Image Courtesy of Gimlet Media
By Angela Hickey
People tend to have a strange obsession with true crime. From television to film, this genre has been entertaining audiences for as long as anyone can remember, and this true-crime podcast is no different.
The Clearing, first released in July of 2019 by Pineapple Street Media in association with Gimlet, follows the story of April Balascio as she tries to come to terms with the fact that her own father, Edward Wayne Edwards, was a murderer. She and co-host Josh Dean, a veteran journalist, follow back through April’s life and try to connect the dots in her memory to see just how wicked her father truly was.
Balascio spends her entire life thinking about how things her father said or did never really made sense. Frequently, she pondered why her family would move around so often when she and her siblings were young, as well as the suspicious whereabouts of her father. Sometimes he would come home late covered in dirt, telling her family half-truths about where he had been.
Then she sees a news story of a cold case that’s been unsolved since 1980, the double homicide of two teenagers, Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, in a small town in Wisconsin. After calling the lead investigator and urging them to look into her father, investigators obtained a DNA sample. The sample was a match to Edwards, successfully pinning him for the crimes and earning him two consecutive life sentences in 2010; he was 77 years old at the time of the conviction.
What investigators and Balascio didn’t expect was him confessing to multiple other murders spanning all across the country; yet suddenly, Balascio’s childhood made all the sense in the world.
This podcast separates itself from the rest in many ways, primarily because a family member of the accused was involved so heavily in the podcast’s development as well as the incarceration of said family member, making it an interesting tale from start to finish.
During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dean revealed he had contacted Balascio when he was a reporter, hoping to clear up any misconceptions or conspiracies surrounding Edwards for an article he was writing. The result was what Dean describes as a “friendship/partnership” with Balascio, which shines distinctly through The Clearing.
This story isn’t just about Balascio or Edwards, it’s about everyone involved with the crimes that were committed. Detectives, private investigators, members of the victims’ families, all came together to unweave the twisted tale of the life of Edward Wayne Edwards, showing that these cold cases still affect people even after the public stops hearing about them.
With the release of this podcast, Dean hopes it will provide renewed attention to cold cases that have been unsolved all across the country.
“I hope at the end of the series you’re thinking about the victims, both for the crimes that have been solved and the ones that haven’t,” Dean said.
The Clearing is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Overcast, Radio Public, Castbox, and RSS Feed.