Facing Evil is the latest offering from the hosts of the popular true crime podcast, Root of Evil. Writer and Podcaster Diana Safieh takes a listen…
For those of you who missed Root of Evil, this 2019 hit saw hosts and sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile unravel their own family secrets. They set about exploring their grandfather Dr George Hodel’s involvement in the 1947 Elizabeth Short case, The Black Dahlia Murder. And now Pecoraro and Gentile are back with Facing Evil, delving into a different case each week with a touching affinity to families also hit by tragedy.
This podcast starts as an ode to Hawaii, where the hosts are from. And this is where the first case takes place. Lisa Au left her boyfriend’s sister’s house in Honolulu one night in 1982, and no spoilers, but it did not end well for her.
Pecoraro and Gentile go through the various suspects (it’s always the boyfriend, right?) and discuss the chilling possibility that it was someone posing as a police officer who pulled her over to the side of the road that night.
Episode 2 covers the 1998 murder of 21-year-old gay student Matthew Shepard. He was approached by two men at a bar and inexplicably left with them. He was found the next day tied to a fence, and died six days later as a result of his injuries.
Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were caught and charged, and this case brought hate crimes to the forefront of the public’s mind. The suspects even used homophobic slurs during their testimonies to the police.
Pecoraro is gay. Gentile is clearly an ally. Pecoraro came out at 30 (she is now 43), and says she would have come out sooner if not for this murder, which took place while she was in high school. The direct impact of this murder on these sisters is tangible.
The first two cases addressed by Facing Evil led to changes in US legislation. In the Lisa Au case, police officers are no longer allowed to use blue lights on top of civilian-appearing cars, because it is too easy to impersonate. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was introduced and signed into law by President Barack Obama. It aims to protect people from hate crimes at any time, and not just while partaking in protected activities like voting or going to school. Byrd was also murdered in 1998 and dragged for three miles behind a pickup truck because he was black.
This podcast series carries a higher message of promoting a better understanding on gender, race and homosexuality. This may be a bit intense at times – there is none of the light relief you get from a true crime comedy podcast such as Wine & Crime or Murder Most Irish – but remember, they are coming from a country that has just overturned abortion rights, and they’re coming for the gays next. And while there are still people out there scared to come out, or preferring to be dead, keeping these topics in the public eye is super important. Pecoraro and Gentile embody this message with sympathetic treatment of victims and stories and without being too preachy.
Diana Safieh hosts We Knew The Moon podcast, on all things empath, spiritual, witchy, unexplained, creepy and spooky. She is a co-founder of The Goddess Temple, Twickenham, which holds guided meditations and workshops, like Tea & Tarot. And Make Your Own Smudge Sticks. She hosts a monthly webinar series on the situation in Palestine/Israel for The Balfour Project charity.