Man Wrongly Convicted for Causing Devastating 1993 Flood | Ep 228


Episode Transcription

Hey, welcome. This week we talk about James Scott and the flood of nineteen ninety three. The Mississippi River flooded and the levees broke, and for some reason people in this town were like, we bet this guy did it. And so we all talk about the flood, how it happened, and then how it got pinned on one person, and the outcome of that trial. So this is a comedy podcast. We joke around a lot, and every week we learn about an interesting topic. So we're really glad you're here for this episode. Let's get into it. Hey man, what's up? Bang bang baby? You ready for this? James Scott? You ever heard of the guy James Scott. James he wrote the national anthem? He might have actually no, no, uh, James Scott. Yeah, he's back to the future. No, here's James Scott. Great Scott, Oh, great Scott. Yeah, he's James Scott's one. Though could be honestly, honestly though, given the subject, the content of James Scott's character, uh, it could be. See I like these because we've given you an intro of this episode so far. You know you already know I'm something. I'm sitting in the mystery. Right, you're sitting in the dark. Here's what something interesting happens, he says. I reinforced it, and it looked like it was going to be good. So I went out for drinks. I came back. I reinforced it. I saw that it was good, so I took a day off. God could do it. I could do it right. I saw that it was good, so I took a shabbot. Things I learned last night? So who is Jamescott? Okay, well, to tell you about James Scott, I can tell you about. To tell you about James Scott, I got to tell you about something else first before I can tell you about James Scott. Have you ever heard of Mississippi m I've dabbled, so if you don't know, the Mississippi River is a gigantic river that runs down the central United States. Think of the Nile, but in the United States. Yeah, there's actually a paramid on it. We have a paramid right on the not on the Mississippi, Oh, the one in Memphis. And I was like, what anyway got it? You know, I never thought about that. But do you think they named that town Memphis because it was on America's Nile. I'm sorry, what do you think they named that town Memphis because it's on America's nile. Saying it's saying it's slower is like when do you when you encounter someone who doesn't speak English and you go, do you think what is your logic here? Because Memphis is named after Egypt. And if they thought that, then if they thought that Mississippi was America's Nile, like I'm saying, then maybe they were saying, Okay, we're naming it this because this is oh see, yes, okay. So the Modesty was founded in eighteen nineteen and named Memphis. The name was chosen because the ancient city Memphis, Egypt, was found as thousands of a year before the US even existed, but like Memphis, Tennessee, it was also located on a great River, the Nile. We just learned something on this podcast, more than we're gonna learn in the rest of the episode, but it's interesting. And then they built the pyramid there. Is that why they put the pyramid there? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that they built the perramid because it's Memphis, Tennessee. I thought they found it there. I thought that it's crazy that this is here. Yeah, yeah, it was a stadium originally it was the basketball stadium. We've been inside? Did you go to you with me? Or is that my brother? My brother went. I haven't been inside. We went to the parking lot so I could that's right, and then we were like, it'd be cool if we went in there, and then we just kept driving. Don't know why we didn't. It's I think it was closed that day. Oh. I think they were like, it's just it's just it is and I can't orristate this. It is just bad pro like so like there's it's it's hotels. It's a hotel. Yeah, I've seen photos and your patio of the hotel overlooks and I can't make this any more clear. Bass Pro sh it's interesting. I've seen pictures. I haven't been in, but I bet that would be cool at night when they close bass Pro and you just hear the water and the like the frogs. You can get into the bass Pro part of the hotel. I I don't want you to, but you can get in there. I canude in. You're on the seventh floor and you just got the new bounced up there. The guy's on the back and he's singing to you to jump. And what I used to get all that? That? Oh way, oh okay. All I got was the first note. The first note was I'll be home for Christmas. Oh my bad, oh me. He just pushes the off the back wall. It's pretty long. It's a long fall. So anyway. The Mississippi River, Yeah, the Mississippi River, big river in the United Central United States, America's nile. That's why they named it Memphis, and that's why they built the pyramid. Were all caught up on that, right. You wouldn't You wouldn't believe they named the nile the nile because it was africacause Mississippi. The Mississippi River in nineteen ninety three flooded, really bad flood all across the entire year nineteen ninety three. They call it the Great Flood of nineteen ninety three, an insane bib biblical proportions flood. There was seven hundred and forty five miles worth of the Mississippi Basin was flooded and caused twenty three to thirty billion dollars in damage in today's two dollars. Fifty people died in the incident. Massive massive, like I cannot over say enough help. It's hard over state. It's hard to overstate. Yeah, you're making a joke about a cat like a catastrophic event. I was making past Pro out, Well do you think that people aren't alive? And him, Well, the fifty of them died. Tim, that was bad to say. You should write an apology. I'm sorry. I'm sorry bass Pro for the flood. He didn't cause it. Don't take responsibility. I don't take responsibility for the flood. But I don't take responsibility at all. But I am sorry for you. I guess, okay, I do. Actually, this is something you probably can relate to. Great. Oh, hold on, this is so here's I'm gonna show you pa. Oh wait, you took the one that was up there. I did. I did. Yeah, I'm doubling up, baby, my second bang of the day. That's why I said bang bang. Yeah, I say one. If it's one, Okay, it's done, five of three. Let's we get past three. All bets are off. Okay, here we go. So here's something you'll recognize. This is jeff City, Missouri. Yeah. Oh, that's that's the So it went up to the capitol. Yeah, it went out there. What's crazy is jeff City is forty miles from the river. So true at all? Yeah, so that's crazy. It was a pretty serious flood. Okay, this is so I love that everyone still went to work. Cars are it. Well, here's the thing. This was a long term flood, Like this lasted long time. Life went on and you just kind of had to reroute yourself. Yeah. A lot of bridges closed along the river. And it wasn't just I should clarify, it wasn't just the Mississippi River. It was all along the central US. They're not exactly sure for sure for positive how this happened. They think that there was a volcanic water that it worked its way into the Mississippi River and then and increased rainfall together caused the river the water levels to swell, and they overtook levees across the country. Okay, so there's a foundation. How fast the flood happened, you know, I mean it was it was slow because they prepared so like they were is it getting bigger? They're like, hey, this water is high, and so they were sandbagging the river got along the Mississippi for months before the flood, like really flooded, so they knew. It was like, hey, this is getting deep, let's prepare. But they eventually the river always wins. So that's our foundation. Right now. We know about the ninety three Mississippi flood, and we know why Memphis, Tennessee has its name, all right, so we know we know enough to talk about James Scott. Now, okay, James Scott was a dude who lived in Quincy, Missouri. West Quincy, Missouri, which you probably know where this is because we've been to Hannibal. Yeah, we've been to Quincy, and so Quincy is a town along the mississ Oh I had Illinois. I've been to Hannibal. It's Quincy, Illinois. It's not Missouri. Well, there's West Quincy, Missouri. Quincy, Illinois. It's kind of like a Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri situation or St. Louis, Saint Louis. Yeah, I did the show with you in Hannibal. Well I didn't do it with you. I just came with you. It was a good show, Yeah, it is. We met some good people on that one. That was sometimes we meet people. That was that date. That was my highest paying gig i'd ever done. That's why I was like, you should go with me. You know, it was a it was a big deal. Yeah, that was two thousand and sixteen, seventeen. Yeah, I think it was seventeen because we were both living up here. Yeah. Yeah, we were both living up here at the time. Deal. Anyways, So James Scott in Quincy, West Quincy, Missouri. Yes, he he. He was a troubled youth. He spent his most of his upbringing burgalarizing people, and he got arrested a couple of times for it. Served a couple of stints in the prison in jeff City, actually the penitentiary actually is what they call it out there, the pen, the pen, and so he had a couple of arrests for that. He also had a couple arrests for arson. He he arsened his high school. Could you arson? Can you verb that? You just say? He said his school on fire? I like arsened though. He arsened his high school. And he also arsened. This sounds rough because it is. It's really rough. I don't want to act like it's not, but it is rough. He arsened his girlfriend's house when they were in a house in a fight and she was in there she got out, but he did arsen in her house, so he's he's a troubled youth. Sure. Like the day he did it, he and his best friend throw four and a half hours around trip, so like nine hours in the car, and at any point he could have just been like I feeling kind of sad, and instead he went home and he said his girlfriend's house on fire. And it's like, buddy, you could have just talked about your feelings. Man, you could have just brought it up. You could have just said something to me. Yeah. I think I even asked. I said, how's how's how's that girl whose house is totally intact and not on fire? And he was like, weird, thing's alright? Blue like that. But anyway, you don't remember that trip off. He may died that day because I saw the news when we were getting gas. Yeah, let's look it up. Oh, October fifth, seventeen. I know who that is. October sixth, twenty seventeen. October sixth, Yeah, so we were six days into our break goes fresh at that point. This episode's gonna be a little weird. Now I'm having all that feelings that I want to talk about. There's some tension. All right, ready, let's fight. The river always wins. So he is he's a troubled person. Yeah, he's been in and out of prison. He's done some bad things. Right, but what year is this now? It's nineteen ninety three now, oh so he has I mean yeah, ye, yeah, but I mean, like how old? Like what year is he growing up? You know what I'm saying? Like was he a teen in the He was born in sixty nine, Okay, so he was like an adult. He's married, teen through the eighties. Yeah, he's married. He served a long stint in prison for the arson thing, Okay, and now he's like he's actually it's ninety three. He's working at Burger King. So like the heyday of Burger King, I guess prime Burking. Chicken fingers, chicken fries just came out, not chicken fingers. Fries just came out, and holy crap, do you remember when chicken fries first came out? It was mind blow That was the craziest. You want to go get some chicken fries after this? Not at all. My body can't handle that. Your body can't handle that. You're thirty now, chicken fries, welcome to your thirties where you have to think about what you're doing tomorrow before you eat today. I'm not doing it even crazy tomorrow. Go ahead, I gotta fly home tomorrow night. I'm gonna be careful what I eat that sounds good. So otherwise all day you're like, that's what being thirty is is laying in bed at night and having to take a whole inventory of everything you ate that day because you're like, what made me feel this way? Turns out most stuffed, most things, most of the things you can eat are the problem. Yeah. Yeah, Big thirty is laying in your bed and being like, do we have any thumbs in the hall closet? Oh? No, I have no question that I keep him by my bed. We're here, We've made it. I made it. So he's a troubled person. Being thirty. Is you most recent Amazon purchase is a heating pad for your back? Yeah, we have a couple. Yeah, we've got those strategic locations about the house. Okay, So he's he's is he normal? Well adjusted? And this is Burger King's at their heyday. They haven't released their video game yet, this is pre ding fries are done. So yeah, but Burger King is still popping. I think burging is huge. Yeah, yeah, burger king at this time is I think they're trying to reach the MTV generation. Yeah, that's what they're doing. At this time. They're like, hey, we're high school Ah yeah, so they're doing all that stuff. What was our slogan? Then, Okay, let's go to make up sure we love high schoolers, trying to that generation. You know that that would be like that we love high schoolers is something that a youth pastor would would do and not realize what he's doing. Oh gosh, Oh my gosh. Hey, if you've been watching for a minute and you like this show, A great way to help out is by becoming a Patreon supporters. Our patrons get a ton of perks for their support. They get ad free episodes a week early. They get a discord with our host and producers. We get to do monthly hangouts we do there's a way to get birthday messages on your birthday. There's a lot of great perse, but more than anything, you just helped make sure that this show continues to happen forever. We never want to stop. We're gonna keep doing this forever. If we have enough patron supporters, we can put our brains in those little vats and like have AI pretend it to us and so like we can keep doing it long after we die. But that only happens if you support us on Patreon. So we appreciate your support. Thanks for your help. If you don't want a support, that's really fine. Thanks for being here. We really appreciate you watching the show. Okay, So in the nineties it was sometimes you've got to break the rules. Yeah the MTV. Yeah, early two thousands was it just tastes better, and then also they change it to have it your way, and now in twenty tenths, was tasty, good tastes you're king. I don't get the commercials. I don't think they're for me. They're not trying to reach me right now. I don't get the jingle that they're doing right now. Well, I think the jingle wasn't suppose to be funny. I think it was supposed to be a Memberal jingle, and but then they did that. They ran it so much that it's everywhere. And now the joke is that that jingle is in everything sound and so the meme is that like, no matter what you're watching them drops in ya have it your way, And it wasn't supposed to be funny, but now it is because they oversaid that because I don't. They spent too much money on it. Sure, yeah, yeah, that's why people laugh at me. We spent too much money on it. Yeah. So the flood starts and and this this is early flood era. It is not overflown, it's but it's it's swelling, right yeah. And Quincy is right on the river, and so Quincy is like, hey, we this is risky. And so everybody in town is like going and their sandbagging and they're volunteering, and they're like, hey, we're gonna put some stuff up, we're going to stand bag, We're going to do our part to help save the sound the town. Also, when you show jeff City earlier, that wasn't the Mississippi. That's what I said. That's why I said, yeah, I should say because I clarified, I said I should say that there's more than the Mississippi. Okay, flooding during this era. The Mississippi was kind of where it started. But the Mississippi feeds a bunch of rivers in this area. So the Mississippi floods. Everything else floods. Sure, yeah, the Nile floods. Everything floods. That's what they say. The pyramids and that's what is like, hold on, you know how they keep this dry? How'd they do that? Did you hear that they found? So, James Scott, I don't care whatever conspiracy or about to bring up. I don't care whatever. Weird thought that mentioning the Pyramids was like, did you hear they found? No? I wish I had a spray bob. So they're they're sandbag in the did you they're stand back of the levee trying to keep it from breaking. Okay, which do you know what a levee is? Yeah? I do know what it's made of? Hold on, what's the song to the levee and the levee? It was dry concrete? Right? I mean I guess it depends. I guess there probably could be concrete levees. I would assume that a concrete levee is probably a better levee than what these guys had. These guys just had a sand levee. Oh sure, yeah, yeah, there's built thing. Yeah yeah, but yeah, I guess I didn't realize before seeing this what a levee was. Okay, I assumed a levee was more like a damn but it was just a bunch of Yeah, thanks, I appreciate that. So they had a levee and they're sandbag in the levee, trying to like increase the height and the strength of this levee, I guess, And the whole town's coming out every day and they're loading these sandbags. National guards bringing all these sandbags in. Sure everyone's doing their part. I was doing their thing. Well. One day, James comes out and and uh, he's in at a different spot on the levee than most people are at and he notices, oh, this levee looks like it's about to break, and so he says, I'm gonna take he said. There's nobody else over here, he says, but I want to stick and there's like break. Levee's pretty weak, he says. He says, I want to help. I want to do my part, but like no one's around, so like I can't do this myself. And I should be very clear. It's getting close. Like, yeah, they brought a bunch of bulldozers in to bulldoze a bunch of dirt up, and like they are like really working over time to try to reinforce this because it's like we're It's kind of like when you stay with me for a second. It's kind of like when you're staying at holiday in when you're like seven, and you said, you said, look, it's been raining all day. We didn't get to go to the water park. Let's fill the bathtub. I'm going to go to the bathtub. Yeah, and you shove your socks in that top train so I can't see. This is where it like gets not relatable. You fill it up and then you go in the other room and wait for a minute while it's filling up. Because when you're at the holiday in with your mom and dad and they fill the bathtub up, and then your dad is like, okay, boys, time to get baptized. And you go in there and your dad holds you under water for like a long time and you have to be like and then well, then he takes you up, and then if you don't go shut it the bot, he puts you back in there, and then yeah, he keeps pulling you out until and then he asks he pulls you out, and every time he says did you see God? And if you say no, he puts you puts you back in eventually, and your mom's doing it to your brother in the sink at the same time. Yeah, he can't fight that hard. Yeah, you know. And then eventually one of the times you black out and you see God and then you come back and you're you're not, like I saw him. They wake up in the hospital and chop tread resources like, hey, these are your new parents, and you're like, oh okay, and you tell your parents and you're like, oh okay, and then you keep telling your new parents I saw God and they're like, yeah, sure you did, and you're like, but I did. They're like, okay, he told me. He told me your new parents are sinners. He said they like fruitcake. So to you, no, it's wild how your stories always take have a relatable start. And then you know, when you shove socks in the drain so nothing that you know, you're like, what are you talking about, dude, You've all filled the bathroble with water, and then it accidentally goes over. No, because if you have if you have the drain like the little two holes at the top of the tub, it doesn't it won't let you. It's designed to not let you overflow it. I know you're talking, but if you put your socks in the holes, then you can overflow and use socks. I feel like my socks were too big for you put the whole sock in. You just put the sock up against it and then just shoved your fingers through, so it like created a whole and then you folded it back over shoved your fingers through again. So anyways, it's like that where the dub is starting to overflow. Sure, but with the l the Mississippi River, it's getting really close and like put the socks in the drain and so he's like looking at it, and he's like, he's like this Parla Levy looks like it's getting really close, which, honestly, looking back on this, hindsight's twenty twenty. But looking back on this, a single guy looking at a single tiny portion point the Mississippi River and saying, this spot's gonna overflow. He says, let me grab some sandbags from this other spot that looks okay, and I'll go these sand bags and I'll reinforce this part and it makes vulnerability in the other part and so yeah, so he moves the sandbags, reinforces it, and he's like, who is he to the sandbags? What's his relationships? He's not related to the sand He worked for the city, the city. But here's the thing. It's not that he's a burger king employee. He happens to be local burger king. But here's the thing. It was the sort of thing where everybody in town was coming to the river and helping reinforce this. It wasn't like, it wasn't like he was just like everybody's help for a second, because it was like, my house is going to be underwater if I don't sure, So everybody's helping. But he was at a different spot, like everybody's down for the down on the levee because everybody reinforced that earlier that day, he happened to be on this side of Levey and he said, this doesn't look good. You guys don't do a great job. I'm going to fix it. But I'm going to fix it. The voice inside his mind was like, that's the and it's like and he's like, he's like, there's like a it's like a flute. He can hear a flute and he's like picking up. He looks at the wave and of the waves, it looks like a man just moving down the river, but it's like water. And he said, James, you've done well. So then wells out a couple of sand bags. So then this happens. If for the other audio listeners, it's a picture of a levee breaking. Is he over here? So this is the levee breaks on July sixteenth, nineteen ninety three, and it just comes rushing through like a lot. How how okay? How high up was the water over the level? Like, I don't know that. I know it was enough to flood, sure, I don't know how high it was. And uh so his helicopter image. Yeah, so local news is like, send someone over there to go get some news on this, and so they send a reporter over there and the reporter finds it finds James James, oh no, oh no. And so yeah, so they come up and they say, hey, you're the first person on the scene here. What happened? And he's like, I don't know. Well he says, he says, hey, I saw that. I saw that that looked like that was gonna break. So I started reinforcing it with some sandbags, and here's where something that interesting happens. He says, I reinforced it, and it looked like it was going to be good. So I went out for drinks. I came back, I reinforced it. I saw that it was good. So I took a day off. God could do it. I could do it right. I saw that it was good. So I took a Shabbat and and so he's like, he's like, I came back and I saw this, and that I saw you, and now I'm talking to you. And she was like, that's crazy. And so the this is a small town, right, yeah, he did this is on the news, and the local sheriff is watching the news and he's like, I know that guy, and I know that that guy probably did this. He went on purpose. Yeah, he's like, he's like, this guy did this, but they don't have like a warrant, they don't have anything to go on. This guy's a chicken fries liar chicken for fries, and so he looks in the system and he's like, hey, good news, though, this guy is wanted for burglary because he's been doing it again. Yeah. Yeah, And so they're like They're like, let's old habits die hard. Let's go grab him for burglary. We're gonna investigate it for burglary. And during the process, we're gonna question him about this flood thing. And so he did. He makes sah, they're stolen some merchandise from the Ben Franklin Soper colluded with Mother Nature to level our town. What does the word water mean to you? James? Hey, have you ever heard of Noah? What is your relation to the rain? Can you spell? And yeah? And just because he can spell it, that's it, that's his We got him. We know this, guys say in sc h D sanched. We're pretty sure you did have fun in jails. Jails. So he leaves, he gets questioned. They're like, okay, that was interesting. Those questions. Those questions we asked. Those are interesting. Your answers not so much. But we asked some interesting questions you're talking about. I was interesting those questions. We asked, Oh, I love them, good work, team. I asked them the questions. He got to leave for a second while they kind of gathered their things thought about it. Allegedly, he went to a bar that night and he bribed about flooding the town a legend. Can I get two miller lights and uh a pad on the back because I don't know, you guys know, but all this damage that's happening flooding, this guy, that's in my blood. I got flood for blood. I got flood blood. And it was it was a catastrophic flood. Here's a here's a shot of Oh god it is it is flooding. And this is uh all because of one breach in the levee. Yeah, the levee breached and and then the rest flood yea, and so uh. The police did their interview, they did their investigation. They called one of his friends, an older friend, like it was like he wasn't current friends with him, but an older friend with him. Yeah, somebody who hadn't seen he's got his life turned around. He's working at Burger King. Yeah, other old friends working at the other burger King in town six in this town is the I don't know. I'm just guessing Burger King was popping it this day. Did his uh did did his Burger King get flooded? I actually don't know. He's on the news just being like, yeah, I don't know, man, I just feel like break all the rules. It's their slogan, break the rules. Hi, yeah, there you go. You didn't get catch that because it just doesn't sound like a burger king, like the rules, break the rules. What does that have to do with burger king? It doesn't. It has to do with the high schoolers they want to attract. Yeah, yeah, you guys want to do here. The nineties high schoolers were such a odd Yeah. They were group of people. You know, they were aggressive. Yes, they were grungy, grungy and gross or words I would use. And I know you're listening right now in your media vain with your kids, and you were a nineties high schooler. Yeah, and if that offense, you look at a picture and look at how greasy your hair was, Look how gross you looked, nasty in your Jinko jeans. Stupid anyway. Anyways, so the police are doing this investigation. They asked this guy, they said, hey, do you think James did this? And he said, you know what, Yes, I haven't talked to James in a little bit, but I did hear that he was plotting to flood the town. Hold on, it gets better. What do you mean he's plotting to flood. He was just you know, ever since we were in high school. I remember being a kid and I went downstairs in the basement and he was upstairs with my mom, and he was just like, listen, Tammy, I'm gonna flood this town, flood this down. He says he had a plot to flood the town because he knew it would destroy the bridges so then it would trap his wife on the other side of the room so he could stay over here. In part, I mean, honey, I can't come home. I can't come home. The bridges are out. The bridge is out. All the bridges, all the bridges are out. Give me a drive all the way down to Hannibal to crossover. No, not gonna happen. We're just on the other side of the river. You know. I'll be back when they fix the bridge. Apparently there is a river wide enough to keep me from getting to you. So and it's the flood in Mississippi. Hey, if you're enjoying this episode, a great way you can help us out is by sharing it. Send it to your friends. Click that share link, send them the link and say, hey, this is a little show that I watched sometimes that I think you might like to watch sometimes and your friends will say this is weird, but it's okay. There'll eventually start laughing at it. I think maybe it depends what kind of friends you have. If you have someone I hope you do, this is a great way to help. And so the police were like, okay, we've got enough to arrest them. And so they get a warrant and they go arrest them and they say, hey, we're we're pretty sure you did the flood sure, And he was like, excuse me, you think I I guess you know. To me, the ocean flooding doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's like, just there's so much more room for the water out there, you know, like just go out there, Just go the other way. Why are you coming this way? Go the other way. The fact that science hasn't figured that out makes me really not put the water the ocean. Put the water in the place where there's a lot of water. That doesn't make any sense to me at all. Why are you putting the water? So? Why can't we drink ocean water yet? Come on, guys, come on figure this out. I could I could drink my pea with that straw but I can't drink the ocean water. And I'm talking about Starbucks straws. If you're wondering, they've got a cool filter. You know what I talked about? You guys, you guys hear how it's normal? No, you've heard of that. It's it's like a dumb little like why get the ocean water? You know? Oh, you know when you're the holiday and you put put water in the bats up and then he always goes, yeah, you can always I can drink my pea with this straw. Oh you just put your socks in the holes. I ever heard that. That's how you can make one at home. Straw suck life straw. That's what they're called, right, live straw. I have no idea what you're talking about. It. You can buy it on Amazon. It's for like bears girls, dudes. Then you can drink. You can drink like any water in the wilderness, and like you're not going to get sick off of it. It's got to filter, and it's gotta filter like all the way through. It's called a live straw, I'm pretty sure. And allegedly you can drink your own pea because it's going to filter. It all out, just be water when it gets to And I'm curious if the livestrap would work in with ocean water. Actually I've never heard of that. Would it work, Like, would it get the water out of this? It's a question. I don't know because we would have to we have to order one now, but like we would have to put it in a coke. Yeah, that's the test. Live straw products do not remove salt from water and shouldn't not be used on water sources such as ocean or seawater, other saltwater sources, or brackish water. So you're supposed to only use them with fresh water, fresh water, but just dirty fresh water. Yeah, it's the idea clean freshwater doesn't make any sense anyways. All right, So he gets arrested. No, no, dude, my p he's pretty salt. So he gets arrested and they're like, that's my biggest complaint. Okay, say the rest of him. And they say, James Scott, you're under arrest for flooding the town. And he says, excuse me, and they're like that's right. And so his defense comes and they're like this is preposterous, and they're like, have you seen the flood that's happening everywhere. You think he did this whole thing, Like, sure, maybe he moves some sandwich. Can't be mad at James, We have to be mad at God. This is God's fault. Fools, he says, Look how sinful you've been. Blame yourselves, they say. They bring in some scientists from a couple of different universities to do like soil samples, and they proved to be on a shadow of the doubt, both of them, and they like wrote peer reviewed articles saying that this these levees weren't going to break regardless of what happened. And they were like, they're like these were The police were like, and so the police they got their witness reports from these like four or five people who were like, yeah, we heard he was trying to just party and get away from his wife, so that's why he did it. And so they did this case. That's crazy. And they were like, look at his record. He's he's done some arsons, he's done some reglaries, Like he's the kind of trying to summon a tornado, and I think we should blame this f fournao on him because he just wanted to be out there. He wanted his wife to be up and away. He kept saying up and away, and then you get mumbling over his brother Burger King were sitting there and he's over, you know, the grill, just up and away, up and away, and that's just when he saysbod he flips the burgers three more days. So it'd be pretty wild if this was like that guy at my Starbucks in Springfield. Yeah, when I used to sit at Starbucks all the time. Yea, who do you remember me telling you this? He was another regular. He was always in there, like writing something on his laptop or like reading very thick books. I don't think he was actually reading. I think he just had thick books open and it was just like you know. And so I ventured out to talk to him, yeah, once, and he told me that his emotions control the weather and that when he's upset, it thunders and rains and uh. And I learned in that moment not to talk to strangers ever. Talked to another person ever again. Yeah, because like we had seen each other for two years and it had been like, oh, his name is Mike, and it like hey Mike, you know, and it's like you kind of know you kind of know. Then you have a conversation and he goes, he goes, by the way, I'm insane, By the way, I did that, And so he was planning on flooding Springfield. So that happens after that. Every time he came in out was raining. He winked at you. Yeah, I'm not joking though, it was like he looked at me like I knew his secret. Yeah, he was like, he's like rough day. He also he actually got banned from there because he became convinced, now I'm so serious. He became convinced that they were trying to poison him, and so he was like I do remember that as well, being like I know, you're trying to kill me. And it was like and he wasn't like a crazy homeless person who like says weird stuff. He was like a normal, normal person who came and worked on his laptop and read his book. It was on all of a sudden, was like, by the way, yeah that is I would summon a tornado. So they based on those reports then, yeah, they arrest him. Yeah, say he did it on purpose? Yeah, well and yeah, and in the trial they brought in environmentalists who said that there was eleven to twelve levy failures along that stretch of the Mississippi, and across the entire country there was failures, and so it's like, this is not a local thing, this is not limited to just this area. And they had like scientists who were like proving with evidence, like hard evidence to say this was gonna happen. Yeah, there's no connection. You can't connect this too. This is a wild flood that no one could have prepared for. Yeah. And then the prosecuting attorneys came out and they said, look, he did some arson, and also his friend thinks he did this. And the jury deliberates for four hours and comes back and finds him guilty of causing a catastrophe, and he gets you're right, I do hate this one. He gets charged with causing a catastrophe. No one died in the Quincy area, but they did. It was millions of dollars with the damage. And he gets twenty years to life. And the Missouri Attorney General saw this and was like that's bogus, and he's like try him again, and so he gets a retrial a year later, and they said, you can't use that like those witness reports that you used last time around, Yeah, with Bogus, And so they do it again and the jury again finds him guilty. It's twenty to life and how I do not know. It is interesting. There's a Vice documentary about this, and obviously it's a jury of your peers. And I think the biggest thing is he had this record, and everybody in town knew him, and everybody in town was affected by this, and everybody in town needed a scapegoat, and he was the easy one that they all already didn't like. Most of them knew somebody who he burglarized or arsened, and so they he was an easy target. And that Jerry just was like, yeah, it was him. It had to be this natural disaster had to be him. So did he get out of jail? And so twenty thirteen, he is up for parole. In twenty twenty six, wait, why is he still in jail? I don't know what he's still there. Here's a recent picture of him from his Vice documentary. He's up for parole. And here's the thing they said that basically, his parole officer was like, we'll let him out. We'll let him out if he like accepts responsibility and apologizes, and they're like, we're pretty confident he won't do that. So he probably will stay in prison because he won't accept responsibility for this, because he's he's maintained his innocence the whole time. He's been like, I was just trying to help, and he's like, he's like, yeah, it broke where I was trying to help. He's like, I was trying to help, like it was looking like it was going to break, whether I did it something or not. Here's what's interesting. There was a guy who testified against him by the name of Norman hare Well. Pronounce this h A E R R Hair. Okay, that's what I thought. Hair Norman Hair who is the president of the Fabious River Drainage District and the largest owner of land on the Missouri side of the Quincy Township area. Cool. He was uninsured and even if he was insured, a natural disaster is an act of God, and you do not get an insurance payment of it for it. But uh, an act of God. I don't know. It depends on the the tornado. I guess that's true. I guess that's true. I don't know. I don't know. But he wasn't insured. I know he was uninsured. He was uninsured, and it must be because he was uninsured that in that case with I don't know, however, the system was set up because he was uninsured. If it was an act of god, he was just kind of out of life. Probably didn't have flood insurance because he wouldn't think, oh, this is going to ever flood this bad, this bad. Yeah, maybe, but if there was a vandalism, he could claim it. So maybe he didn't have flood insurance, but he had normal insurance, right, and so he was able to get everything covered and had a massive insurance payout because this was an act of vandalism legally and not an act of God. And so a lot of people looked at him and say, yeah, he kind of swayed this because he wanted to get that payout for sure. And maybe he might have just testified him by himself. I don't know if he was the mastermind behind this whole thing. Wow, I hate that, Yeah, pretty much. Is the guy spend life in prison is probably spent a lot more time in prison unless he unless he says it's not worth it. I'm just gonna say I did it. So that way they give me parole. Honestly, for a lot of people who have been in prison that long, it just becomes like, a they've missed the he's been in prison since the nineties. Yeah, they've missed the entire technological year. Yeah. And at this point it's just like, yeah, I mean I know prison. Yeah, it's true, and I mean yeah he I mean, he talked about it in the documentary. He's like, he's like, I've missed everything. He's I missed my chance at everything. Yeah, it's a family d chance at a whole sadder out there chance at career, like yeah, yeah, yeah, trying to assimilate at this point is pretty tough. Yep, so pretty rough. I don't know if I think it's pretty obvious this guy didn't cause this flood he was. I think I think he was just trying to help. Uh. I think he was genuinely just trying to help. I really really seriously doubt he thought, hey, I'm gonna flood the hounds, I can party. There's a small chance though, that he saw it and was like, hey, here's my opportunity, here's my shot, and I can get a pretty good party. And if I do this lose yourself and if you pull it open down a whett flug, I have to see my wife because the song wasn't even out. Then yeah, yeah, you might be right. You might have done it. Then, I don't know when you put it, I don't know put it that way. It seems when you put it that way, he probably didn't. But when you go, I mean that really Yeah, when I think about it like that, I think it's crazy that the whole week leading up to the flood, he went on multiple road trips with his best friend, four and a half hour drives, and at no point that he has look over and go I'm about to fiddle off this whole town, dude, I'm about to fluddle off this town. Hey, thanks for sticking around to the end of this episode. If you liked that one. Speaking to Jail, there's an episode we did about the Barkley Marathons, which is inspired by two people who broke out of jail in the West Virginia Mountains. And then this guy was like, oh, that's a great idea for a marathon. We should make people run through the mountains. And so it's a crazy, crazy marathon that has only been fully finished by less than ten people, and so if you want to check that episode out, we have it somewhere around here. It's also the link in the description. We also have next week's episode available if you already listen to the whole back catalog, you're like Jared and I have listened to all like two hundred something episodes that you guys are put out. Great. Next week's episode is available right now to our Patreon supporter, so you can go join us on there. You can get ahead and we'll see you next week for another episode of things things like gosh, it was so good until the very end there, huh, just like our show. Our show has been so good until the end. Things are last night

In 1993, catastrophic flooding along the Mississippi River caused billions in damage and displaced thousands of people. Searching for someone to blame, the town of Quincy, Missouri, pinned the disaster on one man—James Scott. Despite a lack of evidence, Scott was convicted twice for intentionally causing a breach in the river levee that led to widespread flooding. He remains in prison today for a crime he likely did not commit.

The flooding began in early 1993 as heavy rains caused the Mississippi River to swell dangerously high. The town of Quincy worked tirelessly to reinforce levees along the river, hoping to prevent a breach. On July 16, a section of the levee broke, and water came rushing through, flooding over 700 miles of land and causing around $30 billion in damage.

James Scott was a Quincy resident with a criminal record, including past arson charges. When a local reporter interviewed Scott at the breached levee, Scott admitted to moving sandbags from one section to another in an attempt to prevent flooding. This action may have inadvertently led to the breach. Police arrested Scott for an unrelated burglary charge and then interrogated him about causing the flood deliberately. Despite Scott’s insistence it was an accident, police believed he intentionally sabotaged the levee.

During Scott’s first trial, the prosecution relied heavily on testimony from acquaintances alleging Scott wanted to flood the town and trap his wife on the other side of the river. However, scientists could not substantiate claims that Scott’s actions directly caused the breach. After being convicted, Scott was granted a retrial, resulting in a guilty verdict based on circumstantial evidence and character attacks.

Many have criticized Scott’s conviction as a grievous miscarriage of justice. Scientists maintain that catastrophic flooding was inevitable due to historically high river levels and levee failures up and down the Mississippi Basin. While Scott’s actions may have contributed in some small part, he is likely serving a life sentence for a natural disaster outside his control. Despite maintaining his innocence for over 20 years in prison, Scott’s only hope for parole is a confession which he refuses to make.

The rush to blame Scott also benefited certain Quincy residents. A local landowner who stood to profit from an insurance payout if the flood was deemed vandalism rather than an act of God testified against Scott. This self-serving testimony may have helped convict an innocent man.

While the 1993 flood was truly disastrous, the greater tragedy is the conviction of James Scott. Lacking solid evidence and a fair trial, Scott has spent decades in prison for unintentionally worsening a natural disaster. Until the justice system rights this wrong, an innocent man continues to pay for a crime he did not commit.

Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning and laughing a lot while you do, you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode right now!




James Scott – Wikipedia

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