The Long Dance

Review of The Long Dance podcast, an investigation by Eryk Pruitt and others into Durham’s 1971 unsolved murders of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane, known as the Valentine’s Day Murders.

It seems like a lifetime ago back in January when I met Eryk Pruitt for barbecue in Durham, North Carolina. Of course, we talked crime fiction, but we also talked about the true crime podcast he was working on, The Long Dance.

The Long Dance, produced by Pruitt, investigative journalist Drew Adamak, and sound engineer Piper Kessler, is an investigation into Durham’s 1971 unsolved murders of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane, known as the Valentine’s Day Murders.

McBane visited Mann at her nursing school in February 1971 and they went to the school’s Valentine’s dance. Later Mann and McBane left the dance, never to be seen alive again. The next day their abandoned car was discovered near a golf course.

From my post at Do Some Damage about the podcast and my visit with Pruitt:

Our drive had us in an upscale development and Pruitt came to a stop in a cul-de-sac.

“This is where they found McBane’s abandoned car,” said Pruitt.

He pointed off in the distance and said that it was a three-mile walk to where their bodies were found tied to a tree two weeks later.

A few months later, Pruitt and I would walk these woods and he showed me where the crime scene was. Mann and McBane had been tortured and, as a newspaper reported at the time, they were “strangled by ropes”.

If you are a fan of true crime podcasts then The Long Dance is for you. Pruitt and his team have taken their time investigating the murders, talking to police, family, friends, and, even, a possible suspect. Many true crime podcasts treat their podcast as a weekly diary of their activities, but The Long Dance team did months of investigation prior to completing their eight episodes. The attention to detail is evident. Pruitt, a filmmaker and novelist, knows how to tell a story and it shows in The Long Dance. With a keen ability to build tension, Pruitt guides the listener through the complexities of a decades-old cold case.  Though we are never bored, the podcast does not forget the real story: the murders of two college students, and the loss their family and friends still feel today.

“Pat and Jesse”, episode one of The Long Dance podcast, is available now with the remaining episodes being released on July 4th.  You can subscribe to The Long Dance podcast at your favorite provider of podcasts.

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