Podcaster devotes series to Lawson disappearance

By JENNIFER COHRON
Posted 6/13/19

The host of a true crime podcast about missing persons in the South has taken up the case of Carrie Lawson, the Jasper woman whose remains were never recovered after she was kidnapped from her home …

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Podcaster devotes series to Lawson disappearance

Posted

The host of a true crime podcast about missing persons in the South has taken up the case of Carrie Lawson, the Jasper woman whose remains were never recovered after she was kidnapped from her home in September 1991.

"I just don't accept that we're never going to know what happened to Carrie Lawson," said Kristi Bryant, who has devoted four episodes of "Southern Gone" to the Lawson case so far and plans to do more in the future. 

Bryant has interviewed siblings of both Lawson and Karen McPherson, the woman serving a life sentence for her kidnapping. A listener from Alabama first suggested that she dedicate an episode to Lawson. 

"Everything about her story fascinated me, and I feel like there is somebody out there that knows something that can blow this case wide open. I think that's why I started devoting a little more time to Carrie Lawson. I want to help bring peace and closure to Margaret, her sister," Bryant said.

The first episode was released on Sept. 11, 2018, the 27th anniversary of Lawson's disappearance. Bryant shared what she had learned about the case through her research and posed several questions that she felt had not been adequately addressed.

Bryant returned to Lawson's case on May 7 with an episode featuring an interview with Lawson's sister, Margaret Smith Kubiszyn. 

Kubiszyn, the only member of her immediate family left after the deaths of her parents,  spoke to Bryant about how the loss of her sister affected her mother's health and her father's finances.  

Episodes three and four feature interviews with McPherson's sister and brother. A letter that McPherson wrote from prison is available to listeners who support the podcast financially, and Bryant said McPherson has agreed to an interview for the podcast. 

The podcast is currently on summer hiatus, but in the future Bryant hopes to continue her quest to interview family members of Jerry Bland, who has been suspected of planning the kidnapping and committed suicide within weeks of Lawson's disappearance. 

She is currently making plans to make a documentary about the case. 

The Lawson series has been successful in drawing new listeners to the podcast, and emails about Lawson to "Southern Gone" have increased from a monthly to an almost daily basis.

Bryant started "Southern Gone" in April 2018 as a passion project. The podcast is self-funded with the exception of donations received through Patreon, which gives supporters access to exclusive content. Ten percent of one-time donations go to Polaris, a nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking.

For all other listeners, the podcast is freely available on podcast apps and the website, www.southerngone.com.

Bryant worked for a private investigator for several years in the early 2000s, specializing in finding the biological parents of adopted children.

She experienced her first missing person case from afar when a classmate's mother disappeared and some presumed that she had run away. Years later, her remains were located and law  enforcement learned that she had been killed by a boyfriend.

Bryant is unwavering in her belief that every missing person can be and deserves to be found.

"I say all the time, 'Somebody out there somewhere knows something.' All it is going to take is that one person," Bryant said. 

Bryant, a Georgia native, uses the podcast to shine a light on missing person cases in the South.  

In most episodes, she interviews a family member of the missing person, although she has interviewed a reporter in one case where the family chose not to participate.

Bryant also reaches out to local law enforcement, though her only successful attempt at an interview was last year with the detective investigating the case of Stephen Lankester-Cox, who went missing in 2004 in Acworth, Georgia.

Though the podcast has yet to be instrumental in a cold case being solved, Bryant sees her main role as host as reviving interest in the disappearance of missing persons.

"Family members have reached out and thanked me for bringing it back because it's renewed interest and people are talking about the case again. If that helps, I'm for it. My ultimate goal is to have that one person who blows a case wide open," Bryant said.

To suggest a missing persons case for a future episode or to make a comment about a past episode, email southerngone@gmail.com or visit the Southern Gone Facebook page.