Sitting in a local coffee house in Parkersburg, she comes prepared for her job. She sets out her microphone, laptop, cell phone and then, finally, a binder full of case information that is nearly as large as she is. She pushes her glasses up as she pores over the binder, noting case information and talking points for her next episode of Mile Marker 181.
This is your host Emily Nestor.
Emily grew up in Parkersburg, W.Va. to the soundtracks of Forensic Files and medical stories as her parents worked on the psych unit and as a security guard at the local hospital. While most kids shied away from the missing, the injured and the murdered, Emily leaned in closer.
“Everybody likes true crime to a certain extent. It’s like rumors. You can deny that you like gossip, but you do. It’s a dark part of your mind where you want to know these awful details,” Emily said.
Because I had already been watching Law & Order: SVU and Silence of the Lambs, at 12, 13 years old, I was like ‘I’m going to make sure this guy doesn’t get away.
This love of crime, murder and more continued into adolescence as Emily watched Olivia Benson lock up the bad guys each episode. At 13, Emily followed in Olivia’s footsteps as she helped solve a case at the local library where a man was exposing himself to young girls.
“I was in the public library where a man exposed himself to me. Because I had already been watching Law & Order: SVU and Silence of the Lambs, at 12, 13 years old, I was like ‘I’m going to make sure this guy doesn’t get away,” Emily said.
Emily immediately reported the incident to the librarian who had received complaints from the parents of other young girls the week before. Immediately calling the law enforcement, they were able to arrive and arrest the man before he left the library.
“I felt like I had solved a crime at 13 years old,” Emily said.
Fast forward through high school, Emily moved overseas as an au pair to explore Europe.
Emily was in Germany on November 19, 2011.
Listeners of the podcast know the importance of that date. That is the night Jaleayah Davis was killed as her car struck a guardrail and she was ejected from her vehicle. The controversy surrounding the case has left it open for discussion by many locals.
“I woke up and had seen on Facebook where everyone was talking about the accident. I didn’t know her personally and I didn’t have her added on Facebook or anything – I had never met her. I followed the incident on Facebook and then on the Justice for Jaleayah page,” Emily said.
Years later, Emily is drawing attention to the case again through her interest in true crime. Emily is a dog care worker during the day, and will be the first to clarify that she doesn’t have formal training in the podcast or journalism realm. What she does have, though, is passion, brains and curiosity to delve deep into the case.
“Earlier this year, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara came out about the Golden State Killer – this was before he was arrested. It was about her search to piece that together, but she had no real qualifications. She was a writer who enjoyed true crime blogs. It was her passion project. I kept thinking that somebody could do something like that with the Jaleayah Davis case, but I don’t have the patience to write – grammar, editing, no patience for it,” Emily said.
However, Emily was inspired after attending Crime Con in May 2018.
In two to three days we had a phone call, and within the week she had given me all the case documents.
“I started thinking that a podcast might be a really good format to do this in. I got to meet a lot of people and had a great experience there to get my courage up to go for it. I finally got the nerve to message her mom (Kim Davis) while I was in a bar at a Crime Con event. She got back to me immediately. In two to three days we had a phone call, and within the week she had given me all the case documents,” Emily said.
The case document binder, or The Book, as Emily lovingly refers to it, contains all of the information obtained by Kim in her Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request. This was the first step to getting the podcast going. It took Emily about two weeks to read through the information chronologically, highlighting important information along the way. Emily describes her job as sometimes feeling like an invasion of privacy to Jaleayah as she goes through the contents of her phone.
“I was lucky to get these, her mom was willing to share everything from medical examiner pictures, pictures of her car at the scene to interviews to phone records – all of it,” Emily said.
Kim fully trusted Emily with the case. According to Emily, she trusted her and was very excited about the possibility of a podcast where the whole story could be told without a 30-minute episode time constraint.
Kim also knows that Emily is a local who might understand the case and the town better than an outsider.
They’re much more comfortable sitting down and having a conversation with someone who isn’t anyone.
Although Emily doesn’t personally know anyone involved, she describes knowing them through “a degree of separation” because of the small town.
“Being local has been advantageous for sure. I don’t think I could go somewhere – even like Morgantown – and have the same success twice as far as getting people to talk to me and come forward with information. Just getting people to confirm small things, confirming alibis or proving that their alibis are false – it’s been a huge advantage to be a local. It probably helps too that I’m 5’3” and small, someone who doesn’t come off as law enforcement or a journalist. They’re much more comfortable sitting down and having a conversation with someone who isn’t anyone,” Emily said.
As Emily’s journey into the case goes deeper, she works on creating new content for each week. Her content has to be interesting and keep the listener engaged through the entire episode. To accomplish this, Emily has a wall in her home dedicated to the podcast where she organizes and posts new ideas for episodes. Unfortunately, the content of the case can weigh on Emily as she still manages a full-time job, a husband and two dogs along with creating and promoting the podcast.
“This week has been a really bad, depressing week. You get to the point where it feels like these are just characters and I can detach. Other times, it’s really depressing because you realize that no matter what you do, this girl is dead and she’s not going to come back. It can be really heavy subject matter,” Emily said.
When she has a gut feeling and evidence, that’s what makes her tick.
However, Emily still has favorite parts – catching people in their lies ranks highly for her. Emily describes a time where she spoke with someone concerning the case and they gave a completely different story than they did originally. When she has a gut feeling and evidence, that’s what makes her tick.
Emily admits that one day she will run out of subject matter, but that doesn’t mean the podcast will be over.
“There are television opportunities in the works, and those things take time. Even when I run out of material, I will never walk away from the project as a whole until it gets reopened. Even then, I would want to see it through,” Emily said.
As for the reopening of the case, she isn’t sure how that will happen, but it is her end goal. Emily believes in the material she releases, and she spends hours researching to provide quality information to her listeners.
“To get it reopened, that’s the goal. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I don’t believe it was an accident. I think the evidence is overwhelming, and even though things may have spiraled out of control, I don’t think it was an accident,” Emily said.
You can listen to Mile Marker 181 through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. It’s also available on Alexa enabled devices through the AnyPod or TuneIn apps.