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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Murder in Apartment 12

Finalist in True Crime & Documentary Podcast


On the surface Murder in Apartment 12 is about the killing of Nona Dirksmeyer, a 19 year-old beauty queen, who was found beaten to death in her apartment in Russellville, Arkansas shortly before Christmas 2005.

In spite of multiple investigations, the arrests of two suspects and three trials, no one has been convicted. After nearly 20 years, the Nona Dirksmeyer murder case is still officially unsolved.

We at Dateline, wanted to know why? Though we had previously told an abbreviated version of this story on television 15 years ago, our goal in this podcast was to tell the full story as well as the story behind the story. In our view this was a story about far more than the tragic death of a pretty girl.

It was our intention to give our audience a sense of what happens when an inexperienced cop and a small-town newspaper get caught up in a high-profile rush to judgement. We wanted to tell a story about pride and hubris and injustice. Most of all, we believed “Murder in Apartment 12” was a cautionary tale about what can happen when innocent people get caught in the cross-hairs of public opinion and the awesome power of the state.

Strategy and Execution

We approached Murder in Apartment 12 the same way we do every story at Dateline. We try to learn everything that is knowable about the case, the place it happened and the people who were involved so that we can put everything in it’s proper context .

In preparing for this podcast, hours and hours of interviews that had been done for the original television story were reviewed. Where possible those people we had already interviewed were contacted to see if time had changed their perceptions.

We also purchased court transcripts, gathered police reports and newspaper reports and read them all for key details. Even weather reports were checked and double checked to insure that when we set a scene the conditions described were accurate.

Once it was determined that we knew all that could be known from the original material, we began our new reporting on what had happened since the last time we reported on this case. We approached key people who had never before spoken publicly about the Dirksmeyer case but, now with the passage of time might have something to say. In this podcast we were able to include new interviews with two people who were at the very heart of the case and know as much about it as anyone; Russellville’s former lead detective, Mark Frost and Arkansas’s former special prosecutor, Jack McQuarry.


Based on the overwhelming public response to “Murder in Apartment 12” , we believe we achieved the goals we originally set forth. To date, more than fifteen hundred listeners have taken the time to post

comments and reviews on the Apple Chartables website. The vast majority of those unsolicited reviews commented on the injustice we sought to expose and congratulated us on the depth of our reporting.

In short, we believe “Murder in Apartment 12” is worthy of recieving a “Shorty” in the true crime category not just because it is a good story, well told. But because we believe it highlights a universal truth; justice anywhere ultimately depends on the honor and integrity of the men and women who hold positions of power.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Dateline NBC


Entry Credits