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Friday, July 12, 2024

Foul Play in Ferguson

True crime podcast uncovers truth in activist’s murder

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Darren Seals was an activist. Darren Seals fought for racial justice, anti-gun violence and anti-police brutality. Darren Seals was found shot inside a burning car on Sept. 6, 2016, and no one knows what happened … or do they?

The iHeart and Double Asterisk podcast After the Uprising hosted by Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Ray Nowosielski dives head-first into Seals’ death and tries to uncover the unsolved case in the second season of their show.

The idea follows the questionable deaths of activists following the Ferguson protests in August of 2014.

“A lot of those original people have died mysteriously. There are questions about how and why,” Nowosielski said.

The first season, The Death of Danyé Dion Jones hosted by John Duffy and Nowosielski, followed the tragic and mysterious death of the activist in 2018. Found hanging from a tree in his backyard, his death was reported a suicide by police. The truth was muddled, DNA was overlooked, and the investigation revealed a dark pattern that continued.

“We started working with the family,” Nowosielski said. “We spent two and a half years working with (Jones’ mother) and Jones’ family to try and find answers.”

The second season, which debuted on June 11, follows this dark pattern as it makes an appearance in the death of Seals. Found shot and placed in a car before it was set on fire, Seals’ murder remains a mystery to his family.

“(Darren) ended up killed and it came out of nowhere,” Chapell-Nadal said. “The second season is a step-by-step of the outer circle of who Darren communicated with, who his friends were, what he was up to and then we zeroed in on other issues surrounding his death.”

As described by Nowosielski, the background of Seals’ death was complicated. .

Seals was a prominent activist and was involved in the music industry as a rapper and manager. Amid his involvement with the community, he was suddenly found dead in a burning Jeep early in the morning in a parking lot in Riverview, Missouri, near Ferguson. According to Nowosielski, rumors spread that the culprit could be anyone from a white supremacist to the police to gang violence to even a serial killer.

“These were all leads and things that we explored in the series before we actually managed to find what we think is the answer,” Nowosielski said.

One of the more challenging aspects of the investigation, according to Chappell-Nadal, was figuring out Seals’ past before his involvement in the movement and starting from there.

The co-hosts were forced to ask questions like “What kind of person was Seals?” and “Was he in the streets or not in the streets?” Trying to find the answers to these questions would lead them to understand how his activism and life led up to his death.

“(Seals) was really a multi-dimensional person who had to deal with life on the streets,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “He was a Black man wanting to do positive things for people.”

The investigative work was tedious and required extensive research, according to the hosts.

“Basically, you go down multiple rabbit holes,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “You don’t know which rabbit hole you’re going to find something.”

The key, according to Nowosielski, is communication between the cohosts and their team members, John Duffy and Mallory Keenoy, who helped extensively throughout the process.

“The text chains between all of us were going off all the time, day and night for most of the last two and a half years,” Nowosielski said. “It was a lot of comparing notes on the daily.”

The team hopes that listeners and the family of Seals will finally understand what happened to him and gain peace when they listen to season two.

“I believe everyone will feel that they know the answers after listening,” Nowosielski said. “There’s a lot of true crime out there, but there’s not a lot that actually solves the case, and people will listen and know the answers for the first time in eight years.”

The iHeart and Double Asterisk production of After the Uprising is available wherever listeners get their podcasts. All ten episodes of season two will be available Tuesday, June 11. For more information, visit iheart.com/podcast/1119-after-the-uprising-83445801.

Contact Staff Writer Hanna Rauworth at 317-762-7854 or follow her on Instagram at @hanna.rauworth.

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