Trace Evidence is a true crime podcast that focuses on unsolved cases, from chilling murders to missing persons and the unexplained. Join host Steven Pacheco as he examines each case, diving deep into the evidence and exploring the theories which revolve around them. For each unsolved case, there are the victims and their families, who want answers and the abductors and murders who hide the truth.
“It can be a little emotionally overwhelming from time to time. But that’s also part of the reason that I do it. I’m just reading about this case and it’s bothering me or having an emotional impact on me. So then I think about their family and their friends and what they’ve been dealing with since this person was murdered or since this person disappeared and I feel like it’s my responsibility… There’s certain topics that people don’t like to go into. I get sort of complaints if I do a case on a young child. But I feel like you owe it to that child to tell their story. So it can take me to a very dark place, but I try to keep in mind that I’m trying to do something to help, even if maybe it never will. Maybe these cases will never be solved but, at least you can carry on a person’s name and tell their story.”
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Excellent podcast, tell the listener about Trace Evidence
STEVEN PACHECO: Thank you, first of all. Trace Evidence is a true crime Podcast that focus specifically on missing persons and unsolved murders. It sorts of drew out of my fascination with the unsolved and the unknown. I'm obsessed with those things. So it's really an arena for me to explore the cases that have always haunted me and the more I do it, the more [inaudible] [00:29] that I wasn’t aware of. It's really following my developing obsession with it.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: I listen to your last episode “Leah Roberts” and it was so interesting to hear about this story. Where do you find these cases?
STEVEN PACHECO: A lot of the cases I've already heard about in the past or I've spent a lot of time looking into myself. Some of them are suggested to me by listeners. Some of them, I just do searches online for Missing Persons, unsolved murders. I see if anything sticks in my head but I do have a really long list of digital and hand written form that I go through every week. It's kind of strange sometimes I look [inaudible] [01:15]and it doesn't feel right but then the next week it does. It just jumps out at me. So I have a huge list and a lot of listeners who are constantly [inaudible] [01:24]
ALEXANDER LAURIN: And when you're doing this kind of reading and you're doing this kind of research, what kind of effect does it have on you personally? Because you're talking about cases that are not closed, it's a bit of a mystery and a lot of times potentially bad things happen to people. How do you feel emotionally, doing this kind of podcast?
STEVEN PACHECO: It can be a little emotionally overwhelming from time to time. But that's also part of the reason that I do it. I'm just reading about this case and it's bothering me or having an emotional impact on me. So then I think about their family and their friends and what they've been dealing with since this person was murdered or since this person disappeared and I feel like it's my responsibility [inaudible] [02:17]. There's certain topics that people don’t like to go into. I get sort of complaints if I do a case on a young child. But I feel like you owe it to that child to tell their story. So it can take me to a very dark place, but I try to keep in mind that I'm trying to do something to help, even if maybe it never will. Maybe these cases will never be solved but, at least you can carry on a person's name and tell their story.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Do you feel like you're doing a public service?
STEVEN PACHECO: To a degree but I can't really look at it that way because at the end of the day I feel like I’m just the guys with a microphone, reading something [inaudible] [02:55]. So, I'm not moving heaven and earth for these people, so anybody can do it. But I do hope that something that I put out there can help in some way, even just to comfort someone who knew the person.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Does it make you feel that you're a part of it?
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah, they become personal. You research a case and when you first start researching it, it's like: “alright, so this is what happened.” And you have any surgical approach to it. The deeper you go into it, the more you start to get angry or upset about what happened and then you start to feel like even though you didn't know this person, they were taken from you too. So yeah, it can definitely bring you into a personal place.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: And why did you decide to do Trace Evidence?
STEVEN PACHECO: I've always been a huge fan of True crime. Ever since I was a kid I grew up on [inaudible] [03:46], America's Most Wanted and all that stuff. So, I started listening to a lot of True crime podcasts and I like them. There's a lot of great ones out there. But I always felt like they didn't go as far as I want them to. I'm a very detail oriented person and I want to know everything, so even if you think that it might not be significant, I might think that it is. So for me it was: ‘alright, [inaudible] [04:09] and I can give you every detail that I can find.” So it's sort of niche in that way where I'm not just going to give you a summary of the case, I’m going to give you everything I can find on that case.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: So give me an example, what's the process like when you're putting together one of these podcasts?
STEVEN PACHECO: A lot of printed out pages, a lot of notes on my computer. It's every public record I can find, news article, blog entry, Reddit posts, everywhere that I can find the case being discussed. And then it's really a matter of reading through things and go: “Okay well, there seems to be no evidence to support what this guy is saying. It’s just his theory. So I'm not going to run with that like it's a fact.” So I have to get the case down to the bare essentials of what I know for a fact happened or what the police say for sure happened, what the official story is, what official story line is. Once I get all that, for me, it's a matter of: “Okay, I’m going to map out for you who this person was,” because I feel like a lot of shows to really tell you who the person was and I’m going to tell you [inaudible] [05:23] about that person. So, I'm going to tell you once I get through to who they were, here’s everything that lead up to what happened, here’s all the investigation and then here's the theory. And once I get to the theories, that’s where I get to off the cuff a little bit because now I can look at the theories and tell you what I think about them. But I'll never tell you what happened, because they're unsolved and I don't like the idea of making up a solution or telling you “well I believe this is absolutely correct.”
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Okay. How does a podcast change from episode one to twenty-six?
STEVEN PACHECO: It's changed a lot. Episode one, was my stupid approach thinking: “Oh, I'll just write bullet points and I'll totally be able to just talk for 40 minutes about this case and it won't be a problem.” And I think about five minutes into recording I was like: “yeah, I can't really do this without a script.” So then it became: “Alright, I guess I have to write a script for this show.” So episode one was very short, It's about 23 minutes. I didn't realize when I selected the case that though I think about it all the time, I don't know that I can talk about it for forty-five minutes, so I did a short episode. By episode two, I was aware that I needed a script and I needed more detail and research. I would say probably by episode five, I really hit my stride in terms of how much research was necessary, how long the scripts needed to be and now I've developed to a point where I can just write a script and just based on page count, the word count. I know how long the episode’s going to be, so it's certainly [inaudible] [06:53] stupid kid thinking: “I need more than I did at the beginning and now I realize how much work it actually is.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: It is a lot of work. Does it take anything away for your passion of podcasting or does it maybe even enhance it a little more?
STEVEN PACHECO: I think it does a little bit of both in the process, doing the research, I certainly have my days where I just don’t feel like this: “I just worked, I just came home, I wanna sit down, but I gotta do this.” So I definitely get feelings of like: “maybe I should stop but when I'm done with an episode, when I’ve released an episode, when people who read it or listen to it when they respond to me, when I hear from the family involved in the cases, I feel like “you have to keep going with what you're doing. You're doing something good and even if you're not solving cases, you’re helping somebody out there and[inaudible] [07:49].” So, it's definitely something that rewards you after it [inaudible] [07:54].
ALEXANDER LAURIN: You're hearing from families?
STEVEN PACHECO: I have. I've received messages from a couple of family members. I actually got an email the other day from a family member who wants me to call her, to discuss the case and I'm working out seeing if she wants to discuss it on the show or if she just wants to discuss it personally with me. And I have gotten e-mails from a couple of detectives who’ve said: “Thank you for covering this case. If you get any leads or information, please send it to me.”
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Wow, does that blow your mind?
STEVEN PACHECO: It does because to me, I'm just a guy sitting in a room microphone. So the idea that it's actually reaching out there and people are responding to it, is much more than I thought would happen.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: That's amazing. My jaw dropped for a second when you said that. Earlier you talked about doing a child and people didn't seem to like the like that. What kind of feedback are you getting from your listeners?
STEVEN PACHECO: For the most part, they like what I do. Their interested in the case. I get a lot of theories from them, a lot of opinions. They’ll take a lot of what I said and they’ll contradictory it. They’ll say: “what about from this angle?” It's amazing how, no matter how much time I commit to a case, a listener can listen to the episode once and see it at an angle that I didn't see after eighteen hours working on this case, so that's interesting. In terms of negative feedback like with kids, I have had people requests that I put notices in the new episodes, if I’m going to discuss something happening to a child or something involving sexual assault which I have no problem doing. But in the beginning, I didn't think of it and I don't know why but I just thought well it's true crime you sort of know what you're in for, but I also go into so much detail that maybe people don’t want to hear it. On the other hand, I try to avoid the grotesque details. I'm not going to tell you the specifics of like stab wounds or exactly what happened in the sexual assault, only that it did happen. Unless the details are necessary for possibly figuring out who did it.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yeah. So then, you are getting that that sort of detail that you're holding back right?
STEVEN PACHECO: Yes, I do hold back for two reasons. I don't think you necessarily need to know the exact details of the way a person was murdered. I'll tell you they were stabbed, you don't need to know where each one was and how deep it was. On top of that, these were people, they have families. They know the details and I don't think they want to rehear them. I also feel there's something personal, very personal, about the way a person dies or vanishes. And its kind of their business and it's not my business to throw that out there for now shock value.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yeah. Well from what I listen, to you do it very tastefully.
STEVEN PACHECO: Thank you.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: It's captivating and I love it. You even play the same music throughout the whole entire episode.
STEVEN PACHECO: Yes.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: I’m like: “Wow, you can actually do that.” I love it. You can actually do that the whole entire sixty minutes. It's crazy.
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah, I try to loop the one song that I have. It's like eight minutes long so I have to find looping places for it. I connect it so it's sound seamless and I would play music under the case evidence which is what I call my first section. So when I'm telling you all the details, there's music. When I get to the second [inaudible] [11:23], which is the series, and my thoughts and views on it, I cut the music out, because I want there to be a tone shift at that point.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yeah, it's very good and I'm so captivated. I'm like: “is this music in the background? Is it hypnotizing me to keep me listening?
STEVEN PACHECO: I try to find the least disturbing music so it just sounds like a low hum [inaudible] [11:47] But it's doesn't jump out too much.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: I saw your page and we’ll share the link at the end. It seems like you've got a decent little community happening there and it also looks like give a decent community on Facebook as well. From what I gather, correct me if I'm wrong, you work full time and you're doing this podcast.
STEVEN PACHECO: Hmm.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: How do you find balance in your life?
STEVEN PACHECO: I usually don't. When I'm at work, luckily I have a job where I don't have to think that much. So I go into work, I do what I have to do there but my wheels are spinning on the cases most the time when I'm there and I'm thinking about how I'm going to approach a specific case. When I get home is when I work on the episodes. I try and divide my week up. I give myself Sundays for podcasts. Monday is where I [inaudible] [12:43], Tuesday is going to be the day where I start the research. Wednesday’s where I'm going to start typing the first words. So really Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday [inaudible] [12:52]. And it's only done at night, when I get home from work. So it is hard to find that balance and there's certainly been things in my life I've wanted to do and I've had a say to somebody, “I can't. I have to record today. Or, I have to finish this episode today.” So it can disrupt things a little bit. But for the most part, I think I figured out how to schedule it appropriately now.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: When you're saying that at your work, you don't have to do a lot of thinking, can we assume that this podcast is bringing fulfilment in your life?
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah, I think it fills a hole. I'm not sure what hole it is. I didn't know I needed a podcast until I started doing and when I started thinking about stop doing it is when I realized that [inaudible] [13:41]. So I think for me, when I was a kid, I was always fascinated with the unanswered question. I think in this way, at least I get to address the unanswered question. And I would have loved a show like this when I was a kid, so in some way fulfils me. In that, maybe somebody out there is listening to this and it's filling a hole for them.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: When you thought about stopping it, was it was it a matter of the time commitment?
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah predominantly, I was starting to feel like I was giving my living life away. I focus on missing people. I focus on the dead and I had a conversation with a close friend where I said: “how much of my life do I want to give too these people” How much of my life am I [inaudible] [14:25] talking about these people?” Because I do miss out on things. I have to be late to a birthday party or I sometimes have to leave early. So, there's things in my life that I’d like to do but I can’t because of the commitment to this. So, all that stuff added up eventually got to a point where I had to make the decision if I was going to keep going or not and I think what I get out of this podcast and more so what I [inaudible] [14:49] out-balances anything I might be losing in my personal life.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yeah and even if these people are dead, it's like you're honoring them. You're bringing them back to life in a way and I'm sure that as much as it must be gut wrenching for the families, it must also maybe please them at the same time that they can hear the names of the people that are that are gone.
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah, I think so and most of the cases I've covered, the families are very active in trying to keep the name of their loved one alive. I've lost loved ones, but not in these ways. I've lost loved ones to disease and just old age or accidents and I have difficulty accepting that loss, even though I know what happened. So I can't wrap my head around losing someone I love and never knowing exactly what happened. So what they go through and the pain that they experience, I couldn’t get to touch on.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Have you learned anything about yourself Stephen, since you've been doing this?
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah. I thought going into this, there was always that thing in the back of my mind and in the beginning of “Oh, I'll make a podcast and it will get popular and I'll get famous and like all the stuff will happen.” I think everybody has [inaudible] [15:52]. The more I do it, the more I feel like: “I don't care about that.” The fame doesn't matter to me. Whether I'm known, doesn't matter to me. If I have ten listeners or ten thousand, I'm okay with that. I just want to be able to tell these stories and I was kind of shocked by that because I thought going into it, I would be one of those is like: “oh well, I have to build this up and make it this big thing and I have to become super popular off of it.” And the more I do it, the less that matters to me. It's more about the cases than anything else.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: How did you learn about podcasting? Did you teach yourself or did you have any mentorship from anyone?
STEVEN PACHECO: I taught myself. I’ve read a lot of web pages on equipment on how to format a show, how to do research. I've always done research so that wasn’t so much a problem. I've written scripts so I knew how to do that. But, learning the equipment and learning the software, was certainly interesting. During my research, it came down to Audacity or GarageBand. So I went and I bought a book and I've been using GarageBand just ‘because I like the interface of it. In equipment, I've gone through two mixers and five microphones already, so, I’m constantly changing it around because I'll listen to it, I'll hear a little “hum” in there and nobody else hears it, but I do. [inaudible] I'm a little perfectionist. So it's been an interesting learning experience but it was all just from reading websites and really experimenting with things.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Where would you like this podcast to go?
STEVEN PACHECO: I guess if it could go anywhere I'd like it to just have more listeners and keep doing what it's doing. I don't want to change it. I feel like a lot of podcasts I've listened to started off one way, and I really liked it and as the show evolved, and as they got more listeners, and as they got more popularity they started to change the way the show was a little bit. A lot of podcasts I listened to use to be about a topic now I turn it on and I hear the person talking about [inaudible]. And then I go into this topic for ten minutes I don't ever want to focal point of the show. I say my name at the beginning, and that’s it. You don’t hear my name again. It’s not about me it's about them. So ultimately, if anything, I would like the podcast to become something that maybe I could commit more time to. But that's all dependent on how it evolves.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Have you by chance seen this as a bit of a legacy piece for yourself?
STEVEN PACHECO: In a way, but it's interesting. I had a conversation about this yesterday and we were talking about legacy and what we leave behind and some people want to leave behind statues, some people want to be in history books. I want the people that are close to me and I want the people that I love, to think that I was a good person and know that I love them. This podcast, if anything, honors the lost people a little bit and that's what I try to do with it. So I try and bring back their names and I try to put that to the forefront, so if anything, I want to podcast to be their legacy, not mine.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Wonderful. What's your best advice to someone wanting to start a podcast?
STEVEN PACHECO: Just do it. I chose my podcast title I locked in a website address in February and I didn't start to get until May because you're always going to have that voice of: “what if nobody listens? What if nobody likes it? What if they hate me? What if I get a bunch of negative stuff back?” That could happen, that might not happen.
When I started doing it, I didn't think anybody would listen. I was shocked that people did but I had just decided one day: “I'm going to do this” and I did it and people I talk to who want to do one, that’s the one thing holding them back is: they're not doing it. Just do it.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: So the day you decided to do it in May, was it just that feeling? Was there anything in particular or you just finally built up the confidence to just record?
STEVEN PACHECO: Most of my life, I've been making plans and never acting on them, so everyone in my immediate life knew about the podcast and knew it was coming but it sorts of start to get to that point where I could feel me looking at me like: “oh, it's another thing he said he was going to do, that he's not going to do.” So one day I just woke up and I was like: “the only way to do this is to do it.” So, I just finished what I was doing, sat down, and started recording it and I decided: “When it's done recording, it's getting uploaded, it's going on iTunes and I can't pull it back. It's just going to be there. So I just force myself to do.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: Good stuff. Forcing yourself to do things really work.
STEVEN PACHECO: It does.
ALEXANDER LAURIN: I always find it, if I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, but I know it's going to be good for me, I force myself to do it.
STEVEN PACHECO: Yeah, sometimes you have to.
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