The Matt Sodnicar Podcast

How do you navigate a transformational moment in your life? Michelle survived a kidnapping and shares the recovery and how her life has changed.

Show Notes

In a continuation of our previous conversation, Michelle takes me thru the trial of the man who abducted her as a young woman in upstate New York.

She takes me through falling out with her family over the events, the PTSD and hypervigilance, blending in and not wearing makeup, and the effect the experiences have had on her.  She also helps with talking to therapists, how friends and coworkers can connect and help others who've experienced similar events.
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What is The Matt Sodnicar Podcast?

The Matt Sodnicar Podcast. Founded on the belief that one need not be famous to tell a compelling story. Focused on turning points in business and in life, those moments that will inspire others.

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Matt Sodnicar 0:06
Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for listening and for your comments. I really appreciate it. Hello, gypsy thanks for listening and reading the transcripts. And today we're doing a part two and with me again from a few weeks ago is Michelle crass NiaK. And, Michelle, welcome. I wanted to give some context, but say hi, first of all,

Michelle Krasniak 0:55
thank you. It's good to be here again. Yeah,

Matt Sodnicar 0:57
appreciate you taking time on Black Friday.

Michelle Krasniak 1:02
Actually, the good thing that keeps me from shopping too much.

Matt Sodnicar 1:05
Good. Well, for the listeners, I wanted to give some context, maybe behind the scenes on how some of these podcast episodes develop. And in some cases, I've done zero prep, like with Kelly from murse hot sauce, I literally met her seven minutes before. And then we hit go. And then other guests like Ellen and Teresa have given me outlines and notes, which is awesome, too. And that's just all about how I want them to feel comfortable. And in this case, Michelle and I had talked about one thing that I knew we were going to talk about, which is her food truck experience in Costa Rica. And then I have told a lot of people about this episode because it came in live and in the moment. And this is why we're doing part two is something that had happened to you when you were younger. And I am struggling for the adjective because it was all this start with impactful to me and not necessarily what happened to you, but how you handled it. And I'll also put a link to Episode one for those listeners that want to talk about it. But with that I'll shut up and then what what are we talking about today? Michelle, what is part two?

Michelle Krasniak 2:27
We are talking about my experience with True Crime how I became a story I became my own Dateline episode, basically 20 years ago. Yeah, yeah. The bombshell I dropped at the end of the last episode about the my, an incident where I was kidnapped and sexually assaulted 20 years ago, 20 years ago, this year, July 7 of 2001. So yeah, and kind of I didn't really get into get into the aftermath, which I think is pretty interesting. Because kind of like in preparation to speak about it today, which by the way, first time I'm ever talking about it publicly.

Matt Sodnicar 3:15
Wow. Thank you for doing that.

Michelle Krasniak 3:18
Yeah, it's not because I was, you know, ashamed or scared or anything. It's just not really something that you bring up in conversation. Kind of randomly be like, yeah, hey, I'm Michelle. Syria, how's your day? Yeah. So just wanna connect, especially assaulted and Yeah, crazy trial and all that. So it's, bear with me, as I recall the details of

Matt Sodnicar 3:45
this, we have all the time you need and just just let it flow and, and just for the listeners, too, my interest in this was less about the the crime portion of it, but about Michelle and her mindset, and her, her being in the moment and thinking, aligning with so many things I've studied in terms of survival, and just not thinking any further than what's going on in the moment. But yeah, with that, so what happened next, what was the trial and the aftermath? And I guess the impact on you.

Michelle Krasniak 4:31
So it, it was very interesting, because after I went to the police station, and I and I stayed there, pretty much, maybe about four or five hours. I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but they had brought me back to the scene of the crime. Once I told them that I dropped all my stuff in on the ground, you know, to kind of prove that I was there. They brought me back to you know, the crime and you know, Nowadays, you like I look back on it. And I'm like, I can't believe they actually did that, because they drove me in the back of a police car, basically like a detective car. So I didn't have they don't have handles on the inside. So I was literally trapped again, in a car with a man I didn't know. I mean, Detective, but you know, he's a detective. So obviously, I was in a safe place, but having just escaped from being held against my will. And I couldn't get out of this backseat. So even in the moment, I remember thinking, this is not like, they shouldn't be doing this. This is really, this is the worst thing that you can do. For somebody who, who just experienced that. But yeah, so you know, after that, and they found out my stuff, and they process the scene. And we went back to the police station, and the detectives name is Detective Casper. He's very, very good. You know, very empathetic and sensitive to to everything. I never went ended up going to the hospital. I didn't, didn't at the time. So me too. Looking back, I know, I know, I was in shock. Because they typically will bring in kind of like a victim advocate to to be with you during the whole process. And I believe they if I remember correctly, they did offer that and I was like, no, no, I'm fine. I'm fine. Let's just, you know, let's just do this. And kind of set the stage for this whole thing is Michelle, fine, she'll doesn't need support, Michelle can do this on her own. And I remember leaving the police station, and I was driving back to where I was living. And it was an hour and a half drive. And it was on the through it and your face through a and I was 100 miles an hour. And I remember thinking this is so stupid. And I don't know why I was thinking this. But I think everything was kind of starting to hit me. And I was almost in a manic state. Because I remember thinking, well let him Let him stop me. I'll just tell him that was so stupid. I can't believe I'm reading this. I'll just tell him and I just survived. You know what I just went through and they'll let me go. It's interesting. thing, yes, a 21 year old female who went through a really traumatic experience. You just the things that go through your mind, during those times are very interesting to say the least. And one thing I didn't mention in not many people know is that I have had a falling out with my family prior to this. And we hadn't spoken in two months. So I didn't call them when I was at the police station. So that's why the police station alone. I didn't, I didn't call my parents, my family be with me. And they were local, though at that time. They were in my hometown where this took place. And I wasn't going to call them then I remember he had taken my identification. So he had my last name. He had my address. He had like all that information. And I couldn't in good conscience not warn them. Because this guy's still out there. No idea who he was, you know. So he was still out there. If he got word that I had gone to the cop who knows what he would have done. So I called them when I got home. And it's kind of one of those like, how do you start that conversation? Like how do you you just can't get on the phone and be like, hey, been less two months? Yeah, like good. Well, something happened. So I kinda want to warn you though, if you're, I don't even remember the conversation I there. I remember that. I told them and I remember pretty much all of them. They Yeah, they all started crying. So my mom, my sister, my dad, I have an older sister. And I remember one of my parents, I can't remember who it was. apologized to me that they weren't there to protect me in that actually broke my heart.

Michelle Krasniak 9:28
Because I think it just shows how the different ways that people internalize traumatic events, even if they don't happen to you like if they haven't to a loved one. I think it's interesting how people internalize that and how people you know, kind of process that on their own. And, you know, one of my parents, they immediately went to as a parent, I should have been there to protect her. When I mean nobody, nobody Could Have Been there. So that was that was heartbreaking. And you know, they wanted to come out and stay with me and meaning Michelle, I was like, No, I'm fine. I'm fine. You know, meanwhile, I'm sleeping with butcher knives under my, under my pillow. I literally had knives hidden all over the house as like, that's kind of how I survived. So they they actually sent it kind of like a compromise, they they sent my daughter they sent my childhood dog to be with me. So like no people, but I'll take the dog. So Rocky arvigo came to stay with me and he hated every minute of it. And he destroyed the house. And after like two days, I was like, You need to come pick up rocky because this isn't working. But so yeah, so life went on. I was I got into therapy, I was showing all the signs of PTSD. I would, you know, what

Matt Sodnicar 11:12
were some of those signs just like hyper vigilance,

Michelle Krasniak 11:15
vigilance, I would I was renting a place at the time. And I asked them to put you know, extra locks on the doors. And even though you know, he had no idea where I live. And in the growth, I remember it being in the grocery store. And it was this, I was living in this kind of small country councils, a small grocery store. And I was going up and down the aisles, and I noticed this man following me he, he probably wasn't following me. He was probably following the, you know, the store, the, the, the way the store is laid out, like normal people is just, you know, it's kind of just people go the same direction. But it made me freak out. Like I like confronted him and just made me do kind of crazy things. I was 21 I was you know, tall blonde track. Of course, people are going to be banned cat call and stuff as I'm driving down the street. And I would, I would I would like yell back, I would get confrontational. And swear at them. And I was you know, looking back now I was like, I was becoming unhinged. It was like any man was a threat, any you know, no matter what position they were in, it could be a stranger, it could be a male person anytime I was one on one, so to speak with with a man. I just went into, you know, immediate survival mode. And my survival mode in those instances was to get kind of aggressive. I never got a fight, but I definitely definitely gave me peace of mind. So they're like, crazy girl, we're gonna leave her alone.

Matt Sodnicar 13:17
So, go back before the the abduction. Let's say you're walking down the street and get catcalled What would you have done? Prior to that?

Michelle Krasniak 13:27
I ignored it. Just what about pay last? Honestly, just sort of, in my mind even been like, well, that's a cute.

Matt Sodnicar 13:36
Let's not be too hasty. Let's

Michelle Krasniak 13:38
Yeah, I mean, 41 year old, single female, just, you know, college girl, so just have fun with it. And so, you know, that was kind of a big change. And other changes that I started wanting to I started trying to blend in more, you know, baggy clothes and no makeup and unwashed hair, just kind of trying to make myself ugly, I think because, you know, as an adult now, I don't I mean, I still see myself kind of as a kid back then. But looking back now, and all the therapy and all of the reading that I've done, I know that sexual assault has nothing to do with looks or you know, effects or anything like that. It's all about power and it's all about control stuff like that. So, you know, but that was my way one of the ways I coped with trying to basically be invisible when it came to being looked at

Matt Sodnicar 14:51
what was the first time where you felt that your old self had come back? Do you remember through the therapy or time? And were you sort of felt, as you did before? Or have you ever?

Michelle Krasniak 15:08
Um, I don't know what it might have been. Once I, you know, met my, who ended up being my husband and had that third having that stability in that building that trust of trusting that he would be around to protect me and stuff like that. So it was years, so probably maybe four or five years.

Matt Sodnicar 15:39
Wow. And at what point in the relationship, did you talk about this event with him?

Michelle Krasniak 15:49
Pratt? That's a good question. I don't remember. It was probably a while. Because back then, there was still a stigma attached to it. And nobody talks about it. And so I didn't want to. I didn't want to change how he saw me. Basically, I didn't want because nobody ever wants. Nobody ever talks to me about it. I don't know. I think they're probably afraid that, you know, it's too painful. Or I don't want to go there. But so I just never have but it's just because I don't want to make anyone else uncomfortable.

Matt Sodnicar 16:33
Did you have dates that you brought it up and didn't work out? When you were seeing somebody and you talked about it? And then did they? Ghost you?

Michelle Krasniak 16:42
Yeah, actually, I was dating somebody at the time. Somebody different somebody from college. And I told him, when I got back to the house, you know, he was one of the people I called. And he basically, pretty sure he broke up with me on the spot. He got really quiet. And it basically he said something along the lines of, oh, this happened to my cousin. I know how it really, you know, foster off? I can't do this. So, yeah, I got broke, either that day, or shortly very shortly thereafter.

Matt Sodnicar 17:19
Wow. Well, it just goes back to your point about the perception. Right?

Michelle Krasniak 17:26
Yeah. Yeah. And that I mean, that's kind of a good way into the rest of the aftermath of everything. Because, you know, starting maybe about a week after the detective would come up with about a week, a weekly basis and show me photo lineup of people. And, you know, I remember there were, you know, three, three rows or three pictures, and I would look at them and I'd say no, he's not there. No, he's not there in protective. You know, bless his heart. He goes, Are you sure? Are you sure? And I'm like, Yes, I'm not. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone that I am not 100% Positive. It's him. I'm not doing that. So it was there's probably maybe a month maybe the fourth one, maybe about a week or a month to six weeks after it happened to me. I get a call from him. And he was like, shall I got them? And I was like, okay, alright. He's like, No, really, I got them. I got them. And then he told me the story about how this person was caught out in Wyoming two weeks, two weeks after what happened me to set for my incident. And he was found with he had like a bag of tricks. He was on with another he had another victim and he had my social security card in his possession. So that came out there contacted the FBI because they're like we have another victim on our hands. You know, if they weren't there like we don't know she's alive. We don't know what's going on. So they contacted the FBI, my name was in the system because of what happened to me and so they got in contact with my Detective Detective Casper and sense in disguise mug shot. And I picked my art away right away. Which is interesting because, you know, I don't want to give any spoilers but that was kind of one my identification was one of his points of my photo identification was one of his points of appeal that he tried to appeal on. Didn't work but so yeah, I there was a name and a face to to my attacker.

Matt Sodnicar 19:52
So this was two weeks later, he was in Wyoming. Okay.

Michelle Krasniak 19:55
Yeah, two weeks later, he was in Wyoming. He grabbed another woman in basically in the same way she was walking, I believe it started with her was that she was she got in a fight with her, her boyfriend or fiancee at the time. And excuse me, this guy saw this team saw everything go down to she started walking away. And when she got further away to where, you know, the boyfriend couldn't intervene, he grabbed her. And he had, it had escalated from me. He probably honestly, I was such a pain in the ass. corrected all I do some horrible, but I think he corrected all of his mistakes that he made with me. Because he just wanted to get rid of me because I was really a huge pain in the ass for him. And I took the fun out of it for him. So she was she was a different kind of victim. And he was driving a van. Actually, at this point, he had gotten rid of the car that he had me in. And he kept her handcuffed in the van for hours. And he had a bunch of sex toys and stuff in my bag of tricks. And he assaulted her for hours. And then she, I know all of this basically from a newspaper clippings, and I'll get into why. But she was able to signal they stopped for breakfast. And she was able to signal to a waitress that she was in trouble. And the waitress contacted law enforcement and rescue her.

Matt Sodnicar 21:40
Do you know what she said? Or what she did at the restaurant that tipped them off?

Michelle Krasniak 21:46
Um, I think she kind of, I don't know, for certain but second hand I wasn't allowed to in her trial. So I don't know, all I know is from newspaper clippings and kind of what I heard from their investigator. I think she said something like she like made eye contact in some way. Kind of like, how do you see on a TV show?

Matt Sodnicar 22:18
Remember, I want to just briefly jump off that for a second. I remember an Instagram post from some bar somewhere that said it was a paid ad that was directed to their female customers and said if you ever feel safe, or if you feel that your your drink was tampered with or something like that, that they had a special order that you could talk to the waitstaff about. And I've seen things that stores that are and I, again, I noticed these things most people don't there's something called a code atom at department stores, grocery stores where you can just say that, and then they'll actually lock down the store if it's if you or somebody else thinks that it's a kid leaving with somebody that they shouldn't be. So anyway, that just popped into my head when you talked about the signal and the code word that would be if there was something that was that became like amber alert in the lexicon of restaurants and bars and things that yeah, anyway, yeah.

Michelle Krasniak 23:32
Yeah, I know, you're fine. So, so yeah, so he he was captured out in Wyoming. And I was contacted shortly thereafter by their investigator who asked questions about my attack, and in what he did with me, because there were a lot of similarities. And so I gave him the story. And I'm not sure how long it was. It was a few months, maybe six or seven months, when they asked me to come out for the trial, to testify at the trial. In Wyoming, it's kind of in my album, but it was kind of like testify with an asterix and in the asterik was that he was claiming consensual sex. So it was a he his word against her word thing, as these always I shouldn't say always, as these very often turn into Wyoming, at least at that time, had a law called prior bad acts, where even if they had not been convicted of a crime, they could introduce, like, prosecution could introduce these charges into a parent case and to show history. So they flew me out there kind of as their secret weapon, so to speak, to keep him off the stand, basically to keep him from claiming consensual sex. Because he was going to testify and you know, say all that until he found out I was there. And then he kept them off the stand. So I was never allowed to. I wasn't, I didn't testify and get in on that trial. But my mom did. My mom, she had gone with me and she sat in on a trial, I did get to meet the other victim, her name, Tina, she wanted to meet me. And at the time, I don't think I've ever met someone so broken. Like, it's so hard to explain. And I don't know, if you've ever met anyone where they're a shell of a human being, you just look in their eyes. And you mean, you're like this person destroyed, like, their soul is just destroyed. And that's what I saw in a broke my heart. We weren't allowed to be alone together. Obviously, we couldn't talk about our cases. So we had, you know, the, the prosecutor was there. And she didn't even really want to talk. She just wanted to be to be near me, and to meet somebody who had experienced him as well. And so we are so we, we just chatted, and I'll never forget, I can still see her in the corner of the booth in this restaurant. And she was trying to make herself post small. And it made me think back to where I was trying to make myself invisible to, you just kind of want to disappear. And she was at that point.

Matt Sodnicar 26:57
Well, you talk about, if I've ever met anybody that's been broken like that, I think there's been a few times in my life where I've felt that way for sure. And I just went back. I haven't thought about this memory in probably 25 years or so. When my mom died, that there was a friend of mine, Michelle, actually, who had lost her fiance like right about the same time it was just he was in a car accident. Last month, my mom had cancer. And she was the only person that just because of the the recency and the intimacy of the loss that she and I hung out a lot. And it was, that's what reminded me of your story with Tina was that we didn't have to say anything, we didn't have to collaborate or there oftentimes that we would just, we would just walk, we just go for walks. And it was truly the only person that got it. And there was such a calm in not having to ask or be ask how you're doing. Or, Hey, what happened, it was just this immediate bond. I think, the ultimate humanity in it, too. So as you were talking about that, and that that took me back to that moment. And I know what being a shell feels like for sure. Yeah,

Michelle Krasniak 28:38
she's, I actually, you know, I actually looked her up not too long ago tried to explain to her full name, and I couldn't find her but I would, I'm going to keep trying, I didn't really, you know, I can, you know, log into places and see if I can find her. If somebody exists I can find unless they truly don't want to be found.

Matt Sodnicar 29:02
I want to know more about

Michelle Krasniak 29:04
like, like the FBI woman, or like a woman and the level of FBI when it comes to finding things I can find anything about anyone

Matt Sodnicar 29:15
in my back pocket.

Michelle Krasniak 29:18
I know I really should be a PI. But so she so I remember I was not allowed to be in the trial, but I could be there for the verdict. So I went in and sat with with my mom in the courtroom in Wyoming while they read the verdict, and he was guilty on all charges. And I remember I don't remember what went through my mind but all I remember that I just broke down and ran out of the courtroom. And I locked myself in the bathroom.

Matt Sodnicar 29:53
What was the emotion you were feeling?

Michelle Krasniak 29:55
I you know, I don't know. I think looking back now and I I don't know if it's if I'm projecting now, but I wonder if it was because she got her justice and I hadn't had mine yet. Yeah. So there they were, they had charges against them, he was going to be extradited back to New York to face those charges. So it was only a matter of time until he into my trial, whether or not he would have been convicted, you know, remains to be seen. But she, I was happy for I'm genuinely happy for her. And I can say this with complete honesty, that even then, I felt like she needed that Justice more than I did. I felt like she I felt like she needed him to be serving her sentence. Her sentence, so to speak, more than I needed him to be in prison for mine, if that makes sense. He was he was convicted of everything. And I think the charges equal like 120 years in prison he was put in for which, given the history of him is nothing because I don't want to get into a rabbit hole, but he's actually a convicted felon, and had just gotten out of prison about a month prior to grabbing me. He was a lifelong selling attempted murder. Assault with a deadly weapon robbery escaped, he escaped from prison in Florida. So that's fun. So it really, really bad guy. And so he's in prison for the rest of his life. And after that, a couple months later, he was extradited to face charges in my case.

Matt Sodnicar 32:00
Well, let's, let's get into that. And then like, how did how did that trial go down? How did Dateline finds you? I want to know all about that.

Michelle Krasniak 32:09
Oh, no, it wasn't Dateline. It was I survived. Ah, um, so the trial that's another thing I don't remember the trial I wasn't again, I wasn't allowed to be in there for the I remember the the grand jury proceedings more than I remember the trial. And for the trial, I wasn't allowed to be in there. But my family was they kind of the district attorney put me in a in a room and he was a law library in the courthouse. And I sat there for I believe the trial lasted three or four days, while everyone testified until it was my turn to testify. And I it's a complete it's so weird to me that I have zero recollection. And you know, therapist told me that it was like to just disassociation like a disassociated state that I went in because seeing him and talking about it was so traumatic or was going to be so traumatic that I completely just wasn't present for it. And it was the weirdest thing. I do remember one thing and I don't know why this sticks out in my mind and I don't remember if this was the grand jury or the actual trial but his attorney his defense attorney was questioning me and like I mentioned before they went after my identification of him so he asked me to go through a story I was walking at night and you know what time was it was you know two o'clock in the morning was a dark at two o'clock in the morning as it typically is typically. And I do you remember like there being like Snickers okay like the jury started like snicker like people started like laughing underneath their breasts when I said back some like critical mass again, I don't remember if that was that might have actually been the the grand jury proceedings but yeah, I was just like, oh, this gonna be fun with this dude. But yeah, I testified and I don't remember breaking down. I don't remember. I don't remember anything. And it's so weird because I have an excellent memory for the smallest details like I can remember everything about the attack. I can remember how He smelled like I remember his voice. I remember the feeling, you know, stickiness, it was July in upstate New York was so humid. I remember exactly what I was wearing, I can remember the feel, but how my shoes felt like I couldn't remember every little tiny detail, but I cannot remember the trial. I see. Interesting. That's so interesting.

Matt Sodnicar 35:22
I can relate to that a little bit, because I've told people that I can process powerful emotions, or information, but not both at the same time. And so when I say powerful emotions, it's more in the context of, I've worked very hard to not be someone that gets upset, easily or ever. And these this, this would be in the context of say something like, like a romantic relationship, or something that's a powerful emotion. And, as you say, the disassociation, I've experienced that in minor comparison to you were, like, I'll remember everything about how I was feeling and things like that. But what was actually said, sort of the facts behind that. No, no clue. And I'll tell people that going in, like, look, we're gonna have, like an in depth, powerful emotional conversation, we'll probably need to take some notes, if you want me to remember something coming out of this. And I think one of the other books that I had maybe referenced in Episode One was the science of fear. And they talked about the amygdala and they talk about interviews with soldiers or police officers. And there was one that stood out to me is that this officer remembered in slow motion. He described them as coffee cans floating by and he could actually read this title stamped on the bottom of his coffee cans, as he described, it, is actually the shell casings from the pistol being, because that hyper focus, right, that's what the amygdala and again, not a neuroscientist, not a doctor here, but just from my amateur reading, that's what the brain does in those situations is shuts off everything that it perceives as non essential. So the fact that you were in a hyper state, hyper emotion hyperfocus, that, it makes sense to me that you don't remember any of it.

Michelle Krasniak 37:38
That That makes complete sense, because I can, I can literally still feel the gun in my back. 20 years later, I can still feel the gun, the barrel of a gun in my back. And so that's, that's very interesting. And it makes a lot of firms. Which is interesting how that comes across to other people, though. Yeah, I was very, I was truly concerned. And I believe I mentioned this. In the previous episode, I was really concerned about how I was perceived, because the try the local paper cover the trial, they mentioned my name. But if they said something along the lines of as the victim matter, factual matter of factly recounted how the defendant asked her if she valued her life. So I don't think I told I don't think I mentioned that part. But you know, in the car, when he had the gun, basically, he had the gun to my head, he asked me how much I valued my life. And so as I was recounting that in the trial, I apparently said it matter of factly. And so that's,

Matt Sodnicar 38:55
what was your answer? So matter of factly. To to him to both to both questions. Yeah.

Michelle Krasniak 39:04
Well, to the to his name is Dale to Dale Dean. You know, I got into the hole, Oh, I love my family and, you know, the whole base that was begging for your life thing. But to the I just became really hyper aware of how I would be perceived and how I was coming. I wasn't coming across as a enough victim, if that makes sense. I wasn't trying to I wasn't a math. I wasn't. So it was a legitimate concern, at least of mine. I don't know if the state prosecutor District Attorney, if he was concerned, it wasn't like you need to show emotion. But would they believe me? And, you know, looking back now, what a horrible position that assault victims are put in when You have to be concerned that you're not enough victim and it wasn't bad enough and you're not crying. So our people are not going to believe you. And because these are the, the wounds, these are the things that people deal with that are invisible. So yeah, so that's how I was portrayed in the paper, which was fantastic. Yeah, it's kinda like, I look back now. And I'm like, you know, people report on what they see. And I was matter of fact, I was, you know, that's why I can look back now and be like, I don't think I got emotional, or choked up or anything. Because if that's how I was coming across to everybody, then that's kind of how I was I was never fastly describing everything.

Matt Sodnicar 40:58
Such a good point, because it should be a compliment, actually, that you could handle yourself or you were coping better with it, or you could not be upset about it and not let him have more of an effect on you. And which those are all positive things. But in the context of a, for lack of a better term of call it the performance for the jury, not that you're making things up, but your character was not devastated by this to No, you didn't see Tina's trial. But those are all good things that you were able to do. And it should not impact.

Michelle Krasniak 41:51
I it actually kind of that carries through. It carries through to the public kind of opinion of everything, because right after the trial,

Michelle Krasniak 42:10
concluded, and he was found guilty. And I actually had before we talked, I had to look up. There's not a lot of stuff on my case online. And what I did find, and I didn't know this actually just learned this is that he did appeal his conviction, because I had no idea I could not remember what charges he was convicted of. So I found two New York State appeal papers online and learned what he was convicted of. But after the conviction, somebody wrote into the hometown, my hometown paper, and she actually gave her name and I still remember her name, I won't shame her I should shame are violent. She talked about how the county trying him putting him on trial for my firm was a waste of taxpayers money, because he had already been convicted in Wyoming and he was he was 120 years never going to get out why? Why even bother? And I responded, and I told the paper, they could use my name. They didn't end up using it. But actually, I responded and my mom responded. And in my response, I said, you know, imagine imagine walking down the street or you are a female Logan walking down the street. And Dale Dean was set free because his his conviction in Wyoming was overturned on some kind of technicality. And he was free this career felon was free violent felon is free to prey upon women again, it was clearly only a matter of time until he did it again, I said so instead of looking at as a waste of money, you should be thankful that they were willing to do that to protect the public, from any from him ever seeing the light of day again. And I said some other kind of snippy things that didn't make it into the paper. They heavily edited what I wrote. But they forgot to say like, listen, bitch, you know, who are you to? To say it's a waste of money, you know, and I think I since I said something along the lines of I pray that you or your loved ones, you know, never have to go through this and never have to tell these tell the story in front of strangers and be judged on how you are reacting the way you know people think you should be because you know, like I pray to you never have to do that and never nobody In your family ever have to go through that. And my mom, she, in her response she actually talked about, you know, I'm not she says something along the lines of I'm not sure if you are a mother yourself, but if you are trying to imagine your daughter, he just happened to your daughter, and all you want to do is is to comfort her. But she locks herself in the bathroom. And you know, she's having, you know, I don't remember what my mom said. But basically, that is like, picture that picture not being able to protect her from the incident to begin with, but then also her shutting down and not even being able to connect with her and console her after the fact because, you know, so much was done. And so much damage was done that I literally just shut down.

Matt Sodnicar 46:04
Well, that proves my point that there's always been trolls out there. And it's not just the social media it was it was the the town square back in the 1600s. And it was the letters to the editor and what a what a clear example of zero empathy and misplaced priorities. But anyway, that's that's a side topic, but that, that that trash has always been there, unfortunately. But

Michelle Krasniak 46:36
yeah, I give the paper a lot of credit, because they, they had a weekly feature called hits and misses. And that week, they one of the hits, was the fact that the district attorney press charges in went through the trials, for this case, to make sure that he would never be free again. So I give them I give them credit for that. They're basically like a qubit

Matt Sodnicar 47:10
that's awesome. So the the trials over, he's locked away what has been the last 20 years of your life? How was that? Is this an ongoing thing that you manage what has been effective? It take me through.

Michelle Krasniak 47:33
It's been interesting, because in the in the aftermath on I would say maybe five years after that. People were concerned that I wasn't dealing with it. And so it became a thing anytime. Anytime I went to a therapist, it it became a thing because I will be able to talk about it. And I to this day, I hate starting with new therapists, because it's it kind of I honestly, I saw a meme one time about this woman put together a PowerPoint presentation of the first 20 years of trauma of my life. And she's like, anytime I start with a new therapist, I just given a PowerPoint presentation, because I'm really going through everything I know, isn't it? Because I'm so I'm so tired of I should say I'm tired of it. I get the same reaction every time I tell the story in it. Basically, you know, mouth forgave, like, fucking kidding me. And, you know, I always find myself being like, Yeah, but that's 20 years. That's fine. That's fine. The trauma now that I'm dealing with so there was concern that I wasn't dealing with in the moment and they put me in I should say they put me they I went through called EMDR I'm sure you've heard of it. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Because there's they were thinking that I wasn't I was still in that hyper vigilant mode. Survival Mode wasn't processing the the emotions that were supposed to come with it or that came with it. So I did a I did a number of few months of that. And I remember there being one breakthrough and I'm kind of laughing about it now because I never found myself crying really after it. I never really cried over it. And one EMDR session. So dread, when EMDR session a single tear came down. It was like whoa, breakthrough celebration. It was just like everybody kind of grasped onto that one tear and are just like, Oh, I'm cured. And I actually think that was my last EMDR session because Looks like you're fine. Moving on. But it, it really hasn't. It, it really hasn't affected me beyond the first kind of three or four years, kind of going back to the one side, you know, my, my husband and became my life became very stable, and became almost boring and monotonous. And it was fantastic. And it was healing and just being with somebody who, you know, we took care of each other, and that was healing in and of itself. So my, every, I remember going to 10th anniversary, so 2011 I will I received a bouquet of flowers from my parents, and the 10th anniversary. And I was very surprised, because, as I mentioned before, people didn't talk about it with me. And, and I know that it I know that they don't want to upset me. So I don't It's not any, I don't think it's anything nefarious or mean, or they don't care, I just think that it's just to protect me. So to receive those flowers was, was great because it kind of opened up that line of communication around, it's okay to ask questions, it's okay to mention it, it's okay to bring it up, you know, I'm, I'm okay. It's not going to, you know, make me break down or lose my mind or anything like that. In fact, it's actually good for me to talk about it. So, but I never really talked about it with any of my friends. So it's kind of, I don't want to say it's the elephant in the room, because it's not like it's awkward, and people will have to watch what they say around me. But I think it's, you know, at this point everybody's moved on. I don't think that that people are used, they see me and they automatically like a turn. That's that's what happened. But in the years after, I think that was probably a very, there was a lot of eggshells.

Matt Sodnicar 52:32
It may not be an elephant in the room, but it might be a goat in the room.

Michelle Krasniak 52:38
It's like that. It's like the oh, this is awkward. So

Matt Sodnicar 52:43
Well, I think what your point here is that it's okay to ask questions. And it's been something that has transformed me in in doing some of the more powerful episodes of this podcast, and just in conversations, and this, this covers, I've had topics with African Americans, and just and they say the same thing, or people that are LGBTQ, or anybody in situations like this, or cancer or trauma, it's that it's okay to ask questions. It's, it's still on the responsibility of the asker to be as sensitive as you possibly can, and not be blunt or anything like that. But just understand, and what they've said, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but that you're curious, you want to know, and if you're coming at it from a place of compassion, and being genuine, then the questions I think are okay.

Michelle Krasniak 53:55
Yeah, absolutely. Even curiosity, if I would, you know, I would love to talk to people about it, and just tell the story, even if it's even if it's, you know, to two young women about how the world is so different now, like, I can't, it's just so different. I didn't have a cell phone, or there's no social media, and it was just very, it was the beginning of the internet. 2001. So all this information sharing that's available now. It wasn't there back then. So I would have loved to have, you know, been able to speak to other young women about the importance of at that time was being aware of your surroundings. And actually, that that was there was one thing that I did blame myself for, in that was I knew, but I knew better than to walk alone at night. So that was something that that I did struggle with. Like I wasn't, I didn't I didn't think was my fault, per se. I wasn't like, you know, but I walked when I walked in when I shouldn't have. So talking to young women about, you know, the importance of, of that type of stuff. But at the same time where I am now in my life in my life, I, I feel like it should not be on the women to be to learn they have to learn these lessons. And first somebody be like, don't walk alone at night and always stay in groups. How about we talk to our men or young men about not seeing women, as you know, conquests or sex objects or things that you you know, placings? How about we teach men not to be rabid? How about we go that route, as opposed to killing me to teach women not to wear sexy clothes or not to walk alone at night, or, and that's one thing that if I hold any anger, because of this whole thing, it's because in general, women are not safe to do things on our own. We can't go hiking on our own, you know, without putting ourselves in danger. And walks like i You'll never find me walking. You know, I remember I used to do trail running, and I distinctly remember being like, I can't believe I'm doing this in because I'm gonna kill myself. Number one, because I'm constantly looking around looking hanging out a trip on a route or something. So just women, that's what angers me is that women can we can't feel safe doing things doing normal things that we should be able to do.

Matt Sodnicar 56:59
Right, yeah, your your clothing and your location on the planet should never be the you should never be held responsible for that. Yeah. No. Nor should you ever do what we weren't. Exactly.

Michelle Krasniak 57:16
Exactly the case. And it's, it's unfortunate, and it's so sad that, that we can't, I mean, even if we are hiking with a dog, it doesn't matter. You know, it doesn't matter. Like you always have to just, we always have to be hyper vigilant about our safety. And I guess I learned the hard way.

Matt Sodnicar 57:43
Yeah, well, you know, and I think about that, too, I've got a daughter, she's 19. And she, even from the moment that she was born till I'm such a better person. And I'll also say a better man, because I've raised a daughter as well as a man. And as she is becoming an adult woman. These are things that I try to be conscious of, and aware of, at least in my, my sphere of influence, like the the women that I interact with, to put myself to be more empathetic with respect like that. And this makes a ton of sense, because when we had talked about recording, episode one, in my universe, I'm used to people coming to my house that I don't even know to record. And I remember I invited you over and I think your response was no way, I'm coming over to your house and say, hey, that's totally fine. Like, that's, that's totally cool. And it, it. It makes sense in the context of this conversation. But it also gives me more empathy into how that's perceived when I'm talking to, particularly female guests about coming on and coming over is that, like, in my world is like, yeah, I've interviewed 130 people, and there's been Zero Fatalities. But that's my perception that my perception doesn't matter. It's your perception that matters. So I just only bring that up. And just now that question has a different lens applied to it, but yeah, you're right. Like it. Like from your perspective, like, Who is this dude? Going over to his house?

Michelle Krasniak 59:43
Like, huh? No. I mean, it's not in and I wasn't like, ooh, creeper. It's expensive. I know that it's not. I know, I know. You didn't mean anything by it. Like when you know, on an online dating and when the guy's like, Hey, you want to go on a hike? Or I can pick you up? I know it's coming from a well meaning, well, I shouldn't even say that maybe I shouldn't even go down. For the most frequent your vast majority of people, I think it's coming from a well meaning place. It's just not. In some people will do it, someone will do it. And yeah, I to them, I'm like, Ooh, okay. I mean, to this day, my friends, and I wish whenever we go out on a date, public place, we always share our locations to each other. And always check in, you know, I'm going here, send a picture of people take screenshot, you know, we're very, very careful when we meet people, even out in public.

Matt Sodnicar 1:00:59
Well, and thank you for that different viewpoint, because it's something that I've never, ever even considered, but that's something that no woman's gonna duck me. Can't pick me up first and foremost, but not to make light of it. But it's something that, you know, for in my world, it's something I just never consider. But the your perception is so valuable to me, because, again, not changing who I am just having a better understanding of somebody else from their viewpoint. And that's, that's great.

Michelle Krasniak 1:01:43
Yeah. And also, I hope you would you take this step forward, when speaking with your daughter, I don't know if she use apps, dating apps or whatever. But, you know, there are good things to kind of pass along to her, like, share your if you don't want to share your location with dad, share your location with a friend do something. So you know, people always know if something you guys have been something bad happen. There is a trail, there is something left behind to how much way too much true crime, something left behind. prosecute it to catch the person if if something, God forbid, happens to you. And it's so annoying that we have to live this way now. But it's, it's the world and it is what it is?

Matt Sodnicar 1:02:38
Well, I'll ask her to listen to both of these episodes, because I I try to reserve that for having her listen to strong women. And I would definitely say that you are 100% in that category, but also very tactical when it comes to something important like this. And as you were talking about something happening to her or my son that that is if I had one fear, a true fear on this planet is it's something that I would witness something happening to them. And that going back to Tina and being shattered that despite everything I've ever been through, that would definitely do it.

Michelle Krasniak 1:03:24
There's speaking about speaking of Tina, when I was trying to locate her cyber stalking her, unofficially. There are actually a lot of news articles on her case. So she did I'm very, very proud of her. She did end up speaking out publicly the papers do use her real name. And when after the verdict was read or after, might have been after his he lost his appeal in her case, I think they they contacted her and she spoke out about it and she sounded She sounded good. You know, she sounded like she was on track and healing and I was so happy to see that because that was a stark contrast to the person that I encountered in the fall of 2001 I mean winter of 2002 when when I went to the trial, so she's at least the least based on the newspaper clippings from from 10 years ago or so she was doing she kinda good

Matt Sodnicar 1:04:38
maybe that could be her legacy like I mentioned before about the the drink order. Maybe that could be something that could become a thing is that you go to a bar or restaurant you see if they have like Tina martini and that's that's a code word for someone in distress.

Michelle Krasniak 1:05:01
Interesting. Yeah, that's, that'd be interesting. And so I'm gonna keep looking for her I'd love to, to reconnect with her to see how how she's doing. And I actually, it's crossed my mind and I fight the urge. But living in Colorado now, you know, we're very close to Wyoming. I have considered on more than one occasion going up there to see him.

Matt Sodnicar 1:05:30
So he's incarcerated in Wyoming and not New York. Okay.

Michelle Krasniak 1:05:34
Correct. Yeah. Yeah, he, he was never once he was. One after the trial, once he was convicted, he petitioned the court to be returned to be returned to Wyoming. So, side note, when you come from a small town, everybody knows everybody, you go to high school with either them or their siblings or whatever. So two people working at the county jail at the time, knew me knew my sister. So he asked the court to send him back to Wyoming because he didn't want to be in the county jail anymore, because they were giving them a hard time. Because they knew me. So in the judge was like, Yeah, I know. You're saying so for a guy, poor guy, so he had to stick around for the sentencing. But once he was sentenced here, he was shipped back to Wyoming.

Matt Sodnicar 1:06:33
What would you have you thought about what you would say?

Michelle Krasniak 1:06:40
I you know what I it's not. It's not one of those things where I'd go in and be like, You never used it and break me and whatever I want all that stuff. I'm curious as to why, like, I've always been fascinated by by the criminal mind in he is truly a lifelong criminal. Like you can go online and see his Broward County arrest record. And it actually started in I believe, was 1981. Because it was like two, I was like two when he started going to prison. So he has, you know, he's been in the system his whole life. And so I'm very curious just about his tone, like his mind, like what was going through your mind when you saw me? And you know, what was going through your mind when you thought to just curious, and that might sound like really weird, but I I don't know. Maybe that's maybe that's a show, maybe a listener is a producer. And that's the point the other show of me going to see him in prison in Wyoming?

Matt Sodnicar 1:07:58
I think it's the it's the most powerful question, you could ask the most impactful question you could ask. Because it's, it was the the moment that things changed for both of you. And it was the decision that he could have kept driving, or he did what he did. And going back to those disaster books, it's always one decision that starts the chain of dominoes.

Michelle Krasniak 1:08:28
Yeah. Yeah. And that's exactly it. Because if I, you know, there were so many what ifs over the last 20 years. So what if I would if the cab it wouldn't have been a hour and a half wait for the cab and I was able to get a cab ride home? Or what if I went to after hours with my friends? Or what if I as soon as I saw him, I crossed the street either so many, so many What if and, you know, I've over the years, I've thought about writing a book on it. But I don't want it necessarily to be a straight kind of like nonfiction book about the event. I want to explore that. That. What if, because another thing that fascinated me and I always go back through and I don't know why I do this. But if I, knowing what I know now, knowing who I am now and knowing how the event changed me. Would I if given the choice, would I choose to go through it again? And that's, you know, not to get all like philosophical, but no, that has run through my mind so much. And the answer has always been Yes. Yes, I would. I would as crazy as that may sound. If I knew that. I would be okay. Like if you know somebody. Whoever came to me and angel came to me and said okay, Y'all get through this. You'll be okay. But it'll suck. Would you do it again? And I would? I would.

Matt Sodnicar 1:10:09
Yeah. I heard an interview with Seth, who's the Seth that did Family Guy that Seth Meyers Seth Rogen, Seth. Seth MacFarlane. He was supposed to be on the Boston flight out of fun on 911. And I think it was on Adam Carolla, and he had just so quickly, like had zero impact that the what ifs that he just was like, yeah, just didn't happen. And that stuck with me so much, because I've had, I didn't, I don't think I've ever talked about this, but it over Father's Day, this year, I was out in Nebraska for a bike ride, and had just gotten some news about a friend. And my head was definitely not in the moment. I was definitely not in Nebraska, not on the bike. And I don't want this to sound as close as it was, but it was it was a near miss. And I was on a gravel road, crossing a two lane highway and look left, look right. Maybe I look left, maybe look right again. And I went, and I got both tires across the asphalt was on the dirt. And then something that came behind me. And again, I don't want to over exaggerate it. Because there was no screeching tires, there was no horn in it. But it was the fact that I didn't perceive what was happening. So I, I'm going to go back next year and do this ride and look at that intersection. Because something was off is either a hill or it was the truck was going 80 and a 55 or something I don't know, but didn't even notice it. And for about an hour. I was thinking I would have been turned into salsa on Father's Day. It was on that Sunday. And I've that was in years and years ago, I had to actively work through the what if the what if the what if like, you know, like a car runs a red light or something like, oh, and I would just have a string of what ifs. And I've had to actively work so hard to stop that thought process because what if can outweigh the what is and that, that I'm not going to call it a near miss anymore? I'm going to correct my perception of the, the Miss, right. And again, I don't know how close it actually was. But that sort of reset that operating system had worked so hard to correct. Because of the the impact it would have had. And so it's I can tell that story now somewhat dispassionately. But that's one of those things that now in comparison, I was driving I 70 About a month ago and was the the hardest I've ever hit the brakes in any vehicle I've ever owned for as long as I've been driving. Like there was there was like a fender bender in front of me or something. And I was I may have had both feet on the brakes, I don't know, but I had it to the floor and ABS is going and I think only because I had just put on new tires. Thank you Karen for the Venmo for that. And I remember coming up and just getting closer, closer, closer, closer and ended up still having with the brakes on having to miss by a foot the car in front of me and go into the other lane. But that like I looked around I didn't feel any impact from the back. Just drove off a couple of deep breaths and like that. I know what if there I mean, I know the car would have been totaled. I may have been hurt, I don't know but like that one, it was back to normal or it's like whatever. So I I completely empathize with you on the what if part and but I think that the the most powerful thing that you've said is that you would still go through that.

Michelle Krasniak 1:14:57
Especially now and I think I mentioned this in a previous episode to where the at the time, the statistic was that one out of every four women would be victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. And I got, excuse me, I got to thinking, let's say me, my sister, my mom and I know a friend or an aunt or something all in a room would I would still choose to do I would do it because I wouldn't want them to have to go through it. I because I, I instinctively knew that if I made it out alive, I would be okay. mentally, emotionally, you know, eventually, okay. And then I would take the, take the lessons away from it. And I did. And that's why I would always choose to do it. Because the person I am now is so different than the person I was man. It taught me you know, this level of resilience and being able to take care of myself and self confidence, like, genius, if you can talk yourself out of that, like icing on the sails. I mean, I could talk anyone, anything. You know, if I can talk my life out of something, just by being a pain in the ass, like, that's kind of my claim to fame is annoying the shit out of everyone. So they're like, just go, just go.

Matt Sodnicar 1:16:27
You would crush in sales, trust me.

Michelle Krasniak 1:16:33
A lot. Like I was, I was talking to a friend. That's enough to ask, but I talked to a friend about that. And because I've always been in marketing, and she's like, Well, have you ever considered sales and like I can never do sales? I'm not you know, not enough of a go getter. She's like, you'd be

Matt Sodnicar 1:16:49
really think you'd be raising my hand again for you? Yeah, give it a shot. That's the thing. That's that's what I've told the the sales reps that I've led is that you cannot fuck this up any worse when you go into that first meeting? Because they're not buying from you now. Don't be afraid there's there's you're at zero. You can't screw this up. So yeah, the fact that you've been in a car with a gun to your head. What is a sales meeting with a CEO gonna do to you? Yeah, yeah, you're there house money. There was shot. Yeah, I'm like stir.

Michelle Krasniak 1:17:28
Whatever. Well, it's funny because never in I did talk about this therapy one time. People don't people in higher positions. So CEOs, CFOs whatever. They don't scare me. I know people get like super nervous about executives and stuff like that. They don't scare me. Like, I've never i The person at a cocktail party who is in the corner talking to the CEO or, you know, talking, I can talk with anyone. And they never scared me. I always kind of wonder be shy, because believe it or not, I am pretty introverted. Where does that come from? Like, where does that you know, don't give a fuck attitude comes from because, and then I kind of wonder like, you know, did this kind of instill a level of confidence in me or this is a truly like, I don't give a fuck. Like I'm not I'm not I don't want anything from you. I don't, we're just chatting. But it's kind of funny. And I think it annoys some people because I think I think some CEOs do like that power. Like I've been lucky enough like my current CEO, he's the most down to earth person you could imagine. But some some CEOs like that power. They like that kind of, you know, feeling people are nervous or scared around them. So I take that from them. So they get a little maybe I'm even projecting but

Matt Sodnicar 1:18:57
sorry about that coffee emergency. We'll make a note we'll have the editor take that out. Well, thank you for the first conversation and thank you for this one. And I had pondered this one a lot because I'm not a fan of the the true crime things in it. I have to be very careful with my emotional diet. And so I wanted to make sure that just for me that I focused on you and your mindset over the details of the events of that night, but I just Yeah, so admire your attitude and your philosophy and it's just they sincerely appreciate you sharing it.

Michelle Krasniak 1:19:54
Absolutely. I appreciate you having me on. I hope that like your couple your listeners out there. messages. So I really appreciate the support.

Matt Sodnicar 1:20:02
And yeah, you're doing great. And let's start getting you some sales resumes out there.

Michelle Krasniak 1:20:11
I know I don't know I won't buy the writing and the marketing.

Matt Sodnicar 1:20:17
Awesome.

Michelle Krasniak 1:20:18
I need. I need your sales guys to start working those leads, man, you're killing me.

Matt Sodnicar 1:20:27
Well, Michelle, thank you so much for doing this again. I really appreciate it.

Michelle Krasniak 1:20:31
Thank you for having me.

Matt Sodnicar 1:20:38
Episodes of this podcast are produced and written by me Matt Sodnicar. The intro was engineered by good friend Cole Wyman, and our original score theme song retro funk was composed by previous guests and good friend Randy, we also have two requests. If you liked this show, please share it with a friend who you think might like it. And also take the time to show them how to listen to a podcast either on Apple transistor or Spotify. And I know you know somebody out there that would make a fantastic guest. And if you do, please shoot me an email to podcast at the warm front.com Thanks for listening

Transcribed by https://otter.ai