is a project underway from True Crime Press to utilize Websurfing
civillians to help solve the mystery of what happened to the even more
mysterious "E" (Ed Sobian, Eric Sobel, or Emil Sobiak, take your pick).
Currently there is reluctance in the law enforcement community to take
up the missing persons case, largely due to the fact that it is hard to
determine whether E was kidnapped or ran away, so in a move spearheaded
by James Pitt (the well-known author) and True Crime Press, private
investigators have been brought in. The allure of large amounts of money
and valuable items found by professional and amateur investigators
researching the case has helped generate serious interest.
GamesFirst! got an unprecedented chance to play like real reporters
and ask pertinent questions to one of the primary investigators in the
Search 4 E case, Dana Bruno. Below is a transcript of our email
Composite images of what E may look like now.
GamesFirst!: First off, we'd like to introduce you to our
readers. Can you tell us a bit about your website, The Bruno Report, as
well as your background in investigative journalism?
Dana Bruno: To answer your first question, my own site
www.brunoreport.net grew out of my work as an investigative reporter
for the now defunct alternative on-line journal, newsdogs.com, a loose
collective of journalists committed to pursuing what we deemed to be
newsworthy stories that had escaped the attention of more mainstream
media groups. Red Hand was the part of Newsdogs that published
uncredited reports and information obtained by means beyond the
'accepted' boundaries of more traditional news gathering organizations.
Newsdogs was begun in 1995 by Antonio Bustamente, Sevi Mutterjee and me,
while we were all graduate students at Columbia University School of
Journalism. Privately funded, it existed for six years (never making a
cent) until Bustamente and Mutterjee were killed in a helicopter
accident while investigating a story in Brazil.
Unfortunately, after this tragedy, not only was the Newsdogs funding
pulled, but its sites and archives were mysteriously stripped of
content, without the knowledge of me or any of my other colleagues. Our
former webmaster is in possession of some material but a great deal
more, that resided (safely, as we thought) on the site is simply gone.
GF: Your history with Newsdogs is intriguing. As a matter of
fact, that organization seems very interesting -- blood and guts and
espionage from what I've seen/heard. But I suppose we should stay
focused on the Search for E right now.
DB: Yes, the Newsdogs history is a colorful one. It was a dynamic
group of people really committed to going after, looking at and
interpreting the news in non-linear, non-mainstream ways, but unlike
NPR, we didn't have
government funding and after a while we were all loathe to dip any
deeper into our trust funds (kidding, but only sort of.)
The last known photo of E.
GF: And what brought you to the search for E?
What piqued your interest?
James Pitt at TCP Press Conference
DB: What brought me to E was my habit of combing small-town
papers for items of interest. From my point of view, reading small town
papers is like taking the pulse of the country, one area at a time.
Shortly after 9/11, when the entire country (myself included) was
fixated on the same tragic events, I found myself taking a few moments
here to look elsewhere, almost as therapy, in search of some fleeting
relief. Somehow the story of E's disappearance, as reported by Jerry
Koeppel in the Brueggertown Reporter, caught my eye. Having no idea
where it would lead, I drove down to Brueggertown to try to meet some of
the people in question: James Pitt and Chief Ingersoll, for example.
Then I kind of got sucked in, in part because I found the antagonism
between Pitt and Ingersoll (as evidenced by their letters to the editor)
amusing, but mostly because there was a gray-area aspect to the story,
as in crime or no crime, that I found compelling.
GF: How would you classify your relationship to the search -- you
are not in law enforcement, and True Crime Press seems to be running the
show. Where does Dana Bruno fit in?
DB: My relationship with True Crime Press is one of convenience,
I suppose, for both of us. My paycheck ended with the death of my
friends and the demise of the organization we'd worked so hard to build.
I had little desire to deal with the constraints and rigid
accountabilities of mainstream journalism, and had funded my own
enterprise (Bruno Rreport) for the better part of a year. While the fit
between Bruno Report and TCP is not perfect (and TCP would probably
agree) it serves us both for the time being. That is, I get a steady
income (not lavish, I can assure you) and they get the benefit of my
research skills and experience, not to mention the work on the case I've
done up to now.
GF: So you had not met James Pitt before hearing about E? What
about rumors of a closer personal relationship between you and Pitt?
DB: As for my "closer personal relationship" with James Pitt,
beyond scheduled meetings (usually at the Sunshine Diner) and phone
calls, there's very little to report. I had never been a fan of true
crime, and to be honest had never come across his name until I saw the
article by Jerry Koeppel in the Brueggertown Reporter. When I read, over
the following days, the back and forth between Pitt and Brueggertown
Chief of Police Bradley Ingersoll, I decided the story was intriguing
and off-center enough to pursue.
GF: Based on your investigation, which is it: Ed Sobian, Emil
Sobiak, or Eric Sobel? Who was or is E?
DB: At this time, I'm fairly certain that the real E is Emil
Sobiak - unless he was savvy and devious enough to change his name by
the time he got to middle school. My frustration has come from not being
able to find any family members by that name. And despite recollections
of teachers and librarians at Hamilton Middle School, it's extremely odd
that his school records are "missing." Furthermore, Hamilton Middle
School feeds into Hamilton High, and it is clear from my investigation
that he did not attend, there being neither records nor recollections
among the teaching staff. This is particularly odd, because among the
teachers who claimed to remember Emil (e.g. Barbara Reynolds, school
librarian) none could recall that the family was planning to relocate or
send Emil to another, as in private or parochial, high school.
GF: Jeremy Denauer is the latest addition to the Search for E
investigative team, right? How do you like him? Would you call Pitt,
Denauer and yourself a team? Or is this more of an individual sport?
DB: I would like to say that I have the highest professional
regard for Jeremy Denauer. I'm not certain that my personal feelings
have any bearing on our working relationship. It is no secret that I
introduced Jeremy to True Crime Press, having met him Wyman, while we
were both investigating the Julie's Uprising disappearance - me for
Newsdogs and Jeremy for the FBI. My notes from our first (and rather
inauspicious) meeting are in my blog. At this point Jeremy and I
function as a team only in that we have agreed to share findings with
each other first, and then with the investigative community. It is not
that we are trying to withhold, but we also want to be sure that when we
put information out, it is of enough merit and credibility to be
helpful. That is, neither of us wants to be a source of disinformation,
so some care is required.
We thank Dana Bruno for taking time out of her busy schedule to
discuss this case with us, and we encourage our readers to do their part
to help with the search. Click to