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Dakota Spotlight Podcast

Dakota Spotlight, by James Wolner, is a deep-dive True Crime podcast with national recognition.

Season 7: Call Me Shelly, The Mysterious Disappearance of Michelle Julson. Season 6: Vanishing Act, the Untold Story of Kristin Diede and Bob Anderson. Season 5: A Better Search for Barbara Cotton: Season 4: Chasing Billy. Season 3: The House on Sweet and Seventh. Season 2: Zeeland, the untold story of Wade and Ellen Zick. Season 1: The case of Victor Newberry. A production of Forum Communications, Dakota Spotlight is the first Podcast to be preserved by the North Dakota State Archives.

Hosted By
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James Wolner
Latest Episodes
Evidence Ignored - introducing the Refugio Rodriguez story by Trisha Taurinskas at The Vault
Fri Dec 23 11:03:27 EST 2022
Hello Dakota Spotlight followers: I have a bit of a holiday treat for you today, which I am very excited to share with you.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to the town of Montevideo, Minnesota. I was there to take part in a meeting with three of my colleagues to plan and discuss work for The Vault - which is Forum Communication’s online catalog of great stories about Midwest history, mysteries and, of course, true crime.

Why did we convene in Montevideo, Minnesota?

Montevideo was purely a logistical destination as we all live in different places; 3 of us drove to Montevideo where a 4th colleague lives. Her name is Trisha Taurinskas.

Over coffee we asked Trisha if there were any local stories that she had considered for The Vault. It turns out there was one story that Trisha had on her mind–in fact, to me, it seemed to be stuck in her mind.

I could tell right then and there, this story was not gonna to just go away for her—she was in the early phases of experiencing a nagging feeling that I know very well myself–I would describe it as an almost uncomfortable sense of ‘calling’ … a somewhat involuntary compulsion to act and go look for and find answers–all in the name of justice and the truth.

And that’s exactly what she did–exactly what she is currently in the middle of doing...

Fast forward a few months and now my holiday treat for you then, coming up right here, right now, is the full first episode of Trisha Taurinskas’ reporting on the death of Refugio Rodriquez. A Minnesota man found dead on a walking path – a man who had just told his family his life was in danger after he was outed as a confidential informant for law enforcement. Yet despite the suspicious death, his case was closed, the death ruled a suicide.

But as you might imagine, and as Trisha sensed all along, there is a lot more to the story than that.  

/ James Wolner email: jwolner@forumcomm.com

More Dakota Spotlight https://www.inforum.com/dakotaspotlight

Sign up for Dakota Spotlight's newsletter https://www.grandforksherald.com/newsletter (consider signing up for The Vault newsletter too)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight/ The Vault TikTok:  https://www.tiktok.com/@truecrimevault Support Dakota Spotlight - Become a member https://inforum.com/subscribe

Staying in touch with your community through local news and information is the gift that keeps giving all year long. Subscribe to inforum.com now and get 50 percent off an annual subscription for you or anyone on your list. Just call 833-248-7801. That’s 833-248-7801.

 

 

Announcing Season 8: The Joel Lovelien homicide
Mon Dec 12 16:09:00 EST 2022
Announcing the subject of Season 8:  The murder of Joel Lovelien.

On the evening of Oct. 27, 2007--the weekend before halloween--much of Grand Forks, ND was in an alcohol-infused state.  Thirty-eight-year-old Joel Lovelien was enjoying the halloween festivities with his fiance at The Broken Drum Bar when a pulsating party bus, packed like a can of sardines with intoxicated passengers and loaded with beer and three hundred and twenty-five  "Jello shots" pulled into the parking lot and unleashed it's cargo of 40 or more costumed partygoers. The bus and the intoxicated occupants didn't stay at The Broken Drum Bar for long.  But once they were gone, Joel Lovelien was dead. 

Law enforcement soon arrested a University of North Dakota nursing student named Travis Stay for the murder.  However, a jury found Stay "not guilty" and although justice has never been served, law enforcement maintain to this day that the acquitted Travis Stay was their man. They are no longer actively working the case. 

Joel Lovelien, his life and his tragic murder is the subject of Season 8 of Dakota Spotlight.  Coming soon! 

I am actively seeking contact with any of the following persons in regards to the case: Occupants on the party bus, taxi driver, bus driver, law enforcement investigators, Travis Stay and his roomates or anyone with information.  If you yourself or someone you know is a person I should be speaking with, let me know by emailing me at jwolner@forumcomm.com 

More Dakota Spotlight https://www.inforum.com/dakotaspotlight

Sign up for Dakota Spotlight's newsletter https://www.grandforksherald.com/newsletter (consider signing up for The Vault newsletter too)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight/ Twitter: @dakota spotlight https://twitter.com/DakotaSpotlight The Vault TikTok:  https://www.tiktok.com/@truecrimevault Support Dakota Spotlight - Become a member https://inforum.com/subscribe

Staying in touch with your community through local news and information is the gift that keeps giving all year long. Subscribe to inforum.com now and get 50 percent off an annual subscription for you or anyone on your list. Just call 833-248-7801. That’s 833-248-7801.

 

 

 

 

Follow the Red Dirt Road - Call Me Shelly: The mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Thu Nov 24 08:36:14 EST 2022
Episode 10: In this update episode: Can the red dirt on Shelly's car lead our investigation down the right road? Connecting the dots between clues in Shelly's cold case file and the red dust on her vehicle. 

In 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, visit inforum.com/callmeshelly or on any Forum Communications news website.   

Check out The Vault podcast 

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Intro and outro music by Wowza in Kalamazoo

Frightened, followed, harassed - Call Me Shelly: the mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Wed Nov 02 06:00:00 EDT 2022
Episode 9: Vandalism, hang-up phone calls, strange occurrences, just before she vanished from the face of the earth Michele ‘Shelly’ Julson was feeling harassed. She told friends one person harassing her at work was a Bismarck, ND police officer named Donald Schaffer.  In this episode we look into Donald Schaffer and learn about his violent past and criminal record.  We also discuss some questions and comments from listeners. 

In 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, visit inforum.com/callmeshelly or on any Forum Communications news website.   

Check out The Vault podcast 

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Intro and outro music by Wowza in Kalamazoo

The Lady Vanishes: Interview with Alison Sandy
Wed Oct 12 13:00:08 EDT 2022
In this stand-alone episode we do a follow up interview with Alison Sandy, journalist and producer of the Australian podcast The Lady Vanishes about the fascinating and captivating news being uncovered in the investigation into Marion Barter's disappearance.  To date The Lady Vanishes podcast has had 13 million downloads and has helped bring many answers into whatever happened to Marion Barter who vanished after embarking on an international trip in 1997.  

Was Marion Barter a victim of a con-man with a history of deceiving single women and stealing their money?  What happened to Marion Barter?  Thanks to The Lady Vanishes podcast the world may soon know.   

The Lady Vanishes Podcast on Apple

Support Dakota Spotlight by becoming a member of Forum Communications news websites

Email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight On Inforum: https://www.inforum.com/topics/dakota-spotlight

 

 

A Missing Mother's Son: Call Me Shelly, the mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Thu Sep 29 04:30:00 EDT 2022
Episode 8:  Interview with Michele's son Jaden.  Jaden speaks about his life without a mother, about his father and grandfather and more.  Also in this episode we debunk an important claim made by Bismarck PD investigators.

In 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, visit inforum.com/callmeshelly or on any Forum Communications news website.

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Intro and outro music by Wowza in Kalamazoo

Interview with Tony, Call Me Shelly: the mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Wed Aug 31 04:00:00 EDT 2022
In Episode 7 we meet Tony Hulm, former bartender at the burnt Creek Club.  Tony was Shelly's on-again/off-again boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.  Tony Hulm speaks about Shelly, about the alleged harassment she was experiencing and considers if Shelly Julson may have just chosen a new life elsewhere. 

In 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, follow the podcast in The Vault section on inforum.com or on any Forum Communications news website.

Forum Communications is proud to be part of The Trust Project.

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Archival audio provided by The state historical society of North Dakota

Intro and outro music by Wowza in Kalamazoo

Vacation update - Call Me Shelly: The mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Wed Aug 24 04:00:00 EDT 2022
We are taking a vacation break this week, but will be back next week with an interview with Tony Hulm, aka Burnt Creek Tony.  This update episode includes a taste of that interview and the full recording of this season's theme song 'Magelena' by Wowza in Kalamazoo.  Check them out at  wowzainkalamazoo.bandcamp.com/

On August 2, 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, follow the podcast in The Vault section on inforum.com or on any Forum Communications news website.

Forum Communications is proud to be part of The Trust Project.

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Archival audio provided by The state historical society of North Dakota

Intro and outro music by Wowza in Kalamazoo

Don't give up - Call Me Shelly - the mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Wed Aug 17 04:00:00 EDT 2022
In Episode 5 we meet Shelly's parents Wes and Linda Julson. Also, interview with retired Bismarck police officer Rob Carvell. Carvell shares his memories of responding to the call for service on Aug 2, 1994 when Richard and Kevin Woodworth reported Shelly missing.  Carvell also re-opened Shelly's case in 2016. We also hear from a friend of Shelly's and that 'forty-year-old guy' that Shelly had planned to go camping with.

On August 2, 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, follow the podcast in The Vault section on inforum.com or on any Forum Communications news website.

Forum Communications is proud to be part of The Trust Project.

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Archival audio provided by The state historical society of North Dakota

Intro and outro music by Wowza in Kalamazoo
Stones Unturned - Call me Shelly: The mysterious disappearance of Michele Julson
Wed Aug 10 04:00:00 EDT 2022
In Episode 4: Retired Bismarck detective Bill Connor shares his thoughts and memories of working Shelly's case from 2005 to 2010.    He talks about the We Fest sighting, the car being found at the Comfort Inn, Rick Snell, Tony Hulm and Kevin Woodworth.

On August 2, 1994 26-year-old Michele Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours.   Shelly never returned.  What happened to Shelly Julson?

To read and see more about the case, follow the podcast in The Vault section on inforum.com or on any Forum Communications news website.

Forum Communications is proud to be part of The Trust Project.

email - jwolner@forumcomm.com Twitter: @dakotaspotlightFacebook: facebook.com/groups/dakotaspotlight

Archival audio provided by The state historical society of North Dakota