The true crime podcast Chasing Evil recently marked its one-year anniversary since debuting in October 2022. In early December, the Office of Public Affairs caught up with executive producer Christopher Godsick to talk about the series and discuss some insights into how the episodes are developed.
We asked about the podcast and what interests Godsick most about the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). “The mindset of the deputies who do the job, and secondly the details of the stories that most people find trivial I find fascinating. Normally, law enforcement is hidden behind a shield, if you will, and their personal thoughts and emotions are reserved for friends, sometimes family,” Godsick said. Godsick has produced work in the entertainment industry for decades. Most notable is his work as executive producer of the television series Veep and feature films Broken Arrow, Face/Off and The Replacement Killers. “I’ve been able to create an atmosphere where deputies are giving honest responses and enabling the general public to actually get to know them.” Godsick said he sees the Marshals Service as a very hands-on agency. “The fugitive hunting aspect is something that is for me very interesting because it requires so many different skill sets to conduct these manhunts. No other agency does that with the frequency and the expertise of the Marshals Service.”
Prior to developing the podcast, Godsick met with OPA to discuss ideas for potential projects. “I spoke to Dave Oney, and Dave suggested I learn more about the Marshals Service. I was skeptical and cynical. And I thought, why does the world need another law enforcement series? I went out and met with the New York, New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force. I started going out on some ride-alongs with them. And it took only one day before my mind was absolutely blown! Nothing that I had seen portrayed in television or film reflected the reality of what I was seeing on the street. It was much funnier, and much more dramatic at the same time. I thought, you know, this is a world worth exploring. I thought, how can I tell these stories? And, I approached the Marshals Service about a podcast to feature these stories,” Godsick explained.
Since the series began, Chasing Evil has aired 28 episodes. Godsick recalls his favorite episode being A Heavy Hitter in the Bronx. “This was a guy (Andre Sterling) who had shot a Massachusetts state trooper in Hyannis Port, Cape Cod, and was then tracked by the Marshals Service to a small apartment in the Bronx. The (USMS) team entered and Andre Sterling came out of one of the bedrooms moving toward them and shooting rapidly. Several of the marshals were hit or shot at,” explained Godsick. “To be able to then get the story of what it was like to be in such a shooting where your teammates were getting shot, while Andre Sterling was still on the move, and shooting and stepping over deputies to continue to engage the target until he was neutralized and hearing the story of how they saved the life of one of the deputies who was shot five times it was an extraordinarily dramatic story.”
While conducting his interviews, Godsick found a commonality among the people he spoke with-humor. “As the deputy who was shot five times told me, he tried to interject humor into the situation to put the other deputies at ease even though he was the one bleeding out. His concern was for them. I have found that there is nothing the Marshals Service doesn’t do that doesn’t have some element of humor. Some of the humor pops up at the most inappropriate time. It is clearly the number one coping mechanism to deal with all the stress and trauma. So, I was surprised at how much humor there was on a daily basis.” Acknowledging how events can quickly change, Godsick added that “the joking stops immediately as soon as the situation dictates.”
Another commonality Godsick said he noticed is the normalization of extremely intense events. “All the deputies try to suck out the drama and severity of the things that they’ve been through. Like…oh it must have been a Tuesday. And, as a podcaster, I’ve tried to heighten some of the drama, which is sometimes really hard when someone’s telling the story about how they got set on fire…but it was no big deal.”
During the course of collecting interviews, a few events stick out as most surprising to Godsick. “We were doing a podcast about the custody of El Chapo. I did not expect that the cartel would have somebody stationed in the lobby of the SOG members’ hotel. That they would be that brazen in their surveillance of the special operations. That surprised me!” “When we were doing the Bernie Madoff asset forfeiture story, I did not expect Bernie’s underwear and dirty socks to go over asking (at auction). There is no accounting for the public’s appetite for various types of memorabilia,” Godsick added.
The podcast continues to produce episodes that highlight the work of the Marshals Service. “We are currently cutting the episode on the rescue of the Tiger King tigers,” said Godsick. Future episodes will feature the murder of Moriah Wilson and apprehension of Kaitlain Armstong and the Mississippi jet ski prison escape of Sam Hartman.
When asked what he hopes people learn from the podcast Godsick explained, “I hope they’ll gain some insight into the kinds of people that do this job on a real basic human level. The successes, the frustrations, the complexity of some of these manhunts and the expertise that the marshals have developed in patterns of life and behavioral tendencies of their targets. And, of course there are the sacrifices. The time away from family, and fortunately on the more rare occasion, how some deputies and TFOs have made the ultimate sacrifice.”