After Rae Andreacchio’s 21-year-old son, Christian, passed away on February 26, 2014, she never believed the police investigation that determined he’d committed suicide. And for five years before his story was picked up by “Culpable,” a podcast from Tenderfoot TV, Black Mountain Media and Cadence 13, she took it on herself to look into the true story of what had happened. While promoting the show, which is on-going and drops new episodes on Mondays, the determined mother and a private investigator she worked with, Sheila Wysocki, chatted with In Touch about how they got involved with the project. As it turns out, Rae already knew about the power of a true crime podcast — and she was ready to start her own before she got help.

“I had never listened to a podcast until I sent my niece to CrimeCon in 2018,” Rae exclusively told In Touch. While there, her niece visited podcast row and learned about how popular — and powerful — the medium can be. When Rae heard that, she knew just how to try and raise awareness about her son’s case. Fans can get all the details on what happened to Christian by listening to “Culpable,” which explains how the official investigation allegedly only lasted 45 minutes before the police ruled Christian’s death a suicide. With evidence instead suggesting that it may have been a homicide, Rae has done her best to push back, ask questions and get justice for her son.

“I was going to do [my own] podcast,” she said. “I knew that it would not be any national thing, but I thought the people in Meridian [in Mississippi] would be interested just because it was somebody local.” When she reached out to Resonate Recordings to ask for help editing and producing the show, they ended up deciding to work together. Though it wasn’t easy giving up creative control, Rae knows she made the right choice. “I have so much invested emotionally with [the people involved in the case], good and bad that they’re able to be that kind of voice of reason,” she said. “If I had done it … I probably would be in jail for slander.”

Sheila got involved after Resonate Recordings reached out to ask her to take a look at the case. Though she initially felt she was too busy to take on the project, once she heard Rae tell Christian’s story, she knew she had to be involved. “It’s absolutely absurd what [Rae] has had to do just to find out the truth of what happened to her son that day,” Sheila said. Though she got involved roughly four years after Christian’s death, she’s used to playing catch up with her cases. And she dove in right away. “What I’ve found is the best resource is … the moms,” she revealed. “Rae has put together documents prior to [their official] release. She put together a very quality information pack that I could start with.”

Rae had gathered information on the people she suspected of being involved in her son’s death mainly by paying attention — and doing a little light stalking. “I became a social media stalker of this group of people, keeping screenshots of tweets and Facebook posts and parties that they would [share online],” she said. “[I was] riding around and taking pictures of cars and parking lots to prove that they drove this vehicle.” Two years in to leading her own investigation, Meridian’s police chief made things easier by sharing a portion of the police file.

“I’ve sent out dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests,” the mom continued. “Most of them were either unanswered or I’d get the reply that they would not give me the documentation. So it’s very frustrating. You just have to keep chipping away at it.” And she started almost immediately after Christian’s death. Though it took the family a while to cope with the shock and planning a funeral, Rae was ready start looking into her son’s death within only two short weeks. Ever since she’d been told that her son had committed suicide, she hadn’t been able to shake a years-old memory of Christian talking about another kid who’d killed himself, and it spurred her to action.

“There was a young man who [lived] in our neighborhood who killed himself [when] Christian was probably 16 years old,” Rae said. “It just bothered him. He didn’t hang out with the kid, but they knew each other. And he told me several times, ‘Mom, if anybody ever says I killed myself, you come looking, ‘cause something’s not right.’ And that was probably what kept ringing in my head the first few weeks.”

Sheila says the science backs up Rae’s assertions. “Rae hired the top forensic pathologists,” she explained. “She picked two guys that were the top of their field, third party, no emotion involved. And they came back with homicide. I brought in 25 that can’t even agree on lunch, and we all agree it’s not suicide.” Over the years, Christian’s older brother, Rae’s son Josh, has also gotten involved in her investigation. “[He] has really been valuable to me,” Sheila said. “When Rae’s unavailable, I can call him as my little encyclopedia of events. He’s very active now [with] the animation that we’re doing, a reconstruction [of the death]. [He’s] giving us details that we wouldn’t have, that he has a different perspective on.”

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Episode 11….have you listened yet?

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Though Rae claims no one in Meridian ever really thought that Christian committed suicide, she’s hoping the podcast spotlighting her son’s story will put pressure on public officials to take a second look at the case. “We’ve had tremendous support,” she shared. “I have a Justice for Christian page and when the podcast started, we had 2,000 members.” Now, they’re up to 8,000 and counting. “That has helped keep me going,” she said. “We’re not gonna give up.”

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