Sacred Scandal, a brand new true-crime podcast now accessible on all main podcasting platforms, investigates the grizzly homicide of Sister Michelle Lewis, which occurred 20 years in the past in Miami. The sequence was created by Exile Content material Studio, which produces each lengthy and short-form content material in Spanish and English for a world viewers throughout a number of platforms, and co-produced and hosted by Chilean-born comic Paula Barros and Chilean-born documentary filmmaker Melanie Bartley (Full Costume). Award-winning audio producer, story editor, sound designer, and composer Dennis Funk additionally serves as an Government Producer.
The sequence takes a more in-depth have a look at the crime and interviews Mykhaylo Kofel, the person who’s at present sentenced to a 30-year-term after confessing to the homicide. Barros attended Holy Cross Academy similtaneously Kofel and was a pupil on the time of the grizzly homicide. She personally knew Sister Lewis, Kofel and the monks concerned within the case.
“We’re privileged to carry Kofel’s aspect of the story to audiences for the primary time ever and to shed a brand new mild on a case that took Miami by storm,” mentioned Barros.
Kofel had been recruited as a monk and dropped at Holy Cross Academy in Miami from his residence in Ukraine by a person posing as a Catholic Priest. As soon as there, Kofel skilled 4 years of improper habits and alleged sexual abuse. He was 18-years-old on the time of the crime. After his confession, the case was closed and no additional fees have been introduced towards the best leaders on the church whom Kofel had accused of the alleged abuse, Rev. Abbot Gregory Wendt, and his assistant, Rev. Damian Gibault. After the scandal, a number of college students withdrew from the college, forcing it to finally shut down.
I spoke with Barros and Bartley on why they felt this story wanted to be instructed. We additionally mentioned why they really feel true crime continues to be such a well-liked style and why Exile Content material Studio was the proper match to provide this podcast.
Risa Sarachan: How did you first hear about this crime?
Paula Barros: I went to the college (Holy Cross Academy) the place the homicide occurred. My senior yr, I used to be at residence on a Sunday, when my little sister bumped into my room saying Sister Michelle had been killed. 17-year-old me was so shocked and curious I instantly received in my Toyota Camry, requested my sister to affix me, and we drove to our college to see if there was any commotion.
Certain sufficient, there have been cop automobiles, fireplace vans, and press all around the campus. That’s once we realized it was true. We have been actually traumatized. That subsequent day at college, all the youngsters have been actually affected too. No person might make sense of any of it. This was a really tight-knit group, this faculty, and so it felt prefer it occurred in our circle of relatives.
Melanie Bartley: I used to be in my sophomore yr of movie faculty on the College of Miami when my good friend Paula instructed me about this homicide at her Excessive Faculty. I couldn’t consider it really occurred just a few miles from my home. It quickly turned the main target of all our conversations. We have been completely consumed by all these questions, so we began writing to Mykhaylo Kofel in the hunt for solutions and finally determined to make a documentary.
Sarachan: What made you’re feeling it wanted to be additional investigated and shared?
Barros: It was unfathomable to me that the boy that I knew from my class might have accomplished it. The rumors on the faculty have been uncontrolled. Everybody had their very own theories. The press didn’t do a lot in explaining why precisely he (Mykhaylo Kofel) did it. So many questions remained behind my thoughts.
Just a few years after I graduated, my greatest good friend Melanie satisfied me to achieve out to Mykhaylo. I began to write down to him in jail. After which Melanie and I visited him. I used to be shocked to be taught he hadn’t gotten a single customer within the years after he was arrested. (I imply, after years of letters, my good friend Melanie and I have been his first guests in about eight years.) Mykhaylo’s mother and father have been all the best way in Ukraine and he actually was alone. In speaking to him, I discovered a human being, which we are likely to overlook when somebody does one thing so horrific. What might make this shy boy from the mountains of Ukraine a killer?
He has opened up a lot to Melanie and to me that we’ve kind of grow to be his solely connection to the skin world. Typically I questioned if what he would inform me was true, after which there have been different occasions I had little doubt he was being truthful. I didn’t need to proceed questioning what occurred and determined to actually attempt to resolve it. He was all the time supportive of us telling his story, and he needed an opportunity to speak to the world. At this level, I believe it’s our accountability to place this out and to inform the story utilizing as many views as doable as a way to actually put the puzzle collectively.
Bartley: Whereas persevering with to go to Mykhaylo in jail, we started our analysis with dozens of bins of case paperwork and crime scenes pictures. The deeper we dug into these, the stronger we felt that this story needed to be instructed. Although the homicide was horrendous, every little thing surrounding the incident was even crazier. The motivations that introduced every of those individuals to Holy Cross, the secrecy that surrounded this unlikely setting (I imply, a Byzantine monastery in Miami!), and allegations that have been by no means resolved.
Sarachan: Has anybody related to Holy Cross Academy reached out with the discharge of Sacred Scandal?
Barros: Many college students have reached out to me and thanked me for exploring this additional and actually digging deeper into the entire thing. After this case has been dormant for therefore a few years, a number of former schoolmates are joyful that the podcast will present some readability and hopefully some closure.
Sarachan: What do you hope Sacred Scandal will carry to its listeners?
Barros: I hope they’ll have the expertise of being by our aspect investigating this case. It’s been intense!
Bartley: Considered one of our objectives is to carry extra humanity into true crime podcasts. I believe it’s straightforward to overlook that behind these crimes are nuanced people with their very own aspect of the story.
Sarachan: Do you hope it’d have an effect on the case itself by bringing this story again into the general public eye?
Barros: I actually do. There’s a lot extra to this case – this horrible and tragic incident is a window to us starting to know a bigger and extra difficult story.
Bartley: It’s actually one thing we take into consideration, however we will’t change the result of the case. If something, I hope it is going to shed some mild on the dangers of placing younger and susceptible individuals in sure conditions.
Sarachan: Why was Exile Content material Studio the proper firm to inform this story?
Barros: Exile Content material Studio actually believed in us and our venture from day one. On our first zoom assembly, Melanie and I instantly clicked with our EP, Nando Vila, and being from Miami, he felt an on the spot connection to the case as nicely.
Bartley: I’ve been following Exile Content material Studio for some time and admire what they’ve accomplished. They’re enthusiastic about telling numerous tales and are usually not afraid to take dangers.
Sarachan: Why do you suppose we’re all so fascinated by true crime?
Barros: I believe there’s a component of curiosity to the factor. Asking oneself, “what it will take to make me kill somebody?” or placing your self within the place of the sufferer are issues that play to the darkest sides of our nature.
Bartley: It’s human nature to be drawn to hero and villain tales, the brightest and darkest sides of humanity, and true crime is essentially the most actual instance of how darkish we will get.
Sacred Scandal is out there now on iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, and all different main podcasting platforms.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.