Welcome back to FITSFiles, our new true crime (and corruption) podcast. Brought to you by the same media outlet that broke open the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ saga – and America’s ‘Cheer Incorporated’ sex abuse scandal – FITSFiles is dedicated to exploring (and exposing) the truth behind the headlines, uncovering the facts, trying to decipher their meaning and holding everyone involved accountable (including us).
This week, our team embarked on a new investigation with the release of our seventh episode – ‘Death on the Tracks.’
Our latest investigation looks into the unexplained (and still-unsolved) death of 29-year-old Daniel Reed “DJ” Smith – whose body was discovered on the railroad tracks in Dorchester County on August 11, 2018.
How did DJ get there? What happened to him? Who was responsible? And why have they not been held accountable?
For Lesia Melendez, DJ’s mother, the heartbreak began when she heard a few words on a police scanner five years ago about a body being found on the tracks. Even though no other details were mentioned, in that moment she knew her son was gone. Her husband, Eric Melendez – an investigator in the local solicitor’s office – was unable to obtain any information about the incident. When some of the mismatched puzzle pieces finally became available, they failed to provide an explanation.
The night before Smith was found dead, he went to a party with people he believed to be his friends. Yet, when the investigation began nine days later, those friends provided only inconsistent accounts of the evening’s events. They seemed so unaffected by the tragedy they didn’t even bother to come up with a plausible explanation. This left Lesia and Eric with even more questions.
Before DJ’s death, Lesia had always been content to leave the police work to her husband. Now, she found herself in a new role – actively investigating the suspicious death of her only son.
As we go to press with this episode, there is no suspect in custody, no impending trial, and no justice on the horizon for Smith’s family. But Eric and Lesia have uncovered significant new information which could break this case wide open.
As always, the FITSNews team is letting the story guide our investigation, sharing what we uncover as best we can based on the available evidence. No egos, no agendas … just the story. And an ongoing search for truth.
FITSFiles is written, produced and hosted by our team of dedicated journalists including this reporter, research director Jenn Wood, special projects director Dylan Nolan and founding editor Will Folks. New episodes drop every Wednesday morning. Be sure to like and subscribe to FITSFiles on your podcast platform of choice (including Apple, Spotify, Google and others) so you won’t miss a single episode.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.
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