With the first season of his popular podcast nearing an end, Up and Vanished host Payne Lindsey is looking for his next case to solve.
His investigative podcast, which launched last fall and remains a fixture at the top of the iTunes charts, follows the case of Tara Grinstead, a beauty queen and high school teacher who disappeared from her Ocilla, Georgia, home in October 2005. Six months into the show’s run, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) announced an arrest after police received an anonymous tip.
The development shocked everyone, Lindsey included. Namely, because the suspect never appeared on any official’s radar during the 11-year investigation. What led the anonymous tipster to finally go to police remains unknown. But as noted during the arrest announcement in February, the media played a “significant role” in the investigation. Though not mentioned by name, many knew the recognition belonged to Lindsey. As a result of his work, aided by Dr. Maurice Godwin, the private investigator hired by Grinstead’s family who had been working on the case for over a decade, Up and Vanished propelled the Grinstead case back into the spotlight.
Now with only a few episodes left before he signs off on the investigation, Lindsey tells EW what to expect from season two of Up and Vanished.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Will you stick with the theme of “vanishing” people for season 2?
LINDSEY: I think we’re sticking to [the theme of] people who’ve disappeared and no one knows what happened. We’re looking for cases that draw us in the same way this one drew us in – with just the sheer mystery behind it. Hopefully, like last time, Maurice in a way was sort of a shoo-in for me to get started and have a little bit of an advantage when it came to learning the case. So obviously we’re looking for cases we can be plugged directly into and, from the beginning, make a difference.
Have you started researching what the next case will be?
There are tons of cases that we’ve looked at and are looking at. We’ve been sent in the hundreds of cases from different listeners and families and we’re taking the time and going through all of them. It’s going to be a really tough decision obviously to pick a case.
Are you looking for a local case?
Not necessarily, no. I think in the U.S., but really it could be anywhere. We’re in a position now where we can travel and stay in a place for a period of time and make a difference there so it’s definitely not limited to Georgia. We have about eight or 10 cases right now that are really sticking out to us as ones that we’d want to pursue.
When will season 2 launch?
It will be this year for sure. We’re already going to be behind the scenes putting things together and working on the case we select before we announce it. We will definitely announce it this year and the new season will come out later this year.
On a recent episode, you had a former federal investigator who specializes in murder cases on as a guest. I’m interested to hear your response to the question you asked him: Where do you draw the line in investigative journalism? Where is the line where you’re inserting yourself too much versus having a really positive impact on a case that was otherwise just cold?
It’s a very gray line sometimes. In some instances it’s very clear, sometimes it’s not. When a case is cold, like Tara Grinstead’s case was, that line is a lot grayer and you have a lot more leeway because it’s not being actively investigated. You’re not really messing with law enforcement’s investigation. You’re really the only person investigating it at that point, or at least avidly investigating every single day. So I think if it’s a cold case like that, you have a lot more room to do your thing.
For example, now that [the Grinstead case] has sort of become an active investigation and police are still conducting more interviews, that line is a lot more defined. I think it’s just about as long as you maintain the objective of getting the truth out there and solving it. I will gladly give information to the GBI and I’m not going to go try to screw up what they’re doing. I think as long as you remain focused on the right thing and be aware of how much you are inserting yourself, there’s a way to report on the case that is not going to have a negative effect.