• By Alyson Heisler

Listening In: ‘Midwest Murder’

Cases of murder and other criminal activity are often thought to be more common in urban areas with larger populations. However, crime is not exclusive to bustling cities like Chicago and Miami; people are murdered every day in all kinds of places, no matter their population size.

“Midwest Murder” ventures to bring these unspoken murder cases that took place in the Midwest closer to the surface. This is the newest addition to the series of podcasts produced by the Good Talk Network, created in Minot.

The intro is reminiscent of an intro to a supernatural investigation — “We’ve all heard the phrase ‘that kind of thing doesn’t happen in our town,’ but here on ‘Midwest Murder’ we will shatter that false reality. It happens more often than we know, and sometimes the details of the most horrific crimes that happen in our own neighborhoods are lost in the back pages of newspapers, forgotten on our news channels, and eventually erased over time.”

The hosts of “Midwest Murder” are Jonah Lantto, creator of the Good Talk Network, and Dawn Palumbo. The two bring a candid, conversational tone to the serious topic of murder and true crime. Palumbo is the main storyteller, with extra information and personal reactions offered by Lantto along the way.

The premiere episode focuses on the crime committed by Richard Lee McNair in November of 1987, right here in Minot. McNair had a history of burglaries during his time in Minot as an Air Force airman. One of these burglaries, which took place at the Farmers Union Elevator, happened to coincide with the late-night pickup of a load of grain.

Richard Kitzman had come in to assist with the pickup, and when McNair entered the building he was surprised by Kitzman’s presence. His response was to shoot at him through a glass door, knocking Kitzman to the ground, and later firing four more shots into him.

Kitzman laid on the ground, and McNair left. Walking outside to dimmed headlights, he approached the idling truck outside and fired at its driver, Jerry Thies.

Kitzman survived being shot and played dead to ensure his safety — he made the 911 call — and heard the shot that killed Thies. The events that followed the incident at the elevator is where the case gets really interesting; included in these events were false identity, over 50 suspects (not including McNair), and McNair falling out of a tree.

Listen to the episode to hear about the ending of the case and the craziness that lead to McNair being known, among other names, as “The Man Who Mailed Himself Out of Jail.”

The hosts do a great job of creating an intriguing story that keeps the listener’s attention, despite the large amount of information presented — which is helped by the flowing conversation that is created within the story between the hosts. One element I appreciated was the intense details included in the storytelling. The details are helpful to create visuals through description and also appease my inherent need for the gory details of true-crime incidents. What can I say, I love it.

For a shot of local true-crime incidents, listen to “Midwest Murder” — who knows what might’ve happened in your neck of the woods.

New episodes are posted every other Monday. “Midwest Murder” is available to stream and download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available.

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