This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories. Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast-talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words. Those happen on this show, a lot.
Episode 23: Tasty Café Murder, Abducted in Plain Site Review
- Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it.
- Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
Our podcast, Michigan and Other Mayhem, can now also be found in the application Podbean. Ali listened to a podcast by Mo Rocca called “Mobituaries” that talked about character deaths on sitcoms. Why they happened and to who. It was pretty interesting.
I was wrong about what I said in the last podcast, of course. This is what I get for speaking off the cuff. Here is a synopsis of the correct story of a man who spent 38 years in jail and later sued for $1 million.
Fred Clay was convicted of murder in 1979, in Massachusetts. The Innocence Program in Massachusetts was able to work on overturning Fred’s conviction, which hinged on a single person’s eye-witness testimony. Proving that Fred was jailed improperly, he was released in August 2017, at age 53. Fred received $1 million for compensation, the greatest amount allowed under Massachusetts law. Fred’s case is being highlighted as he was originally given no compensation and after being jailed for 38 years was having a hard time reentering society.
Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Michigan’s Legislation: Rule 6.004 Speedy Trial
In Michigan, the court must schedule in a practical manner. Criminal cases must receive scheduling priority over civil cases and defendants in custody are given privilege over defendants who are out on bond. There are rules for 28 to 180 days in jail before trial, with several exceptions.
Tasty Café Murder
The Tasty Café in Marshall, MI served typical diner food, burgers and sandwiches. It was owned by Paul and Nola Puyear, a couple who had been married for 38 years.
On August 18, 1967, a few minutes after 9:00 a.m. a mailman brought a package into the Tasty Café. It was wrapped in brown paper and marked with the word Books. Nola took the package behind the counter to open it. After she tore open the paper, Nola, who was 56-years-old at a time, could be heard saying the word “oh!” before a bomb exploded.
No customers or other employees were killed by the bomb, but Nola died instantly. The blast projected towards the rear of the building, destroying the back portion of the restaurant. The force was strong enough to blow glass from the front windows on to Michigan Avenue.
Nola was seen as the kind and motherly type, so her violent murder was a surprise to local citizens. Nola’s husband, Paul, was the first suspect. He had numerous extramarital affairs, including using a trailer he had parked in Barryton, two hours north of Marshall, for meeting his lovers. Paul was known to have affairs with people of both sexes. (Extra scandal in a small town!)
The only snag in that hypothesis was that Paul was also in the diner when the bomb went off. He was just feet from his wife when she opened the package. Had he sent the bomb, he would have placed himself farther from the weapon.
The police encountered a twist when they found out that pills Nola normally received through the mail had been poisoned with a type of lye, possibly Drano. They were described as nerve pills in one article, which is what they used to call tranquillizers. Lucky, she hadn’t tried to take any of them after they arrived. The pills were found as part of the crime scene.
Now the police aren’t looking at Paul for the murder. The pill prescription was months old and had he been trying to kill her the easiest way would be to hand her a pill. She died after opening an explosive package while standing near him. The case goes cold for two months as the police don’t have any other leads.
The murder case was moved forward when a note in a plain envelope arrived in The Detroit News’ Secret Witness mailbox. The Secret Witness mailbox was set up to financially reward people who were able to reopen stalled legal cases with anonymous tips. The nameless person who wrote the letter claimed to recognize the handwriting on the package. A writing sample from the two packages had been reproduced in the Detroit News newspaper. The person claimed that the writing belonged to Enoch Chism.
Enoch Chism, who was 44-years-old, was a factory worker who wanted to buy the Tasty Café from the Puyears. Paul was willing to sell, but Nola was not interested in selling the business. Enoch was a known wife-beater and family terrorizer. He had been convicted for arson in April 1966.
Side note on Enoch: He was racist. Enoch’s conviction for arson came from setting fire to a home his brother owned because his brother was willing to rent to both white and black people.
Enoch was arrested for the murder by a Calhoun County Sergeant while driving home from work down the expressway I-94.
The police had managed to link the bomb’s package to the package that had contained the tainted pills. A handwriting expert identified the writing on both packages as belonging to Enoch. It was also found that he had purchased dynamite near his worksite before the bombing. Weeks before the bomb blast, Enoch and Nola were seen in a heated argument over the sale of the diner.
Second side note on Enoch: Enoch’s mother-in-law, Mrs Josey White, was working at the restaurant when the bomb detonated, but he said that was a coincidence.
Enoch had been arrested on October 11, 1967. He went through a series of appeals, and 27 months after he was jailed, on January 20, 1970, he was sentenced to prison for life. Over 14 of those months were spent dealing with the appeals Enoch created. After he was sentenced, Enoch’s lawyers appealed again, saying that 27 months was a denial of his 6th Amendment right. They won and he was released from jail.
One of Enoch’s issues is the court took a long time to decide whether or not he had enough money to provide his own legal counsel.
Enoch Chism died in 1979 while awaiting trial for armed robbery charges. He still died in jail.
The anonymous tipster received the $3,000 cash reward while remaining anonymous.
Legal jargon for Enoch’s speedy trial appeal: https://law.justia.com/cases/michigan/supreme-court/1973/390-mich-104-2.html
Abducted in Plain Site Review
This is a documentary on Netflix.
It is about the abduction of Jan Broberg, she was kidnapped from a small Idaho town at age twelve. It is an unbelievable story. Jenn thinks it brings to light how people can be manipulated. There were a few times she didn’t think the story was real.
In 1970, the Broberg family met Robert Berchtold and his family. They attended the same church together. They became really good friends. Robert would just walk into the Broberg house in the mornings to say hello.
In 1974, Robert told Jan’s mom that he would drive Jan to her piano lesson then to horseback riding lesson. Jan had been on vacation with Robert’s family before, she’d had sleepovers with his kids, so this wasn’t unusual. Robert did take Jan to those two places, but they didn’t come home afterwards.
Jan’s parents went to see Robert’s wife, they Berchtold’s live next to the Brobergs, and she tells them there isn’t a need to call the police. A few days go by and the Brobergs still haven’t heard from either of them. By late on Sunday, they decide to call the FBI.
The FBI agents are trying to explain to the Broberg’s that she had been kidnapped. They were in denial that their child had been taken by a friend. This is the point where Jenn thinks these people might be unreal.
The FBI find Robert Berchtold’s car abandoned with a busted window. However, they could tell that he had broken the window from the inside and smeared his own blood around. Robert wanted everyone to believe they had both been kidnapped.
Robert then took his RV and drove off with Jan. The two go to Mexico and get married. Jan is 12-years-old. Robert has been drugging her. When she wakes up she is strapped to the bed and there is a little box by her head. The voice of aliens are coming over the box to talk to Jan (but it is really Robert). The voices tell her she is half alien and she is on a mission to find a chosen male and have a baby with him by age sixteen. Should she not have a baby or choose the man, her sister, who is also half alien, will be abducted. After this, Jan passes back out.
When Jan wakes up, she is no longer strapped to the bed. She starts moving around the RV and finds Robert. She wakes him up and tells him everything. Jan believes she had been abducted by aliens. Together, they begin to read books about sex. Jan feels like she must, to fulfill the mission. He would only place an inch of his penis inside her, because he felt that it would keep him from being accused of child rape.
Robert calls his brother and tells him he will come home with Jan, if the Brobergs agree he can marry Jan. Robert’s brother calls the Brobergs and tells them. (Robert’s brother admits in the documentary that he knew his brother was a paedophile.) The Brobergs say no. The FBI listen to phone calls and find the two.
Jan is upset because she can’t complete the mission. Robert is in jail, but before going he reminds her that people could die if she tells the secret. Robert’s wife asks the Brobergs to tell everyone that she wasn’t kidnapped, they were on vacation.
Robert is freed and goes to therapy. He tells the Brobergs that part of his therapy is to lay with Jan in bed while she was sleeping. The Brobergs thought it was odd, but they allowed it.
Robert manipulates Jan’s mom into thinking that she was in love with him. They start a sexual relationship. He also begins a sexual relationship with Jan’s dad. No one knows about all the sex until Robert calls Jan’s dad and tells him that he is sleeping with his wife. Robert was hoping that they would divorce so that Jan’s mom would get the kids and he could have full access to them.
It didn’t work. Jan’s dad took the kids.
The Brobergs kind of see that he is up to something. They get back together.
In 1976, Jan is kidnapped again by Robert who lives in Wyoming now. Robert owns an amusement park. Jan still has a mission to complete. Jan is still communication with Robert via letters. Jan’s mom lets her go to the amusement park for two weeks.
After two weeks Jan flies home. The mission is still incomplete. Robert comes to Jan’s window in the middle of the night and Jan leaves with him.
Robert enrolled Jan into an all-girls Catholic school. He tells the nuns he is a CIA agent and he needs to enroll her so that he can complete a mission. Robert visits her on the weekends.
Two weeks after she is missing, the Brobergs call the police.
Fast-forward, she is gone for months. Robert is calling the Brobergs looking for Jan. Then he calls them and says that Jan is calling him. The FBI follow him and find Jan.
Jan still believes she is on a mission. (Here Jenn is lost because she had literally tossed her notes aside.)
Robert is in jail. He’s mad Jan is gone. Robert convinces two fellow convicts to burn down the Broberg’s business. They burned down the block.
Jan’s dad, watching their family business burn down, says that he doesn’t care, he has his family and that is all he needs. Jan breaks down and tells everyone that she is an alien and about her mission. They now realize she has been brainwashed and needs deprogramming.
The authorities weren’t able to pin the arson back on Robert. He served 10 days for the first time Jan went missing. The second time he kidnapped her, he claimed insanity. Robert served 45 days for the second kidnapping.
Present-day, Jan’s mom had written a book. Jan is giving lectures and talking about the book. Robert is showing up at their events and saying it was lies. They had to go to court to get a restraining order. He commits suicide in 2005-2006.
Jenn feels everyone should watch the documentary. She thinks everyone is down on the parents when they need to understand they have been manipulated. People can be groomed from a young age, or even when they are older. You lose all sense of self. You can be manipulated to the point where you are isolated. Jenn felt bad for Jan’s parents.
Jan’s dad recently passed away. Jan’s mom became a social worker, while she had previously worked as a florist. Jan is an actress who also speaks on this topic. Other people came out saying that they had been molested by Robert Berchtold.
Jenn also thinks the family was just attacked on social media. They should own it, as they were very naïve, and work forward. They were very candid in the documentary. Jenn gives them credit for that. She thinks they should focus on the positive, like the mom and Jan working with others, now as adults.
Jenn had it made her wonder if she has people in her life manipulating her. She needs time before watching another true crime documentary.