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New podcast focuses on Pocatello cold case homicide

Billboard on South Yellowstone Avenue in Idaho Falls | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com
POCATELLO — A new true crime podcast focused on cold cases dives into a 40-year-old unsolved homicide in Pocatello.
“The Deck” debuted on streaming services Wednesday with two episodes, each about 30 minutes. One of the two episodes features the story of Linda Smith, a 14-year-old Pocatello native who was abducted from her home and killed in 1981.
The only family member home with Smith at the time of her abduction was her 9-year-old brother, Ben, who was interviewed for the podcast.
Ben spoke with EastIdahoNews.com, saying that he is hopeful the new eyes cast on his sister’s story by the podcast will bring information to the forefront that may finally produce a suspect and afford his family closure.
“They did a really, really good job with it. I was really pleased,” he said. “They even paid for billboards to be put up in Idaho Falls and Pocatello.”

Courtesy The Deck on Facebook
The billboards were paid for the podcast’s production company, Audiochuck, an Indianapolis-based media company which also produces such popular podcasts as “Crime Junkie” and “Anatomy of a Murder.” The company’s founder and CEO, Ashley Flowers, also hosts the show.
In an introduction to each of the first two episodes, Flowers says that this podcast has been something her company has been working on for years.
As she explains, “The Deck” is in reference to a deck of cards that is distributed to jail and prison inmates, featuring photos and information regarding cold cases — one for each of the deck’s 52 cards. The hope for these decks of cards is to encourage those with information that could lead to the case being solved to come forward.

The 9 of hearts, featuring Linda Smith. | Courtesy Idaho Cold Cases on Facebook
RELATED | She was murdered nine years ago. Her family hopes a deck of cards will find the killer
Because Smith was treated as a runaway by police until remains found 11 months later were identified as hers, the crime has yet to be solved. The way the case was handled by Pocatello police, who refused to speak on the podcast, is a major point of contention in the podcast.
Asked if he believes the podcast’s critical treatment of the department’s handling of the case was fair, Ben interrupted.
“Mishandling would be a better word,” he said. “They botched it, they botched it completely. From minute one, they botched it.”
Pocatello police did not respond to EastIdahoNews.com’s requests for information regarding this case.
Police were quick to dismiss the crime because, at the time, southeast Idaho did not have a lot of similar crimes, Flowers says in the podcast.
According to the card which bears her photo and information, Linda was taken from her home on the 200 block of North 8th Avenue by a white male adult on June 14, 1981. One week later, clothing identified as belonging to Linda by her family was found scattered near the Pocatello Creek Road off ramp. Then in May 1982, her remains were found near Hospital Way and East Center Street.
Linda’s card features a photo of the teen, described by Flowers as a middle school yearbook photo.
According to the podcast, Linda was the eldest of three children. On the night she was abducted, Linda was babysitting Ben while their single mother was out with friends — a rarity, Flowers says. Their 13-year-old sister was out of town, spending the night with her grandparents in Basalt.
In an interview for the podcast, Ben explains that he had fallen asleep watching TV with his sister. And when he awoke, he saw a man clinging to his sister with both hands flee out the backdoor of the home.
Ben attempted to chase down the intruder and rescue his sister, but was shoved into a bush and, according to the Deseret News, told to “‘get away’ or I’d be hurt.”
Ben ran to a neighbor’s house and called 911, Flowers says. He remembered little about the man, only that he had a beard, was wearing a jacket or sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his face, and was driving a black van with flames painted on the sides. Ben also described the man as smelling of the combination of alcohol and body odor.
Help did not arrive with Pocatello police officers, Flowers says in the podcast.
“They had two very inexperienced patrolmen investigating a possible kidnaping they thought was a runaway,” Ben says in the podcast. … “Not once did they believe that I saw somebody take my sister.”
Officers insisted that Linda had left on her own, perhaps to attend a nearby party, Ben says. They tried to convince the boy that his “9-year-old imagination was getting the best of him,” or that he was simply attempting to cover up for his sister who had left him alone.
Even when clothing identified by the family as belonging to Linda was found a week later, Pocatello police did not believe a crime had been committed.
Not until bones found nearly one year later in the Sagewood Hills area near Portneuf Medical Center were identified as Linda’s using dental records was the case ruled criminal.
By then, any opportunity to collect evidence had come and gone, as had the all-important 48-hour window immediately following the kidnapping. Shortly after the abduction, the Smith family moved out of their home and out of Pocatello.
“There’s limited information out there about what exactly happened in the police investigation immediately after Linda was abducted, on June 14, 1981,” Flowers says.
Nothing came of the investigation that followed the discovery of Linda’s remains.
When the cold case was re-opened in 2007, Ben said the family was alerted to two persons of interest identified by detectives. But, again, nothing came of that.
Ben told EastIdahoNews.com that, over the past 40 years, he has dealt with a “revolving door” of about 16 detectives who have offered the family evidentiary discoveries on instances few and far between.
Now, he is cautiously optimistic that a widely popular podcast could draw needed attention to the case. Yet, the thought of losing his sister the way he did still haunts him.
He told EastIdahoNews.com that at first he did not want to be part of the new podcast, eventually agreeing to take part in hopes that his participation would help. And when he heard a trailer for his sister’s episode, he became emotional. Eventually, he was able to listen to the episode in its entirety, but he needed support to do so.
“I had to listen to it with a friend and my son,” he said. “I figured, if i have to listen to the podcast I have to be with somebody.”
Ben did say that there was one minor point he believes is misrepresented by the podcast.
In the podcast, it is stated that the remains of two other victims of similar crimes were found in the area near Linda’s. In fact, Ben explained, those remains were found in a cave in Oneida County, some 50 minutes from Pocatello.
“For the most part,” he said, “I was really pleased with how it came out.”
Anyone with information regarding the abduction and death of Linda Smith is asked to call the Pocatello Police Department, at (208)234-6100, or the Cold Case Tip line, at 1-844-847-4040.
The post New podcast focuses on Pocatello cold case homicide appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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