If Serial Podcast Season 2 is about crime, how about the David Thorne case?

David Thorne Yvonne Lane

We know there will be a Season 2 of Serial, but we have no idea what it will be about. If I had to guess, I doubt it will be about crime. I feel like it will be a more conventional NPR story — probably something about a financial crisis, or something that seems like a Michael Lewis book. I kind of have this feeling/belief that bigwigs at NPR look at the success of Serial and think that true crime is a “beer and peanuts” fascination of the masses. So, in sum, I doubt there’s a true crime / miscarriage of justice story again, but regardless, I’m going to nominate a candidate in case they decide to go in the same direction.

How about the David Thorne case?

The “David Thorne” case is really the Yvonne Lane case, in as that’s who got murdered in the end. Here are some basic details, and here’s a basic summary of what happened.

Yvonne Lane had, at 26, five children with five different men. David Thorne was the father of her fourth child. When he was asked to come to the police station, apparently his grandfather contacted an attorney, and the attorney sent a fax to the police station claiming that Thorne could speak to police, but needed to be granted immunity. Purportedly, Thorne had no idea about this fax, but the sheer existence of it made him the No. 1 suspect.

The essence of the state’s case against David Thorne is that he didn’t want to pay child support on Yvonne’s fourth kid — and that, despite his background as a “shoot fighter” (albeit not someone with a violent history), he hired a guy named Joe Wilkes to kill Yvonne. (For $300, no less.) This all happened in September of 1999; in July of 2001, Wilkes recanted his confession.

Here’s a bit about the trial and some FAQs from the case.

Over the years, much has come out about this case showing that police probably (a) bungled the investigation and (b) have the wrong man.

David Thorne is still in jail on a life sentence, and Joe Wilkes is also in prison — but could get out at 30 years.

This definitely seems like a “falsely accused, wrongfully imprisoned” type of situation — but there’s enough questions around Thorne and his background (shoot fighting, raising exotic animals, etc.) that a podcast audience could still draw their own conclusions and context here and there.

You can read about some additional flaws in the case here, and here’s a petition to grant him a new trial.

You can also read a ton about the case, and see some of the crime scene photos, here.

This would also be semi-relevant because Ohio — the same state as this case — just freed a man after 39 years, which is believed to be the longest sentence resulting in an exoneration in U.S. history.

Ted Bauer