This week we discuss awkward chat ups on the train and trying to be cool at the gym (and ultimately failing). We review Uncover: The Cat Lady and our Weird Crime Time explores whether parrots are reliable witnesses for murder.
Uncover: Cat Lady
Season 4 of Uncover by CBC explores the disappearance of 77 year old Joan Lawrence in the autumn of 1998. Joan was a familiar face in the Canadian town of Huntsville. Huntsville is situated in the idyllic district of Muskoka, Ontario, referred to as cottage country due to its beautiful scenery, freshwater lakes and pine forests. She was often seen around town carrying shopping bags which often contained cat food for the stray cats and abandoned kittens she took in. This earned her the name of the Cat Lady.
Prior to her disappearance locals were unaware of her where she lived. They were shocked to find out that she was residing in an 8ft by 10ft homemade chipboard shed with no running water, no toilet, no electricity and no insulation. Canadian winters are notoriously cold and a close friend of Joan noted how she froze each year. Even more of a shock came when it was revealed Joan was paying $600 a month to live in the shed. This would be the equivalent of paying $900CAD ($676USD, £555) today. People believe Joan would not give up her cats and this was the only property where she could live with them.
When police later searched for Joan, they came across the shed to find many of her 30 cats had been shot dead.
Joan’s high profile disappearance highlighted the dark underbelly of this beautiful region. Exposing that not just Joan is missing, but three other vulnerable seniors, 69-year-old Ralph Grant, 90-year-old John Semple, and 70-year-old John Crofts, were also missing in the year proceeding and preceding her disappearance in 1998.
They all had a common connection – these missing people all rented accommodation from one family. The allegation is that this family would ask whether vulnerable seniors would like to live in care homes in Huntsville, yet when they agreed and arrived, they were forced to sign over power of attorney. The family would then take their pensions and social security checks, cash them and keep the money.
A further, and more serious, allegation is that when a resident raised an issue with the family, they disappeared. Around the time of her disappearance, Joan asks a close friend whether she had received her tax return check. When her friend confirmed that she had, Joan noted she hadn’t received hers and said she would look into it. She also mentioned that she was concerned that her landlords could steal from her or harm her cats.
Whilst new information has been released from the police, the investigation is ongoing so there is still a limitation on evidence available to public. However, this season of Uncover, Zander Sherman speaks to potential witnesses, friends and narrates sections of reports providing a deep dive into his hometown mystery of missing vulnerable seniors. It’s definitely worth a listen to.
You can listen to Season 4 of Uncover: The Cat Lady here or anywhere else you get your podcasts.