Bonus Episodes

Photos of Ric Metts with a dog and horse
Photos of Ric Metts from sometime around 1995, courtesy of Ric.

BONUS 1: An FBI Agent and Neighbor Ric Metts on the Kidnapping

FBI agent Ralph Harp discusses the investigation and working for the FBI. “We see the harm done. Other people read about it, but they don’t see it up close and personal They don’t touch it, they don’t smell it, and so they are kept back a distance from it,” said Harp, adding that as an FBI agent “you’re right up on the edge of it.”

Then, family friend Ric Metts on his perspective on the case and the other time he was accused of a crime. “It wasn’t my first polygraph where I had done nothing,” said Metts.

The Phone Call

By Ben Kuebrich

Episode one of the true-crime podcast Ransom: Position of Trust explores the day McKay disappeared and the beginnings of the investigation.

On September 12th, 1995 Carl Everett returned to his home in Conroe, Texas from an Amway meeting to find his back door propped open and his son McKay missing. Then the phone started to ring. On the line, a raspy-voiced woman demanded $500,000 if he ever wanted to see his son again. She said she’d call back at 8 am the next day, with details about how to make the payment.

Despite her warnings not to involve the police, Carl Everett called 911.

Two 911 calls made by Carl Everett on September 12th, 1995

When McKay’s mother, Paulette, returned home from the Amway meeting and discovered McKay was missing, all she could do was scream. Already, a couple of Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies had arrived and were investigating the scene. But it was odd — there was no sign of a break-in or a struggle, and the house’s alarm system had been disabled.

“It was just as if McKay had walked out of his own free will,” said former deputy Sam Lynch, the first supervisor on the scene.

Investigators began to think McKay might’ve been abducted by someone who knew him well and could convince him to open the door.

Everett Home
The Everett home in 1995. Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department

Everyone Was a Suspect

The Everett’s home was soon filled with concerned friends and neighbors.


“Everyone there is a suspect, but not treated as such,” said Deputy Lynch. “Because everyone while they may be a suspect, they’re also a witness.”

And one of Carl’s neighbors, Bill Kahn, had seen something strange that night. When he took out the trash out around 8:45 pm, he’d seen a car speed down the Everetts’ driveway and away from the home. He took note of it, because it was driving unusually fast and almost crashed into his trash cans.

The car was dark brown or gold Chrysler — it was dark so he was unsure about the color — but he was sure that he’d seen a Crown Motors dealership sticker on the back of the car. The Crown sticker stuck out to him in particular because he was friends with the dealership’s owner.

Paulette Everett tells Ransom Host Art Rascon about the night McKay disappeared.

The FBI Arrives

That night the FBI set up a mobile command point at the Everett’s home. Normally the FBI only gets involved in interstate crimes, but following the kidnapping of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s son, Congress passed the Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932, allowing the FBI to investigate kidnappings of children of a “tender age.”

The FBI kept a close eye on who was coming and going from the Everett home. They also asked the Everetts extensive questions about their acquaintances, which for the most part Carl answered because Paulette was still so rattled by the kidnapping that she could barely talk.

“When the FBI showed up, their questioning was very systematic,” says Paulette. “They immediately had us making lists.”

These lists included: people to whom McKay was close, people who drove a car resembling the gold or brown Chrysler with a crown dealership sticker that Bill Kahn had seen, and people who knew about the Amway meeting.

The Amway Connection

Amway Video from 1995

McKay had disappeared while Paulette and Carl were at an Amway meeting. Amway was a program, where you bought items wholesale from a mail-order catalog and resold them. But it was a multi-level marketing program, meaning you made money not just by selling products, but by recruiting more people into the Amway organization. The night of the kidnapping Carl Everett hosted a meeting in downtown Conroe to try to recruit new members.

The Everetts shared with the FBI a list of people who had attended the meeting as well as people they’d invited but who hadn’t shown up.

A New Lead Emerges

During the night, investigators learned of another lead. One of McKay’s friends, Elizabeth Schaeffer, had been on the phone with him around the time McKay had disappeared, and Investigators drove out to interview her in the middle of the night.

According to Elizabeth, McKay had called her at around 8:30, but then a few minutes later — in the middle of their conversation — McKay had told her to hold on for a second. She waited on the line for a while, but then never returned to the phone.

FBI voluntary statement from McKay’s friend Elizabeth Schaeffer, who had been on the phone with McKay just before he disappeared.

This pushed back the last time anyone had seen or spoken to McKay to 8:30, shortly before Bill Kahn had reported seeing the Chrysler with the Crown dealership sticker leaving the Everetts home.

While they were there, investigators also spoke with Elizabeth’s parents. They mentioned their neighbor, Connie Crawford, who was also a friend of the Everetts, might have some useful information.

Montgomery County Sheriff's Report outlining interview between investigators and the Schaeffers and Connie Crawford
Excerpt of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department report from the night of McKay’s kidnapping. It outlines an interview with the Schaeffers and Connie Crawford

The Crawfords were some of the first people Carl had contacted after receiving the ransom call. Connie’s husband Hilton Crawford was ex-law enforcement, so Carl thought he’d have good advice about what to do in this situation. But when Carl Everett called the Crawfords, Connie Crawford told him that Hilton was gone on an overnight business trip and she didn’t know how to reach him.

Waiting for the Ransom Call

Throughout the night, while some investigators followed up on leads, others set up equipment to record and trace all incoming calls to the Everett home. The ransom callers were supposed to call back at 8 am with details about how to pay the ransom. They’d known Carl had a cellphone and had asked him for its number. But in 1995, cell phones didn’t have caller ID, and calls were much harder to trace, so the FBI advised Carl to turn off his cell phone. Agents hoped that if the ransomers couldn’t get through to his cell, they’d call him back on the home line, and then they could trace the call.

The next morning, all eyes were on Carl, as he waited by the phone for the ransomer’s call.

FBI recording of incoming calls to the Everett home

But despite dozens of calls from friends and family, the ransom call never came.

The First Suspect

The FBI was still convinced that McKay had been abducted by someone who knew him well, so they started going down the list the Everetts had made of people McKay trusted enough to open the door for.

But the first person the FBI wanted to polygraph wasn’t on that list — or any of the lists the Everetts had made.

The first person the FBI wanted to polygraph was Carl Everett, McKay’s father.

Clip of Carl Everett from a video
Carl Everett in September 1995. Courtesy of KPRC-TV and provided by Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Ransom: Position of Trust is a 9-part True Crime Podcast from KSL Podcasts.
Follow the Ransom Podcast for free on your favorite podcast app. New episodes are released every Wednesday, with bonus episodes available on Fridays.

Questioning Everything

By Ben Kuebrich

Episode 2 of the true-crime podcast Ransom: Position of Trust looks at the early suspects in the case and explores Carl and Paulette’s background.

After 12-year-old McKay Everett disappeared, McKay’s father Carl fell under scrutiny.

“Anytime there’s a kidnapping or a domestic violence case you look at the spouse first,” said Guy Williams, who was Sheriff of Montgomery County, Texas back in 1995. “It’s kind of like the person that finds a body. That’s the person you look at first.”

Sheriff Williams doubted Carl’s involvement. “As a parent, we found it hard to believe that a parent would go to this extreme because the question is, what would they benefit from doing it?”

But the FBI wondered if there might be a financial motivation. In an early report they noted that despite the Everett’s stately home and apparent wealth, there were some indications of money problems.

Excerpt from FBI document concerning Carl Everett
Excerpt from FBI document concerning Carl Everett.

And so, the first person the FBI polygraphed was Carl Everett.

Polygraphs

Polygraphs, or lie detector tests as they’re sometimes known, don’t directly measure deception. Instead, they measure stress responses like sweating or increased heart rate. They’re controversial instruments because they’re only somewhat accurate in determining whether someone is lying. But despite this, many people working in law enforcement agencies — including the FBI — feel that polygraphs are useful.

“It’s routine when you don’t know who you’re dealing with,” said Beth Martin, who was the FBI supervisor on scene for the McKay Everett case.

Investigators say polygraphs are like medical screening tests — they’re not 100% accurate so you don’t want to make a diagnosis based on them but, when a polygraph result suggests someone might be lying, it raises a red flag. Then agents can follow up with further questions and investigation to verify the results.

As the FBI polygraphed Carl, Paulette thought back over their relationship and how they’d gotten to this point.

Young Carl and Paulette. Photo courtesy Paulette Everett

Carl and Paulette

Carl and Paulette first met in the summer of 1969, when they were both teenagers living in rural Mississippi.

Carl had a friend who was dating Paulette’s younger sister, and, in an overly-ambitious football training session, the two boys ran 10 miles from their hometown of Mendenhall to the town of Magee, where Paulette lived.

When they finally arrived, Carl and his friend spent the rest of the day, sore and recovering in Paulette’s front yard.

“He was alive and happy — a very handsome kid,” Paulette said. “I call him a kid because he was a kid.”

At the time, Paulette was nineteen and Carl was fifteen, and because of the four-year age gap there was nothing romantic between them. But Paulette started running into Carl more often and she enjoyed his company.

Paulette had an abusive father and a turbulent home life, so she tried to spend as much time as possible out of the house. As she got to know Carl, she found herself spending more and more time at Carl’s family farm.

“They had a working farm true working farm,” said Paulette. “60,000 egg laying chickens, sixteen or seventeen horses. They had cows and calves.”

“And they had baby pigs everywhere. And I love baby pigs. And so I would go out to their house and I was just in heaven.”

Eventually Carl and Paulette started dating. “It just kind of developed over time, because it was such an age difference,” says Paulette.

The two got married, graduated college, and moved to Conroe, Texas. And in March, 1983 they had McKay.

Baby McKay Everett at the piano. Photo courtesy Paulette Everett

“McKay was a real pretty baby, and very good,” said Paulette. “He was not a great challenge. A lot of people, their babies have colic and all that but McKay was really easy.”

That same year, Carl started his own oil business and Paulette quit her job teaching elementary school to help out.

Carl and Paulette had their share of normal marital problems and resentments, but as Paulette thought back through their relationship, she didn’t see any serious red flags about him.

Neither did the FBI polygrapher, who concluded Carl showed no indication of deception. The FBI cleared Carl as a suspect and moved on down their list.

Neighbor Ric Metts

The next person the FBI wanted to polygraph was Ric Metts, a family friend, who sometimes did handiwork and babysat for the Everetts. “We let him wash windows, plant flowers, cut the yard,” Paulette said. “And he did have a key.”

It’s unclear exactly how Metts got on the FBI’s radar, but one of their reports mentions the Everetts’ house cleaner brought up his name and noted his sexuality.

Excerpt from FBI report mentioning Ric Metts

It was an open secret that Ric Metts was gay but homosexuality was still taboo at the time in Conroe, Texas. “No one was as open to talk about it as they are now,” said Metts.

And it’s likely his sexuality made him a person of interest in the eyes of FBI profilers.

Photos of Ric Metts with a dog and horse
Ric Metts around 1995. Photos courtesy of Ric Metts.

Metts had an alibi the night of the kidnapping. It was his sister’s birthday and he’d been at a well-attended party full of witnesses, but agents demanded he take a polygraph.

“Listen, everybody has a job to do, but they were rude bastards. Absolutely horribly rude,” Metts said.

Metts agreed to take the polygraph, hoping it would clear him as a suspect, and free up the FBI agents to move on and find who had really abducted McKay.

“I was pissed off as hell but I knew it’s gonna be okay. I hadn’t done anything,” said Metts. “But then all of a sudden, I’d kind of get scared and say, ‘Yeah, but there’s innocent people in jail, too.’ “

Metts passed the polygraph with flying colors.

“I just kept telling them, you know, Everett’s a part of Amway,” Metts recalled. “If anybody’s done anything I figured it was someone from Amway. And it wasn’t too far off.”

Photo of Hilton Crawford in 1995.
Hilton Crawford in 1995. Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.

Neighbor Hilton Crawford

Hilton Crawford was a family friend of the Everett’s. He’d known McKay since McKay was an infant, in fact, McKay would call him Uncle Hilty. Paulette shared a home video where Hilton visited on Christmas morning to give McKay a present:

Home Video of Hilton Crawford giving McKay a Christmas present.

Hilton was one of the first people Carl Everett had called after McKay had disappeared. Hilton had a background in law enforcement, so Carl thought he might have good advice on what to do.

But Hilton wasn’t home. Hilton Crawford’s wife Connie told Carl that Hilton was out of town on a business trip, but she’d pass on the message that McKay had been kidnapped.

The next morning, as Carl waited for the ransom call, Hilton called him back. The call was recorded by the FBI:

“I had a meeting this morning in Silsby, and I’m heading back that way right now,” Hilton said in the recording. “I’m coming to your house, I’m coming straight there.”

But Hilton didn’t come straight to the Everetts’ house. In fact, none of the Everetts’ friends had seen him or his wife since McKay disappeared.

So where was Hilton Crawford and what had he been doing the night McKay disappeared?

Ransom: Position of Trust is a 9-part True Crime Podcast from KSL Podcasts.
Follow the Ransom Podcast for free on your favorite podcast app. New episodes are available every Wednesday, with bonus episodes available on Fridays.