Ronda Jefferson first started podcasting in November 2020, when she launched See the Invisible: Living with an Invisible or Rare Disease as a way to cope with her own chronic illness and the extra challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wanted to turn that negative experience into something positive and let others know that we have a voice,” she told Technical.ly. “I’ve also found that it serves as therapy for me.”
In April 2021, the Seaford resident launched a second podcast that serves as a different kind of therapy: Danger on Delmarva, which sets out to understand what was behind incidents and crimes, mostly lesser-known, in Delaware and the Delmarva Peninsula.
We caught up with Jefferson to ask her five questions about podcasting, crime and illness in Delaware:
Technical.ly: What led you to making a true crime podcast?
Ronda Jefferson: There were a few things. First, my mother was probably an original true crime fanatic — Unsolved Mysteries, Forensic Files, Medical Detectives. Also, I love research and figuring out puzzles. Reviewing an incident and the events that led up to that particular incident can help us understand how and why it happened and better yet, how to prevent it again.
On a more personal note, I’ve known eight people who have been murdered in five separate incidents, all in a smaller state that some people may say is pretty quiet. They were due to domestic violence, custody issues, patricide and a family member who was a police officer that was killed in the line of duty. I had never really looked at those numbers before I started the podcast. I can’t help but think, ‘What if someone had known what to look for and could have stopped it?’
T: The incidents you cover are not always murder and missing persons cases typical for true crime podcasts, but stories such as the chickens on the highway story are distinctly Delmarva. How do you find and choose stories?
RJ: Ideas come from personal knowledge, web searches, and suggestions from the r/Delaware subreddit. I do try to pick stories that we can break down to see a cause, such as the cargo load shifting that has caused multiple chicken trucks to crash on Delmarva, as well as other trucks that were carrying live cargo. We know what caused these accidents, so it is a little frustrating that it keeps happening.
I went to college in a suburb of New York City. I was the only person from Delaware — I like to say that the Marylanders [at the school] adopted me. I’m probably also the only person there who had pet chickens growing up. As a teen and twenty-something, it felt very lonely to be the only one to understand where I came from. I want to try to embrace Delmarva in these stories.
T: What is your podcast setup?
RJ: I have pretty basic equipment. A laptop and a microphone that I bought for around $20. I upload [episodes of both podcasts] to YouTube, but I’ve [run] into issues of the amount of memory being used and being able to transfer the file.
"We have layers. We have physical, mental and emotional needs, and sometimes those needs are not met. To find out why something happened, we need to peel back those layers."
T. Which episode(s) so far do you think have stood out?
For Danger on Delmarva, the last episode, “Courthouse Chaos” [about the very public 2013 murders of Christine Belford and Laura Mulford], was difficult for me. It did remind me of two cases that I’ve known about personally. Also, episode three, “Two State Terror,” opened my eyes. I had been looking at things in a very objective way. Reading about the lead up to the shootings in episode three, I saw that, while the mechanics of the event can be similar to any other shootings, the emotions, experiences and driving forces are different. The shooter in that episode had gone through abuse as a child. He had literally been crying for help, but he didn’t get it. Sometimes finding out why something happened is just a matter of function, like finding a broken piece of equipment and fixing it. A human being is not like that, though. We have layers. We have physical, mental and emotional needs, and sometimes those needs are not met. To find out why something happened, we need to peel back those layers.
For See the Invisible, I would say the “Journey to My Diagnosis episodes.” What I have is rare. I had been having symptoms for years. I had seen multiple specialists, but unless the doctors ordered very specific tests, they wouldn’t find what was wrong. I was admitted to the hospital a week before the first anniversary of my sister’s passing. She also had a rare disease. It took a doctor looking at all of the tests and even my sister’s history to put those pieces together. I have an illness that is in the same category, or “family,” of diseases that she had.
T: Can you share future topics?
RJ: I may be working on a collaboration with a more established podcast. We have exchanged emails but have not chosen a topic. I hope to work on an episode where I did know some of the people involved. I’m also waiting to see how things turn out on the Emma Grace Cole case, or Baby Elle as she was known until she was identified. Arrests have been made, but I would like more information before I proceed. Then there is the China Wreck and unexploded ordnances on the beach.
For See the Invisible, I am working on episodes about asthma and another about migraines for my next categories. However, I also want to keep looking at mental health. I’ve done an episode on mental health and social media. Even though we have made some strides in understanding mental illness, I still don’t think that it is taken as seriously as it should be. Society would benefit all around if we more freely talked about mental health so that it does not feel like it is something that we have to hide. We are making strides, but we have a very long way to go.
Jefferson is always looking for potential guests for both podcasts. For Danger on the Delmarva, she is looking for more obscure, less known cases not covered in the national news.
“I am trying to stay away from some of the better known cases from the Delmarva region, such as Anne Marie Fahey or John du Pont,” she said. “Unfortunately, I know that I cannot tell everyone’s story, but I think that everyone’s story deserves to be heard.”
If you’re interested in being a guest on one of the podcasts or have an idea for an episode, email Jefferson at Seetheinvisible2020@gmail.com or DangerinDelaware@gmail.com.-30-