If there is one type of person who should absolutely not listen to Paradise, availible on the BBC Sounds app, it is any parent whoes child is about to take a gap year.
Paradise investigates the 1978 dissaperance and deaths of Peta Frampton and Chris Farmer, recent graduates and childhood sweethearts who had decided to travel and enjoy themselves a little before settling down to their respective carears in law and medicine. They find themselves in Belize, and on a boat captained Silas Boston. They are never heard from again. Boston’s son Vince, who witnessed his father murder Peta and Chris tried to tell his grandmother about what happened who repremanded him, reminding he’d already lost his mother (under suspicious circumstances) and didn’t want to lose another parent. The weight of having witnessed such horror at such a young age must have sat heavy on him as multiple times in his adult life he tries to alert authorities to what he witnessed – this sentance won’t come as a suprise to any true crime fans, or women – but he was repeatedly not believed.
However at the same time Chris’s sister Penny, was also trying to find out what happened to her missing brother and in 2015 Greater Manchester Police sparked a joint investigation which lead to Bostons arrest in 2016, he died a few months later in custody, leaving a host of questions unanswered. What exactly happened? Can children’s testimonies, and memories of something so far in the past reliable? Where were Peta and Chris’s bodies laid to rest? What happened to Boston’s wife? What happened to the “Vikings” Peta wrote about in her diary? Is there really a link to the Golden State Killer?
Paradise feels like a contradictory podcast. This is an international case, involving the British police, the FBI, authoritieis in Belize, consulates and a whole host of people from Europe and the America’s. However there was no glamour in this international cast, and what really touched me about the podcast was the ordinaryness of the people involved. The grieving brothers and sisters left behind, the parents who die with no resolution, the investigators. Perhapse it’s listening to accents familure in Britian, voices that I could easily hear in my every-day life, but it felt to me like this international mystery was really very homely.
That sense of homelyness, of the inate understanding that comes from shared culture, meant that the senseless deaths of Peta and Chris, their families search for their final resting place, and Vince’s need to understand what happened and where his mother might be, underscored the terrible ordinaryness or tragadies like this. The fact that behind the fandom, obsessiveness and excitement that true crime can illicit in it’s follower there is terrible pain. Not a pain that is showey and ostentacious, but the pain so many people carry with them every day, which becomes a constant companion and eventually is just part of you. It is a reminder of how things happen to people, and the choices that impact us the most are often the ones other people make, sometimes far, far away. Their ripples are sent out throughout the world, but always hit the heart.