April 12, 2021

Episode 7: One Road to Evaro

by Stolen: The Search for Jermain

Background show artwork for Stolen: The Search for Jermain

As the story goes, one night in June of 2018, Jermain Charlo vanished without a trace. Except no one disappears without leaving a trail.

Where to Listen

Transcript

Connie Walker: A quick warning before we start the show. This series contains descriptions of adult subject matter, including details of violence and trauma. Please take care while listening.


Valenda Morigeau: When she was born, I didn't like her at all. [laughs] I was the baby of our family. I absolutely hated her guts, only because she stole my thunder.


Connie: Valenda Morigeau was 10 years old when she met baby Jermain.


Valenda Morigeau: You're bringing another child into this world, and she's gonna take all the attention off of me. And then my grandma was making dinner and she said, "Here, hold her." And I said, "No!" And she's like, "Valenda Lee, you need to take this baby right now." So I grabbed her, and she handed me her bottle and I glanced down at her. And from that moment, I just fell in love with her. I was like, "All right, this one's mine. She's my baby." And she just kind of been my little buddy ever since then."


Connie: Valenda is Vicki's youngest daughter, so technically she's Jermain's aunt, but they grew up together like sisters. She called Jermain "Brat face," and Jermain called her "Nenners."


Valenda Morigeau: Where we lived at, we could either walk down to the mouth of the Flathead River and fish, but our favorite thing to do is walk down the tracks, down to the trestle and go below there and go trout fishing down there.


Connie: Since she disappeared, Jermain is on Valenda's mind constantly. She says Jermain often comes to her in her dreams.


Valenda Morigeau: I've had so many dreams about what happened to her. And some of my—like, in the beginning, some of my dreams she was alive and she was fine. The first dream I had about her, she was in my grandparents' house and she was pregnant. And she said, "No, Nenners. I'm fine. It's okay." And I just gave her a big ol' hug. And then I had another dream that she was super malnourished. She looked like she had been through the Holocaust. Skinny. She wasn't herself.


Valenda Morigeau: And then I've had dreams where we're out fishing, and I snag my line on something and I pull it up and it's her jacket. And her face comes out of the water. I've had a dream where I felt like I was going through everything she went through. As in, like, somebody choking me and slamming my head into the ground. And I could see myself as Jermain, and I could see whoever it was in my dream. I was looking at him, but I felt like I was floating outside of it, and then seeing the whole thing happen.


Valenda Morigeau: I think the hardest one—you'll have to excuse me, because I'm probably gonna cry. She came to me and she said, "Nenners, I'm okay. I found—I did. I found grandma and grandpa. And I'm okay. And I cried. I was like, "Jermain, if you're with them, then where's your body?" I said, "Where are you?" She told me her body is in Evaro. And I said, "Well, where?" I was like, "Because we've looked." And she told me to follow the stream. And then she left.


Valenda Morigeau: And it just sucks because there's so much water in Evaro, and there's so much vegetation. And it's so frustrating, because you don't even know if you're looking in the right place. And walking, and with everything being so quiet, your mind will mess with you so bad. You look around you, you look—you look even at these mountains and you're just like, "Where the hell do I start?"


Connie: Everyone we've talked to in Jermain's life has told us how much she loved spending time in the mountains, and along the lakes and rivers on the Flathead Reservation. And now almost three years after her disappearance, the wilderness that she loved torments her family, because they believe the answers to finding Jermain are hidden in those hills.


Connie: Detective Guy Baker thinks about that possibility too.


Guy Baker: I mean, look at this. I mean, look at this for hiding a person. And if you bury them, obviously, you've had two winters and two summers, and now you have ground vegetation and it could just be a little lump.


Connie: A needle in a haystack? That phrase just doesn't do this justice.


Guy Baker: It doesn't do it justice, no. I don't know. Maybe a pebble in the ocean, you know? A tree and a forest or a pine needle in a forest maybe, I guess, yeah, right? At least a haystack's contained. You can walk around it. You know you've got a perimeter. And it might just be time-consuming, but you're gonna have to go through. But you know it's right here in front of you. You can see it. This is—yeah.


Connie: So even though you know where her cell phone went, you don't feel like you know where the haystack is.


Guy Baker: Yeah, I know where the haystack is.


Connie: This thing that Guy does, where he talks about Jermain's case but in really vague terms, is so frustrating. One minute, it seems like he's hit a dead end, and then suddenly he seems to say that he knows more than he's letting on.


Guy Baker: Remember I told you, I think I've already—I've already talked to the suspect. It's just a matter of proving it. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt in court. So no, I'm not totally in the dark on what happened to Jermain Charlo. I'm confident that one of the theories I have is what happened, and I'm confident that I've already identified and talked to the person responsible so—or persons.


Connie: Person or persons?


Guy Baker: Person or person, yeah.


Connie: Do you think more than one person was involved?


Guy Baker: It's possible. Moving a body after a person's been killed can be more problematic and messy than people anticipate.


Connie: Guy says there may be more than one person involved in Jermain's disappearance, but he never says who he thinks they are. And no one has ever been charged or arrested in Jermain's case. Guy told me he's interviewed 90 people and has investigated several theories. On the way back to Missoula, I realize that all of the information that I want to know about Jermain's case, is right in front of me. Well actually, behind me—in a four-inch thick binder sitting on the back seat.


Guy Baker: You see that three-ring binder behind me?


Connie: Yeah?


Guy Baker: That's one of four binders for Jermain's case. That's one.


Connie: Oh my God. When you told me you had binders, I didn't imagine they were that big.


Guy Baker: I will take all those and set them down so the family can see, you know, here is what I have done on Jermain's case in two years. So ...


Connie: I want to know what’s in those binders. And when we arrive back in Missoula, I get a little peek. I've turned off my recorder, but I'm still talking with Guy, not just about Jermain's case. Guy tells me about a lot of the other cases he's worked on, and at one point, he pulls out that binder from Jermain's investigation and opens it to a random page. It's an image from a satellite view of a Google map of the Evaro area. On the right side of the highway is the Evaro cell tower, and in the top left corner is a red dropped pin. And little dots are going along the highway, as if Guy was tracing a cellphone as it traveled down the road from Missoula toward Evaro.


Connie: Guy closes the binder again before I catch any more details, but I'm about to find out there's a reason why Guy and the Lifeguard Group and Jermain's family keep going back to Evaro—it's because there's evidence that has pointed them there. And it's also where someone lives, who they think could be related to Jermain's disappearance: her ex-boyfriend, Michael Defrance.


Connie: From Gimlet Media and Spotify, this is Stolen: The Search for Jermain. I'm Connie Walker.


Connie: Has there ever been a case that you've investigated that you haven't solved?


Guy Baker: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's not uncommon to close cases that aren't solved.


Connie: What about a homicide?


Guy Baker: I've never had an unsolved homicide, so ...


Connie: Guy says most homicide cases are solved because they're generally pretty straightforward.


Guy Baker: Usually, you know, you've got a mess, you've got a crime scene, you got a bunch of witnesses, you've got the suspect and a victim and some evidence to process and to submit to the crime lab, and to get some cell phone search warrants done and get some video. And you put it all together. And, you know, a week later, days later, the person is charged and you're onto the next one. And this case is not like that. Like I said, you know, you put the pieces of the puzzle together, but usually you have all the pieces on the table in front of you, you just have to put them together. And all the pieces I have on the table for Jermain, I still feel like there are some pieces missing. They're not on the table yet, so I can't put this puzzle together.


Connie: Solving the mystery of Jermain's disappearance is especially difficult because one of the missing pieces is Jermain herself. And although Guy believes that Jermain is a victim of a criminal act, he doesn't know exactly where the crime scene is. To Jermain's family, the key to solving this puzzle has always lain with one person: Michael.


Valenda Morigeau: I've always been suspicious of Michael. He was the last person to see her.


Vicki Morigeau: And the minute Michael's name came up, you know, I was like, "Oh, crap!" And I knew kind of almost from the beginning he was lying, and I knew something was wrong. And it was this tone in his voice.


Connie: The days after Jermain went missing were frantic for her family. They were notifying police, calling hospitals and jails, and searching with the Lifeguard Group. And even though Valenda had her suspicions, she kept in contact with Michael.


Valenda Morigeau: I didn't want to lose visitation with the boys. That was my big thing, is like, you know, hopefully keeping him close and, you know, not making him feel like a suspect. He was cooperative at that point. But I always just wanted to be able to see the boys, and I knew if I was mean to him, he wouldn't let me.


Connie: Valenda says she encouraged Michael to talk to police about Jermain's disappearance.


Valenda: Here's the thing. I said, "You're the last person that seen her." I said, "Obviously, you're gonna be a prime suspect." I was like, "If you have nothing to hide, then you need to—you need to go talk to the police, like, right now."


Connie: Michael told Valenda that he did contact Missoula police, and we know from the search warrant application that we saw that Officer Geher with the Missoula PD said he spoke to Michael. He said that Michael told him that he dropped off Jermain at the Orange Street Food Farm. We don't know when that conversation was, but on June 20, five days after they were out together at The Badlander, Michael made a Facebook post about Jermain's disappearance. He said: "Jermain has gone missing. If anyone sees or hears from her, please let me know. She was last seen walking down 5th Street toward Orange Street Food Farm, wearing a tan hat, white t-shirt, with a brown Under Armour sweater over blue jeans and cowgirl boots."


Connie: A lot of people seemed to respond to his post, to offer their thoughts and prayers. They say, "I hope she is found. Update please. Prayers for everyone." Michael responds: "Still nothing," and punctuates it with a sad face emoji.


[NEWS CLIP: The Lifeguard Group of Missoula is leading searches in their efforts to locate missing and endangered people.]


[NEWS CLIP: Jermain Austin Charlo of Dixon has been missing for eight days, and today around 30 volunteers gathered to search for any sign of her whereabouts. Her mother is urging for anyone to come forward ...]


Connie: When the Lifeguard Group organized those searches, a lot of Jermain's friends and family helped look for her. But Jermain's family said that Michael never came to the searches. They confronted him about it on Facebook about a year after Jermain went missing. Michael said he conducted, quote, "Countless searches of my own" for Jermain. And he said there was a reason why he didn't go to the public searches. He said it was "To avoid conflict, as I was instructed to do."


Connie: Michael doesn't say in the post who instructed him to do that, but he goes on to say that he searched for Jermain with the police and Lowell. He wrote, "I rode around Missoula with the Lifeguard Group and the FBI personally. And I've worked with tribal law enforcement."


Connie: Lowell remembers driving around with Michael and with Guy Baker, who's not an FBI agent but who is a member of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.


Lowell Hochhalter: There were two different times. That I'm a hundred percent that I talked to him. One where he was there, and then the other when he actually took us physically to where the route that they supposedly traveled.


Connie: Lowell used those opportunities to talk with Michael about Jermain.


Lowell Hochhalter: I would ask leading questions just for my sake, you know?


Connie: Like what?


Lowell Hochhalter: Well, like, "The boys must be sad to not see their mom." "Ah, they don't really know her." You know, he would say things like, "Well, she was gonna—she said she would come, but she never came. She did this or she did that." And which I had known that wasn't the case, because I—you know, I'd seen pictures. And only it wasn't that long before that they had gone out fishing. She's got—the kids are on her lap.


Connie: That wasn't the only time Michael said that the boys didn't miss Jermain. Michael faced allegations from Jermain's family in a Facebook post a few months after she went missing. They accused him of knowing something about her disappearance. In response, he wrote, "All these posts about bringing her home to her boys? (laugh emojis) She can stay the hell away from them, as they don't miss her at all. Your posts try to make her look like an angel, but doesn't show or tell how she has cuts up and down both her arms from acting out like her mother. They dont show how abusive and absolutely horrible she's always been to my boys."


Connie: Everyone I've talked to in Jermain''s family disputes that. They say they saw a different relationship between Jermain and her kids, and were upset by what Michael wrote about her.


Valenda Morigeau: Michael has, like, said, like, really cruel things about Jermain on Facebook. And I'm like, how can you say that about somebody who's missing? I don't understand that at all. Jermain loves her kids. She wouldn't have fought so hard to get her kids back if she didn't. If she didn't give a shit, she would just say, "Oh, well. Now I don't have any responsibilities. So wherever Michael is, he can fuck off and stop fucking telling people lies. If that's what he has to tell himself at night time, sure that's fine. I was around those boys all the time. Thomas loves his mom. Thomas is like, if his mom was not there, he was stressed out. He is like, "Where in the world is my mom?"


Connie: Jermain's family and Lowell were also focused on Michael because of the history of violence between them.


Lowell Hochhalter: I mean, obviously, we did our homework, you know? So we knew. You know, we have access to public records just like anybody else. And we were able to see that there were—you know, there were some instances of abuse. And, you know, we'd heard from the family too, so ...


Connie: Michael has never denied that he and Jermain were together that night in June. He says he dropped her off after they left The Badlander, and didn't see her again. Their violent history doesn't mean that he had anything to do with her disappearance. Michael's never been charged or arrested or even been named a person of interest by police. But between Michael's behavior and his history with Jermain, Lowell said he strongly urged law enforcement to take a closer look at Michael.


Lowell Hochhalter: Listen, we need to get—we need to talk to this guy. He's the last person to see her. You know, I hate to say seen her alive because we don't know that she's not alive. I wasn't shy from saying, "Let's move, let's move, let's move, let's move." And I was frustrated that, you know, we weren't kicking down doors the minute we knew that. That frustrated me.


Connie: What was the hold up?


Lowell Hochhalter: You know, they just gotta follow their, you know, warrants, subpoenas and blah, blah.


Connie: Lowell and Jermain's family were frustrated, but police aren't supposed to just knock down peoples doors or question suspects whenever they want. They need search warrants that show they have probable cause and that are approved by a judge. And in a lot of open investigations, those search warrants aren't available to the public.


Guy Baker: Sometimes I'll ask the court to seal these documents so they're not available to the media. And that was the case in the search warrants I did, is I sealed them. That way they wouldn't be leaked prior to, say, an arrest or a charge.


Connie: Okay. So are all of them sealed, or would we be able to see?


Guy Baker: No, I think they're all sealed.


Connie: Okay.


Connie: But we know that Guy wasn't the only police officer investigating Jermain's disappearance. And he wasn't the only one filing search warrants.


Connie: I'm at the Missoula County Courthouse. When I searched Jermain's name, only one document came up: the application for a search warrant for her EBT card. Now I'm searching Michael's name, and three documents come up.


Connie: So I'm gonna open the first one first. "On regarding the search of Michael Blake Defrance. Application for search warrant."


Connie: It was filed on June 27 by Detective Diebert of the Missoula County Sheriff's Department. This was 11 days after Jermain disappeared.


Connie: "Items of clothing directly or indirectly associated with the missing person."


Connie: Detective Diebert wants to search Michael's house for Jermain's belongings.


Connie: "Any personal property reasonably believed to belong to the missing person, to include an LG K2OV—which must have been her cell phone. The person of Jermain Austin Charlo."


Connie: They're looking for Jermain's phone at Michael's house because they have reason to believe that it might be there. The search warrant says that the day before, police made an emergency request to Verizon for information about Jermain's phone, and that they traced it on the night she went missing.


Connie: "The information provided by Verizon Wireless indicated that the cell phone Jermain was using was located approximately 3.6 miles north/northeast of the Evaro cell phone tower."


Connie: Jermain's cell phone was located 3.6 miles northeast of the Evaro cell tower.


Connie: The information shows Jermain's phone was at or near Michael Defrance's residence of Grizzly Mountain Road during that time frame, from approximately 2:00 a.m. on June 16 until 10:00 a.m. on June 16th. So what time did he say he dropped her off?


Connie: According to this document, on the night she went missing, Jermain's phone was at or near Michael's house from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. After police found this information, they applied for this search warrant to search the Defrance property and Michael's truck. What did they find? That's coming up after the break.


Connie: There's only one highway that runs between Missoula and Evaro. To get to Michael's house, you turn off Highway 93 and onto Grizzly Mountain Road, which winds up the side of the mountain. There are a few other houses along the way, but it's pretty remote. You can't even actually see the Defrance house from the road. Their property is big, almost 11 acres. I looked at photos of it on Facebook. There's short grass around the house, but 20 or 30 feet away, it becomes a thick forest filled with huge evergreen trees and dense brush.


Connie: We don't know a lot of details about the search that Missoula police conducted at the end of June. It doesn't say how many officers were there, or how long they searched for Jermain's belongings. But for every search warrant application that is granted, police have to file a return, an inventory of whatever evidence was seized during their search. And after they searched Michael's house, a return was filed two days later.


Connie: "Photographs were taken of the residence and property. No evidence was seized during the execution of this warrant." So a couple of weeks after Jermain went missing, they searched Michael Defrance's home that was owned by his parents."


Connie: No evidence was seized from Michael's house, so they must not have found Jermain's phone there. But now we know that it was traced at or near Michael's house, after 2:00 a.m. on the night she went missing. I need to go back to everything that we know about that night. Jermain's boyfriend Jacob told police that he talked to her at 11:52 p.m. Jermain and Michael were at The Badlander bar then, and were captured on surveillance footage leaving just after midnight. Michael told Jermain's family and police that he dropped off Jermain at the Orange Street Food Farm at 1:00 a.m. But Guy says he determined that wasn't true.


Connie: Michael also told Guy that he dropped Jermain off eight blocks away, but we don't know what time that was supposed to be, and Guy says he was never able to corroborate that. And then Jermain's phone was traced on or near' the Defrance property where Michael lived with his parents from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.


Connie: The only two things we know for sure is that Jermain was last seen at The Badlander just after midnight, and that the search warrant says that her phone pinged on or near Michael's property at 2:00 a.m. What happened in those two hours after they left the bar? It's a 30-minute drive from downtown Missoula to Michael's house in Evaro. Did Michael go anywhere else before he went home?


Connie: If he dropped off Jermain, did he keep her phone? Did she forget it in his vehicle? Did Jermain somehow end up in Evaro that night?


Connie: I still have so many questions. I had hoped to talk to Jacob about Jermain, but in the end, he decided not to talk to me. Michael also didn't respond to my requests. Jermain's family was in touch with Michael in the first few weeks after she went missing, but after the police began to focus on him, Jermain's family says their relationship with Michael changed. And it had a devastating effect on their connection to Jermain's sons.


Valenda Morigeau: That's kind of like when he started pulling back, and he didn't want us to see the boys anymore.


Connie: The last time that Vicki and Valenda saw Thomas and Jacob was when they ran into them when they were out shopping about a month after Jermain went missing.


Vicki Morigeau: Valenda and I ran into him and his girlfriend in Polson at Walmart. And, you know, the boys had seen us. There's no getting around it. You know, Michael didn't know what to do.


Valenda Morigeau: Jacob was, like, trying to jump, like, looked like he was trying to jump out of the cart because he was so excited to see me. I was like, "Oh my God, my baby!" And I just like—he, like, put his arms around me. He'd, like, touch my face. And he's like, "Oh, my gosh, it's my Auntie." And then he would, like, lay back on my shoulder and he'd rub my back. And then I was like, "Can I—you mind if I take the boys for a little bit?" And he's like, "No, it's fine." So I took the boys down to the toy aisle, and I wanted to buy Thomas a birthday present, but I couldn't leave Jacob out of it because that's not fair. So I took the boys down the toy aisle and got Thomas a couple of toys. And then I got Jacob some things. And that was the last time I got to see them.


Connie: Michael and the boys were with his fiancee, Shyanne Lee Howes. I looked on her social media from around this time. I noticed that a week or so before Jermain disappeared, Michael and Shyanne split up, which is especially interesting because in one of those search warrant applications, I read that police talked to Michael's mom, Jennifer Defrance, about Jermain and Michael's relationship.


Connie: "Jennifer told Lieutenant Kennedy that Jermain has never been to the residence on Grizzly Mountain Road. Jennifer stated that Michael and Jermain have been in an on-again, off-again relationship for the last eight years, and Michael was still in love with Jermain and wanted to get back together with her."


Connie: According to the search warrants, Jermain told Jacob that on Thursday, the night before she went missing, Michael was yelling at her, asking if she was dating anyone, and said that he wanted to get back together with her.


Connie: When Jermain's family asked Michael about it on Facebook, he didn't say anything about wanting to get back together with Jermain. He told them that the reason they were hanging out that night was because he was trying to help her get back on her feet. One month after Jermain went missing, Michael reunited with Shyanne. She posted a picture on Instagram of them together. Michael's standing behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist. Her caption says: "Forever is a long time to promise to each other. As much as we have been through, and will go through together, no one will change how much I love you."


Connie: There are more pictures of them over the next few months: camping, fishing and enjoying the summer with the boys. But what's not evident in those photos, and what Michael may not have even known, is that police interest in him was only increasing. Although they didn't seize any evidence at his house when they searched at the end of June, that doesn't mean they stopped looking for it.


Connie: The second search warrant I found after searching Michael's name is from August 1, 2018—about a month later. Detective Diebert says he has, "Reason to believe the following crimes have been committed in Missoula County: unlawful restraint." The document says Michael gave Guy Baker permission to search his iPhone. Police extracted data, and found Michael's Gmail account information. They had also received more cell phone data from Verizon, but this time for both Michael and Jermain's phones.


Connie: The cell records found that after midnight the night Jermain went missing, the two phones were in close proximity to each other, if not in the same location. I've been wondering where Jermain and Michael''s phones went before they ended up at or near the Defrance property, and police seem to be interested in that too. Cell records usually only show location data when you get a call or text, but Google often keeps track of more location data from your phone. If police want a more accurate map of where a suspect went—and when—they go to Google.


Connie: And that's exactly what Detective Diebert is asking for now. He wants to know Michael's location history, and his browsing and search history. And the search warrant return says that Google handed over Michael's data. We don't know how fast Google gave the information, or how detailed it was, but the very next day there was another search warrant with new information about Jermain's case.


Connie: Again, searching Michael B. Defrance.


Connie: Police want to search the Defrance property again.


Connie: Oh my gosh. "I, Sean Williams, a duly sworn officer of the Missoula County Sheriff's Department, hereby state under penalty of perjury that I have reason to believe that the following crimes have been committed in Missoula County, Montana: deliberate homicide."


Connie: Police now say they're investigating Michael in relation to a deliberate homicide. This is the fourth search warrant that we found executed by Missoula County sheriffs in the six weeks after Jermain's disappearance. Now overnight, they changed the crime they're investigating. Why? What could they have found out in one day that led them to change the crime from unlawful restraint to deliberate homicide?


Connie: I know Jermain's family is desperate for any information about her case, and Dani has specifically asked Guy about search warrants. He told her they're sealed, and that's true. We've never been able to access any of Guy's search warrants, but Dani hasn't seen the ones we found from the county sheriff's department. I'm about to share them with her.


Connie: Yeah, so we—because you had asked Baker about search warrants, right?


Dani Matt: Mm-hmm. I wanted to see what they're actually doing, because they keep telling me they're doing lots of stuff, and it's like, what are you really doing? "Well, we executed this amount." And then he told me they were all closed documents. And obviously, you found them, so ...


Connie: So—well, they are. Like, his search warrants are sealed.


Dani Matt: So you got to piece it together like we do.


Connie: So these are search warrants that the county filed relating to Jermain.


Dani Matt: "That I have reason to believe the following crimes have been committed in Missoula County: Unlawful restraint." Wow!


Connie: So this is the—this is an application to search Michael Blake Defrance at this property looking for these things that could be Jermain's. And this was actually in June. This happened in June.


Connie: I want to be sure to point out that these search warrants for Michael's house were executed in June, 12 days after Jermain went missing. Because for so long, Jermain's family believed that law enforcement wasn't making progress in the early days of the case.


Dani Matt: Ooh! So this is interesting, though.


Connie: Dani used to be a tribal police officer, so she has a good understanding of police investigations.


Dani Matt: So, "Lieutenant Robert Kennedy contacted Verizon and made an emergency request for cell phone information. Kennedy received information from Verizon Wireless on June 27 using a program called—"whatever. That doesn't matter. "And it indicated that the cell phone Jermain was using was located three and a half miles north-northeast of Evaro Hill cell phone tower from approximately zero two—so June 16 at two o'clock in the morning." So he dropped her off at one o'clock, and her phone's up on the hill at two o'clock? Now they can't pinpoint it right to his house, but he lives on freaking Evaro Hill. So until approximately 10 o'clock on June 16. So the phone was there, must have been before it went dead, from two o'clock to 10 o'clock. So eight hours the phone was there.


Connie: And it so says that it's—it was at or near Michael Defrance's residence.


Alex Garcia: Wow!


Dani Matt: And this is not enough.


Alex Garcia: Well, what can you do, though?


Connie: That's Dani's husband, Alex Garcia.


Alex Garcia: When you go to court, you want to make sure it's an open and shut case. Right now, they got a lot of circumstantial. You got nothing that ties that him to the body. You can't find the body.


Dani Matt: Yeah. No, Baker said ...


Alex Garcia: No, I hear you.


Dani Matt: More or less we're not gonna get any justice until we find her body.


Alex Garcia: That is true.


Dani Matt: Wow. They pinned it right to his freakin' house. Her cell phone sat there for eight hours.


Vicki Morigeau: Who was saying that?


Connie: I think his name is Diebert?


Vicki Morigeau: I remember meeting him. He was really nice.


Connie: Dani's frustration is palpable, but her husband makes a very good point. Just because Jermain's cell phone was traced at or near the Defrance property doesn't mean she was with it.


Connie: So this is—this is one that was done.


Dani Matt: This is different.


Connie: Yeah.


Dani Matt: Shows that the two cell phones were in close proximity with each other, if not in the same location.


Connie: Yeah.


Dani Matt: So was she with him or not with him? Oh, he was still in love with her and wanted to get back with her. Oh, a search warrant for the belief of a deliberate homicide.


Connie: This is one where they're actually trying to get infrared. They are trying to put a drone up and get the cameras of the property, and use an infrared camera to see if there are any hidden buildings on the property.


Dani Matt: So they were getting their information together, so when they go search, they have probably maps and a layout of the whole ground.


Connie: Dani thinks that police want to do this surveillance in preparation for another search of the Defrance property. When I was at the courthouse, I read part of this search warrant application. In it, Detective Williams says he wants to do surveillance on Michael's house and the whole Defrance property for a period of 10 days.


Connie: "To visually observe, by ground or air, at any time of day or night, the outside of the premises, including all ..."


Connie: He wants to photograph the whole property and surrounding areas, including containers, trash areas, burn piles and outbuildings.


Connie: They want to use a camera, an external thermal imager that may show heat signatures.


Connie: The officer says those heat signatures captured by a thermal camera may show evidence of hidden structures, bunkers, storage areas and other areas of concealment. And I'm surprised by what I read next.


Connie: "During the 10-day period the search warrant is valid, investigators believe it is likely Michael Defrance will move to a gravesite or stash location on his property, described above to move or tamper with evidence related to the offense of deliberate homicide. It is likely Defrance used his property to hide evidence of the crime due to its large remote size and his familiarity with hiding locations."


Connie: Why did they believe this? Why do they think there's a gravesite or stash location on Michael's property? And what did they find when they searched it?


Connie: On the next and final episode of Stolen: The Search for Jermain.


Guy Baker: I actually thought, "This is it. This is where it led to. This is where we're gonna figure this thing out."


Lowell Hochhalter: This will be our 18th search today. And our whole mission and my direction to you is to search as if this was your loved one.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, protesters: What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!]


Michael Defrance: Hello?


Connie: Is this Michael?


Michael Defrance: Yes.


Connie: Stolen is a Spotify original podcast and Gimlet production. It's hosted by me, Connie Walker. Our producers are Meg Driscoll and John White. Our editor is Devon Taylor.


Connie: Additional help from Jennifer Fowler, Anya Schultz, Nicole Pasulka and Heather Evans. Theme song and mixing by Emma Munger. Original music by Emma Munger and So Wylie. Special thanks to Lydia Polgreen, Collin Campbell, Reyhan Harmanci and Rachel Strom.