To Live and Die in LA transcript:Season 2, Episode 11
“The Last 12 Hours”
VO: Warning: the episode you are about to hear involves descriptions of sexual assault. Listener discretion is advised.
NEIL: All right. So, uh, so Jayden and I are on our way, finally, to Divine Compere’s house, probably after, like, nine months of trying to get this interview. How are you feeling?
JAYDEN: Feel good. I think we, we -you know, we now have, you know, a lot more information than we did at the beginning. Uh, it was definitely, like, up and down because originally I thought, uh, it’s definitely going to be no problem talking to the last person that saw her. Uh, kind of a friendly reception, and then we got a Cease and Desist. You know, I mean he’s the last person to see her, so, you know.
NEIL: Hey, and the last person who was, who was close with her. All right, that’s the gate.
JAYDEN: All right, let’s see here. [SOUND OF BEEPS TO GATE CODE]
NEIL: Here we go, man.
Episode 11, Chapter 23: Not the Ordinary Girl
“Glendale police say they’ve exhausted all leads in the disappearance of Elaine Park. She was last seen on January 28th at her ex-boyfriend’s home in Calabasas.”
“Police tell us the family has been cooperative -uh, fully cooperative, and they say they do not believe the former boyfriend or anyone on that property had anything to do with Elaine’s disappearance.”
NEIL/VO: As Jayden and I drive into the gated community where Elaine Park’s ex-boyfriend, Divine Compere, lives with his parents, I look over my notes. They’re filled with question after question to ask. After over nine months of investigating, and four months since the press conference, this has been our first opportunity to speak with Divine and his family. Outside of the security videos that the police obtained from the property, and our recent discussion with the Uber drivers from that last evening, everything else we know about the twelve hours before Elaine disappeared came second-hand, mostly through Susan.
SUSAN: I called Divine, and I explained the situation, and uh, he gave me the first statement about, “I don’t know, I mean, she just all of a sudden contacted me and uh-”
SUSAN: “-decided to go see a movie. And she came over to my house. When I saw her she was not in a stage to drive, so I called the Uber and I paid for it, and we went to see movie, and then, uh, came back and um, four-o’clock in the morning, all of a sudden she got up singing, dancing, shaking, like a panic attack. And then I said, uh, I try to stop her, but she dressed so fast, and then she just sprint off.” He said that, um, “all of sudden she got up and she’s, ‘I gotta go, I gotta go.’”
NEIL/VO: Beyond this account, there have been many theories and accusations about Divine and his family, much of it pure speculation. So we want to know the facts first hand. Everything Divine can tell us about Elaine, their relationship, and her behavior that night, and the morning before she left his house, and disappeared.
JAYDEN: Turn around. Should I just park here, you think? Or?
NEIL: Uh, maybe go, ah, direct– maybe inside there? I guess it’s all– that doesn’t, like car here-
JAYDEN: -That’s his car, but-
NEIL/VO: Divine’s father, Shakim, greets us outside and walks us into the living room, where Divine and his mother are seated. It’s strange to be here after nine months of hearing about Divine. We have so many questions about Elaine’s last visit there, but we decide to start at the beginning.
JAYDEN: When did you first meet Elaine?
DIVINE COMPERE: Uh, we met at, like a friends, like, get together. Maybe it was around Halloween-ish.
JAYDEN: In twenty, uh, sixteen?
DIVINE COMPERE: Yeah. You know, like, she was like, uh, she was like, uh, she was like, wha- wha- our personalities match, you know? So to speak, like, she don’t really, you know– she could, she wasn’t really messing with, like, a lot of people around her. I’m kind of like that, the same. So it just kind of like, “Who are you?” type of thing. Like, “Why don’t I know you?” So it was like one of those types of things, and I went to introduce myself, and we exchanged numbers, and after that we just, you know, we just started chilling after that, pretty much. We went to, ah, ComplexCon, it was a convention. I went– I took her. I just thought she was a real person. I mean, I thought she was very authentic. Nothing was fake with her, and she didn’t bite her tongue. You know, she was just a cool person, you know I just, it’s not like no– an ordinary girl. We chilled probably like, at one point it was like twice a week, maybe. Three times a week, maybe.
NEIL/VO: We move on to their breakup. I ask Divine about the text Elaine sent him on January third: “I love you enough to let you go,” she wrote. “I need this year to really invest in myself.” He texted back, “I can’t lose you. You’re all I got right now.” When I finish asking about it, Divine corrects me, and while I do find it odd considering the nature of their texts, I also understand that everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a relationship.
DIVINE: It was never really like– we were never official. It was never the traditional, like, “Will you be my girlfriend?” That wasn’t– that question was never asked. We just– we’re cool, you know. Let’s just see where it goes. That’s all it was.
NEIL: So when she first kinda sent you that text of like, “Hey, I’m gonna take some time–“
DIVINE: Wait, I was in Utah at that time. And then I went– and then I came back, and then that’s when I saw her. That was that night.
DIVINE: Yeah, so that was that night-
NEIL: And was that text out of the blue, or were you ready–
DIVINE: I’m think– I think that was out of the blue. That’s when she was really analyzing her life, at that point.
NEIL: After she sent that, then the next time you talked to her was you guys FaceTimed when you were in Utah or something?
DIVINE: So yeah, we did, we FaceTimed each other, you know, we were just talking, it was oh like, “I’m out here trying to, you know, get my life situated. I’m working with my dad.” You know, it was like, it was kind of a talk like that, like, “This is what I’m doing.” You know, “What are you doing?” You know, sort of thing. And, you know, she was saying, well, she was trying to deal with it– that’s all it really was. And then it was like, okay, we’re gonna see each other when I get back.
NEIL: What- what did she say she was doing or working on?
DIVINE: You know she was– it, it wasn’t, oh, she loves music. She loves music, so that– it was– that’s even why we even, like, really got together, ’cause we, we kinda like similar things. She likes music, fashion, you know, she just– she loves all artsy, creative, entertainment stuff, so we had a lot of talk about it. I think she wanted to get into, like, the entertainment field, for sure. Doing something, but, I think she could’ve been one of the biggest A&Rs. Had– she loved, like-
DIVINE: -her ear for music was crazy. Things that you care about, you want to make them better. That’s all it was. ‘Cause I saw something in her that she could’ve been great at something, you know?
DIVINE: That’s really what we talked about earlier.
NEIL/VO: We asked Divine about a text he sent Elaine when they began talking again, one we’ve been trying to figure out the meaning of. He wrote: “You can’t hold all that in. Let it out. What’s going on? I just want to let you know I’m here for you no matter what.”
DIVINE: But, she kind of opened up last minute. Like, those texts you’re reading, you said you read. That was more like to the end of our, you know?
DIVINE: Of like us talking and it was just like, “Baby, now you’re telling me,” you know? I was just like, “Okay, now I have a little bit more insight-”
NEIL: And what was the stuff she opened up about at that point?
DIVINE: And she started talking about, like, she started talking about– you know, I know about the rape thing.
DIVINE: I– she told, she told me about that, I didn’t– had no idea. So, I just was like, “What?”
NEIL: She was hazy on what happened with her friend, maybe she told you kind of more.
DIVINE: Yeah, she told me that she was messed up and she was on something, um-hmm– she wouldn’t know what happened, unless she don’t wanna tell me. But that’s what she told me, that she don’t– she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know anything happened to her. That’s how messed up she was.
NEIL: It happened December 2015, and this is kind of why it’s significant. Why was it coming back up, now?
DIVINE: Yeah, I think my theory about that is, I think she felt like, uh, since people were like– I don’t know if they were tweeting about it? I don’t know what the case may be, but I think she was like, “Oh, why is it coming up again?” I’m like, “What are you– what do you mean?” But, you know, Elaine’s Elaine, she won’t t– you know, she went back into that inner like, won’t tell, you know? So, I had to respect that, too, ’cause I know something happ– You know, it’s like, this is a sensitive subject.
DIVINE: So, it was just like, I really just– not even bring it up, you know? It’s tough, though. That’s why– that’s why I told her to talk to somebody about all that, ’cause you can’t leave all that just bottled up.
NEIL/VO: So, it seems like Divine wasn’t trying to keep Elaine from talking about what happened to her that night. He was encouraging her to do so.
NEIL/VO: Now that we have a better understanding of Divine and Elaine’s relationship, and why they were seeing each other again that night, we turn to the evening of January twenty-seventh.
NEIL: Now let’s just break it down, that night– so that– you came back from Utah-
DIVINE: Okay, like, came back from Utah, what is it? She comes over, she comes over– she drives, I think that’s what everybody sees the camera. She gets here. I sorta saw, like, that she was, like, irritated, or like, frustrated, so I was like, “You know, let’s get your mind off things and go see a movie.” So nobody drove me to the Uber, so we s– see the movie, and we gave everybody the Uber receipts, you s– everybody saw that. We saw “XXX” with Vin Diesel. Come back. Take an Uber back here, where, you know, we just like, like lying in bed, watching movies and stuff. And then that’s when she started opening up more about, like, her mom and stuff like that. And then she started talking about that type of stuff. How bad it was. But she never really opened up like that before, so I already felt that was kind of weird. And you could tell she didn’t wanna be home that night.
NEIL: Can you just like, try to go back, or just think of everything she said at that time when she opened up.
DIVINE: She’s just basically saying these things are [parseltongue] that afternoon. I hate living there.
JAYDEN: Anything specific?
DIVINE: Nah, it’s just like, the relationship with her and her mom. She just feels like nothing’s real, you know? Like nothing’s like auth– like authentic at home, she was trying to say.
JAYDEN: Hm. Did you get a sense of like, maybe why she was bringing it up? Or you said there was kind of out of the blue?
DIVINE: No, I don’t really know. I’m just as confused as anybody else.
DIVINE: In my opinion, I think something amplified it that night.
DIVINE: Earlier, with her family.
JAYDEN: Had she ever talked about her mom before in that way?
DIVINE: Not really. Who knows, they probably got into an argument and she just didn’t tell me, that’s the only thing I can think of.
NEIL/VO: What’s odd is that Elaine and her mom have always had issues. So what made this night different, prompting her to open up to Divine? One thing that might help answer this is Elaine’s communication from the last 24-hours or so before she disappeared. However, this remains a complete mystery, since her phone’s been locked and disabled. We reached out to Cellebrite, the leading cell phone forensics company, and asked if they could get into Elaine’s iPhone 7, but they said they were still developing a workaround for the 7. They could only get into Model 6 and earlier. So we asked Divine if he knows anything about Elaine’s communication that night.
NEIL: You remember if she was like texting anyone, or–
DIVINE: I don’t know.
JAYDEN: No phone calls?
DIVINE: None that I remember. But that, that– you’ll find that if you unlock her phone.
NEIL: Did wa– she pay attention to the movie, was she on her phone?
DIVINE: She paid attention.
DIVINE: Yeah, she paid attention, ’cause, yes, ’cause it was a movie that she wanted to see.
NEIL: Got a couple of questions about that night that, like, might be sensitive. Are you okay, like, talking about it in front of your folks? Are you- are you sure?
DIVINE: It’s fine.
NEIL: Okay. All right. So, oh, the first one is, um, what was the vibe on the ride over there?
DIVINE: -It was just– she was on my arm, chillin’. That’s it.
NEIL: And so was like, so she was– you guys were kind of connected. Yeah. This is obviously gonna be super– really important, like if there was drinking or, whatever– other stuff, like–?
DIVINE: Absolutely not.
NEIL: So that’s– so you guys weren’t, like, had– drank or smoke or anything?
NEIL/VO: I find it interesting how quickly Divine shuts this down, given the nature of their text messages. But at the same time, he is in front of his parents.
NEIL: You got in the car, saw the movie, came back, and then at what time did you guys, like, crash out?
DIVINE: I’d say, like, what? One? Two?
DIVINE: Around then.
DIVINE: After that, you know, we- we– I fall asleep, we both– she falls asleep, I fall asleep. Then she just wakes up, and like, I never seen nobody get dressed that quick. It was like, she got dressed really fast, and- and- and like pretty much left. Not “pretty much,” that’s exactly what she did, she left. And then that’s the last time I saw her. I was confused, you know? That’s literally the last time I saw her.
DIVINE: And that’s when you see her, like, moving kind of fast on the tape, out the gate, to her car, and she leaves. But I was– mind you, I was telling her, I was like, “I don’t really think you should, I don’t think you should leave. I don’t think you should wake up and just drive right now, ’cause your head is all– I could tell your head is all flustered and you may as well just leave in the morning. You know, or let me Uber you, at least. You shouldn’t be driving, you know?” And she wasn’t trying to hear that, ’cause or– with her, I think driving is therapeutic for her. So, she liked to take these drives. You know, so she drove, and then — [claps] — that’s it.
NEIL/VO: Susan had told us that Divine said Elaine was singing, shaking, and dancing that morning, as if having a panic attack. So I asked Divine about it.
NEIL: So did you feel like it was a panic attack she was having?
DIVINE: I probably just– I don’t know what it was.
NEIL: Like, what did it look like? Describe it.
DIVINE: She just woke up– I don’t know [INAUDIBLE] screaming, just woke up all like, what– why– who wakes up in the middle of the night like this, so I was just like, what? Are you- are you having a nightmare or something? I- I don’t know.
NEIL: What were the things she was doing that made you think that? Was she, like– how was she acting strangely?
DIVINE: ‘Cause she, like, woke up almost– I think she was singing a song, or something, I don’t know.
TONYA COMPERE: Yeah, I think I you did say, yeah, she was singing?
DIVINE: Singing something, yeah.
TONYA COMPERE: She was dressing real fast.
DIVINE: Yeah. I’m like, what are you even doing?
NEIL: Sometimes you’ll sing a song to yourself to calm yourself down, or sing, like, loud and, you know, crazy or something. Was it, like, kind of-
DIVINE: Just normal.
NEIL: –just sing kind of softly to herself, like-
DIVINE: Yeah. Softly to herself. Exactly.
NEIL: Yeah. And, was she– for some reason someone said, like, dancing? Or just singing?
DIVINE: She wasn’t dancing.
NEIL: Okay, I don’t know where that came from.
NEIL: Did she say goodbye, and how did you wake up?
DIVINE: I woke up and more like- like, WTF? Like, what just happened?-
DIVINE: Know what I’m sayin’? I’m like– she left. Clearly that weird.
DIVINE: –Like, “Where are you going?” No response. Okay.
NEIL: Like she [CROSSTALK]
DIVINE: -say that.
DIVINE: That- that’s the weirdest part for me. Wake up in the middle of the night and just leave. Like, what was her reason for that? That’s the only thing that didn’t make sense for me. Why are you leaving? Like, where are you even going? That’s why I’m still puzzled to this day.
NEIL: So, she didn’t speak a word in the morning? Not a word. She didn’t say “goodbye?” Or “I’m out?” Noth–? Wow. You guys know that or no, that’s-
SHAKIM COMPERE: No.
TONYA COMPERE: No, I didn’t know she was-
JAYDEN: When you woke up, was she, like, all ready?
DIVINE: Yeah, she was getting dressed, she got her stuff, and she left.
NEIL: What about what she was wearing? Or, or what- what stuff she brought?
DIVINE: You know, like some short-shorts, Doc Martin boots, and like, I don’t remember the top.
NEIL: Yeah, it’s like black Doc Martin boots?
NEIL: And I think she had your sweats or something?
DIVINE: Those are my sweats. She gave ’em back to me.
NEIL: Oh– she oh– she wasn’t wearing them when she left.
DIVINE: No. N– She had her- she had her regular clothes on when she left, yeah.
DIVINE: She wore the sweats to the movies.
NEIL: When you kind of woke up, what did you think–
DIVINE: All bad. All bad-
DIVINE: So, I think something happened.
NEIL: Did you really?
DIVINE: Yeah, ’cause I told her, I was like, “Don’t–” you know? She didn’t listen.
NEIL: So you fel– like, you thought, oh, maybe she, like, just shouldn’t be driving in that state?
NEIL: But you didn’t, oh, she might have done something to herself? Did that thought cross your–
DIVINE: I don’t want to put that energy out there–
DIVINE: I’m not leav-
TONYA COMPERE: Yeah.
DIVINE: -I’m not gonna say that.
JAYDEN: Did you reach out at all to her that morning? When you woke up?
DIVINE: I probably did- I probably did call her, but she didn’t answer or some– I don’t remember.
DIVINE: I don’t remember.
NEIL: But you might have called? Do you still have, like, your last texts on your phone?
DIVINE COMPERE: I don’t.
NEIL/VO: It’s disturbing to me that no one has saved their last texts with Elaine. If someone I cared about went missing, I would preserve those last communications in case they contained anything helpful to understanding what happened, and for sentimental reasons, as well. I’m curious about Elaine’s car, also. Susan said there was a problem with the battery, so I asked Divine about it.
NEIL: Did her car break down? I mean she– I think the night before the battery had died, and so there was, like, some concern maybe her battery died on PCH or something, and she was trying to get help, or something. Did her– the car ever break down, or battery ever die when you were in it?
DIVINE: Uhhh, no.
JAYDEN: Describe her car, like, was it neat? Was it, like, messy?
DIVINE: Um, somewhat messy.
DIVINE: I’d say.
NEIL/VO: One of the factors that initially drew suspicion to the Comperes, is that they haven’t been very active in helping to find Elaine, whether through participating in the searches, or posting on social media. So, we mentioned this to them.
SHAKIM COMPERE: I have, we have two kids. Our other daughter is right here. You- you can’t even imagine. I felt like Susan went about it the wrong way.
NEIL/VO: I ask him what he means by that, and he lists several reasons, including words she said about his son, and the GoFundMe account.
SHAKIM: She asked us if we wanted to donate. First of all, you shouldn’t have to ask us, you know, and- and so she called here one night, and [ha] she asked me, you know, I kind of– again I’m feeling sorry for her, because, you know I’m trying to be understanding and-
SHAKIM: -sympathetic, you know, she’s like talking about– something. I forgot really– talking about. And then she goes, “Would you guys wanna donate to the GoFundMe-” [CROSSTALK]
NEIL: -Page. Right.
SHAKIM: You know, there’s people that you– that we met, like Detective Krivak, and now yourselves, that has a great inten– good intentions, but it’s just this woman, you know, I- I don’t, I mean I’ve only talked to her, I think- [CROSSTALK] maybe twice-
TONYA COMPERE: -Maybe twice. Yeah.
SHAKIM: -Aight. You’ve talked to her plenty of times, trying to support her-
SHAKIM: -but it’s like she jus– it’s-it’s-
TONYA: -Yeah. So-
SHAKIM: I- I can’t even describe it-
TONYA: -I can’t even go there anymore, I just gotta pray for her from a distance-
TONYA: -it’s all I can do.
SHAKIM: I was at work, and I came home, and my wife was upset, and I was like, “What’s going on?” And I think you were here that day, and she made some sly remark about the- the cars.
SHAKIM: Like about the Rolls. And I’m like, “What are you-”
SHAKIM: -kidding me. Like, that’s-
TONYA: -that’s about your daughter right now.
SHAKIM: Yeah, this is about your daughter, and you’re make– you’re making an observation about a stupid car.
NEIL: What’d she say?
SHAKIM: Right? I mean, I think- I think she-
JAYDEN: I [UNINTELLIGIBLE]
TONYA: “Oh, how much does that cost?”
SHAKIM: -s car no. So, I never understood that. When wife told me, I’m like, “What kind of person is this?” Like-
TONYA: -Yeah. And you know, that’s when I started backing off.
TONYA: I said, ah, yeah, I’m not gonna– I can’t do that with her.
SHAKIM: I mean, and you know it- it got to the point where with us, like, ’cause I have a couple of detectives that works for me-
SHAKIM: -right, when we do movies and TV, and you know we came- I came home and I said, “You think that I should hire Keith and-
TONYA: -Yeah, we were thinking about it, yeah-
SHAKIM: -and look into this, you know-
TONYA: -we- we had people tell me that question-
SHAKIM: -Yeah, we had questions, right? And, you know– but, again, the mother kind of took it to the point where it was like, “What– I– clearly you had knowl– you talking about a car.” Right? I-I- I di– I never got that statement, and that’s when I started being a little bit turned off, you know, by her- by her actions.
NEIL/VO: Some of Elaine’s friends had mentioned that the Compere’s drove by the search yelling for Daisy, so I ask about this. Shakim says they went to help, then felt chased off when people started yelling after them and trying to take photos.
SHAKIM: I mean we went, like– we was like, “Okay, let’s go help them, you know, and- and be part of- of the solution,” but they chased us a– you know-
TONYA: I asked for her friend, Elaine’s friend, ’cause I wanted to speak to them.
SHAKIM: You guys don’t know us-
SHAKIM: -and, you know, I– we have never met you guys until today-
SHAKIM: -but you have to understand that like, you know, we’re- we’re, you know, we’re parents, and we’re sons, and we’re daughters, and we’re human beings. And, you know, I don’t want you guys to like, whatever you heard from Susan that fit the kind of– be the description of who we are.
NEIL/VO: Shakim says that a leading figure he works with in the entertainment industry initially asked if they could help in any way, but he felt unsure, and told them this.
SHAKIM: “I don’t know who we’re helping, here.”
SHAKIM: Right? Like, it- it really is that simple to us, it’s like if that– if this woman had come to our house– and she’s been here three times, right?
TONYA: Mm-hm, yeah.
SHAKIM: -And sat in this- in this living room and said, “Look, you know, here’s what’s going on,” without picking on my son. Right? Because not only did he tell you what happened, because he– she- she was calling you, like, every other day, right?
DIVINE COMPERE: Um-hm.
SHAKIM: The video don’t lie.
SHAKIM: We showed you videos of your daughter leaving here, right? My son never left– you know, didn’t leave here for a whole day after this. You know, so even if you didn’t believe us, at least treat us, like, with a little bit of respect. And things, to me would’ve- would- would’ve been a lot easier than the way she went about it. You know, and that’s- that- that’s fully what’s- what’s been frustrating me.
NEIL/VO: We go on to discuss some of the other accusations that have been made about them, including questions about the video footage of Elaine going to the movies, returning from the movies, and leaving the house in the morning.
SHAKIM: Anyway, like, I- I- I don’t wanna take any too- I don’t wanna take your time, but, it just feels good to- to actually say this to somebody. But we could’ve done something to help this woman, right? Had she not alienated my wife and me, right?
SHAKIM: So, like, to me that’s the part I don’t understand-
SHAKIM: -right? ‘Cause we- we’ve been here since day one, saying, “Hey guys, if you guys need any help–” We tried to be part of the search party, and we tried to be part of the solution, but nobody allowed us to- to help because, you know, some idiots run up to our car, “We know you guys didn’t have anything to do with it.” Like– you– you’re profiling me and you don’t even know me.” Right?
SHAKIM: So that’s– I just, again, I- I really wanted to share that with you guys, because that’s been bothering me, and like you, all we want is for her to be found.
JAYDEN: Thank you sir, I appreciate it-
SHAKIM: Nice to meet you. [CROSSTALK] -pleasure-
NEIL: Thank you so much–
[CAR DOORS CLOSE. JAYDEN WHISPERS INAUDIBLY. NEIL HEAVES A SIGH.]
JAYDEN: What do you think?
NEIL: Um, I thought it was like something had gone on that had really shaken up Elaine that night when she went over to his house.
NEIL: Like, something was shaking her up, and it was about her mom.
JAYDEN: Right, but how– you– but mean, but how do you reconcile– does she just have the worst shitty luck in the world? She just had a big fight with her mom– big problem-
JAYDEN: -and then she gets randomly abducted?
NEIL: Right. She-
JAYDEN: -That morning? Like, come on.
NEIL: It’s interesting they came to the search to help, and then got, like, mobbed-
NEIL: -and then said, “Where is Daisy?” which was actually just trying to find a friend who they– she could– who, like, was a friend of Elaine’s. What do you think?
JAYDEN: Yes, because I don’t– I can’t believe that they would show up and act like asses.
NEIL/VO: One of the things that bothers me on leaving the interview is Divine’s statement that no alcohol or drugs were used that night. A lot of the messages between him and Elaine were at least about weed, so having stronger reassurance that there were no other factors involved in Elaine’s condition when she left that morning would be helpful. However, it seems clear from the interview that Divine seemed to care about Elaine a lot, and nothing he said conflicted with the facts we know. So as it stands now, I can’t find any motive for him to do anything to Elaine.
NEIL: Yeah, so good. So, I felt like we were– a– I felt like we did the best we could, having got the most we could, given that he was in front of his dad. All right. So let’s, uh-
JAYDEN: -Well, let’s think about it– I mean– or, uh, talk about it with the group.
NEIL/VO: What remains to be determined now, is where did Elaine go when she left Divine’s house? Knowing why she left, and where she went would probably answer all our questions. Despite a few gray areas, we have a much better picture now of the ten or so hours before Elaine disappeared. It’s helped raise, and eliminate, some possibilities. Coincidentally, one other piece soon arrives that helps add to that picture, and to the mystery of that night.
Chapter 24: Empty On the Inside
ROSEMARIE: I’m- I’m– I- I- I can’t believe it. I know the footage inside and out. I mean, I have studied it, and studied it, and to see this today is unbelievable.
NEIL/VO: What Rosemarie is referring to is footage of Elaine Park driving up to, and walking into Divine Compere’s house at what we now know was 8:39 PM on January 27th.
NEIL: Have you ever seen footage of Elaine initially arriving at Div’s house?
ROSEMARIE: No. Never. Never, never. Ah- a- seeing Elaine was– gave me chills. Something that I’d never seen on– you know, those last days. It’s chilling to me.
NEIL/VO: The reason we now have this footage is because something odd happened. Ingrid was at a meeting with a donor for the reward fund, and Susan was preparing to show videos of Elaine at the Compere’s house, copies of which she’d shared with all of us. But the video Susan started playing on her computer was one that Ingrid, and none of us, had seen before, after months of investigating everything.
NEIL: And what– I guess what I’m confused by is, like, you have all the footage, supposedly, Su– ah– Susan gave it to you to post on Facebook, no?
ROSEMARIE: Yes, she did. Footage consists of Elaine walking to her car from Div’s house, and then the mystery car comes, the Uber comes, she walks back to get Div, and they go to the film from there. Then, the second one was them arriving back to the house for the night, and the last one was Elaine leaving to her car. And then, of course, the gate footage. But absolute nothing about her arriving. I mean, she said that was everything, I–
NEIL/VO: Rosemarie double checks the email that Susan originally sent her, and in that message is every other video we know of of Elaine outside Divine’s house, except this one. What’s most frustrating for Rosemarie is that she’s posted all the other videos on the “Help Find Elaine Park” Facebook page multiple times, and this new one could’ve answered a lot of speculation and accusations posted by people who’ve been studying the videos for clues. However, it just may be that Susan didn’t think it was significant, or somehow one of us overlooked it. This is something we’ll have to ask her about.
ROSEMARIE: Having footage of Elaine arriving would take the guesswork out of a lot of things. Establishing the time that she arrived, because the camera time– the timestamp is off. The back-and-forths with all the speculation about the lights, about Elaine’s car. It’s– just– the way it works, even the way the- the- the lights in the Compere’s house work. The flashing on the wall that people speculated so much about. It’s just the same. And had we seen this, this would’ve been– I mean, this is a missing person. Every little bit matters. I mean, the biggest thing is that Elaine’s wearing the same clothes when she leaves the house. She’s wearing the exact same clothes as what she arrived in, and that’s a really big deal. One more thing, she’s carrying nothing. Nothing.
NEIL/VO: What Rosemarie’s referring to are the items found in Elaine’s car. A black backpack with her computer, and a baby blue duffle bag that she supposedly used as an overnight bag. Elaine’s not seen carrying either of these when she enters Divine’s house.
NEIL: But when she leaves the house she could– it seems like she could be carrying something under her left arm, we can’t quite see it– when she leaves the house that morning.
ROSEMARIE: It’s hard to tell if it’s the jacket, or– but it doesn’t appear that it’s– that there’s anything on her shoulder. Um– ah– if she’s carrying something under her arm it- it would be pretty tiny, because it’s really hard to see. Why would she withhold this? This particular piece? Ten minutes worth of footage.
NEIL/VO: While it is possible that Elaine just left her bags in the car, we decide to call Elaine’s friend, Sadie, to ask if she saw it, and Sadie tells Mike that she actually witnessed Elaine leaving her house that night to go to Divine’s.
SADIE: Ah, she definitely was locking her door as I was, like, doing my u-turn in her cul-de-sac to leave, she was locking up. So she wasn’t going back inside, and when she came out, like, all she was holding was the curler. She didn’t have her blue bag.
MIKE: And di– and anything else? Laptop, or backpack, or anything?
SADIE: N- no, the only thing she was holding when she walked out of her house was my curler.
MIKE: Got it.
SADIE: She wasn’t holding anything else. It was just the curler. She walked out, handed it to me, and I started to kind of, like, drive off to leave, and she was locking up her door, and it looked like she was, like, starting to, like, walk towards her car to, like, leave.
NEIL/VO: Sadie notes that she doesn’t recall seeing this bag before, and Elaine’s friend Daisy says the same. Though they both say they’re very familiar with Elaine’s black backpack. What we’re trying to establish is what were Elaine’s intentions when she left her house that night, and where did she go after she left Divine’s? Most importantly, did she drive to Malibu herself and park in the spot where the car was found, or was the car planted there at some later point? What would really help with this is knowing the exact condition and contents of Elaine’s car when it was found. Although no documentation was made of the interior of the vehicle, Jayden was able to speak with an officer who found the car, and this is what he said:
All four doors were unlocked. The key was in the ignition in the on-position. There was a backpack on the front seat, quote, “placed there to find it.” Everything was inside the backpack, all neat. In the front pocket was Elaine’s driver’s license. There was a laptop, bra, and a journal or diary with the last entry of a month before.
The officer also opened the computer and noted that the charge was at thirty percent. The center console and driver’s pocket each had a cell phone, and both phones were dead. The other phone, by the way, was apparently an older iPhone of Elaine’s that was found damaged and could not be repaired. There was not a car charger, but there might have been one in the backpack, however the officer can’t remember. There was a baby blue duffle bag in the backseat well with clothes in it. The trunk had clothes and a number of Elaine’s shoes.
It seems the officer believes the car was staged there. But that’s just theory. We need actual evidence.
NEIL: I’m assuming there must be plenty of people who were, like, driving down PCH that probably have photos of that exact spot.
JAYDEN: Oh, I- I totally agree. I mean, not only, you know– not only people in their cars, but, you know, there’s an opportunity for motorcyclists, bicyclists– Um, a lot of them, you know, have GoPros mounted for, you know, security issues and things like that, so I– yeah, I think, uh, there’s definitely an opportunity to- to get that.
NEIL: Since the press conference got so much pickup and- and attention, do you think a press release could just bring any of these people out of the woodwork?
JAYDEN: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we– if we get that out to, you know, our media contacts, I think there’s a good chance that, uh, you know, they can get it out wide. There’s definitely in the story, so, you know for sure we don’t know what’s out there, but let’s, uh– you know, let’s get a press release out and- and see what comes back.
NEIL/VO: We begin working on the press release, adding a reward to incentivize people to see if they have photos and videos from the five day window between when Elaine left Divine’s house, and when her car was found, unlocked, with all her stuff in it. It seems like we’re really making progress, filling in these crucial gaps in the time surrounding Elaine’s disappearance, yet as we’re working, the focus shifts once again.
MIKE: So, we asked Susan to write, uh, uh, like a, basically like a sa– a quote– or a little passage for the new statement, for the new press release that we’re gonna put– you know, be distributing, for the new, uh, $140,000 reward. And we kept asking her for a statement over, and over, and over, and over again, and she kept, like, ignoring it, and then finally, like, at the last minute, we were like, “We need a statement,” and so she sends this statement–
NEIL/VO: This is the text that Susan sends. “Below is my quote, please feel free to change it around, and if we can include GoFundMe that would be helpful.” She then sends a very beautiful paragraph, and I’ll quote part of it:
“I’m not sure that I’m okay. Don’t even think I’m fine. I’m empty on the inside, but not inside my mind. I can’t stop thinking, “What more can I do?” I’m not really here at all. Just the shell is left to see. I’ve become someone I never thought I’d be. A grieving mother.”
MIKE: And Ann Marie looked at it and was like, “Hmm. This just does not seem like she wrote it.” And so Ann Marie copied and pasted it into Google, and it turns out Susan plagiarized this entire passage from a real grieving mother. It’s fucking insane. It’s in a press release that’s going out tomorrow morning.
NEIL/VO: This is the original poem, written by Lisa McCann, whose son Shaun was stabbed to death in 2012 during a dispute with a friend over rent money. You’ll notice that a few lines have been removed, and a few words altered, but otherwise it’s essentially the same.
I’m not sure that I’m okay,
Don’t even think I’m fine,
I’m empty on the inside,
But not inside my mind.
My mind can’t stop thinking,
What more could I have done,
I really can’t stop wondering,
Where did everything go wrong.
I’m not really here at all,
Just the shell is left to see,
I have become someone,
I never thought I’d be.
A grieving mother.
INGRID: I don’t know, man. Guys, I– you know, I went away, and I thought it would help me see things. I thought I could see other perspectives, but I have no other explanation.
NEIL/VO: This doesn’t mean Susan knows what happened to Elaine. It doesn’t even mean she’s necessarily hiding something. It just means that when we explore different angles in this investigation we often discover behavior like this from Susan, even when we aren’t looking in her direction. It’s really uncomfortable, because she seems to be working hard in her own way on all of this. But these contradictions and inconsistencies raise questions that we have to keep exploring until we can come to a conclusion. And we would soon find out we’re not the only one thinking this. Here’s Mike after returning from a meeting with a key figure in the investigation who wants to share something with us.
MIKE: He suspected this the whole time, and- and- he- he did tell me that, um, part of hearing this was a relief to him. It feels good to talk about it, because it’s something that’s been bothering him for– ever since Elaine went missing.
NEIL/VO: Coming up on the season finale of To Live and Die in LA:
MIKE: Apparently Cellebrite has the technology, now, to unlock an iPhone 7, and they’ve unlocked Elaine’s phone.
FEMALE 1: The first person that I’ve seen the– her daughter-daughter?
FEMALE 1: Um, I know where she hides.
SUSAN: It’s not dangerous if he goes in?
FEMALE 1: No, no, no, no, no. ‘Cause they don’t know who he is.
MALE 1: I’m gonna ask you about Elaine’s disappearance. Are you gonna answer each question truthfully? Have you been involved in Elaine’s disappearance?
NEIL/VO: Thank you for listening. If you have any information that leads to the discovery of Elaine Park’s whereabouts, there’s a $140,000 reward, so make sure to call us at 213-204-2073, or you can email us anonymously at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, we’ll be posting the newly discovered video of Elaine arriving at Divine’s house on our social media accounts, @livedielapod. Please note that this is still an active investigation, and the police have not named any suspects. Everyone mentioned should be presumed innocent. We are sharing this step-by-step documentary of our experiences while searching for Elaine Park with you in hopes that this podcast leads to justice for Elaine.
The parseltongue clip
There’s some dispute that this is actually parseltongue, and some people think he says “things aren’t good at home.” I dispute this and have it on good authority that it is indeed parseltongue. However, listen for yourself. 🐍
- McCann, L. (2013). From My Heart: Expressions of a Grieving Mother. United Kingdom: Xlibris US. ↩