Don’t ask Terry Dunn Meurer which episode Unsolved mysteries Volume 2 is his favorite. The show’s longtime executive producer, who has been telling stories of cold cases since 1987, will dance around a response. It will weigh on which episode is the most mysterious. Perhaps the ones that are most likely to be resolved. But not preferred. Because for Meurer, each episode of his 35 years with the series is a journey towards answers for those who need them most.
“It’s like, how do you pick one of your kids and say, ‘Which one is your favorite? “She says when asked to select the best of Unsolved mysteries‘new season, which dropped on Netflix on October 19. Meurer is one of many producers to go through hundreds of story submissions to deliver six mysterious hours of television. “We will examine any story that comes to our attention,” she promises. Even the most unlikely cases.
Once a mystery is selected, Meurer says things quickly get personal. She is sailing on a steep embankment in which JoAnn Romain disappeared for episode 5, “La Dame au lac”. She gives credible advice to law enforcement once an episode airs. And she’s texting loved ones of those on the show long after they’ve told their stories. Ahead, Meurer reveals what new mysteries she wants you to solve and why Unsolved mysteries gives hope to those who watch it.
How the Unsolved mysteries team find stories, especially for volume 2?
I still use the word diversity. We’re looking for different types of categories and stories so that we don’t tell three murder stories in a row. We have a murder, a missing person, a paranormal story that may be a ghost or a UFO, a wanted case. It is important that we provide the audience with a variety of mysteries because everyone loves a different story. We want to offer our international audience Unsolved mysteries stories too. Volume 2 contains two international stories. One takes place in Norway and the other in Japan.
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Then it’s really about looking at the real people whose mysteries are. We seek the diversity of ages and urban areas versus rural areas, ethnicities and races. We want to represent as many cultures as possible in every volume of episodes that we do. Solvency is then really important. We’re looking for cases that … well they’re not easy to solve or we wouldn’t, but cases that actually have the potential to be solved because there are leads or theories or law enforcement really thinks if they understand the story there that they can solve it.
Which episode of volume 2 is your favorite?
I really hesitate to answer this question as these are all my favorites, all for different reasons. I get very personally involved in the stories with the participants. Maybe I’ll answer it in a different way. I think the most resolved cases are “Death Row Fugitive”, the story of Lester Eubanks. We have a feeling that someone knows where he is and that he could have passed away by now, but at least someone could tell us.
“Death in Oslo” is a very mysterious case, and there are two mysteries there. It’s about who a woman is and then how she died. I think someone will be able to see the composite of her face and someone will recognize her, hopefully. Then there’s “Stolen Kids,” an episode about New York’s missing children. At the end of this episode we have what we call a roll call of a number of other cases, faces of missing children. We have their age progressions, so what they looked like when they were gone and now what they would look like when they were between 20 and 30. We hope the public will take a very close look at them and see if we can resolve one.
The most mysterious case is that of “Lady in the Lake”. This is a 55 year old woman who allegedly just left church one evening and walked through a few freeway lanes in the snow with her five inch heels and walked down that very, very steep embankment in the water. The police theory is that she committed suicide, but the family does not believe that she committed suicide. They believe it was a criminal act. After standing there at this church and on this highway and trying to go down that embankment in tennis shoes, it’s very steep and I’m pretty nimble. We don’t know what happened.
After an episode airs, how many emails and tips on phone calls do you receive? And how many are legitimate?
We have received over 4,000 tips or comments since the launch of Volume 1. We review everything that goes into the website. The episode which received the most concrete advice that we were able to transmit to the police was the episode “House of Terror” on the fugitive in France. We’ve shared over 1,000 solid tips. In this case, there was a small group of councils that came from Chicago. It was like, “Well, maybe he’s in Chicago.” It’s a possibility. The episode we received the most emails about itself was “Mystery on the Rooftop”. The tips keep coming. We encourage them to keep coming.
Over the decades, what percentage of cases have been resolved in one way or another?
I think this figure is over 25%. It could be closer to 30%. Not all cases can be resolved, as I mentioned. When we do this calculation, we are simply looking at the solvable cases. But we have produced over 1,300 items and about 270 have been resolved.
The show has been around for 34 years. What makes it stand the test of time?
I think the public is very engaged in the idea that it could help solve one of these mysteries. When we started we didn’t know how many or if we were even going to resolve cases. But then when we started producing the updates and giving the public the information on the cases that were resolved, I think people got very involved because they want these people to be resolved. They have a lot of hope, as do the people whose cases we are profiling.
People who submit their stories to us watch Unsolved mysteries almost like a court of last resort, because these cases are often very, very cold. What Unsolved mysteries does he light a fire under law enforcement and the public to review this. The hope is always that sometimes the weather makes a difference. Someone is feeling guilty about some information, or maybe they’re thinking, “You know what? Maybe this tip is worth it.” Cases have been resolved because of DNA shots, which is also possible. This is why we are continuing, because we hope that we can bring some of these cases to an end.
You mentioned how personal each of these cases seems to you. Keep in touch with one of the families you have worked with Unsolved mysteries?
I do. In fact, during that call, I just got a text from Allison Rivera, who was Rey Rivera’s wife in the episode “Mystery on the Rooftop”. I remain in contact with Michelle Romain, the daughter of the woman in the “La Dame au lac” affair. But at some point, they have to give up. They broadcast it. We do whatever we can, give them the leads and everything, and if there’s no fence, you don’t want to keep opening this wound up again. Every time someone goes to tell their story again, it’s like tearing up that bandage.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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