mason police and everybody starting to be on edge. And suddenly they realize that the killer took a cab from Mason into Lansing to the Lansing bus station now the police have nowhere to search. He could be anywhere the bus people. Didn't remember him. They didn't remember nearly Buchanan coming in and buying a ticket, so they had the police had nothing there. There trail turned cold at that point,.
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Make cooking done by me. You can do it. It's fantastic, fresh and unbelievable. Gourmet cooking, made by me at home, now check out this week's menu and get your first three meals free with free shipping. By going to blue apron dot com, slash murder, you'll love, how good it feels and tastes to create your own incredible home, cooked meals with blue apron. So don't wait! That's blue apron dot com, so murder blue apron, a better way to cook. Now we have the discovery of Myra and Howard Herrick. We also have the police hot. On the trail of nearly Canon and, as you say, they have no idea, but nearly Buchanan starts a new life in another city using the identity of Howard, Herrick so tell us what he does well
did he go, and how does he rebuild his new life how's that possible? What does he do? Well? He took. He took Howard, Herricks identification back then the Howard, her Kerry to Social Security card. His drivers license didn't have his picture on. It nor his description was just his name and so Buchanan took those and by the time that the bodies were found, Buchanan was already in New York Use in Howard, Herricks name. He had taken the cab, the Mason I'm sorry he's got a ride to Mason from Charlie Wireman. He taken the cab to Lansing and he grabbed plus. Originally he was going to go to Chicago. He figured he would just mix in in Chicago Unfortunately, the bus to Chicago was
is going to leave later than he wanted to hang around, and so he took the bus to New York, there's actually a little further away and he ended up just staying in a flop house for a couple days and find quick work. He was using Howard, Herricks name. The one mistake that Buchanan made was he sent a postcard to his wife and he, even though he hadn't seen her in several years. Just wanted her to know that he was okay. Well, she quickly turn that over to the police, and they saw the New York City postmark. So New York City detectives are Looking for a double murder are there? looking for nearly buchanans and they're in the Bowery. If you will they
look in all the flop houses. Nearly Buchanan comes back from work one day, and this is just within a couple days of the bodies being found. Any here's a couple of the transients talking about how the police had been in there looking for a guy named nearly Buchanan well, they only knew him is Howard Herrick, because that was the name that he was using. So he figured he better. Get out of Dodge if you will so Buchanan Disk right he's going to head either no after South Carolina and I have to Apologize- I don't remember exactly but he's only got enough money to get to Baltimore, and so he takes the bus to Baltimore and he works. A couple quick jobs and finally settles into a job at a paper company and that's where he ends up working and
continues to work until that fateful day when he's discovered. Now before we get back to his life, we get back to the response in stock bridge. The media response tell us about how much fear is instilled by this crime and the media response, and how far that media response before we talk about Harry Doesburgh's, extraordinary effort on behalf of his friends, well, the best way to describe It is a term used by one of the newspaper reporters and I used it as a a chapter title in my book to describe the the air will in stock bridge after the murders- and it was
literally a fog of fear, people that once left their doors unlocked and strangers with a handshake now lock their doors locked their lock their homes? Loaded up on new locks. Everybody feared that nearly Buchanan was hiding somewhere in their barn or in their out, buildings or that he would break into their homes kid you were being taught how to use shotguns There was a photo in one of the papers that I found that go to a woman who was teaching or fifth eighteen year old daughter how to use it. Double barrel. Shotgun Well, her eleven year old friend looked on.
There was an elderly woman who, literally put. Are boulder in her refrigerator. Figuring that, if Buchanan broke in and want food. She would reach in the refrigerator to get food for and pull out the revolver and shoot him. The hardware stores in stock bridge they were running out of ammunition and gun, and they were running out of it was everybody was fearful. There was a salesman from a nearby community who was going door to door selling. I think he was. So in vacuum, cleaners and everybody kept reporting him that that There was a strange guy knocking on doors, people wouldn't answer. Their doors They were so fearful the one, the sales and actually went out and was tired.
Laid down in the brush near a field and- and somebody saw You do that, so they called the police and they quickly swooped in and and determined that he wasn't the killer. Obviously, but people were calling in sightings down in detroit- they were. There was a prison guard who who was so certainly saw Buchanan driving through Jackson and action made from the prison said, he was sure that Buchanan and broken out to get him. The the fear was just overwhelming and it continued for several several months to this day. I'll tell you a little side note to this. To this day, people still have changed their lives
just because of that and I'll give you an example. I was talking to a local principle here in Eaton County and he told me that they always always always lock their vehicles, an after that murder, his dad park, the jeep out by their barn, and he left the she's in it and left the doors unlocked figuring that if an escapee came after that murder, he could jump in the vehicle and take off so people's entire lives were changed because of that double murder, an I think to this day they were or they are. I know that that the children of Howard and MIRA? Herrick their lives were changed forever. They were in fear for the rest of their lives. That Buchanan was going to get out of prison and come
I can kill them. It was a. It was just. It changed the way that people lived back then now you talk about a very heroic person in this is Howard Doesburgh and he had been friends with the herricks and what does he do when does he undertake on on their behalf? And how far does he go with this? What's the extent of his involvement and Is for assistance in this. What does he do here? He does burn what owned a little grocery store right across from the Eric's, and that's where Howard had gotten is gasoline and and of course, Miss Doris Burke heard the murder going on it didn't realize it which actually gave Buchanan at two day head start. I think that,
probably had a lot to do with what Harry Doesburgh chose to do. The local township officials offer five hundred dollars reward for information. Leading to the arrest of nearly Buchanan Harry Doesburgh, took it upon himself to raise that reward, Beyond that five hundred dollars mark, he went for the door in the community during the evenings. Asking people to donate to the reward fund. Harry Dosp took a lot of his own money and he had wanted posters made and people would stop into his store people passing through on the State highway M92 and he would hand out what they called the bundles for Buchanan and they were still x of wanted posters, and he simply asked him to drop him off at restaurants,
gas stations or wherever they were going just to get one turn out there, because the police, the police investigation, had come to a standstill and Harry continued his quest, he actually contacted every police agency in the United States made sure that they had a wanted poster, including some police agencies in Canada. All the federal agencies. He really was a one man, crew Sade to catch the killer of his neighbors. There were times there. He would send out over one hundred dollars in feelings of his own money. He had He had wanted ads for Neil you can and put in in magazines that were geared toward African Americans because he figured that
Buchanan was probably hiding in a big city amongst the black community in an effort to hide, and so he look up on himself to do that, and he get the reward race to three hundred earth. I'm sorry three thousand dollars and then continued mailing, these things out with his own money and and it literally I'm telling you right now. It literally was a one man campaign to catch that killer. Now you talk about Neely's life in Baltimore and just an odd again, very fascinating event where a girlfriend reading a detective magazine and again. This is this far how far Heridos Burgos with trying to push this story and get this and raise awareness, as they say now in terms of this crime nationwide. So she's reading Detective magazine,
what does she do when she sees that and talk about that confrontation? As you do in the book, she confronts him she sees the wanted, add it and I think that I have to apologize. I don't know I couldn't find out if she was actually reading the same magazine that the next guy was, but she he a wanted ad and she recognizes Neely Buchanan, and she confronts him it's it's. She seen him or dating him. If you will, and he says oh no. No! No! That's not me. That's not me. He convinces her that it's not him because he now. He now has a mustache in the in the in the wanted poster he doesn't. He said, no, that's not me and she believes him. She believes him. This is in Baltimore. So couple days, couple weeks later,
Another guy is looking through a magazine called bronze thrills, an it's, a pulp fiction, sort of a true crime, true detective type magazine, and it's written for for black people. It's geared toward African Americans, and he's looking through his issue of bronze, thrills and these spots, nearly Buchanan's wanted poster. He thinks the reward is three hundred dollars he's been in prison himself for assault, but he can the money and he had met Buchanan about a month before. Add in a bar, and they had something in common. That's what made him remember him because they both live, John Bond Street- I
excuse me in Baltimore, so he flagged down a couple patrolman. He sees one of the patrolman that he knows he any flags him and his partner and tell them about Well, he shows them the Moana, dad and they're like sure, I can tell you right now. If somebody told me that I'd probably say well, let's go check it out, but the chances that it's him are probably slim to none confront nearly Buchanan in a candy store, Buchanan Season coming any steps, into a candy store, hoping that they won't see him. They stepped in right after him, and they confront him then they've seen the wanted ad. In the wanted ad says that he's that he's. Killed a guy named Howard Herrick. So they confront him the candy store. They ask him: what's your name, Howard, Herrick,
It tells him. His name is Howard Herrick. They know they've got their man, they ask him for some identification. All these got with him is some pay stubs from the Bohag paper company where he was working with the name, Howard Herrick, on him on it, and so they they keep pressing him right in the candy store. And finally he says you know what you got me says. I ask, from from prison in Michigan, I was wanted for be or breaking and entering and officer Zukowski says to him he says: did you hurt anybody 'cause? He knows he, he killed them and uh Buchanan finally says yeah. He says he says I killed those two people in Michigan and so he's arrested. Literally without incident and east. Taken to the Baltimore City jail and he's interviewed there by some detective
and he makes a statement and- the Ingham County sheriff is notified immediately the next morning they fly out of Willow Run airport in Detroit Reply to Baltimore and they take two deputies with them. The sheriff takes two deputies. He takes her, Doesburgh, because he's got the reward money and he takes a repo order from the local paper called the Ingham County Democrat and then to Baltimore and the next day the next morning they pick up their prison and they're on their way back to Michigan and that evening, afternoon when they return, they interview Buchanan and he makes a complete confession and he describes in vivid detail how he killed Howard in MIRA, Herrick and.
But his intentions were he's interviewed by the chief assistant prosecuting attorney and the sheriff and another prosecuting attorney, and he makes this this statement. They take him over to be arraigned before the local justice of the peace. So He can hear the charges against him at that point. He's offered what school a preliminary examination which like a mini trial, the prosecution simply has to show that a crime was committed and there's reason to believe that Buchanan had committed it. Buchanan says Nope away. Is my preliminary examination. I just want to get this over with so the justice of the peace. He says Your case is bound over to the circuit court. You'll go before the circuit. Work in the morning for your rain there, so they take in Lansing the next morning, he's uh
pain. Before a circuit court judge, and the judge says to him you have, right to have an attorney present. This is in nineteen. Fifty six, you have the right to have an attorney present, but if you can't afford one, the court will appoint one for you and the judge continues on the judging never asks him. Would you make an attorney. You can and just stands there quietly and says. I want to get this over with I plead guilty, so the judge says we have to have a hearing to determine the degree of murder. They call it a degree of guilt hearing, so the judge Change calls in the the the medal examiner calls in a few other witnesses.
And it takes about two hours and the judge determines that it's first degree murder and he sets the sentencing within the next hour. So? Buchanan comes back for the sentencing after the degree hearing and he gets sentenced to life in prison, The judge does not say to him before the sentencing. You have the right to have an attorney present. The judge doesn't say that the judge is not required to say that after the after Buchanan pled guilty and before the degree hearing, it was common practice for a judge to take the defendant back into his chambers and question him about why he's guilty so that He believes that the defendant is actually pleading guilty because he is guilty. If that makes sense to you, he does it.
One on one with Buchanan there's nobody else in the in the court chambers and it only takes a few minutes. You can and explains. Why is guilty? The judge comes back. OZ, I believe that he is guilty. I don't believe. It's been coerced or threatened in any way and we'll have the sentencing next, and so they have the sentencing. An from the time of his arrest to the the time that he's on his way back to Jackson, prison is less than seventy two hours from Baltimore to getting back in Jackson, prison just that quick Sorry, I'm sorry I was just I wanna see. The community is elated that you know the killers in custody doesburgh is a hero. He went
He paid out the reward to the two officers that made the arrest and to the guy that turned in Buchanan and actually made a donation to the Baltimore police benevolent society as a part of it. So everybody's happy the killers in custody and he's been sentenced to two life terms back in prison. I just wanted to mention to the confession that he gives the William BAR to sheriff. Barnes is part of this trial as well. And also helped establish the degree of murder as well, which included uh, deliberation which included premeditation and which include an intent to kill. Correct right and the way that they determined. That is because they specifically asked him about the chopping block that way.
Placed in the rafters, and they said what were you going to do with that, and he said I was going to push it off and and it would have killed Mister Herrick, so that was that was a key issue in the confession and that helped the judge make the determination that in fact, he had planned on killing mister Herrick. What came up in later years was the question well, Did he actually go into the barn to commit murder that wasn't his intent? He was trying to escape with the car.
And that became a huge issue later during some of the appeals. Now you talk about at the trial. All of this all four of her ex to hear a couple's children were in attendance for that verdict, and you also talk about Michigan state. Concerning the the death penalty. Tell us what the state of the death penalty was in Michigan. There was none. Michigan had was one of the first states in the 1830s to abolish the death penalty. It came as a result of a gentleman who had his wife on merciful being killed her because he suspected that She was cheating on him. He was taken to Detroit. He was given a trial and he was sentenced to hang in public a public
execution and the the can't think of turn that I'm looking for the gentleman that that put the the show together if you will actually had a bandstand gram, in stands, built around the gallows had a miller Jerry Band as an honor guard had vendor selling food. It was more of a carnival atmosphere for this public x cution and when it was over, the public was disgusted by what they saw and that really turned Tide Tord executions in Michigan, and it was a few later when the Michigan Legislature abolished it. So Michigan has not had had not had a death penalty since the 18th 30S and while the Herrick children would have loved to have had that penalty imposed
It wasn't going to happen. The judge could do a judge. Solomon was to sentence him to two life terms in prison and much Solomon made the statement at the sentencing. He said. I believe that if you were released, you would kill again well. You say that he was since constant, a six by nine foot cell. He was transferred to Marquette MI, but after ten years one thousand nine hundred and sixty six Buchanan was wondering if there was something in this case that he could appeal and as you talk about in the book there are numerous jailhouse lawyers tell us a little bit about for those that don't know what a jailhouse lawyer really does do and can do, and what nearly Buchanan began doing on behalf of his case,
A jailhouse lawyer literally, is is just another inmate who has studied in the law, libraries and literally helps the other inmates right their appeals, though don't go to court for my obviously their inmates in the prison, but they simply they assist them and doing research and writing appeals. He's done certain things that they might find that could help get a can overturned in Neely's case. He waited for ten years he didn't begin his peels until one thousand nine hundred and sixty six and he had to begin those appeals with the local courts in Ingham County Judge Solomon. Quickly denied his appeal.
It was denied each time it moved into the next phase of the judicial system, the the local, the court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court. Every time it was denied it it lingered in the courts. Each time I have to back up just a little bit? And let you know that in the previous arrests prior to the murder, Buchanan had never had an attorney representing he all just pled guilty, never hired an attorney was never appointed an attorney. That was not the practice back in the early 50s and even as he appealed his cases, After the murder, ten years after the murder, the only journey he ever had was.
Turn in the Lansing area, who literally simply filed some papers for him, never really a p. In court for him, he who appeared before a judge for any type of an appeal, and once that particular appeal was denied. That was the last thing he ever saw that attorney. So so up until one thousand nine hundred and eighty one twenty six years after the murder Nearly Buchanan had literally never been represented by an attorney in any court proceedings until he filed an appeal with the federal search claiming violations of the 14th amendment, and I think the sixth amendment- and he was given eh eh- new evidentiary hearing to determine the degree of guilt or the degree of murder is it essentially was they were going to attempt to determine if it was first degree, murder or second degree, murder or if it was
manslaughter twenty years later after the murder, the herricks moved on with their life or the the her children have moved on with their lives and subsequent he was actually given which overturned, that a reverse the decision earlier and said that he should be given a new preliminary examination to determine the degree of guilt. The evidence triggering determined whether or not he should be given a new preliminary examination and he Who is going to be given that and he was appointed. An attorney. That was the attorney that I met with. In Detroit who argued for nearly saying that clearly this is not first degree murder. This is easily second degree, murder or manslaughter, and the
states attorney generals Office, represented the people and fought to keep nearly Buchanan in jail, saying that This guy waited twenty five years to file a federal appeal times up time out. It's gone beyond the stages of of time. He referred to it as the doctrine of latches which means that the time is running out, you had your chance to file your appeals years ago and you never did and the judges they Voted in favor of of the pro examination, given him a new preliminary examination. Well, the the states attorney generals office appeal. To the United States Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court
was scheduled to hear nearly Buchanan's case in nineteen. Eighty. Or early one thousand nine hundred and eighty five. They were. And here nearly Buchanan's case, and these issues were going to be settled for a case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court There's some major law, that's going to be decided, and now with the case for nearly Buchanan. He was going to get his day and he likely would have been released now tell us about his health and how his health effects his decision making and hence this Case will be discovered in the early 80s that he had some internal bleeding and it was
determine through some exploratory surgery that he had developed colon cancer and the doctors knew that there was nothing that they could do for him, that it was a terminal case. Nearly never told his attorney that he had cancer. His attorney went to the prison for consultation in the early 80s and said I'm here to see my client and he Well he's not here. Well nearly as a turn, where's he at well, we, can't tell you where he's at. What do you mean? You can't tell me I'm here for a attorney client meeting, so the prison I did some checking and they finally told him that nearly was in the hospital. So the attorney went and met with him and as soon as he saw him, he knew he knew Neil, I would never never walk out of prison. No never ever walk out of prison.
He knew that nearly was going to die. Nearly's health began to deteriorate at one point. He called for free under his eye, say friend, a man that he had known through his entire prison life who had begun, nineteen. Fifty five as a prison counselor worked his way up through the ranks and was now the direct for the Michigan Department of Corrections, an ass to see him they had run into each other for years. Even the prison director knew that nearly was not a threat to society, but he knew that society would never accept him back in their ranks because he had killed. Two people Annie Lee, quickly. Laying on his deathbed in his cell said hey,
things are going good. My case is going to be heard before the Supreme Court. Could you get ahold of Frank. Meaning the attorney General Frank Kelly and see what you can do for me well director knew better like I said he knew that That there's no way nearly whatever, because he was an old man now. But he knew society would never accept it, and so he told he told Neely said I'm sorry, but there's nothing. I can do for you And it was shortly thereafter that he'd received word that nearly began in a died in prison literally months before his case was to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. Incredible now you talk about the interviews for this book and you that you said you had interviews with, I believe Frank, even his
thirty tell us a little bit about what he thought personally about the case, not professionally and or what you determined he he felt about the case personally rather than professionally. Well, I think personally. Although that it was only a few years that he was associated with nearly Buchanan. He was affected by by Buchanan in the sense that he saw a scene your citizen who regretted what he had done had done twenty six years in prison. And actually by the time he passed away in prison. It was close to thirty years he'd done thirty years in prison and deeply regretted decision he'd made in killing Howard in MIRA Herrick when he do covered that nearly had cancer. He will
not to his car in sobbed. Just cried. I couldn't leave. He told me that, but he he said- and I don't know if I was if I was crying for nearly or if I was crying for my dad, who had passed away from cancer. So so nearly Buchanan deeply affected Frank, Eaman, Anne Franks dance in the end and to this day is with me If you can in the same man in nineteen eighty four that he was in nineteen, fifty five eh Frank would argue. No, he wasn't. He wasn't frank. I'm sorry Eric Eagan, the Attorney General, who handled the case for the state. I thought you keep nearly in prison were there some issue:
Use that needed to be addressed by the Supreme Court absolutely was the the attorney generals office worried about decisions that the Supreme Court might make absolutely They were, but they needed those issues resolved otherwise resolved, be they'd, be brought up again and again and again in other cases, so they needed some case law so yeah they were worried about it. I ask Derek Eagan, I said when you found that nearly passed away. I said what were your thoughts? He said there was no joy, it was no joy. He said we we wanted that case to go before Supreme Court, so that some case law, could be made, and he said
There was no joy when you can and I'd he said he called the one of the here children, the daughter- and he said you know he. He told her- that that nearly had passed away. We said there was no joy for her. It was just It was just a sad case from beginning to end. It really was, and there was no celebrations. I think the only bright spot is the dedicated police that were on this case, but also the heroic, as I mentioned, Harry, and his extraordinary effort and then again the very movie ask somebody reading a detective magazine in this story being featured, and you had
the radio program gangbusters again equivalent of America's most wanted or something so very extraordinary effort from. Small town and a guy that had a gen store. He wasn't incredibly wealthy or anything, but what he did and its result was incredible part your book. I want to thank you very much rod for coming on and speaking of the Slayer weights. This true store Michigan, double murder for those that might want to take a look at, work. Is there a website, Facebook page? How can they contact you or look at your other work? You can find you can find me on Facebook under rod. Sadler author r, o d s d, l, e r, author rod, Sander author, and I also have a twitter page and enjoy new readers and I love to share stories. I gotta tell you real, quick after the book came out. I was
contacted by some relatives of Harry Doesburgh, that. I didn't know existed and it was such a joy to talk to them because they didn't know that particular part of the story. They didn't know what their grand father had done and he told me that. They actually have a letter from J Edgar Hoover written to Harry Doesburgh after the capture yeah. That's impressive, yeah, very impressive that it was fun to talk to. So, but thank you for having me on your show, I really appreciate it down. Thank you very much. It's been fascinating. Thank you very much rod for this.
And you have a great evening and hope to talk to you again soon on your new release. Thank you very much great. Thank you again. Goodnight goodnight.
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Transcript generated on 2019-10-31.