We’re just a mile south of Plymouth on Old 31 headed south to Argus.
Argus is about 15 minutes south of Plymouth, and it’s mostly just cornfields and backroads
between the two towns.
Once you turn off of New US 31 onto Old Highway 31, you cross some railroad tracks, and a
few miles south of there, you pass right by Brandi Peltz’s old house, where she was
murdered in 1986.
All right, well, let me get the feel here.
We’ll come up, the first one will be Peltz.
All right, I think Peltz is in the left-hand side with the trees here.
All right, let’s go.
This is episode nine.
Let’s go for a ride.
The Peltz house is right on the Tulane Highway.
It’s a yellow two-story home with a front porch and a driveway to the right, with trees
and fields on either side.
By the way, we have photos from this ride along with Nelson.
They’re on our website, thedeckpodcast.com.
As you keep going by Brandi’s old house, a few more miles south, and you come to 20B
Road, where the Holses lived.
It’s right here, the first house on the left.
Who lives there today?
I don’t know.
There used to be a house there, but I don’t think that was Grandpa’s.
I thought Grandpa was across the road.
Unlike the Peltz home, the Holses lived a little ways off Old 31, so you have to turn
onto 20B Road, which is unmarked.
And there’s a field before you get to their house on the left.
The ranch-style house is still there and looks similar to how it did in the 80s.
Same door, same windows, with a few updates to the siding and stuff.
Do you think that he was watching the house in the days leading up to August 17th?
I don’t know how studious, you know, how tense.
You saw, you know, you couldn’t like park in a parking lot or something and watch.
So Nelson believes that the man went to Darlene’s house with plans to sexually assault her,
but that the interaction turned too violent and then he panicked.
So I would think he’s like, oh my God, I gotta, I don’t think she’s breathing.
All right, I gotta, I gotta get rid of her, she’s no longer a target of sex.
Nelson didn’t know if Darlene was still alive when she was pulled from the house and placed
in the man’s car.
If she was alive but unconscious, that would likely still cause her attacker to panic and flee.
Investigators think because of those skid marks that they saw at the end of the driveway,
the ones that I mentioned all the way back in episode one, that Darlene’s abductor put
her in his car, backed out of the driveway, and then drove east, away from the highway.
So that’s the way Nelson drove Emily.
So you can see why instead of going back to that road, you’d think he would go this way.
So this is the route you think the killer drove?
And he would have, if he’s local, he’s local.
He would have…
He would have known, he would have known that yeah, this is gonna be his escape route.
So where does this take us?
It’ll take us to 110.
110 is really the county line road between Marshall and Fulton.
So, you know, no houses on here.
So that would have been another reason why I would think he would be comfortable about
going this would be his escape route.
Nelson thinks that the man drove the back roads in a square from the Hulse house to
avoid getting back onto the highway.
But he would have come to a highway and had to cross it in order to head west toward the
dirt road where he ended up leaving her body.
OK, we’re looking for Olive.
Olive Trail, right?
Now, Olive Trail, you know, goes, I think, through the county.
But right here is going to be disjointed.
This is not unusual.
Olive Trail is just a few miles straight west of Darlene’s house.
And today it’s still a dirt road, but it’s a lot more open now, with a cornfield on one
side and some woods on the other.
Back in the 80s, it was woods on both sides, and the road was much more hidden than it
Just up here.
I mean, I’m reconstructing it myself, so, but I’m fairly certain it’s still these woods.
If you look, like I said, some of the crime scene, you know, somebody was taking old-fashioned
photos, and it was like a tunnel almost, because this was all those trees touching.
It’s in here?
It’s in here.
And, you know, it’s so we can get out.
Where precisely, I do not know.
So you think the timber buyer finding here is a total coincidence?
Just asking questions.
Yeah, yeah, I…
I’m feeling it was divine intervention, actually.
I have some, yeah.
So help them out, go there.
Nelson definitely opened up a little during this ride along.
I’m not sure if it was getting him out of his stuffy office, or maybe he came around
to the idea of this podcast actually helping rather than hurting the investigation.
But it helped to have him share his thoughts about the case while literally looking at
the crime scene.
He thinks whoever killed Darlene knew exactly where he was going to take her the whole time,
that he planned it.
If he was worried about the daughters having escaped to go get help,
he was probably thinking like, oh, the police are about to be on their way.
Yes, but I think about, you know, levels of communication, radio or otherwise,
you know, telephone, you know, they would have converged on the scene.
They would not necessarily be looking, you know, know where he was going.
But that would be another reason to go that way rather than back this way.
But you notice that there wasn’t a house on that thing other than that,
that one we saw, but I don’t, that didn’t exist then.
And he had to know that.
If he was going to have sex and then kill, that might have always been his end place.
If you’re keeping up with Nelson’s riddles, it’s apparent that he thinks the killer has
strong ties to the exact spot he left Darlene.
But anytime Emily brings that up, he deflects or changes the subject pretty quickly.
So do you know anything else about the people who owned that land back in the day or?
Um, I can pull out because I know I have them in there somewhere.
You know, an old plat map that gave us the name.
And when the landowner was questioned?
That I don’t recall any specific thing.
You know, he was just a, you know, they were not thinking of him.
They must have talked to him.
Just to even ask, you know, to fit the pulses, I would think.
What is this, a fire truck?
Nelson either got distracted by a fire truck driving by or he was trying to change the
But before he took Emily back to her car, he said, I’ll show you one more place.
It’s this property that belongs to a longtime local family who used to bury cars in their yard.
And there’s still a buried bus there today.
Back there is where the buried bus.
Oh, back here?
Down this drive?
Yeah, back behind that house.
You’re not going to get a very good photo, so it’s creepy, major creepy.
Emily wasn’t totally sure why this place warranted a stop.
The rumor about the buried bus wasn’t new to us,
but we hadn’t seen any records that tied that property or the family necessarily to Darlene’s
I mean, other than like the obvious assumption any armchair detective could make, which is
that burying a vehicle that everyone is on the lookout for is one way to make sure that
it never gets found.
Ten years ago, I had dreams of finding the head of the fireplace poker in the…
In the bus?
I mean, I, I mean, how would you explain that, please?
It’s not, it’s not…
It’s not exactly wild speculation to think that like something like that could happen,
because that is very unusual.
What, the buried bus?
And that’s not very far away.
But then Nelson said,
but you know, the family who lived there was never suspected in the Hulse murder.
They were sort of looked at for Brandy Peltz’s murder.
And this is where things get really fuzzy, because Nelson couldn’t remember for sure,
but he said he thought police even dug through that yard looking for evidence in the Peltz
case, but that they didn’t find anything.
And you can tell that Nelson is still suspicious of the people who lived there,
because he keeps mentioning this small geographic triangle.
There’s a triangle.
Peltz, Hulse, buried bus.
If you draw a line from Darlene’s house to Brandy’s house to the buried bus property,
back to Darlene’s house, it makes a little triangle.
So Nelson keeps pointing that out,
but then he’ll say that the buried bus has nothing to do with Darlene as far as he knows.
Sometimes talking to Nelson is like trying to swim through mud.
On one hand, it was great to get more bits and pieces of info about Darlene’s case,
but sometimes we came away from him more confused than ever.
And right now was one of those times.
We just had this weird puzzle piece that we weren’t even sure fit the puzzle we were working
But we held on to it anyways.
And in a few episodes, you’ll be glad you held on to it too.
As Nelson was driving Emily back to her car,
he comes as close as ever to hinting at who his main suspect is.
Do you think the person who killed Darlene went on to commit more violent crime?
Or do you think that they’ve gone pretty much undetected all of these years, or both?
I think there was another assault after that.
After that, I think there might have been some deviant stuff, you know, like
maybe exposure or something.
And I think he paid for one of them.
And he paid in the sense of a conviction for one of them.
And might have learned to stay back, you know, to suppress it.
I cannot believe the system rehabilitated him.
I believe he’d still have the urges, whether he acted out on them or not.
That’s pure conjecture.
He paid for that.
That was sounding a lot like one man.
Kenneth McCune Jr.
If you remember from Episode 7, we knew Kenneth McCune Jr.
was at least questioned about Darlene back in the 80s
after he was arrested for the break-in and attempted rape of Pam.
But up to this point, we had no idea if he was still being looked at in relation to Darlene’s case.
Prosecutor Nelson won’t confirm on record that Kenneth McCune Jr.
is an official suspect or even person of interest.
But that ride-along left me and Emily with a lot of questions, specifically about Kenneth.
And we had a really clear idea of what we needed to do next.
Not to beat this puzzle analogy into the ground, but it seemed to us like everyone kept trying
to make the puzzle work with the same couple of pieces,
smashing them together over and over for three decades.
But we had this sneaking suspicion that the picture might be a lot bigger than anyone ever knew.
So Emily left that ride-along with Nelson and went straight to the Marshall County Courthouse
to dig up some records on Kenneth McCune Jr.
In Indiana, court records searches have to be done in person at most courthouses.
And you have to be armed with enough information like a suspect’s full name,
date of birth, and case number to even get access to criminal case files.
And sometimes it’s even trickier than that.
A court clerk might take your request and tell you to come back in two days
once they have time to locate the records.
Or sometimes they’ll find the records right away,
but make you name specific documents that you want to see.
Which is such a catch-22 because it’s impossible to name the exact document
until you have access to the old dockets,
unless you just asked to see the PC affidavit.
But that’s often just the tip of the iceberg.
In the McCune case, we got a helpful clerk who went to the basement
and dug up his files from the 80s.
But then she spent like an hour going through the folders with a supervisor
and pulling out information that they thought should be redacted.
After that, Emily was allowed to thumb through the files
and pay for copies of the ones she wanted.
But it was worth the trouble,
because that record search was the key that unlocked so much information for us.
Names, dates, interview transcripts, even witness lists.
Included in those names was Kenneth McCune’s previous victim,
who we’d been calling Pam to protect her identity.
Pam had never spoken publicly about her attack as far as we could find.
And we knew that if we were really going to understand what happened to her
and determine if there were any similarities between her attack and other cases,
we couldn’t go off a short one-page report or blurbs in old newspapers.
We needed to talk to the woman who lived it.
So Emily reached out to her.
And to our surprise, she was willing to tell her story.
Do you remember what you were doing that day?
Yeah, I was sleeping.
It was very early morning.
And the phone rang.
And the person on the other end of the phone asked if my husband was home.
And I said, no, he won’t be home till night after work.
And so, like, okay.
And then hung up, went back to bed.
About 30 minutes later, Pam woke up to a loud noise,
like a crashing sound coming from the front of her house.
Her dog started barking its head off, so Pam got up to investigate.
I just thought, oh my gosh, what fell?
And so I jumped out of bed.
And by the time I took just one step to the doorway,
he was already running down the hall to me, about maybe 20 feet away.
It was dark in Pam’s house because all the shades were drawn.
So Pam said really all she could see was this big figure running toward her.
What was going through your mind right then?
Just panic, I guess.
Like, there was nothing going through my mind other than disbelief, I guess.
At what point did reality set in?
I took, as he approached, I took a step backwards.
And of course, it was a small room, so I was right there at the bed.
And he had grabbed my arms and pushed me back onto the bed.
And I was screaming by that point.
And he said, shut up or I’ll, what I thought was, stick you, is what I thought I heard.
And then when I realized he had hold of both of my arms,
I realized he didn’t have a knife or something in his hands.
So then I fought harder.
Pam said when she realized he wasn’t holding a weapon,
she thought, I’m not just going to lay here and take this.
I’m going to fight.
I was angry then.
Self-defense mode angry.
What happened after that?
Whatever gave him the change of mind or heart,
he just got up and took off and ran back down the hall and to the front door.
How long do you feel like you were struggling with him?
I would say maybe 30 seconds to a minute is all that that whole incident took.
Um, as I got up, uh, after he left or got up,
I grabbed a drinking glass that I had full of water on the nightstand
and chased down the hall.
And I actually threw it at him at the front door as he left.
Kudos to Pam for throwing a glass at that motherfucker’s head.
Unfortunately, the glass just missed him and hit the door instead.
But the intruder didn’t leave unscathed.
He cut his hand on the doorway as he was running out,
leaving his blood at the scene of the crime.
Pam didn’t follow him outside.
Instead, she ran to the bay window in her house
and peered out to see what kind of car he was in.
It was one that she’d never seen before.
I could tell it was a truck with a camper on the back
because the sun was starting to come up a little bit by then.
And I thought, well, that must have been who it was
because there’s nobody else that has gone by.
You know, no other cars were around.
Pam immediately called police after that.
They responded to her house.
And once she told them what had happened,
officers decided that Pam was likely being stalked by this man,
not just because of the phone call right before he broke in,
but because of the other phone calls that she had gotten as well.
The summer prior, I had received obscene phone calls.
And I had gone to the sheriff’s department and filed a complaint
and put what they could as far as a tracer on the phone.
But then, of course, there weren’t any more calls until that morning.
So the police immediately, pretty immediately,
said that he was there to hurt me because I just couldn’t imagine.
I thought, well, maybe it was just a break-in.
And of course, they’re like, OK, with the phone call and all of that.
It was more premeditated.
And he was here to do something to you.
In the first two calls Pam had gotten,
the man called her by her longtime nickname,
which made her wonder if the guy knew her.
But Pam didn’t recognize his voice.
All of the calls were sexual.
He would tell her what he wanted to do to her.
Pam never responded and would just hang up.
She said based on his voice alone,
she couldn’t tell if the man who attacked her was the same man who’d been calling.
But police thought it was very likely.
Just 20 months later, when Darlene’s body was found so close to Pam’s house,
she wondered if the same man was back.
That’s not my job to prove or disprove,
but there’s a lot of links and similarities.
I didn’t know at the time before my attack
that he had baled hay right around behind us.
I didn’t know that till after the investigation began with him.
And then, of course, when they found Darlene’s body,
it was immediately behind our house.
And so the helicopters ascended, all of the police ascended,
and I got in my car.
Well, we could watch it all from our yard.
And I got in my car and I went down to the officers who had the road blocked off.
And I said, you know, I said I wasn’t killed,
but I was attacked and my home was broken into.
So I feel like it’s similar enough,
and this is close enough to where this happened,
to where Darlene lived, that it warrants investigation.
They seemed to take her seriously, but as far as she could tell,
they didn’t really dig deeper into any potential connection at the time.
So as an investigation into Darlene’s case got underway,
Pam was just left to wonder if her attacker was still out there
and if he might come back.
It was, it was living hell.
And, you know, a lot to come to terms with as a young woman.
So different measures.
We took different measures, you know, put up a fence, got an outside dog.
People stayed with me for probably a good six months.
When Pam’s attacker was finally caught in the winter of 1987,
the name Kenneth McCune Jr. barely rang a bell.
She didn’t know him personally.
She just said that she knew his little sister
because they’d gone to high school together in Culver.
But that was it.
And at the time of his arrest in 87 and the sentencing in 88,
Darlene’s case was already cold.
And the only thing even remotely linking Kenneth McCune Jr. to Darlene
was a bunch of weird coincidences.
We talked in terms of coincidence.
I can’t prove a case on coincidence, but man, that’s, there’s a lot of coincidence.
We find even more coincidences in episode 10,
Look at the Deeds.
You can listen to that right now.