When Laura Palmer was working on the first season of her podcast Island Crime, she focused on the disappearance of Lisa Marie Young, a 21-year-old Nanaimo woman last seen leaving a house-party in the summer of 2002.
The result was quantifiable.
“Fresh witnesses came forward about Lisa Marie Young’s case. New searches were done. The RCMP thanked me for drawing new attention to the case,” Palmer said.
The situation left her wanting more from her podcast.
”I noticed people asking questions online, ‘Where are the missing men? Why isn’t anyone talking about the missing men?’” she explained. “People were noticing that there were men going missing and staying missing. And they wondered why there wasn’t more attention being paid to the cases. And people were asking if there might be a connection between some of the cases.”
She knew what she had to do.
”The true crime genre is largely focused on women as victims,” Palmer explained. “In my second season I wanted to shift the narrative to a focus on men. More men go missing than women in Canada, and the men are more likely to have their cases unresolved.”
Season two of Island Crime was born with the hope she could help to move these cases forward as well.
Island Crime: Gone Boys features the cases of five Vancouver Island men: two from the Cowichan region, two from Port Alberni, and one from Campbell River.
It was a big chunk to bite off.
Palmer looked at the cases of Duncan’s Desmond Peter and Ian Henry, Port Alberni’s Daniel MacDonnell and Brandon Cairney, and Campbell River’s Kelly McLeod.
“I actually wanted to focus on Everett Jones as well,” Palmer said of a third missing Duncan man. “But at the time I was gathering interviews, his mum was in the hospital and his auntie told me she was the only family member who spoke about Everett, so I wasn’t able to tell his story in the series.”
The Vancouver Island-based podcaster said most missing people cases are resolved quickly.
“I wanted to look at cases where there had been no resolution for more than a year and where there was no obvious answer as to what might have happened to them,” she said, for example, “not a case where someone was last seen on the side of a fast flowing river.”
Palmer’s investigation found some curious trends:
The men were all living with some measure of disability or trauma.
The men were known to spend time alone.
Most of the men walked or rode their bikes on the highway.
Some were involved in the drug scene.
Two of the men worked at Providence Farm.
Three of the men had connections to the Port Alberni fish plant.
Two of the men knew each other.
Two of the men were from Cowichan Tribes, she said noting that there are currently more than two Cowichan Tribes members missing but she could only focus on two.
With the Island Crime: Gone Boys season now downloadable, Palmer will set her sights on another Island mystery.
”I’ve been approached by a number of families who would like fresh eyes and more attention to their loved one’s stories,” she said. “I always try to explore social context for the disappearances. I choose stories which enable me to dig into issues as well.”
Season three will be published in the fall of 2021. Meanwhile check out Island Crime: Gone Boys at https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/island-crime-gone-boys/id1513479877