Leechburg native's missing-person podcast 'UnFound' gains national audience
As a child growing up in Leechburg, Ed Dentzel remembers being fascinated with the Leonard Nimoy-hosted TV show “In Search of ...”
“Mysteries and disappearances and unsolved cases of all types have always interested me,” Dentzel said.
Dentzel, who lives in Madeira Beach, Fla., has come full circle as the host of his own show — the weekly podcast “UnFound — A Missing Persons Program.”
Dentzel, 47, launched the podcast in 2016 and has produced about 60 episodes dealing with missing-person cases across the country.
Now, the Tribune-Review is partnering with Dentzel as a way to bring wider attention to missing-person cases originating in Western Pennsylvania.
“UnFound” will be a monthly series, published in the Trib's print editions and on TribLive.com, devoted to missing persons, their stories and their families.
“We know from reporting the news over the years that scores of people from Western Pennsylvania have disappeared and never been found. We think partnering with Ed Dentzel and his UnFound project and adding our own research and reporting is a great way to spotlight some of those cases and report to readers about ongoing efforts to solve them,” said Jennifer Bertetto, president and CEO of Trib Total Media.
The podcast and descriptions of individual episodes can be found at TribLive.com/news/unfound , while Dentzel will act as a resource, promoting the Trib's series on his Friday podcast.
A 1993 graduate of Grove City College, Dentzel worked for the family business before leaving Western Pennsylvania in 1998. He lived for a time in Las Vegas, working as a field consultant for 7-Eleven, a stage manager, an actor, a model and a printer/fax machine technician.
After moving to Florida in 2011, Dentzel said he started listening to podcasts dealing with missing persons, cold cases and true crimes. A podcast covering the 2004 disappearance of college student Maura Murray in New Hampshire sparked the idea for his own podcast.
Dentzel said he wanted to focus on the families of missing persons as a way to shed light on old cases and generate new information.
“I wanted to go to the source and talk to them and give them an opportunity to tell the story the way they want it told,” he said. “Every time I talk to a new guest, I learn something about the disappearance that is not in the news.”
Dentzel usually contacts families through email and waits to see if they respond. In about a third of the cases, he said he has been able to “move cases forward” by getting police re-involved or inducing witnesses to come forward.
While missing-person cases often suffer from public neglect, they remain constantly on the minds of the loved ones involved, he said.
“I don't know if the public truly understands the nature of these disappearances. None of these people deserve what happened to them,” he said.
Dentzel said the news media can do a better job covering such cases by keeping them in the public eye, nudging law enforcement, uncovering new information and giving family members a voice.
“These stories reflect that there are families out there that are in pain. The not-knowing is the worst part,” he said.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @shuba_trib.