Shane Waters has a message for people willing to post ugly theories online about real tragedies: Think before you type.
It’s a lesson he learned while researching the murder more than half a century ago of a 16-year-old Ohio girl named Beverly Jarosz.
“Please remember that what we write on social media is about real people with real feelings and real families,” Waters said in a message to such posters. “It breaks my heart to imagine anyone’s son or grandson would have to read anything negative about someone they loved.”
Waters hosts a new podcast called American CrimeCast, which focuses on unsolved murder cases by interviewing surviving family members still seeking answers. The Jarosz case has been featured on his show twice, and it was also highlighted in episode 6 of The Enquirer’s investigative podcast “Accused: The Unsolved Murder of Elizabeth Andes.”
It’s in the first of Waters’ episodes on Jarosz that he addresses hateful theories posted to online forums.
“Since the day after Beverly was murdered, people grew fascinated by the case,” Waters said. “Hearing the strongly held opinions and theories and how they were forcibly pushed onto the family and friends of Beverly’s, it is clear to me that Beverly has not been the only victim of this murder.”
The Andes and Jarosz cases overlapped because the two young women both hailed from the Cleveland area and were slain on the same day – Dec. 28 – but 14 years apart. Beverly, of Garfield Heights, died in 1964; Beth was killed in Oxford in 1978. She had the day before left her family’s home in Rocky River, about 20 minutes from Garfield Heights.
Despite the time gap in the slayings, retired FBI agent Dan Vogel told The Enquirer their similarities might warrant a closer look to eliminate any possibility they share a culprit.
Both young brunettes were strangled, then stabbed, in vicious attacks in their homes. They both had ligatures around their necks, both were found in compromising positions despite not having been raped, and both cases involved investigators that zeroed in on boyfriends despite no physical evidence.
Both cases remain unsolved.
While Oxford residents largely accepted Andes’ acquitted boyfriend as the culprit – despite him being cleared by two separate juries – the circumstances of Beverly’s death continue to spark theories about family abuse and secret lives, none of which are substantiated, Carol Jarosz, Beverly’s sister, told Waters in the podcast. She called the theories and the people behind them cruel and obtuse.
“I acknowledge that Beverly’s death means something different to them than it does to me and her loved ones,” Carol Jarosz said in the program. “To them, it’s entertainment value. It’s a captivating murder mystery, a whodunit like a novel or a movie. But it’s so disrespectful to us when it’s in a public forum like social media.”
Unlike the serialized “Accused,” American CrimeCast is in more of a question-and-answer format. Family members reminisce about the personalities of the loved ones they lost and provide details of the case in hopes of triggering new leads.
In Jarosz’s case, some long-held rumors were addressed and dismissed, such as one tale involving a potentially sinister pastor. Carol Jarosz in fact says the pastor at the center of the rumors had never met Beverly but was so touched by her death that he counseled the family afterward.
Waters, of Muncie, Ind., is a 27-year-old with standup comedy on his resume. He’d studied forensics in college before deciding he might be better suited for a psychology degree.
“You're taught in school, don't see the victims as people but just as names," he said. "I found it really hard for me to separate myself from the people."
He launched American CrimeCast in May, he said, to try to help families enduring unfathomable heartache.The podcast so far has featured four slayings in five podcasts, including the 2009 Michigan murder of 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan.
Waters said he tries with each podcast to find a way to commemorate the victims. To that end, he's launching a Kickstarter project to help the Jarosz family fulfill one of Beverly’s dreams: They’re publishing a book of her poetry.
The full-color book is called “Unfulfilled” – a phrase used in an eerily prophetic poem Beverly wrote the year before she died, in which she said that if she died soon, her life’s potential would be unfulfilled.
For Christmas just days before she died, Beverly received a journal from her father to keep her poetry. Once the book was filled, her dad said he would send it to New York City to be published.
“So for those three days, she would sit there and she would write her poems in it,” Waters said. “But then, unfortunately, someone murdered her and she was never able to publish that book.”
Waters said the book will include letters from Beverly’s sister Carol and mother Eleanor, who’s now in her mid-90s, written to the teen slain so many years ago.
“They don’t know who did it, they don’t know why it was done,” Waters said. “You see 52 years of the past in reading these letters and what they want to say to Beverly. You see, it hasn’t gotten any easier.”