This outrageously popular GTA-made podcast is your next true crime obsession
Tyler Allen is a die-hard fan of true crime podcasts: he claims to have listened to every episode ever made in the genre, with Serial, Undisclosed and Truth and Justice among his favourites. So, in December 2016, he decided to launch his own: The Minds of Madness, a series about ordinary people doing unthinkable things. Tyler’s wife, Bek, does interviews and detailed research for the show, which the couple run out of their Brampton basement. The show may still be a hobby (by day, Tyler is an IT professional and Bek produces videos for humanitarian organizations), but it has earned a rabid cult following, with 3.5 million total listens.
Over the past year, the show’s reporting has grown increasingly ambitious—the show has even helped reopen long-forgotten cases like that of Tanner Barton, a college football player who died under mysterious circumstances. For listeners who don’t know where to start, we asked the Allens to pick five of their favourite episodes.
Gary and Jody Plauche
Episodes 1 and 2
The first episode tells the story of Gary Plauche, a father who killed a karate instructor who abducted and abused his son, Jody. The vigilante killing took place in 1984 at an airport in front of television crews, but Gary only got a seven-year suspended sentence, five years’ probation and 300 hours of community service—he never spent any time in jail. “We were talking about episodes that would interest us as parents,” says Tyler. (The couple have five kids.) “The whole father-seeking-revenge-for-son angle was certainly something that grabbed us.” They were shocked when Jody himself praised the episode (he’s now a counsellor and advocate for abuse survivors), and did an interview for the show’s second episode.
Episodes 8 and 9
Theresa Allore was a young woman who disappeared from her college campus in Quebec in 1978. Her case had been dormant for 40 years when her brother contacted the Allens. Their episode helped revive interest in the case, and Allore’s brother submitted the episodes as evidence in the police investigation. “For the first time, I actually felt like we were in this position where we could potentially do good things with the podcast,” says Bek. “We could not only bring light to cold cases and maybe help get things moving again, but also bring back attention to stories that may have been forgotten.”
Episodes 10 and 11
In the 1990s, Tyler worked with a man who later served five years for manslaughter in an act of self-defence. They reconnected via Facebook, where Tyler said, “Listen, there are a lot of people on my friend list who know you, and they’re going to know that this is your story.” They decided to use a pseudonym, Chester Abbotsbury, to avoid having his name come up in online searches. But “Abbotsbury” realized many of their mutual friends would find out it was him anyway, and gave the Allens permission to reveal his identity to people they knew. He told Tyler, “If anybody’s going to find out my story, this is the way I want them to learn it. Tell everybody you did an episode on me.”
Episodes 12 and 13
Marcus Feisel’s case struck a deep chord with the Allens. He was a three-year-old, developmentally disabled child who died because of gross mistreatment by his foster parents. “We probably won’t do another case that involves a child being murdered,” says Bek. It’s simply too gruesome. “Being a parent is something that I think about when we research every single story, because in every single story, that’s somebody’s child that’s been taken away.”
Episodes 19, 20 and 21
The podcast hit a new level of popularity when it began its ongoing investigation into Tanner Barton, a college football player who died at a friend’s house in Indiana. “Michelle, Tanner’s mother, approached us and said, ‘Can you tell our son’s story?’” says Bek. They agreed, but warned Michelle that they would report the death as objectively as possible. “We like to present all the facts and allow people to come to their own conclusions. We don’t want to come right out and say, ‘Well, we think this person did it.’” Since the series started, police have re-opened the case: they’ve forensically investigated Tanner’s phone for the first time, and ordered a pathologist to re-examine the toxicology and autopsy reports. “I still talk to Michelle every single day,” says Bek. “She’s still giving me updates on everything that’s happened.”
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the total number of Minds of Madness listens.