Will: If we don’t record this, no one will believe us.
Quinn: And if you don’t help us, we don’t know what will happen.
Will: The disappearances keep coming-
Quinn: And coming, and the forest keeps its secrets.
Will: So, as always, dear listeners:
Quinn: Grab some tea-
Will: And your conspiracy board.
Quinn: Because we are-
Both: Live From Averno.
Will: *laughs* Where do we even start?
Quinn: Something along the lines of ‘my town is spooky as hell and I think we need help?'
Will: Ahh, so I guess you can consider this our official SOS. My name is Will Bailey-
Quinn: I’m Quinn.
Will: *laughs* Quinn? Gonna give a last name? Don’t want people to find you?
Quinn: I like to keep it mysterious, thank you.
Will: *laughs* And we are here in Averno Township in Virginia, broadcasting out to all you lovely folks in the hopes that maybe somebody will help us. I guess this is as good a time as any to introduce ourselves-- I am, as I said, Will Bailey, I am a freshman at A New School in Averno.
Quinn: Yes, it really is called-
Both: A New School
Will: *laughs* I’m a History of Crime Major-
Quinn: And yes, apparently that really is a major.
Will: Yeah, we really don’t have normal majors at our school. Quinn here is a- what is it, Anthropological History of Folklore?
Quinn: Okay, it sounds a bit pretentious when you say it. A freshman at a new school-
Quinn: So are you.
Will: Yeah, but I’m not really a frosh. You’re a frosh.
Quinn: What does that mean?
Will: It means you run around with a too-big backpack and you adjust your glasses all the time and think beanies are cool.
Quinn: They keep my head warm and my hair from being so fluffy.
Quinn: Sometimes you just gotta control-
Will: The fluff?
Quinn: The bedhead, is what I was gonna go with.
Will: Mm-hmm. I think you also just want everybody to know you’re gay.
Quinn: What does my beanie have to do with being gay? I mean, the glitter earrings have to do with being gay, (something) beanie.
Will: Anyways, this is our lovely podcast-slash-radio-station, Live From Averno, and we’re here because there are an insane amount of crimes happening in our little town, and literally nobody is talking about it.
Quinn: So, let’s just kind of get right into it. On Tuesday September 3rd, the mayor James Turner came to give a presidential speech at our college.
Will: Ironic, given that he was not the president of our college.
Quinn: Yeah, I’m not really sure what he was doing there. Welcoming us to Averno-
Will: But also warning us not to enter the town? It was a weird speech.
Quinn: It was kinda like ‘welcome to the town, please don’t come to the town’?
Will: -’come to the town. Stay on your school campus if you know what’s good for you.’ So that was Tuesday, and then on Wednesday he dropped off his kids-- two of the seven kids-- at their nanny’s house and was never heard from again.
Quinn: And just kind of like… blipped out of existence. I mean, there was a tiny column about it in the newspaper.
Will: Literally, like, a little sidebar column. The main front page was like ‘Dolores Smith Wins Best’ and then a tiny little, like, four sentence column: “We regret to announce that the mayor has disappeared, we will be holding a re-election soon”, and now, back to the weather!
Quinn: Pretty much, end of story, I mean, there’s no posters, no signs, no announcements...
Will: No signs. So like, as a History of Crime person, I was like, what? I decided that, you know, being the punky little upstart I am, I obviously know more than the police, so I was gonna investigate-
Quinn: Can you hear me shaking my head right now?
Will: *laughs* And I decided to investigate on my own!
Quinn: Which is how she found me. I run an Instagram called Found in Averno-
Will: Guys, go follow it! This is a social plug!
Quinn: And it features different weird photos that I’ve found while working in the archives-- different newspaper articles and just… pictures of me drinking whatever it is they call coffee in this small little town.
Will: Excuse me, are you being pretentious about your coffee?
Quinn: *laughs* We decided to investigate, on a serious note, the fact that people just seem to be going missing, and nobody cares
Will: -nobody seems to be talking about it. So, consider us the new Scooby Squad-- here we go!
Quinn: So jumping right in-
Will: That was- that was lame, ‘alright folks, let’s jump in!’ Mayor James Turner has been missing since September 3rd, 2019. And… he was born March 129th, 1979, he’s 40 years old. He’s a white male. He disappeared apparently wearing-- are you ready, Quinn’s gonna roast this outfit-- a black jacket, a white shirt, gray jacket and white sneakers and his Averno Country Club hat. *laughs* Quinn, what are your thoughts?
Quinn: *sighs* I will not speak ill of the missing’s lack of fashion sense.
Will: Although apparently he did have a gold watch so-
Quinn: That doesn’t help.
Will: -maybe he was a mafia man? Oh, okay. *laughs* Circumstances of disappearance: James Turner was last seen dropping off his children, 7 and 9, at their nanny’s house on Cherrywood Lane. He left on foot in the direction of the town hall, he was apparently spotted at the edge of the woods off Birch Lane. According to police reports, he never arrived at town hall.
Quinn: So I did some digging in the archives, as I am wont to do, and I came up with some information regarding, like, how Averno was founded, and I found some weird stuff about the Turner family.
Will: And, by weird stuff, we mean the fact that they’ve literally owned this town forever. Hashtag nepotism. The Turner Family and the Town’s Founding. By Quinn. *laughs* Last-Name-Not-To-Be-Included.
Quinn: I’m trying to keep myself anonymous, you never know who’s gonna be listening to these things.
Will: Oh yeah, because we’re probably going to have a massive listenership spanning all across the country, who care about the town of Averno with a population of 3000? Abram Turner of Williamsburg, VA moved to Averno with his wife Laura and their daughter Sarah in 1702, displacing the town's previous residents, whom they claimed were 'devil worshipers'. Abram, a pastor and farmer, founded modern-day Averno in 1703 before mysteriously disappearing.
Quinn: Sound familiar?
Will: Sensing a theme? The same year, their cousins William and Coralee Turner moved to the town with their daughter, May. William Turner, also a pastor, advertised Averno as “God’s city”, selling shares in a church community and eventually founding the state’s first megachurch. *laughs* At McClain Bible Church. In 1739, the church was taken over by his daughter May and her husband Charles, creating a rift in the clergy, most of whom didn’t want a woman in ministry. Literally still an issue. May took the megachurch in an interesting direction, claiming that God had told her that the Church’s mission was to make sure every member was literate.
Quinn: I don’t know if it was God or not, but I support that.
Will: Honestly, I’m in favor. May founded a school and the town’s library, and eventually a publishing house which distributed the state’s first series of illustrated pocket bibles. *laughs* Our town’s claim to fame. However, tragedy struck in 1760, when May’s husband and twin daughters disappeared.
Quinn: Sense a theme?
Will: Unable to cope with the loss of her entire family, May committed suicide in 1761.
Will: The sudden death of the leader of the church, publishing company, school, and library- *laughs* literally, when you put all your eggs into one basket- led to complete economic collapse of the town. By 1770, 80% of the town’s population moved to neighboring cities of Richmond and Williamsburg.
Quinn: Alright, so let me just give a little plug here to our sources. I mean, I went through the records for newspaper records, death records, basically just sort of tracing the name of Turner through history. And again, these- these missing persons reports, like with May’s husband Charles, they’re just little- little bylines. No one seems to be paying attention.
Will: There’s no front-page stories about people going missing, they just, you know, quietly slip into the netherworld.
Quinn: And even when it’s like, huge founding people. I mean, we have the mayor today, or the co-head of the church back then? Everyone just seems to…
Will: Move on.
Quinn: Get used to it.
Will: Going back to the story: this led to a drastic rise in crime in the ghost town, and, following a kidnapping spree that resulted in 17 disappearances in the year of 1789, the US Federal Government requisitioned the now underpopulated land to build what would eventually become I-95 South. However, due to the rising political tensions- *laughs* as in the Civil War- bureaucracy became extraordinarily slow, and the land lay vacant for decades as zoning restrictions were being processed. In 1861, all plans halted, and most of the town was destroyed in the Civil War. It took until 1914, for the land to be privately owned again, when the state Government began selling off its holdings to prevent financial collapse. So, long story short, after the Civil War and the land laying vacant for a long time, another Turner cousin bought the land back, which to me just sounds like nepotism.
Quinn: You notice a trend there?
Will: *laughs* This Turner cousin, who had managed to make his fortune buying and selling cheap southern land in the wake of reconstruction-era depression, chose to keep the town of Averno and try to sort of capitalize on the ideas of the ‘new decade’ and ‘moving forward’ that were being advertised at the time. He tried to make the entire town Art Deco and Neo-Gothic, and then it turned out that all the people in the South weren’t super into trying to make a town that looked like New York.
Quinn: Absolutely shocking.
Will: *laughs* This completely fell flat and he decided to make it more, you know, typical Colonial architecture. This worked out pretty well, construction finished in 1928-
Quinn: I mean, the architecture finished but half the town looks one way and the other half looks another.
Will: Our town, it’s- *sighs* it’s weird.
Quinn: Half Art Deco, and the other half, like, Colonial architecture?
Will: But also not actual Colonial architecture, Colonial architecture from the 1920s?
Quinn: Like, faux, slapdash…
Will: Colonialism? It’s shitty. Construction finished up right before the Great Depression and when the entire Southern economy collapsed and all the farmers started selling their houses they moved to Averno, and population grew up to 1,200-- a whopping 1,200-- by the year 1940. Since then, the Turners have, in one way or another, been involved in running the town. There have been 11 mayors, 6 judges, and 23 town council members from the now very extended Turner Family. Current town mayor James Turner married into the family at age 20, marrying younger bride Katherine Turner the summer after she graduated from Averno High School. In Turner family tradition, he took her last name and joined the council-
Quinn: Which is surprisingly feminist, not gonna lie.
Will: I think that it’s mostly just, like-
Quinn: Keeping on the Turner name?
Will: Yeah, the Turners thinks that they’re American royalty or something?
Quinn: I mean, look at the history. They’re basically treated as such.
Will: Yeah. they had their first kid when he was 25, had seven more. James Turner worked in town council, and he has now poofed, leaving behind Elijah, Benjamin, Cora, Beckett, Gwen, Caliah, and Blaire and his wife Katherine.
Quinn: Just a note, we did try to speak to Katherine as part of this interview process, and she was unavailable for comment, which is, to be fair, I mean I- I was a little hesitant about reaching out to her because I do want to be as respectful as possible. But also… somebody must care, right? That he’s gone?
Will: I don’t even… *snorts*
Quinn: Nobody else does.
Will: Nobody else seems to. And even Katherine, like, didn’t- didn’t seem to be interested or care that her husband had suddenly gone missing, and that nobody was investigating it. Like, she basically was like, you know, ‘keep your nose out of it, you meddling kids’, was essentially the response. So, where do we go from here?
Quinn: I’m not sure, where are we going from here?
Will: *snorts* Oh my god. So, where we go from here is we asked the townsfolk and they were creepy as hell. Like, some serious ‘we have always lived in the castle’ kind of shit. We went to talk to the butcher first of all-- essentially he was all ‘yeah yeah yeah, I’m totally on board with you guys, listen: my brother disappeared’, and then we sat there in this freaking meat shop for 40 minutes while we talked about his brother Alfred, who apparently disappeared 5 years ago.
Quinn: Notice a theme here?
Will: But also, I don’t think it’s, like, super mysterious because his brother Alfred Marshall apparently died at 60 of heart disease, which I don’t think really seems, like, that mysterious. But Eddie is-
Quinn: So did his brother disappear or die of heart disease?
Will: So his disappearance was most likely he keeled over in a ditch somewhere and died of heart disease.
Quinn: *sighs* Complicated, but it does make sense.
Will: Yeah, I mean like, you have a 60-year-old dude who goes out for a hike and doesn’t come back, and his doctors all say that his heart was about to give out. I mean…
Quinn: Connect the dots.
Will: So Eddie plonked us down next to all of these dead cows and was like ‘let me tell you about my brother Alfred’, and we listened for a while, and eventually got to our questions. And… Eddie thought that James was a terrible mayor-- he called him some not so nice words, said that he should have stuck to running the sports store that he ran before he was mayor.
Quinn: Fun fact-- before James Turner took over as mayor, he used to run the local sporting goods store? Which doesn’t make much sense in Averno seeing as… it’s a really small town.
Will: We don’t have any sports teams.
Quinn: There’s no sports teams.
Will: Just Averno High. I don’t-
Quinn: So it’s one sports team for-
Will: The entire sports store? I don’t know how that made sense, I’m just going to assume that the Turner family, like, privately bankrolled this entire sports store and kept it from going under. But anyways, Eddie thought that James was a terrible mayor, but did not give us any more information about his potential disappearance, so that was kind of a bust. He basically was like, ‘yeah, people are disappearing left and right’, and we were like ‘why’? And he was like ‘I don’t know, ask my brother Alfred’.
Quinn: He did send us home with some nice free cutlets though. Unfortunately, neither of us eat meat.
Will: *laughs* So-
Quinn: I just couldn’t say no! He was so sincere about it
Will: I know, but now we have meat in our refrigerator!
Quinn: I’ll give it- I’ll give it to somebody.
Will: You’ll- who are you going to give it to Quinn? Are you just going to, like, walk up to students in the quad and be like ‘hey listen, I got some cheap cuts of meat, you want ‘em?’ *laughs*
Quinn: I have friends!
Will: *laughs* I’ll give you my free meat! Just come to my room! *laughs* Is that how you start all your conversations, Quinn?
Quinn: Be nice.
Will: Is that how you get all the boys?
Quinn: Be nice.
Will: Am I not nice?
Will: Oof, I just got eyes, you guys. Dolores Smith, but spelled with a Y-- *laughs* don’t ask me where the Y is-- is a 60-year-old baker. She runs the town’s only bake shop on her own, and she apparently is originally not from this town but she wouldn’t tell us where. I was- I was being polite at this interview, I was like ‘oh, where’d you grow up?’ and she was like ‘none of your business, kid’ and I’m like, what does that even mean? Almost as short as I am, and-
Quinn: Which is very very short.
Will: Hey. Generally very spooky vibes, she’s got these big ol’ winged glasses and she just sort of peers down at you, which is really weird because she’s short, but she still manages to peer down at you, and basically-
Quinn: Dolores sees my sins.
Will: Dolores sees all. And when we ask her, she basically cut us off every question. Here’s a little- here’s a little reenact- you really don’t like improv, do you Quinn?
Quinn: No, I really don’t like improv, it just make me profoundly uncomfortable,
Will: Okay, I’ll play both of the rolls. ‘Ah, so, have you noticed any disappearances?’ ‘No. Why are you asking?’ ‘Well, we’ve noticed some disappearances.’ ‘Oh have you now? You’ve only been in this town for a month, what do you know?’
Quinn: I think what you should really be learning from this- this whole improv thing is that when no one wants to play with Will, Will plays with herself. *laughs*
Will: *laughs* I just- I was an only child, okay! I got really good at it!
Quinn: Really good at playing with yourself?
Will: Oh shut up. I’m gonna bite your nose off-- nah I’ll just tickle you.
Quinn: Anger issues too- oof--
*sounds of Quinn being tickled*
Will: And that concluded our interview segment, which- we literally learned nothing from, except that the townsfolk either think that their brothers are dying or that we shouldn’t be asking questions. And with that, we headed back to our lovely little college, back to this here dorm room where we’re recording right at this very moment, and our thoughts are that that is…
Quinn: Suspicious as hell?
Will: Hopefully in the future, this is going to be the section where we talk about all of the new information that we’ve found and our theories as to what is going on here, but I think- what are- what are our theories? What do you think is happening right now?
Quinn: I mean, our findings are that this is not the first disappearance in this town. It has a long history of people in power and random folks… yeeting out and never being found, never really being investigated. So, I guess our findings… are that we need to keep digging.
Will: And the only other piece of information that we have is that I looked at the missing persons’ database, which is publicly accessible to everybody in case anyone wanted to know-- yeah, it was really easy to get on there. And there are, like- there’s nobody, pretty much. There are, like, a few cases, but not nearly as many as seem to have happened.
Quinn: Is the mayor in there?
Quinn: What? *laughs*
Will: *laughs* Yeah, he’s literally not. So-
Quinn: So you’re telling me that the mayor was reported missing-
Will: Missing, in the newspaper, and there’s nothing in the database, and so I went and I filed it- I went to the police force and I was like ‘listen, like, I just filed this, y’all need to be looking at it-’
Quinn: Filed one for- for the mayor?
Will: For the mayor, yeah. And they pulled it up on their screen and were like ‘great, we’ll get going on this’. I go back on the database 24 hours later and it’s gone. So…
Quinn: Did you- did you see any reports from the summer? Like, from before school began?
Will: No, there’s- there’s nothing on there.
Quinn: So, there could be more missing people and- and we wouldn’t know?
Quinn: Like- nobody would know?
Will: They’re- They’re not being put on there.
Quinn: Like- if people went missing… even if their family, even if their friends like, told people and reported them, no one’s- no one’s looking?
Will: They’re just sort of gone. I guess it’s just… word of mouth and memory…
Quinn: What’s happening in this town?
Will: I- I don’t know, and I think it’s a lot bigger than we were expecting it to be. It seems like this has been going on for a long time, there are people going missing and nobody’s- nobody’s looking for them.
Quinn: This… is why we’re here.
Will: It’s why we need your help, dear listeners. This is why we’re doing this. We- We need to figure out what’s happening and we need your help, we need you all to…
Quinn: Send us your ideas, send us your thoughts. What do you think is happening in Averno? Do you have good ideas? We’ll investigate them, see where they’ll- see where they’ll lead us.
Will: Literally, hit up our DMs. tell us what to look for and we’ll look into it because we want to know, we want to find out what’s going on, we want to find these people. And we’re just- we’re just two people, we’re trying to do the job of the entire police force right now because Lord knows they’re not doing it right now.
Quinn: Send us your ideas, we’ll name-drop you in our next episode as we investigate, and… thank you for listening.
Will: So, as always dear listeners, we have been…
Both: Live From Averno.
Quinn: If I go missing-
Will: Please send help! *laughs*
Quinn: Please look for me?
- Much of the Averno history can also be found on the Averno- The Town page, though some details are only included in this transcript.