A three-hour interview with Tonya Kilmer was easily the most listened-to podcast that the Obstacle Course has ever produced, according to John Close.
Close, who co-hosts the weekly podcast with Andrew Langford, said there is still a lot of interest across Vancouver Island in the case of Tonya’s husband Ben who disappeared in May, 2018, and whose body was not found until four months later.
“Almost half the Island was out looking for him two years ago,” he said.
“The case certainly had its own level of intrigue. Tonya wanted to set the record straight on many details, but the main reason she reached out to us was to prevent something like this from happening to someone else. For Tonya, it’s all about prevention.”
The work van belonging to Kilmer, a father of two, was found parked along Cowichan Lake Road, west of Menzies Road, on the morning of May 16, 2018.
The 41-year-old electrician’s vehicle was empty, but the engine was still running.
Despite extensive searches of the area, combined with a flyer campaign that saw tens of thousands of flyers plastered all over the mid-Island region asking for any information on Kilmer’s disappearance, there were no concrete leads as to what happened to him until Oct. 17, 2018, when a hiker discovered his body in a remote area near the Chemainus River.
The BC Coroners Service confirmed in June, 2019, that Kilmer’s death was a suicide.
Close said that he and Langford sat with Tonya for three and a half hours and recorded the interview for the Obstacle Course.
“We didn’t ask many questions, and mostly just sat and listened to Tonya’s story,” he said.
“We decided afterwards to make the interview in three episodes, with the last one broadcast by the Obstacle Course on Aug. 12, although the three episodes are available at any time on our podcast.”
Close said the first episode is about the time before Ben went missing.
He said the episode deals with Ben’s life as a loving husband and father, and a strong independent businessman before his life started to go awry.
“The audience gets the sense that something was starting to become dreadfully wrong that was connected to Ben’s mental health by the end of the first episode,” Close said.
“The second episode is all about the case and should help many on the Island who followed it have some closure. There were a lot of conspiracy theories going around at the time, including that Ben was murdered and that he was a part of something, and Tonya sets the record straight. She talks about what really happened and provides details that many may not be aware of.”
Close said the last episode is all about prevention, and tries to reach out to those who are struggling with mental health issues, and those that know people who are.
“Tonya wants to prevent what happened to Ben from happening to someone else,” he said.
“She also talks during the episode about how she got through it and offers advice to others. It’s a resource-based episode that is intended to help people with mental health issues face them with courage and wisdom.”
The Obstacle Course is a free digital audio program that can be accessed on demand online, from either an app like iTunes, or from various other websites and/or services.
Listeners can subscribe and have the Obstacle Course delivered to their device, or they can browse at their leisure.