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YouTube “detectives” try to solve unresolved cases

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Among the most successful videos on the platform are those of YouTubers filming themselves using devices like sonar to search bodies of water across states. United, in search of submerged vehicles in connection with unresolved disappearance cases.

In Tennessee, it’s a 21-year-old disappearance that was resolved this week as part of this type of research where these people are paid by YouTube based on the number of views the videos generated.

A crucial role in solving two mysteries

The appearance of this phenomenon of budding detectives has had variable effects with, on the one hand, certain spectacular failures resulting from the temptation to produce viral content and, on the other, an essential role played by these amateur detectives in certain cases.

Erin Foster and Jeremy Bechtel, two teenagers from the small town of Sparta, in central Tennessee, had mysteriously disappeared in April 2000. For 21 years, their family and loved ones had clung to the hope that they had run away. to start a new life.

However, Jeremy Sides, a 42-year-old diver whose YouTube channel Exploring with Nug specializes in the search for missing people and objects, posted a video on Dec. 4, watched over 1.8 million times, that shows how he solved the puzzle of the two teenagers’ disappearance.

Once I could confirm it was the license plate, it was like a wave. It’s finally over; [les dépouilles des deux ados] can be taken home, their families have an answerJeremy Sides said of his discovery in the Calfkiller River.

It was the second time in nearly a month that the diver had played a pivotal role in the likely resolution of a case. He had indeed discovered a car linked to a woman missing since 2005 in the city of Oakridge, also in Tennessee.

Emotional impact

Another group of budding YouTube detectives dubbed Chaos Divers has claimed that in the past two months it has found the remains of seven people missing in various cases that have taken its members to travel nearly 13,000 km through the United States. United States.

Their work arouses intense emotions, especially when it comes to breaking the news to the families of missing persons.

It is a feeling that breaks your heart and twists your insides. You see their tears streaming down their faces, but you also see that weight coming off their shoulders. That’s why we never wanna give upsays Lindsay Bussick, partner of Chaos Divers founder Jacob Grubbs.

According to the duo, the job they do isn’t just garnering views on YouTube.

I’m sorry I have to produce content like this, says Grubbs, a 38-year-old former coal miner, but it is a way that we have found to be able to finance the aid to another family, he adds.

Cultural phenomenon

According to Adam Scott Wandt, professor of public policy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, these amateur detectives and their operations have become a real cultural phenomenon over the past decade.

While he notes that some people helped find the body of Gabby Petito, a missing traveler in the United States this year, the results vary widely.

Gabby Petito in tears in a vehicle.

Police have provided this image showing Gabby Petito in tears after the vehicle in which she was traveling with her fiance Brian Laundrie was pulled over.

Photo: Associated Press

Some Internet detectives had tarnished the reputation of an innocent student during the frantic search for the culprits in the hours and days following the Boston Marathon attack in 2013.

The general public is improving, but they are still sometimes very egocentric, adds Mr. Wandt, noting the temptation of some people to absolutely seek to accumulate views on their videos.

Working as a complement to the police rather than trying to flood research teams with clues and theories, amateur sleuths have since taken on a new role.

Police in Sparta, Tennessee, had heard that diver Jeremy Sides was investigating his area, but after noting that he was searching in the wrong place, offered his advice.

The bittersweet tasting discovery came a few days later.

I finished my digs in this city river and that’s where I found them. It looked like a simple car accident, Sides said.

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