The Shattered Window podcast

Hi everybody! This is Emily and Eileen from the podcast, The Shattered Window.

The Shattered Window is an investigative true crime podcast that looks at an unsolved murder as well as a wrongful conviction. It will highlight several issues within the justice system, criminal investigation as well as the importance of ethical journalism. For the better part of a year, we have extensively investigated the unsolved murder of Jaclyn Dowaliby. We have trawled through case files, trial transcripts, archives and have conducted interviews with those who lived through the case to bring you: The Shattered Window. Emily G. Thompson is a published true crime author and podcaster and Eileen Macfarlane is a true crime podcaster with a journalistic background.

We have been doing investigative research on the unsolved murder of Jaclyn Dowaliby for most of this year. We’ve had access to the files and trial transcripts and have been conducting interviews with those integral to the case. Our main goal with the podcast was not only to bring new light to Jaclyn’s case but to also highlight the importance of ethical journalism, especially in true crime.

Here is a brief introduction to the case. No spoilers, of course.

Midlothian, Illinois, was a small town where everyone knew one another. Its located approximately 30 minutes south of the bustling Chicago streets and is a peaceful suburban area that endeavors to maintain a home town feel. In 1988, the town changed forever; their idyll of a safe neighborhood was shattered when seven-year-old Jaclyn Dowaliby vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night.

Jaclyn lived in 3636 148th W Place with her parents, David and Cynthia, and her four-year-old brother, Davey. Jaclyn’s biological father, Jimmy Guess, was not in her life, having bitterly divorced Cynthia shortly after their daughter was born. David Dowaliby adopted Jaclyn after he married Cynthia when Jaclyn was two and half years old, he was the only father she knew.

The family lived in the perfect location, surrounded by several nature preserves, all within short walking distance. Jaclyn was known to be a “happy little girl” who never showed any signs of sadness or anger, recalled a neighbor whose own daughter was good friends with Jaclyn. By all accounts, the Dowalibys were your average suburban family.

On the evening of 10 September, 1988, Cynthia took Jaclyn and Davey to a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner while David met up with some of his buddies for an evening of bowling. When they came home, they watched television before Jaclyn pulled on her purple and white pajamas and kissed Cynthia and David goodnight before climbing into bed with a Christmas catalog. What exactly transpired in that house that night remains unclear but by the next morning, the brown-haired and brown-eyed little girl was gone….

What followed Jaclyn’s disappearance highlights the flaws in the justice system, the danger of assumption, and the damage biased media narratives can inflict.

We will be hosting an AMA here next weekend, Saturday March 6th at 1pm CST. We’re looking forward to any questions you may have about the case, true crime writing, ethics in true crime, investigative journalism or anything else you might want to ask us! The series is available wherever you listen to podcasts, there are ten episodes in total.

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