TULSA, Okla. — “Panic Button” just premiered on June 28, and the podcast already has over 1,000 listeners, is currently the number one non-profit podcast on the app Goodpods and in the top 5% of all podcasts.
Local attorneys, Colleen McCarty and Leslie Briggs draw us into what could be a plot taken right out of a thriller script, but the story is true and ripped right out of the headlines.
“This is a different kind of true crime story. This is the one where the woman survives–against all odds,” states McCarty.
Episode One, “The Shooting” focuses on the hours before Wilkens killed Carlton in his basement in mid-town Tulsa, Okla. on April 28, 1998.
Wilkens was required by involuntary hospitalization to stay in a mental health institution for two weeks, leading up to the shooting. When she was released she was brought to “12&12,″ an addiction recovery program in Tulsa.
A day before Carlton’s death, Wilkens went AWOL from “12&12,” and then hitchhiked back to her Brookside neighborhood home.
When she entered her house, she says she discovered that it had been completely ransacked, with alcohol bottles everywhere, syringes, and the bed appeared to have been soiled with sperm and urine, as described by Wilkens’ half-sister, Mary Ross.
“Never had I seen her home like that before,” said Ross. “It was soiled. It was disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” said Ross.
Wilkens believes it was Carlton who vandalized her home.
For the rest of the episode, McCarty, and Briggs continue to describe the events and details that led up to the shooting.
At some point in the story, the co-hosts give the audience a verbal warning before Wilkens in her own words talks about the rape and physical abuse she says she suffered before shooting her ex-fiancé Terry Carlton dead.
McCarty says Episode Two, ‘Small Town Girl Living in a Violent World,’ takes us back to Kellyville, Okla. in the 1980s.
“We follow Wilkens to September of 1995 where she goes to purchase a car at Don Carlton Acura and changes the course of her life forever,” said McCarty.
She meets Carlton and there is an instant attraction. Carlton takes Wilkens on a private plane to Dallas on their first date. Carlton and Wilkens would go on holidays abroad together.
“There was a Greece trip, a Rome trip, and then also France and Amsterdam,” said McCarty. “As in most domestic, intimate partner violence situations, Terry starts small, apologizes, and then there is a ‘honeymoon phase.’ To April, she could see the charming, affable person that Terry could be but also saw that he was battling himself a lot of the time. He was unpredictable, angry for no real reason, and he seemed to be looking for things to get on to her about.”
From Wilkens’ own words we learn how the changes in Carlton emerged.
“I began to see unpredictable fits of anger, and he began, he went from being, I went from being nothing wrong and being on a pedestal, to where he would become very critical of me and everything that I did. Not always. Not always. Just at times,” said Wilkens.
The biggest bombshell of Episode Two is eerily similar to the evidence submitted in the Heard Depp case. A six-minute phone conversation with Carlton that Wilkens recorded right after their trip to Italy that was never heard in trial.
Carlton fully admits to hitting Wilkens on the recording. He states it was an accident.
“You deliberately aggravate the situation because you do something that you know is going to really piss me off,” says Carlton.
Wilkens goes on to say that she doesn’t see the need for physical violence.
“So, it’s okay for you to pull out the stops and do everything you can do to piss me off, but as soon as I, you know react in the same way and pull out the stops in the same way to hurt you. What’s the difference, April?” Carlton continues, “When I lose my temper and I throw you outside the room naked-”
“And Choke me,” interjects Wilkens.
“That’s when you started resisting,” Carlton said.
McCarty and Briggs share several accounts from Wilkens’ then neighbor, Glenda McCarley that took place just a few months before the shooting.
McCarley said she had seen numerous times Terry stalking around April’s house in the late winter to early spring of 1998.
The neighbor describes another incident where the police officer was responding to one of many domestic violence calls.
“Officer Tallman arrived to find April sitting on Glenda’s porch, waiting for help from yet another violent encounter, he trounced up to the porch, looked at April, and said, ‘You’re beginning to annoy me,’ before treading back to his patrol car and speeding away,” McCarty states.
McCarley says a police officer’s response to Wilkens, was “infuriating.”
Attorneys McCarty and Briggs will continue to venture down the rabbit hole of the April Wilkens case to uncover the truth in upcoming “Panic Button” episodes released each Tuesday.
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