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Chris Hansen On How Jimmy Hoffa’s Kidnapping Inspired His Career

Christopher Hansen, an American television journalist, and YouTube personality joins Collier Landry for episode 34 of Moving Past Murder. In this episode, Chris shares why “To Catch A Predator” really ended. He talks about how covering trauma has affected his life as a parent and what he does to cope. He shares the latest on his investigation into YouTube predator Onision. Hansen is known for his work on Dateline NBC, in particular, the former segment To Catch a Predator, which revolved around catching potential Internet sex predators using a sting operation. He hosts Killer Instinct on Investigation Discovery, which documents homicide investigations. In September 2016, he became the new host for the second season of the syndicated show Crime Watch Daily.

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  • Chris Hansen on moving past the trauma that comes with catching predators

  • Why “To Catch A Predator” Was Cancelled

  • Prosecuting predators for “sex tourism”

  • How Jimmy Hoffa’s Kidnapping Inspired Chris Hansen

  • How Chris Hansen copes with covering the trauma

  • Watch Chris Hansen Live as NYC Subway Shooter gets Caught

Links Mentioned:

Chris’ Podcast: Predators I’ve Caught

Chris’ True Crime Network:

Moving Past Murder Website:

Full Transcript:

Collier Landry 03:53

Yeah, and so. So now as far as, so you had to catch a predator, which is how I know and love you and your work on that. You were just saying 18 years on, it's the same story. How do you sort of reconcile with that as far as seeing the same thing over and over again?

Chris Hansen 04:15

We'll call your imagine this. I mean, when we first started doing the predator investigations, we merely had decoys from an online watchdog group called perverted justice in chat rooms on AOL and Yahoo. That was it. I mean, that was our only means of putting somebody out there to see if, in fact, an adult would hit upon them a predator and try to create a liaison for sex. Will today 18 years after that very first investigation, the amount of social media platforms upon which potential predators can approach your child has exploded. I mean, we're I can't even keep up with them. It's not just, you know, Tinder and Snapchat and Do you know all these different hookup type applications, but there's so many others. And it's the interactive games. And we had a case just a few weeks ago, where a 12 year old was approached on Instagram. And the predator set up a date and that her sexually assaulted her in it turns out, this is just one of at least three victims that we know. And this is Instagram where you think your kids are safe in the pandemic, you know, more kids are, have been online more than ever before, and that the number of reports of inappropriate approaches between adults and children has skyrocketed. You know, according to the National Center for Missing Exploited Children, which all the social media platforms, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, they all have to mandatory reporting, we all have to mandatorily report these things to the National Center for Missing Exploited Children. So, you know, it's out there, that technology has changed. And it's difficult for the investigators, and for our teams to to keep up with it.

Collier Landry 06:11

You know, I have my producer who's sitting in the room with us, and I was just speaking to her, you know, probably 15 mins before we before we started chatting. And I kind of you know, because you're you're you started in radio, if I'm correct. Is that Is that right? Long time ago? Yeah. Yeah. And then obviously, you come to you came to the show, as a journalist with that sort of background, I said, you know, it's like, one of the things that I think about with you is, you know, when you go when you're a war journalists, you know, or your photographer like a David Burnett, you know, and you're like, who's very famous for Vietnam war photography, and you know, that you go into these situations, and you know, what's going to happen, but it doesn't make it any less traumatic, or any less more impactful on you. And well, I guess, you know, this show is called Moving past murder. So I'm curious how that affects you and how you move past sort of the same,

Chris Hansen 07:04

you don't really ever move past it. I mean, you know, before I jumped on with you, I was doing, you know, my podcasts Predators I caught with Chris Hansen. And in that show, we go back over cases that, that we've already done, four or 500 of them. And so I, because during the investigation, you know, we have background on the guy and we have some information and, you know, I'm in the moment, but I don't have the chance to really immerse myself in it, because it happens so quickly, you know, we're, we're taking people inside the commission of a felony, basically. And so you have to react and you have to be at your past. But the podcast and going back over these things, in, in just immersing myself in the transcripts, in the interviews, in the police interviews, after I do the interview with the predator, it brings you right back into that moment. And it's a very strange experience. Because it you know, you don't feel the trauma of it, as you're doing it, you're just doing it. But when you go back over and relive it, it gets it takes it to a different level. And it's just as intense, if not more so going back through the material years after the fact that it was when you're actually doing it. At the time. You know, you're looking at the guy's hands, and are they in his pocket? Is there a threat, even though I'm surrounded by security and there's law enforcement there, you know, you're on your you're on your tippy toes, paying attention and trying to figure out, okay, if I ask this, what does that say? What does he say and, you know, anybody can jump out of a back room and scare the hell out of somebody and create 10 seconds, a dramatic television, you know, my job is to get inside this guy's head. And to create some sort of a dialogue, that media allows us to understand what goes on in that head so that we can prevent other people from becoming victims, you know, and that's the goal of it. So it is either move past it, and I'm not equating with interviewing a predator with, you know, surviving relatives or loved ones murder. It's a different thing. Sure, but you just learn how to live with it.

Collier Landry 09:08

Yeah, you do. You do. He, you know, how you know, you know, I first saw the show on YouTube, and like reruns that people will record and play and you guys were in Petaluma. Mostly at that time. It was like tech guys. And they were mostly from like Bangladesh or India. It felt like I mean, there was some white it was was it felt like there is in the area. There's a lot of tech people that were coming over. And I just remember watching it. And then I remember seeing the repeaters. The people that you've, you know, you're very famous for having a line, take a seat. Have a seat, right now. And it's just like, How many times do people want to do people want to hear that and I think that when you don't understand it when People are just like, Oh, what a creeps. Oh, what? Oh, what? Are these savages or whatever you want to say about them? And yes, they are. But also there has to be a very severe degree of mental illness. I mean, what do you think?

Chris Hansen 10:13

Well, I think in some cases, it's it's that I think they break down into, you know, in my experience, I'm not a therapist, but you know, in dealing with hundreds of these guys over the years, I, in my experience, they break down into three different categories. There's the hardcore heavy hitter, you know, the true pedophile predator, who would be doing this with or without the internet, you know, the guy who'd be at the movie theater, the bad little league coach, the bad cub scout master, you know, something along those lines, those guys, they can't be fixed, they're going to do this no matter what, and whether they're wired that way, or whether it's the result of, you know, some traumatic childhood experience, whatever it is, they're not going to get over it. And then you've got this younger group of guys who are late teens, early 20s. It's illegal, what they're doing, it's wrong. You can damage a child for life. But they look at it as a Romeo Juliet situation, if it works out and a couple of years, it won't be illegal. And those are the guys who can be intercepted, I think, in some cases, and reformed, opt out, and can be monitored and counseled and get some therapy and never offend again. And then you've got this interesting group in the middle. These guys who are predisposed to having a sexual attraction relationship with a underage boy or girl, but they wouldn't do anything about it, they wouldn't act on it without the internet, the addictive nature, the 24/7 access and the anonymity, they start seeing things online that they wouldn't see face to face. And suddenly, through the course of this conversation, and this, this urge that they either choose not to control or don't control or can't control, they crossed that line between fantasy and reality, and they're knocking on our door, and they show up and we see a lot of them. And to me, that's the most vexing and the most interesting category here. Because, you know, can you fix somebody like that? Do you have to lock them up? Is there a combination of treatment and punishment that works? And I don't have that answer. And I don't know that anybody does.

Collier Landry 12:12

Yeah, it's interesting, you brought up earlier, the video games, and all of that, because there's some things you just never, you never, you think it's, you know, and especially you think back to the pandemic, I mean, and I believe you're saying isn't flagrant, too, but, and I'm sure you've said it ad nauseam over the last two years, but the pandemic seem to really, really enhance these predatory situations, because people are locked,

Chris Hansen 12:36

there's more opportunity, you know, there's more opportunity, people are locked up, people have more time to do both good and bad things. And, you know, when you talk about statistics, you know, you've got to trust what the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does, and says in the records it keeps, because that's really kind of the gold standard. And because there is mandatory reporting on the part of all these social media platforms, it's a pretty accurate reflection of what's going on. That doesn't mean it's information that can lead to catching somebody, it can. But it gives you kind of an aggregate view of what's happening. And the numbers during the pandemic were staggering. You know, and I don't see the problem going away anytime soon. And as we continue to develop these, you know, interactive apps, and social media platforms, if we go end to end encryption, that's going to be even more difficult to track some of this. So it really comes down to, you know, the conversation, you started home with your children, or your nieces or nephews, you know, you got to start at an age appropriate level and say, look, there are people out there who want to trick you grownups. Kids don't like to be tricked. And then as they get older, and as their experience online expands, you have to, you know, have a more explicit and detailed conversation about the safety because, look, if you're talking about the drug problem Collier, you know, we can talk about demand reduction, sure treatment, whether we treat it as a felony, or whether we treat it as a disease, and you can have a similar conversation with you know, online predatory behavior, but there isn't the, the body of treatment available.

Collier Landry 14:28

Right. So you're dealing with an addiction.

Chris Hansen 14:32

What you do is except Except you there are addiction specialists all up and down Park Avenue here in New York. There are people going to medicine to practice all kinds of different areas, but the practice of studying predators in in sexual predatory behavior. It's not a popular place. I mean, you've got some various dedicated psychiatrists who go into federal prisons and deal with these guys. And their base of work is very important and very telling, but, you know, there's not enough of it. And it's easy to understand why. But that's, you know, that's, that's one of the issues here. And that's, you know, we don't have a good handle on how to fix it. And we want easy answers in our society, we want, of course, you know, the punishment that works, we want the treatment that works. And it's, it's not that easy. And so fortunately, there are some very dedicated, bright people working in this field. And, you know, I plan on having some of them on the podcast, and in the episodes to come to kind of talk about this to keep this dialogue going. Because I think, at the end of the day, what these investigations have done, whether it's the predator investigations, or any of the other things that we've done, the creative dialogue and awareness that didn't exist before. And I think it's, you know, journalists and filmmakers, in your case, it's, you know, that's our job. That's what we do.

Collier Landry 15:55

I mean, the whole reason I'm even in Hollywood, I went to school for music at Ohio University. And then I went to Oberlin and you know, I dropped out because I didn't want to be a music teacher. And I didn't know I wanted to be a performer. And I came out to LA, but I really wanted to come out to tell my story. And that's how I end up getting into filmmaking. But, you know, so that sort of passion really drove me to do that. How did you get in? How specifically do you get into Catch a Predator? You're a journal? I mean, what was your journalistic background leading into that? I mean, did you have your art? You know, I have that personal experience of me, just like, you know, I was very obsessed with what comes your passion? Yeah. And, you know, I always felt like, you know, when I pitched the documentary was originally going to be a television series. And I said, Look, I'm fascinating. The fact that we back i goes to jail victims dad's tickets as restitution gavel hits, we go next. We never examined the consequences of violence, and the repercussions and ramifications because at that time, nobody was now it's very cool and very hip to be woke, or whatever you want to call it to be very into this. Oh, what happens? What are the implication now we're talking about these things? That wasn't in fashion 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, you know, and I think it's just what you said, you know, we want a quick answer. We want a quick fix, you know, other drug addicts move on, or oh, they're sex addicts move on. It's a lot, it goes a lot more. It goes a lot deeper than that. But that drove me. So where did you come into this? Like, specifically?

Chris Hansen 17:16

Been? Yeah, I mean, I had been, you know, doing investigative and crime reporting for for years, I've been doing this for four years. So I had been at dateline and doing a lot of different stories. I mean, you know, the predator work is 10% of my portfolio, you know, but it just happened to be what has become iconic and so interesting, and a part of pop culture, like nothing else I've ever done. I always say, you know, I've won 10 Emmys, none of them are for the predator. They're all for other reporting. But no other body of work has been parodied on South Park and, you know, other places. And so it, you know, it luck. So you take that, and you you use it for all the good it has and embrace it. Right, essentially. Yeah, I know. Well, I always tell the story. You know, my two older boys went to high school in Connecticut. And, you know, having a dad on TV was no big deal, because, you know, they went to school with kids whose dads were captains of industry and sports figures and everything else. But when South Park did a Chris Hansen predator parodies on the I was the coolest dad. But you know, I it was it was never meant to be its own series. It was pitched I pitched it after I became aware of the online watchdog group perverted justice, as you know, just a segment on Dateline. And yeah, when I saw the work that perverted justice was doing, I figured if we could use their decoys, their ability to be decoys posing as children in chat rooms, and our ability to wire a house with hidden cameras and microphones, the result could be pretty compelling. So I pitched it, and then, you know, management bought into it. And lots of smart people weighed in to make it better. Yeah. And so we did it in Long Island and in, in 18 years ago, and I was driving out there, and I was thinking, you know, what, if nobody shows up, what if I've just wasted 10s of 1000s of dollars of the network's money. And with that, you know, my producer calls and said, Where the hell are you? We've got two guys, you know, scheduled to show up in 45 minutes. And in the next two and a half days, we had 17 eyes surface in that investigation, including in New York City firefighter. And I thought, wow, and, you know, went by so fast, but I'm just stunned and we talked about how the story should go and what it was gonna look like. And we had all the stuff I mean, it was very compelling. It's like nothing we've ever seen or done before. And I had done a lot of hidden camera work over the years, but nothing, nothing where we took the viewer inside the commission of a felony, where there was a confrontation in remember in those first couple investigations, we didn't collaborate with law enforcement. It was just us and law enforced first met would sometimes go in and be able to make a case after the fact. But it wasn't until the third investigation that we actually collaborated with law enforcement because we're the socially responsible thing to do in it. And from a television production standpoint, it was unfulfilling, you know, to see these guys leave and just be, you know, twirling their umbrella in the wind as they left the home after trying to rape a child, essentially. And so, you know, we moved on, and, you know, we've adapted it over the over the years, and, you know, it's become what it is. And again, you know, we're on our third version of it, basically, that we're shooting right now.

Collier Landry 20:43

You know, I mean, it's amazing, and it's disheartening at the same time. Yeah. Because it just keeps happening. And I even think you said, wow, okay, so 18 years ago, that's what 2004 I believe, like, I don't, I barely remember really using the internet at that time. I Google, you know, Yahoo, that type of thing. But obviously, chat rooms is where a lot of the startup built a bulletin board systems and things, I suppose it's just

Chris Hansen 21:12

yeah, it was chat rooms and on AOL and Yahoo. And then, you know, over the years now, it's, you know, everything from Tinder, Grindr to, you know, Snapchat to Tik Tok to, you know, any other social media platform where people meet each other and converse, Instagram and the the video games, interactive video games, a lot of it goes on there. And now there's discord. And yeah, a lot of areas where it's, it's difficult to monitor. And so it's so ubiquitous, that it's hard, even to me, we have the the figures, as I mentioned, from the NIC mag, the National Center for Missing Exploited Children. But, you know, it's so ubiquitous, that it's really hard to get a number on it, people always ask, you know, how many predators are out there on the internet at any given time? We don't know is the answer. I mean, you can you can, you can try to extrapolate it. And we've tried to do that. And, you know, there's a lot that's the answer. And you know, the danger is real. So you have to, you have to create this awareness. And you have to create this discussion, this dialogue at home in that's the best way, I think, in my experience to protect kids, which is, you know, if you don't know somebody in real life, then you don't know them online. And you know, I was growing up, parents tell their kids don't talk to strangers. Good advice, then good advice today. But the problem is, some of these predators and I read the transcripts all the time, they're so adept at grooming, that the guy who's a stranger on Wednesday is no longer a stranger. Yeah, on Friday or Saturday.

Collier Landry 22:43

You it's, you know, my father, you know, he's obviously in prison for murdering my mother, which I witnessed. He's still incarcerated to this day, because of my testimony, and me not letting him get away with it. But one of the things that I never knew, and see when I was when all this went down, you know, I was abandoned by both sides of my family, and I went into the foster care system. And I don't know why my phone rang, it's turned off. I went into the foster care system, and I didn't, I didn't have anybody to, to my mother's side of the family didn't have anything to do with me. My father's side of the family didn't want to do anything with me, because, you know, you put your father in prison and you're gonna put your father in prison, bah, bah, bah. Well, I didn't know is that my mother's side, the family hated me so much because of how I looked, because they felt that because I was male, and tall, that I look like my father, even though I look like my mother. But my father had molested my two cousins, year and a half before he murdered my mother. They're both girls. He was a doctor, he molested them under the guise of physicals and he, he was he was going to be arrested for that. And the girls were so broken up over it, that they couldn't bring themselves to really testify at a trial and they they couldn't arrest him for it. And one of the things that the investigator that I was working with had said you know, the Baltimore Police Department said look, you know, there's no there's no way this guy didn't kill his wife and get him for us because he's uh, you know, he's because of shed and it's it's you know, when you so there he is, is a predator in that sense. And then it obviously goes to the extreme which is murdering my mother. Do you feel when you when you see these people I mean, essentially you said the Romeo and Juliet syndrome and look man, I'm from Ohio, you're from Michigan, but I'm closer to Kentucky. We all know that we all know these stories of these people who get married to you know underage girls and or guys and it does happen but this Romeo and Juliet sort of thing that's a whole other way of looking at it. Like they're almost feel like they're the saviors or they're they got this god complex. I think he was my father. Obviously it's a it's a control thing and To, you know, coercive control, and then you have with these people they think they're saving they romanticize it. And it just becomes so difficult to see.

Chris Hansen 25:12

Also, it's the justification of it, you know, it's, it's, you know, how they justified in their mind to go there in the first place. And then that justification they tried to use when I confront them, and we still get guys up until this, including this latest investigation just weeks ago, where, you know, the guy says, Well, I had gone on this site, because I knew troubled girls were there and I just came over to help her to put her on a straight and narrow path. And it'd be with her until her parents got home. And it's like, you know, do you think that's the first time I've ever heard that excuse? It's not, it was, you know, for 18 years now I've heard it. But then you see it in the text in the in the in the transcripts of the chats, you know, it's the same grooming the same talk. It's like they go to a website to get, you know, help on how to do this predator one on one.

Collier Landry 26:09

It's a predominance book. It's stunning. Barnes and Noble.

Chris Hansen 26:12

Yeah. I had to do for dummies.

Collier Landry 26:16

You know, there was, so I, you know, I remember that the show originally was was it canceled? Or do you guys kind of shut down for a while because there was a district attorney? Is that correct? In New York, that he was an

Chris Hansen 26:31

assistant district attorney who committed suicide after the police went to go try to arrest him. But that didn't have anything to do with the show. We went I did multiple episodes afterwards. But in fact, the next episode of my podcast deals with that particular case. Oh, wow, Conrad. And what had happened was, not only did they find child porn on his computer, and he knew that was common, and he was going to have to face the music for that. He was going to face the charges of the online solicitation, he never showed up in this sting operation, but the crime takes place online. Then he had the child porn. And then it turns out, which is something we reveal in the next episode of my podcast that on that computer was also evidence and information that led to criminal charges against Conrad's boss, the actual da for embezzlement and financial wrongdoing. And this is the guy who came out strong against the Murphy, Texas Police Department for you know, arresting him in his house. And that was a courtesy actually. Because, you know, they could have made a big scene that his office Monday morning but decided to take him. You know, that what they thought was in a quiet, responsible way at his home. But we went on to do multiple investigations. after that. I think partly what happened at NBC was the investigation became very expensive. I think the network was ready to have me do some other work at the time. And I think they also found that they could expand the material, we had the library of predator material into different versions, and run them on MSNBC, and people would continue to watch and we'd update them and follow the cases through the court system. And it was very popular for many years. And then, a few years back, we did another version called Hansen versus Predator, which aired on Crimewatch Daily, a syndicated show I did and now we've got tape down with Chris Hansen, which is the new predator episodes that we have coming out, we're gonna put out one episode on the YouTube channel, have a seat with Chris Hansen in the next week or so. But it's gonna go exclusively on our new crime streaming platform called True Blue, which is going to launch in November. So they'll all be there.

Collier Landry 28:54

You know, it's, it's, it's wild, you said, you know, you've got 1010 Emmys and the work that you and that you've done. You know, it's probably even though this seems to have a very broad impact. But and you has all the ones the work that you were that you won the Emmys for was that for also true crime based material? Yeah, it

Chris Hansen 29:17

was investigative, crime, breaking news, crime, investigative stuff. I'll give you an example. We went to Cambodia and infiltrated brothels, essentially selling children as young as five and six years old to westerners for sacks. And we collaborated with a NGO called International Justice Mission and we posed as sex tourists and went into these brothels and captured very compelling hidden camera video. And we then were part of a raid where 37 girls were rescued. We did the whole story and and we confronted Americans who had gone over there for sex tourism, and then we followed up a few years later with the some of the rescued girls and their lives. And so it became this very compelling narrative of what goes on over there who takes part in it. And we're once again, able to take people to a place that wouldn't normally get to see and hear things they wouldn't normally get to hear. And, you know, that becomes very compelling information. And it led to, you know, the US government taking a different, more aggressive stance towards sex tourism, Colin Powell was interviewed for the piece, and he was a topic near and dear to his heart. So we had the attention to the US government and the Canadian government saw it and based upon the video that we had the brothels, they were able to match up video found in the trunk of a guy who beat up a sex worker in Vancouver, and they linked him to going over to the same brothel, and then we're able to charge him on a seven year felony with, you know, sex tourism, essentially. So it was like this, there's one story, there's one hour of television kept making significant change worldwide. And that's the thing that's, you know, it's expensive, it's dangerous, and it's time consuming to do. So you can't it's not something you can do every week. But when you get the opportunity, you know, to affect change like that. And to take people into that world as dark as it may be, I think it's important to do. And I've been very fortunate over the years and continue to be today to, you know, have supporters who allow me to do that work.

Collier Landry 31:39

That's incredible. I mean, as somebody who does this, who got into that, to affect change, to change the conversation to speak out. I mean, I just, I really admire you, man.

Chris Hansen 31:51

I appreciate that. I admire your work, too. I mean, that's hard to do. It's hard to dig into the, you know, the murder of your mother committed by your father, and, you know, pour all that out on on in a documentary. I mean, it's, it's, it's not easy to do, but, you know, look, if it was easy, everybody can do it. You know, and there's a lot of work we do. That's very interesting to viewers and listeners, and we do that work and, and it allows us to, to do the big picture. tentpole events that we do. And, you know, when you get the opportunity to do that, and you know, it's something I did even in local news, you know, I cover whatever story happened that day, and I find a passion project, and I chip away, chip away, chip away, and you know, you get for those years, and suddenly you're making a difference in people's lives. And, again, you take people to a place that wouldn't normally get to go.

Collier Landry 32:44

And that's the impact. It's the, you know, yeah, it's just

Chris Hansen 32:48

what's gonna get it's also you get a sense over the, you know, I've been doing this 40 years, sir. I first got interested in journalism when I was 15, when Jimmy Hoffa was kidnapped a mile and a half from my childhood home. And, you know, I kind of get bitten by the bug then and went off to school and studied at a college and was fortunate enough to get right into radio and ultimately, television before even graduated from Michigan State. And so I, you know, I had a good jump on it. And, you know, was allowed the flexibility, the latitude to, you know, crop sources, and then take a day here and there to, you know, immerse myself in different topics. And, you know, if you bring home the bacon, you know, eight times out of 10 that may tend to give you a little longer leash and a little longer leash, and you use that for good.

Collier Landry 33:38

Sure. Yeah, and then you can sort of, you can do what you want. Really,

Chris Hansen 33:49

I mean, to explore whatever topics you want to explore.

Collier Landry 33:52

Now, you said you had two boys, you have three kids or

Chris Hansen 33:56

I have two sons. And then I have a stepdaughter and a stepson. So youngest right college, that my older two on the visit, so my oldest lives in Brooklyn, and he's he's production associate and assistant cameraman and grip and he works on films and commercials and crime shows. He's worked with me on some stuff, he shot a predator show with me, but he's got his own gig going on. And you know, these guys are very involved in a lot of different things. And they have these networks of guys and gals who work in television film and, and they stay very busy. And he's doing a great job. And then my second son is a is a television reporter for The Fox station in Orlando. And it's his, his third market, he's moving his way up and doing very well and it's fun to see you know, we have a morning call every once in awhile where we criticize each other's hard work, and see if we can't help each other out. What's wrong?

Collier Landry 34:53

Well, I'm a 600 DP so I appreciate all my camera guys for sure. And Orlando For a year,

Chris Hansen 35:00

sure a lot of news in Florida Orlando has become a big town now. It's, there's something something going every day. And it's not always good either. No, no, but it's, you know, I remember years ago, I was a reporter in Tampa where I went after I was in Lansing, and you know, any any market in Florida? I mean, you're gonna get Florida stuff. And it's it's it's, it keeps a reporter busy. You know,

Collier Landry 35:31

there's a lot going on down there. And it's like going on sale.

Chris Hansen 35:35

Well, I was always been.

Collier Landry 35:38

And you're a Spartan? Yep.

Chris Hansen 35:41

And classroom anyone?

Collier Landry 35:43

Nice, nice. But, you know, unfortunately, there's that dark cloud that hangs over with was Larry bizarre? Nasser? Oh, Nasser.

Chris Hansen 35:53

Yeah. That's a horrible situation. And it highlights, you know, the responsibility of, you know, the university journalists, you know, anybody who's supposed to be keeping an eye out and protecting, you know, our students and our athletes, you know, there was that horrible incident at Michigan State. And my heart goes out to those young women, those survivors who were first traumatized, and then traumatized again, because law enforcement didn't immediately pick up on it. And it took a while before those cases were taken seriously the way they should have been. And finally, you know, he was brought to justice. There was another case that had Michigan, they had a physician, there was one recently at UCLA. I mean, it's out there. And, you know, too many times historically, universities had been dismissive. Penn State, for instance, with Sandusky, for too long, and people who are involved in athletics got a pass. And in the Michigan State case, horrifyingly you know, this guy was so arrogant, such a narcissist and such a predator that he, you know, thought he could get away with it and even did get away with it. Because he scared these young girls into silence. Some of this stuff happened with parents on the other side of the screen. I mean, imagine the shock and horror and the guilt and the, the horrible, you know, aftermath of that. And all because it's not the parents fault. It's not the girl's fault. It's Nasser's fault, first and foremost, for being an evil human being, and then the university's gotta gotta keep an eye out. And I'm a big Michigan State booster, you know, I know some of the people who lost their jobs over that deal. And you can justify it any way you want. And say, well, so so and so was paying more attention to basketball and football than gymnastics. But that's your job at the end of the day, you know? And if you're not keeping an eye on on you better damn, well have somebody who is. And so, you know, heads roll, and because of that, there's lot of liability there.

Collier Landry 38:01

So what I'm curious of is, so you mentioned this, and then you said the parents on the other side of the screens, and this is, you know, it's like when you watch the the like the Michael Jackson documentary, right. And you see anything like, for example, Jeffrey Epstein, right. And you see the sort of the allure of whatever's happening, whether it be athletics, whether it be started, whether it be money. High fame, exactly, you know, do you feel that almost, there's a willing participation? Sometimes our people sort of turn a blind eye to it, when they should be maybe protecting their children?

Chris Hansen 38:45

Or? Absolutely, I think, I think it's, it's, you know, in some sense, a corruption, you know, it's people are swayed by fame and fortune. And, you know, in some cases, that's allowed, you know, lapses in judgment that have put kids in precarious and dangerous situations. And, yeah, I think that's a big part of it. In you have to be watchful as a parent, whether it's online or whether it's, you know, who your kids are hanging out with, and I think I think fame corrupts, in power corrupts, and, you know, if you're not, if you let yourself get caught up in that, I mean, we see it now and one of the things that we're getting ready to report on are all these parents who are promoting their children on YouTube and Tiktok and they're being taken advantage of by people online in some of these kids are being essentially pimped out by their own parents, because they're making money you know, on YouTube. In you know, we saw all too well not not This is an example of parents not doing the right thing. But there was a case in Naples, Florida, where a girl had a, you know, reasonably done Tiktok presence. And there was a stalker, and the guy showed up at the door with a shotgun blasted the door open, because he was obsessed with this teenage girl, and had the dad not been an ex cop who had a gun and shot him. I mean, he could have killed the whole family. And, you know, but it highlights, you know, what, what the potential dangers out there, and you have to be careful who you know, your kids are exposed to. And there are other examples, you know, you see some of these Sharon's or these people who are, you know, promoting their children on social media sites and exploiting their children on social media sites or adopting multiple children so they can have a presence on YouTube. And it's, it's shocking, what people will do now to make money with their parents. You know, and that's a shocking part of it.

Collier Landry 41:07

You know, it's money is the root of all evil, as I say,

Chris Hansen 41:11

yeah, in some cases. That's true.

Collier Landry 41:13

It's yeah, it's, it's, I mean, it feels almost like, you'd, uh, you dive down the rabbit hole so far with these things? And then how, you know, it's just like, you know, uh, you know, I remember the movie heat with Al Pacino and Robert Greene, great, great movie by Michael Mann. But there's a moment when he's talking about, you know, he's in the argument with his girlfriend or third ex wife, or third wife or whatever. And he says something like, you know, I just had, he just basically talks about the stresses job literally, like, I don't bring that shit home, like I don't, you know, I saw a mom a crackhead took her baby in the microwave, and he was crying, you know, or something like that, you know, these guys, and you yourself, when you when you talk about these things, and seeing this horror every day? How do you how do you find that work life balance? How do you not bring that home to your family? How do you not look at your kids?

Chris Hansen 42:05

Well, I think over the over the years, yeah, I mean, you know, you have to, you know, compartmentalize sometimes and say, Okay, this is my work, state of mind, and then you have to transition into, you know, dad and husband, and, you know, it's easier now, because the kids are adults, but you just you have to be able to, in my case, you know, have your athletic releases, and to have your intellectual releases, and to be able to, you know, get away from it. And I've, you know, always been pretty good, I'm sure there's, you know, there's, there's been an impact on me that I don't even realize, but the, you know, generally speaking, I've always been able to transition into, you know, home life and, and ski down a mountain or, you know, go for a run or go to the gym or watch a movie or, you know, do whatever, you know, I'm into it that moment to, you know, get away from it. And you just have to, because if you if you live in that dark world the whole time, you, you know, you get to dark yourself, and you can't do that. And also, I mean, for me, at least I think it's been the ability to have sort of a dark sense of humor, a gallows sense of humor and to, to even in the, you know, in the predator investigations, I mean, there are undeniably humorous moments. Right? And you have to just honor that, except that, you know, and, and you do have a dark sense of humor, and that's not appropriate with everybody in your circle, but

Collier Landry 43:40

it is a critical, sardonic person. I know. That's yeah, sure, exactly. I mean, you did so was there what was like the one case and this doesn't have to be Premier, of course. Was there one case that you just were like, Man, I wish that didn't happen? And again, not a predator? Well, I

Chris Hansen 44:02

think, you know, you're a witness to the truth. You know, there's, there's Yeah, I mean, it you know, 911 I wish didn't happen. You know, Oklahoma City bombing I wish didn't happen, all that stuff I wish didn't happen, but it did. And it's like, you know, what I always say is the reporters prayer guy, don't let it happen. But if it does, let me be the first guy there to report on it. And so you go through it, and those things are just as impactful on a report as is, you know, the predator series or anything else? I mean, you're watching in the case of 911, or the case of Oklahoma City, you know, large scale debt. I mean, even just yesterday morning here in New York City, we had the, the guy who got on the train with the smoke canisters, and they find a shot up at night, not as of when I got on with you. Look right now, but, I mean, they know who it is. They've got a YouTube presence. You know, obviously somebody who's suffering from mental illness, and he has an axe to grind with the subway system and the mayor of New York, and he's got some criminal history and, and a large scale footprint on YouTube ranting and raving. And I've looked at some of the videos against the mayor against his crackdown on civil crime and homeless people. And you know, he feels aggrieved by some sort of treatment he received in the New York area years ago. And clearly he had plotted this and just because somebody is mentally ill, or crazy, doesn't make them stupid. I mean, the guy is a pretty was able to pull this off, you know? And so they're looking for him, I have no doubt they'll find him. I mean, NYPD is the finest law enforcement agency in the world. And, you know, certainly among the biggest and had cooperative efforts with every other law enforcement agency in the world. And don't don't find them. Yeah, I don't think he's gotten that far. They found his vehicle. They found the gun, a credit card keys to the rental vehicle. And so it's just, it's really just a matter of time before they find him.

Collier Landry 45:59

I want to continue on this, but I do want to ask, you know, there was you mentioned him on YouTube, wasn't there a big YouTuber that was just exposed, or it was taken down? That was that was doing a lot of this predatory activity as

Chris Hansen 46:13

well. There have been several of them. I mean, dozens and dozens, but the one that we focused on that turned into a documentary on Discovery plus was a guy who went by the name Oh, nice, Yan, Gregory, actually, you guys did. And he, he was very popular YouTuber. And then, you know, got involved in rooming and bullying and abusing and inappropriately interacting with fans and inviting some of them out to his home in Washington State. And there are allegations of sexual impropriety and, and just really awful, awful, and illegal behavior. And so he came, we started to investigate him and interview some of his victims. And it turned into a big YouTube series on our YouTube channel, have a seat with Chris Hansen. And then it turned into a series on Discovery plots. So it's called a nice yacht in real life. And we, you know, we lay him bare for what he is, and ultimately, you demonetised and crack down on because you just the stuff he was doing to two young women was horrifying. But yeah, that's out now. And he's not alone. I mean, there's a lot of this. I mean, YouTube has been, in some ways, the great, you know, democratization of, you know, people having access citizen reporters and creative people. And it's, it's great for a lot of people, but it's also created an opportunity for abuse, and predatory behavior. And it's hard to monitor.

Collier Landry 47:44

I mean, how does this not give you anxiety as a parent and your parenting choices? Right? Well,

Chris Hansen 47:48

I mean, you know, my guys are, my guys are past it. You know, I'm lucky. Yeah, my guys aren't aren't three and four years old, my guys, you're 30 to 20? So

Collier Landry 47:58

what what would you say to parents that are dealing with this? Well,

Chris Hansen 48:01

as I mentioned, you know, I think you have to sit down and have a discussion, you know, you have to, first of all, you have to lead by example, if mom or dad's on the computer doing nefarious things, you know, that's not going to create a very good example for the children. But you also just have to be very honest and age appropriate in your discussion about the potential dangers out there and what they are and why you have to be careful. And, you know, I hear all the time, you know, we're on the third generation of predator investigation followers. In, it's very rewarding to me to be walking down the street in any city, American, if somebody comes say, Hey, I watched your shows. And it helped me not to be the victim of a predator online. And I saw the new one, by the way, thanks for doing it. I mean, that's why we do it is to create that awareness and that dialogue.

Collier Landry 48:57

You ever get anybody that's seen the show? That is, that is so yeah. And said, you know, I reformed my ways, because I was going down a dark path,

Chris Hansen 49:05

not so much that we had people who serve us and sure, yeah, I mean, here's what I do get a lot. Somebody who say, Hey, can I talk to you for a minute and somebody who will, who you wouldn't? How would you know, but somebody who will say, look, I had a unfortunate experience with an adult as a child. And you know, your your series helped me to cope with that. And it helped me to know that while my Predator was not brought to justice, or maybe he was but to see somebody out there doing something about it has been cathartic to me. And that's very rewarding as well.

Collier Landry 49:44

Yeah, I mean, I get you know, it's it's funny when I made the film, and, you know, people people reach out to me and they, some would have circumstances that weren't quite as gruesome as mine were but they were Are they were bad. And I always tell people, you know, I'm like the extreme. Like, I'm like the I'm like the Michael, the Tom Brady of the exchange drama like crazy family stuff. But that is a V that there are stories that there are ways that these things impact people. Oh, yeah, that are just as traumatizing. I'm like you my trauma is not bigger than yours. Mine is just such an extreme and crazy example. And my sort of way of dealing with it was doing the work that I'm doing the film, the podcast, speaking the TED Talk that this the that being on Dr. Phil sharing my story with people, right. And, but I mean, the overwhelming majority, when when I set out to make a murder Mansfield, I was like, I want to change my, I want to put this to bed for myself. And I want to change one one person's life because there's a kid like me sitting in foster care, nobody's got his back, he's lost everything, he's using the nature of his life, he's literally, you know, got to do the most difficult thing, which is testifying against your parent who has a legal team, and who, you know, murdered your mother, but who had also get off, and will probably probably either stick you in the ground a few months later, or will make the rest of your life a living hell, you know, and finding the courage to do that. And I wanted to speak to like those individuals. But the overwhelming majority, sadly, is people that have suffered sexual abuse, and obviously they've turned to drugs, or violence, or crime, or whatever it is, to cope with all of that. And then they see my story, and they just are impacted. You know, they're really just, like, oh, you really helped me and I, so you know, I'm with you, when it is disheartening is is to hear people going through this, it's, it's amazing to be able to have an impact for something that you didn't even realize was gonna do that. You're just trying to do some good. I was trying to make a show. I thought that was interesting. What the hell, you know? It's to be commended for sure. Way, like, what have you been through? I think it's you like, what is your trauma? You know,

Chris Hansen 52:15

you know, I've had a relatively trauma, trauma free life, I'm in a very fortunate that, you know, I grew up in a very upper middle class household, and we were not wealthy, but we had, you know, a very good life. And I was like to say, you know, I got to go to a great high school, although I, you know, I, I worked in the back of a bakery to pay for half of it, that was a good experience for me. I mean, I really, you know, everybody has, you know, little life changes along the way. But, you know, I, honestly, you know, maybe that's part of what drives me to do the kind of reporting I do is because I feel very fortunate to not have had trauma, we all have laws, we lose parents, but it's, you know, those are all explainable, understandable events and live life changes as well. But, you know, it's, it's really, I've been very fortunate guy to have healthy kids and healthy relationships, and, you know, to have a very healthy career and to be able to pursue the things that I care about. So I don't have a base of trauma to work from. I mean, it's, it's a, it's a good question. And it's one that people often ask, because I think there's a general feeling that well, to do this sort of work, you know, was there something that happened to you, that sparked you to be an activist journalist in this way, and there really wasn't, I mean, it just a sense of, you know, curiosity and, and wanting to do something nobody else has done and again, to take people to a place they wouldn't normally see into, you know, get into the head of somebody who could hurt you. And by understanding how all that works, prevent somebody else from being hurt. I mean, that's, that's the drive here.

Collier Landry 53:56

You know, we look at all this stuff, right? And we, we have these moments where we just we go dark in our own lives, and we go, you know, the world is just a miserable place. This is bad. And that's one of the things that I just, I always try to be like this perpetual ball of optimism, because this is sort of my nature.

Chris Hansen 54:13

They just arrested the subway shooter, by the way. Oh, they did.

Collier Landry 54:17

Oh, wow. That's amazing. That's incredible. Well, congratulations to NYPD, and nobody, miraculously, no one was severely

Chris Hansen 54:27

injured. Oh, yeah. I mean, I mean, there were some severe injuries but not life threatening and

Collier Landry 54:33

life threatening, isn't it? Yeah. I mean, but I mean, still the trauma of all of this

Chris Hansen 54:41

Well, I mean, you know, you know what, it's like being in a subway you're, you're trapped. And if the subways moving you can't get off. Yeah, Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James in custody much good news.

Collier Landry 54:56

is good news. You know, it's easy for people I think, you know, no, we just came out of a pandemic. And then now we're in a war. And we've got a financial issue that's looming. And you know, there's just a lot of there's a lot of things going on. And then there's the sort of people taking a hard look at their lives going, is this how I really want to live my life, whether it's good or bad, right. But I always try to when people I know have the doom and gloom, you know, what, what is the positive we can take from all this? I mean, what do you say to people? Well, I

Chris Hansen 55:30

think, you know, look, tomorrow's a new day. And, you know, I was looking at, you know, I mentioned Colin Powell earlier, and, and when I interviewed him for various rules for living in my wallet, well, I haven't there, it's in the next room here and you're in my office. You know, it, those are the 13 rules. Life is really, really, it's never as bad as it looked to look better in the morning. And perpetual optimism. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. force multiplier. Yeah. So I, you know, I always been an optimistic fellow. Yeah, I got it in the next room. Yeah, it's and I think there are words to live by, I truly do. And, you know, you can get down or you can, you know, you know, you can be in a dark mood based upon what you have to do that day, or what you do for a living, but at the end of the day, you know, it. You know, we're here for a reason, and I think we, we hopefully, figure out what that reason is, and we do it. And that's, you know, that's alive.

Collier Landry 56:33

Yeah, life is still a beautiful thing. So there's so much beauty in the world, too. And we get lost in this. You know, obviously, you're coming from this journalism background. And you got into this, I'm always fascinated, because I was thrown into this true crime world. And, you know, I'm obviously doing the podcast, but it's also about like, my journey, and my journey has just been, I'm out. I'll see you at crime con in a couple of weeks. You know, I've always been fascinated with why people are obsessed with true crime. We were going to a trade show, a conference, whatever, we will have a symposium about true crime. Do you use Do you feel or what? One are you astonished by this? Because now 18 years running, it's still the same thing. Wash, rinse, repeat, but people are still fascinated by it, first of all, and second of all, you know, what, why do you think people are? So isn't the shot and Freud of the situation? Is it the? Well, I

Chris Hansen 57:28

think it's a little bit of everything, I think. I think everybody likes to be an armchair detective. And I think, you know, it's very interesting to a lot of people to go see this world is the same reason why, you know, movies on crime, mob movies are so popular. It's you get to see something you don't normally see in your regular life. And whether it's glamorized in a mob movie, or it's, you know, it's the 50th anniversary of The Godfather. I mean, all those things are very interesting. And, and I think what we do, as you know, television, journalists and filmmakers and documentarians is take people into that world. And I think we do all the dark stuff, so they don't have to. And I think, I think until we figure out, you know how to solve every crime or how to prevent crimes from happening, it's always going to be mystery as to why the criminal mind works, whether it's a predator or a killer, financial scammer. Bernie Madoff, you know, whatever it is, you know, you just can't believe somebody would actually do that, or use their inherent intelligence for evil when they could use it for good. And so that's one of the mysteries of the world. And I don't think it'll ever be solved. And so when we delve into it to take people into that world, I think it's inherently fascinating and entertaining. And so, you know, people are, are very interested it's always been that way. I think we've learned how to harvested and exploited hopefully in a responsible entertaining way that that creates a dialogue and, and a discussion and an awareness that didn't exist before and I think that's that's part of why it's so fascinating. It's always been glamorized a little bit in films you know, Silence of the Lambs all that you know, it's it takes people into unbelievable world. That's, that's dark, but it's entertaining.


It's a good point. I never thought about that with the mob movies. I was good fellows fan. I'm not gonna lie. Oh, you know, Chris Hansen. I have so much respect for you and the word. appreciate them. John over the years and this has been probably the coolest one of the coolest things I've done since I've started the podcast a little under a year ago. I really appreciate your time, man. This is so cool. And thank Shout out to Stephen Cohen.


I'll see ya absolutely our man or man Stevie. We'll, we'll see at crime con.


We'll see anytime con. My guest today has been Chris Hansen. You should check out his podcast predators. I caught predators I'm


caught with Chris Hansen. And that's on all the platforms. The YouTube channel is have a seat with Chris Hansen True Blue launches in the fall. So go to watch true And we've got the two documentaries of Nietzschean in real life and unseemly the Peter Nygaard investigation on Discovery plus,

Collier Landry 1:00:34

fantastic man. Thank you so much movers. I hope you got something out of this episode. I'm Collier Landry and this is moving past murder. Thanks,



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