After solving her former roommate’s murder, a case that had gone cold for more than 25 years, private investigator Shelia Wysocki devoted herself to detective work completely, founding the non-profit Without Warning: Fight Back. She uses this as an outlet for advocating for victims of crime and she uses podcasting to help spread the word.
The Lauren Agee case is the subject of Sheila’s podcast. Lauren Agee attended an event on the water called Wakefest in Smithville, TN, with some friends. On the last day, without warning, Lauren’s life was gone in an instant. Wysocki draws back the curtain to go behind the scenes of the investigation.
In one episode, it’s amazing how many times one of the detectives on the case answers “I don’t recall,” during a deposition. Wysocki wants listeners to decide who’s telling the truth, who isn’t, what happened to the evidence, and what happened with the police investigation. Was it murder or a tragic accident, you decide. Wysocki’s popdcast is true crime in real time and here is our profile with Sheila Wysocki, host of Without Warning.
PBJ: How and why did you get into podcasting?
Sheila Wysocki: I started the podcast to get tips on the cold case I was working on, the Lauren Agee case. I was hoping witnesses would come forward to expose the truth. It worked, witnesses came forward with tips.
PBJ: Tell us how you launched, what equipment you used, and how you lined up interviews to get rolling?
Sheila Wysocki: I went to Guitar Center in Brentwood and the salesperson helped me with all the equipment. I bought a Shure microphone (the one Michael Jackson used in Thriller. I figured if it was good enough for Michael Jackson it was good enough for me) Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone, Apollo Receiver, Hindenburg software.
PBJ: Who edits the show for you or do you do that yourself?
Sheila Wysocki: There is a combination of people that participate with my editing, I have three years of tape from investigation. Katie Zitzman and Erin Parker (former producer of Dr. Phil’s). I also edit on the show. I love Hindenburg program, it is so easy to use and edit for novices like myself.
PBJ: Why’d you choose this case?
Sheila Wysocki: The reason I chose this case out of all the cases I have been doing is because of the abuse/torture this family has endured while seeking the truth of their daughter’s death. The family was let down by every person that was supposed to protect and serve them along with the justice system. All of my clients have to fight for the truth but for some reason Sherry Smith, the mother of Lauren Agee, was treated with special contempt. Sherry is a strong woman and I suspect in the South the authorities are not used to being questioned, so she was targeted and crushed. I couldn’t sit around and not help her, so I started the podcast to expose everything she has been through.
PBJ: What has changed in this case since you started the podcast?
Sheila Wysocki: The most incredible tool ever used in investigation is podcasting. The entire outlook for the case has changed by sharing real-audio depositions. The podcast has facilitated witnesses coming forward and putting together the puzzle together on what happened to Lauren the night she died. The coolest moment is when the results of the appeal were announced a listener emailed me we won! Sweet moment as a podcaster sharing with the audience.
PBJ: There are a ton of true crime shows out there. How are you breaking through the clutter?
Sheila Wysocki: My podcast is a behind-the-scenes investigative story. I share with the audience what happens in a real private investigation. I share the good, bad, and truly ugly moments as I walk through an investigation. I don’t sugar coat the story, I share my emotions — the highs, lows, and outrage. I believe in the audience crowdsourcing to help with the case. I have been pleasantly surprised at the engagement of the audience in finding the truth.
PBJ: Are you making money at podcasting or is it used more as a way to promote your PI business?
Sheila Wysocki: Not one penny, this is a passion project. I have put in over 50,000 hours to help solve this case and get the truth out. Crazy right? I am just now (this week) looking for sponsors. I have been approached by other attorneys to do a podcast on their cases along with a District Attorney to get the word out. Once I take the time to get sponsors I will be able to do other stories for these victims, use the public for crowdsourcing, and help resolve the cases for the families. Yes, this is a good way to promote my business but I turned a couple of cases away a week prior to podcasting, now I am turning dozens of cases away. I believe podcasting can help all these families, I don’t have time to help personally.