Exclusive: Kate Winkler Dawson Talks New Podcast ‘Buried Bones’

Buried Bones

Exactly Right Buried Bones

Author Kate Winkler Dawson is teaming up with cold-case investigator Paul Holes and Exactly Right Media to bring true-crime fans an in-depth look at some of history’s most perplexing cases.

In Dawson’s latest podcast endeavor “Buried Bones,” she sits down with Holes to help untangle historic true-crime cases. The first episode, titled “The Valet Did It?” was released on September 14 and focuses on the mysterious death of William Marsh Rice, a wealthy businessman from Texas.

Heavy had a chance to chat with Dawson about “Buried Bones” and her collaboration with Holes.

Here’s what you need to know:

Kate Talks New Podcast ‘Buried Bones’

Heavy: What inspired you to start the podcast “Buried Bones?”

Kate: Paul [Holes] had been on my show “Wicked Words.” We were working on a case together from 1925 that he had just strangely been asked to consult on. We just had a really good conversation. I’ve never wanted a co-host before but Paul is so engaging. He and I think very similarly and I just thought it was [going to] be a really good match, so when I was looking for a co-host, I thought he would be the obvious choice for me and I knew we had a lot of great chemistry on the show.

Heavy: How does “Buried Bones” differ from your other true-crime projects?

Kate: I write true-crime books but they all are sort of in the same vein where we’re taking old cases that many times people have never heard of and re-examining them from the point of view of investigators and journalists who are working in the 21st century. [All] my podcasts do that. The first one is “Tenfold More Wicked,” [which is] a documentary-style series where we [tackle] one crime over six episodes. I do that on my own. “Wicked Words” [focuses] on my interviews with journalists about their best true crime stories. “Buried Bones” is different because we have one crime per episode. I’m presenting the case to Paul as if he were an investigator that I work with as a journalist. It’s just like getting a cup of coffee with him and saying, ‘This is the case. What do you think?’ Which is different from the other shows. The other shows are just me interviewing people. With Paul, we have a lot of give and take. I give him the information and then he gives me his opinion and we sort of unravel things together.

Heavy: Where do you think your interest in true-crime stories stems from? Was there a particular case that piqued your interest?

Kate: I was a television news producer for a very long time. More than twenty years. So I was assigned to all sorts of different cases. One was the disappearance of Chandra Levy, who was an intern for Gary Condit on Capitol Hill. I spent months on that case. So I’ve been drawn into crime cases throughout my career as a journalist. But also, my mother was a clinical psychologist and [a] huge fan of [true] crime and my father was a criminal law professor, so I think between the two of them, I had a lot of depth. Especially with my father. We would talk about forensics all the time because he started The Innocence Project at the University of Texas, so we talked about bad science and good science. So it all kind of came together. Really it comes down to I like a good story. I like seeing characters change over time. I like some drama. I like humanity and hearing about how people deal with different situations.

Kate Chats About Episode 1 of “Buried Bones”

Heavy: How did you come across this story? What piqued your interest in this story? 

Kate: That is really an interesting question. Before I became an author, I was a video editor. I was teaching a class, and [a] student came up to me afterward and said, ‘I got this film. It’s a narrative film. We need to recut it…I need you to help me re-edit it.’ And it was called “The Trust,” and it was about William Marsh Rice and what happened [to him]. The film has a very different take than what Paul and I think might have happened but that piqued my interest. I actually considered that story for “Tenfold More Wicked.”

Heavy: Episode 1 focuses on a case from 1900. What unique challenges does studying an older case present? 

Kate: The challenge for me [with] these really old cases that I specialize in is always [finding] sources. In the 1600s, autopsies were not done by people with a lot of medical knowledge. So Paul is not [always] offered the best forensic data from me that I wish I could offer him. We’re missing some of that. But that is [the challenge]. You’re limited with your sources [when researching old cases].

Heavy: This episode focuses on a very wealthy man. Can you speak to the role wealth or class has in how true-crime stories are investigated and reported on? Do you think this story would have garnered the same attention if the victim was not wealthy? 

Kate: William Marsh Rice was an icon in Texas and in New York with the amount of wealth he had and his intention to start Rice University. When he died, and it looked suspicious, I think you see a mix of a really good dramatic story that the newspapers picked up and sheer panic from the people who were supposed to build this university on his behalf. And they are now watching an attorney try to draw money from this institute that was meant to educate a lot of people in Texas.

I think, in general, true-crime certainly does ignore people that are on the poverty line or below. Certainly, people that are underrepresented. People of color. Women. We work really hard at “Buried Bones” to try to shine a light on those types of stories. I do think William Marsh Rice and his status in society absolutely helped with media coverage and police attention for sure.

Heavy: In general, what can listeners expect from “Buried Bones?”

Kate: It’s a conversation. It is not me interviewing Paul Holes. He’s been interviewed by people. Surprisingly, we do not talk about the Golden State Killer very often at all. We really break down these cases. It is me sitting down with an investigator friend of mine and saying, ‘I’m going to tell you this story.’ It’s fun. It’s really fun.

You can listen to “Buried Bones” HERE.

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