True Crime Podcast
Best true crime podcast of 2017. Each episode explores a new crime scene. The shocking, the terrifying, the strange, and the heartbreaking. Listen to true crime like it’s never been done before.
The Cleaning of John Doe’s true crime podcast follows Vanessa Phearson and her husband, Ethan, on some of their most grisly and interesting clean-ups. Life can change at any moment and The Beginning will tell the tale of how circumstances aligned (including witnessing a suicide) and led Vanessa from part-time telecommunication manager to full-time crime scene cleaner.
This ‘sure to be addicting’ true crime podcast will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. Get the inside story to real crime scenes like it has never been done before in a true crime podcast!
True Crime Podcast The Beginning pt. 1 Epi 2
When I tell people what I do for a living, I have to tell them two times, every time. It goes like this: “So, what do you do, Vanessa?” “Oh, I’m a crime scene cleaner.” “You’re a what cleaner?”
Crime scene cleaning is a job most people don’t even realize is a real thing. And I can understand it: tragedies like homicide or suicide – let alone cleaning up after one – is not something anyone likes to think about. So, when they find out it’s my job to do just that, it takes a second or two for it to sink in.
It is at this point that I get the inevitable duo of questions: “How did you get into doing that?” and “What’s the worst thing you’ve cleaned up?” The latter, I feel, is a bit of a subjective question. What makes it the worst clean-up? Is it the amount of blood? Is it the circumstances surrounding the incident? Or is it dealing with the grieving family? I will, in forthcoming episodes, be recounting stories that have some or all of these components and I’ll leave that question for you to answer.
As to how I got started, well let me tell you.
In the early 2000’s, I worked as a telecommunications manager for a small to mid-level telecommunications company. At the time, we serviced hotels on the Vegas Strip. After years of personally installing the systems, the job became tech support for our clients. So I was only working for 4 hours a day, I made enough to pay my bills and fund my weekend skydiving habit.
I was young and single. Nobody depended on me and I was going to live forever. Basically, life was good.
One day, a friend of mine asked me for a favor: there was someone at the company she worked for that was leaving and they needed a replacement. I thought that could be fun. They were fine with me working afternoons and I would be able to work closely with a good friend. Plus, the extra money wouldn’t hurt! So, I took the job.
I ended up really enjoying my position and this new company. It was a janitorial company and I grew really close with all of the cleaning crews and the clients – I was responsible for over 300 accounts. I went around and did weekly inspections of the bigger accounts to ensure my crews were providing top notch cleaning services for businesses, post production houses and even celebrities. I did estimates for new accounts, I handled all the cleaning crews and over the course of the years I established lifelong personal relationships with all of them and their families.
All was going well until the owner became very ill and passed away. His wife, who had no prior involvement in the company, was then left to try and keep the company running smoothly. She was overwhelmed, devastated and was struggling to keep things afloat, so she did what she thought was best and hired a personal friend of hers to come in and help take care of the finances.
It quickly became apparent to me that there was a personality clash with this lady. I tried to just stick to my side of the small office, but she was a constant wrench in my gears, and a thorn in my side. I reached out to owner a few times for help, but to no avail. Despite the fact she was only in charge of the finances, this lady thought she was the boss and she used her personal relationship with the owner as an excuse to belittle and berate everyone – not just me.
My crews, co-workers and clients alike would complain about her to me constantly. I tried to politely remind her that she was hired to do the finances only and that I had been running my section of the company successfully for years before her arrival, and her interference was unnecessary. Remember, I only worked afternoons here – so she had all morning before I arrived to wreak havoc at my desk. I’m sure you can imagine that we butted heads on many days.
It was one of these “head-butting” days that I found myself driving home in a fury. I couldn’t continue at this job I loved with this woman I couldn’t stand. I really loved this job – and I was really good at it. But one of us had to go. Since she wasn’t going I figured it would be me and I would start my own janitorial company!
So, I began plotting to start my own business and steal all of their clients – after all, the clients loved me, the crews loved me and no one liked her at all. Yes! This would be my revenge! Then reality set in and I remembered that I’m not that type of person. Sure, I can be a little odd at times, but not vengeful. However, it got me thinking, did I really want to work for someone for the rest of my life? Despite my hard work and expert handling of my job, I was ignored by the owner and all my credit was stolen by you-know-who. I was no longer satisfied being a good employee and decided I needed to be a boss.
As I was contemplating my next career move and wondering the direction it would go, the car in front of me slammed on their brakes and I heard the gut-wrenching squeal of a dog that had just been hit by a car. The car took off and I stopped to see if I could help. Unfortunately, the dog had been killed on impact and he had no collar on so there was no way to contact the owner. As he lay there on the side of the road, his innards smeared on the pavement, a thought train was about to pull out of the station and it would be that train that would eventually take me to Crime Scene Cleaner-ville.
Someone came out of their house and asked if I was OK. I told them I was fine but someone had just hit and killed this dog. Despite the darkness and the distance, I could tell her face went white and that she was the owner of this poor mutt. As she ran to the road, she asked if he was OK. I didn’t have time to answer before she saw for herself.
I offered my condolences and she thanked me and asked if I had any description of the car. Unfortunately, I had been too lost in my thoughts to take notice of any details. I apologized and she thanked me and she then asked me the one question that would change my life forever. “How do I clean this up?” I had no idea and suggested she call Animal Control – it was the first thing I could think of. She thanked me again and I got into my car and continued home.
“How do I clean this up?” kept playing in my head. I had no idea. But I thought, “If nobody does that job, I could!”
Eureka! That was it! I would clean up roadkill. I’ve got a strong stomach and I’d be my own boss! I would drive around and clean up roadkill. There was just one problem: Who was going to pay me for that?
So, I arrived at home and went straight to the computer and fired up the ole’ dial-up internet. A very short search killed that idea! Animal Control turned out to be the right call. In addition to capturing and housing loose animals, roadkill clean-up was in the job description. That wasn’t going to work. A government job was not the place to go to avoid working for someone else.
Discouraged and afraid that I would be doomed to be an employee forever, I kept going back to the question I had been asked earlier: “How do I clean this up?” I immediately flashed back to something that had occurred when I was a teenager.
One day, I was across a busy intersection waiting for my light to turn green, which was apparently never going to happen. As I was standing there, incessantly pressing the crosswalk button, I saw something that nobody should ever see: I saw a body fall to the pavement from the roof of a hotel. I’m not sure if I was in shock, or what, but I didn’t freak out. It hardly seemed to even register in mind what had just happened. I was more annoyed about the light taking forever to change.
By the time my light finally turned and I got across to the other side, hotel staff had swarmed the area. I could hear sirens in the distance and I was just able to see the point of impact. I was amazed at all the blood, and how far it had spread. Although blood was everywhere, there was only one area where it had pooled – that was at the spot where his body lay. The staff tried to usher me away, but I told them I witnessed it, as if that gave me the right to stay. I kept looking in awe and amazed at how bright and how much blood there was.
I gave my statement to the police as the EMTs draped the body with a sheet, trying to be mindful of where they were stepping. It had played in my head over and over and still had not evoked any reaction. I then continued on my way as if nothing had happened.
It’s really interesting to recount this event. I have thought about it now and again, but for some reason I wasn’t traumatized at all. I’m still not. I can replay it clear as day, and it’s awful. But it didn’t affect me the way you might expect. It might sound heartless, but I was a strange kid. I was never emotional, in fact, you could say I lacked all emotion. It wasn’t that I was depressed or anything – I was often happy, you just couldn’t tell from my face. It wasn’t until my 20s that I actually realized that I didn’t smile much, if ever. It was this realization that allowed me try and analyze myself and I’ve come to the conclusion that I was just a serious kid. I am much more animated nowadays and maybe it was because I had kids or married a great guy, but my face and feelings have finally synched up.
Anyway, in recounting this incident, the question that kept playing in my head – “How do I clean this up?” – quickly went to, “Who cleans up when a person dies?” I could do that! I immediately answered my own question like most people do – the police do it…or do they? I tried to remember the police cleaning up the scene I had witnessed as a kid but I hadn’t stuck around long enough to see that part of it. I was back to discouraged thinking I had to join the police force and go through months and months of training and get a degree and…it was all too much. But, I checked anyway and I soon stumbled across the crime scene cleaning industry. It wasn’t the police – it wasn’t even paid for by a government agency! It was up to the family or property owner to clean it up. YES! I could do that! That was it! I loved both of my jobs, but it felt like the age old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” had finally been answered.
After a little bit more research, I found an out-of-state company that would provide the training. I bought my seat in the class and booked my flight right there. The next day, I turned in my notice at the janitorial company – and requested a vacation from my other job. Within the week, I boarded a plane to what I thought would be the last stop on my journey to personal success.
After my training, I got home and I was on cloud 9. I resumed my telecommunication job but I was always trying to figure out how to get started cleaning up crime scenes and other bloody messes that nobody wanted to do. I was going to be a business owner! And not only that, it was going to be a business I loved. As the months went by, it slowly dawned on me: this wasn’t going to happen.
Was I really going to leave a nice cushy job that required very little time from me and gave me sufficient money to live the life I wanted to live in order to start a business from square zero? The unfortunate but simple answer was obvious: No. No, I wasn’t. I felt like my life goal had just been smashed into pieces. However, I was free of that awful lady and so not all was completely lost. I chalked it up to an experience and a good idea, but I would just go back to the way things had been. It was a fun trip but it had come to an end…. To Be Continued in part 2..
Other True Crime Podcast Episodes
True Crime Podcast: Episode 1
True Crime Podcast: Episode 3
True Crime Podcast: Episode 4
True Crime Podcast: Episode 5
True Crime Podcast: Episode 6
True Crime Podcast: Episode 7
True Crime Podcast: Episode 8