Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Searching For Ghosts: The Case Of Nancy Lynn Blankenship

Apr 25, 2017

When I put together an episode of the podcast, I have to try to put myself in the listeners’ shoes. I have to keep up with the information I’ve released versus the information that I know. And with every episode, I have to ask myself, “What is the question that listeners are asking after hearing this?"
I know what I would be asking if I were on the other end of this deal. “What about the mother? Where is Cindy?  
I’m Brandon Barnett. And this is Searching For Ghosts.
I’m glad that I’m not from Milan. I had no knowledge of anything about this case when I started Searching For Ghosts. I just remembered seeing the billboards when she went missing twenty years ago and some news reports here and there.
As I started investigating this, I soon learned something. Everyone in Milan has a theory of what happened to Cayce. And the town is split on who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. 
One person will recommend that you talk to someone, while another person will claim that that someone cannot be trusted. Milan is a small town, and everyone seems to know everyone else's business.
And with this case, it’s not as if you can just look at someone’s criminal history to determine if they are credible or a possible suspect. It seems that everyone I look into has had some sort of run-in with the law. It’s staggering, actually. 
And any disclaimer I receive on a certain person is given so casually, “He’s been in prison three times, but he’s a good guy.” Wait. What?
So I came into this thing with a blank slate, and to be honest, I’m skeptical of everyone, and at the same time, not pre-judging anyone. I haven’t had forty years of hearing about so and so, and how they used to beat their dog or whatever. I wasn’t raised in the Gibson County bubble, so hopefully, I can be objective.
But you also cannot ignore when certain names or theories keep popping up over and over again. And in one form or another, Cindy McDaniel, Cayce’s mother, always comes up.
You don’t have to have been raised in Milan to hear the story, you know, THE STORY, and question the reaction time of Cindy before she called looking for Cayce.
This is from a WMCTV News Report out of Memphis on the 14th anniversary of Cayce’s disappearance  

Other parents who were close to Cayce at church questioned why Cayce's mother Cindy waited so long to check on her daughter.

"Momma came in, doors were open, lights were on, and clothes were there...and they just went to bed," said church member Polly Fitzgerald.  "I'd be frantic. It'd scare me to death... I would have found out something that night.  I wouldn't have waited to the next day.  Something's not right," she adds.
But the more people I talk to in Milan, the more I realize that a lot of kids in that area were raised in a manner where they might just stay over at a friend’s house with no notice. I only have my childhood to compare, and if my Mom would’ve had access to GPS at the time, she would’ve tracked me constantly. But as I stated earlier, evidently, this wasn’t the case with a lot of parents, including Cindy McDaniel.
But the way the house was found still sends up a red flag.
The next thing that people point to with Cindy is that she doesn’t come to the vigils for Cayce anymore and that she has been off the radar for years. This stood out to me when I first started my research. In fact, Cindy has basically been off the GRID for close to ten years.
From reports that I can find, Cindy still attended the vigils as late as the tenth anniversary in 2006.
From an article in The Jackson Sun in 06:
Whether she never got to 15, or is a 24-year-old runaway somewhere, is the biggest thing that eats at her mother, Cindy McDaniel Bolton.
"There's no day that goes by when I don't think about her," McDaniel Bolton said.

Thinking about what's happened to her daughter's friends breaks her down, again.
"They're in college, getting married, having babies ..." she said through sobs Monday. "And we still don't know."
But by 2010, WMCTV reported in a one off statement that 
“Investigators say they can't locate Cayce's mom Cindy."
And just like with the story of how the house was found in 1996, it’s the lack of information in these reports that screams the loudest.
Then there are the stories of Cindy’s history with drug and alcohol abuse. The talk is that Cindy and Steve, her boyfriend at the time, were at a bar in Jackson the night Cayce went missing.
Steve is currently in prison, and many of Steve and Cindy’s known associates at the time have long criminal histories…violent criminal histories.
So this has fueled theories over the years that Cayce’s abduction and possible murder were retribution for a drug debt. There is even talk in some circles of a prostitution ring. 
And apparently, the motive of a drug debt is not just small town gossip. This appears to be the theory held by law enforcement. After months of reaching out, I finally spoke with the former lead investigator on the case, Jerry Hartsfield, who now lives in Canada. He wasn’t bashful in expressing his thoughts about a possible motive.
(Sound clip of Hartsfield being assigned the case, his theory)
According to Hartsfield, Cindy was questioned numerous times, including by the FBI, but there was never enough evidence to prove that Cindy was either directly or indirectly responsible for her daughter’s disappearance.
(Sound clip Hartsfield: Failing lie detector test)
But according to the interview I conducted with Dawn and Kathy a few weeks ago, Billy Hale, from The National Missing Children’s Locate Center, told Cindy to expect to fail the lie detector test. 
(Sound clip of Dawn-Lie Detector)
Although never officially declared a suspect (at least in the media), I’ve heard from numerous people around at the time that law enforcement zeroed in on Cindy from the beginning. It appears that they felt she was connected to Cayce’s disappearance in one way or another.
The fact that Cindy has all but disappeared herself, doesn’t help her case in the court of public opinion. So many that I have talked to, all point to the fact that she isn’t currently publicly trying to find answers in her daughter’s disappearance as an indication of guilt.
But in those early Mirror-Exchange articles from 1996 and 1997, it appears that Cindy WAS involved.
The October 1st edition states that Cindy was one of the people who helped secure funds to bring in Valorie, the search and rescue dog from Episode 2.
Cindy also spoke to the press one year later on the first anniversary of Cayce’s disappearance, asking the public not to forget about her daughter.
Cindy was the one who contacted a psychic to help in the case. She and Billy Hale were even on the Leeza Gibbons show, looking for answers.
(Sound clip from Leeza)
In the interview from a few weeks ago, Dawn and Kathy talk about their firsthand knowledge of Cindy’s involvement in those first six months.
(Sound clips from helicopter, binoculars and cleaning out her locker)
So is Cindy’s silence in recent years, the actions of someone complicit in their daughter’s disappearance, or are these the actions of someone prone to substance abuse, just worn out for being under suspicion for over 20 years?
The best person to answer that question is Cindy herself.
I’ve been trying to locate Cindy since late last year. And Ive heard everything regarding her location, from being in prison to moving out of the area.
I had a source who told me that they had located her, that she was still in the area. This source says they gave her my contact info, but two months went by and I heard nothing.
But after the launch of the podcast, I started getting some traction. I had family members contacting me, saying that they were working to connect us.
Then on April 14, I received a post on my Facebook timeline that read: "Hello Brandon. I’m Cindy McDaniel, Cayce’s mama. Would like to speak to you. Get back with me if you’re interested."
I immediately contacted one of Cayce’s cousins to see if this was legit. And it was.
Since this was on my timeline and not in a private message, a lot of people saw it. One person contacted me stating that they took a screenshot of this and sent it to authorities. I’m still unsure why.
A few days later, a source of mine and I were supposed to meet with the mayor of Milan to discuss releasing some of the police reports pertaining to the case. I had an emergency come up and my source went without me.
My source was told that a special investigator was being put on the Cayce McDaniel case. I finally felt like we were making progress. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a special investigator on this case in over ten years.
So I reached out to my friends in the media in Jackson to verify this, before I made the announcement. Not only would law enforcement not confirm this, my source received a phone call from the mayor’s office scolding them for releasing this information. Law enforcement does not want the media involved.
I understand that there are certain things about an open case that have to be guarded. But I wouldn’t think that this would be one of them. Was law enforcement just telling my source what they thought he wanted to hear? Is the reason for not wanting this released to the media that they want to protect the integrity of the investigation, or is it because there is no new special investigator?
Meanwhile, I had been working all week to set up a time to meet with Cindy. We had a tentative date of this past Saturday, April 22nd.
That Saturday, I received a message from a relative of Cindy. This person stated that Cindy had been arrested that morning over some unpaid fines, and was being  held without bond.
Considering the events of the past couple of weeks, the timing of this arrest seems off to me. Arrested on a Saturday for unpaid fines? On the Saturday we were supposed to meet?
And I found the mugshot. Her arrest has been confirmed. Is law enforcement sending a message? Are the old fines the real reason Cindy was taken into custody on a Saturday after publicly stating that she wanted to talk to me? Has the investigation moved up in the priority ladder within the Milan Police Department. Just two months ago, the police chief told me himself that it would take awhile for them to find the files on the McDaniel case?
Will Cindy be more or less likely to talk to me when she gets out of jail? Is there anyone I can trust? For Ghosts Website