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Pretend:Who's Afraid of Ladonna Humphrey Episode 1 Recap

LaDonna Humphrey, a luminary in the realm of writing and advocacy, has garnered acclaim as a writer, documentarian, podcaster, and non-profit leader dedicated to championing the cause of crime victims. LaDonna stands as a beacon of advocacy and justice within the true crime community, esteemed for her unwavering commitment to giving a voice to those silenced.

But in the depths of darkness, some people are unrecognizable—strangers even to those who thought they knew them.

Tune in to the unfolding narrative of Pretend Podcast as it unveils its new season titled Who's Afraid of Ladonna Humphrey? —where the unseen will be brought to light, and the masks will fall away. The first episode was released on June 4th, 2024. Other episodes are set to release every Tuesday until the season's conclusion. You can also listen to 4 episodes (and one bonus episode) in this series on Patreon.

Alecia Lockhart entered LaDonna Humphrey’s life while Humphrey was writing her first book. Alecia had a significant experience, which she detailed in the second book of the Melissa Witt series, titled “Strangled” (now pulled from publication) and within the episode. (We will not elaborate here as it is explicit, so please be warned before listening to this episode.) This experience set the course for their collaboration.

Alecia and Humphrey quickly formed what Lockhart believed to be a friendship. They worked together on “Strangled,” delving into the deep web and seeking to expose the underground death fetish community through their joint efforts. Additionally, they co-hosted a podcast called “Deep Dark Secrets,” attended events together, including a panel at CrimeCon UK, and pursued leads as a team.

The suspenseful account of their war against a warped and depraved online community could be seen in "Strangled," but before the book even released both Lockhart and Humphrey found themselves entangled in a web of online threats. Despite the menacing messages, their bond grew stronger. They became more vigilant, watching out for each other and offering solace during those trying times.

When "Strangled" was released, Humphrey confided in Lockhart about their successful podcast and book, both soaring to the top of their respective charts. However, Lockhart couldn’t ignore the suspicious activity on Humphrey’s social media: purchased followers and reviews artificially boosting her online persona. When Lockhart asked about it, Humphrey seemingly feigned confusion.

However, invitations still poured in for interviews on other true crime podcasts, crime shows, and conventions. Curiously, Lockhart noticed a pattern—the influx of emails from the “death fetish community” spiked whenever they were scheduled for interviews or public appearances.

Sirens even received messages the day of recording for Lockhart & Humphrey’s episode, which has now been archived.

One specific assailant reveled in sending harassing emails from spoof accounts, texts via burner phones, and private messages on social media. His chosen username was ‘fetishmaster,’ and with each threat, he aimed to be increasingly creative. This relentless tirade persisted for over a year, and the content of the messages that were received from fetish master and other unnamed assailants grew progressively more hostile, gruesome, and unhinged.

Lockhart and Humphrey maintained their customary exchange of text messages, dissecting the latest onslaught of threats besieging them. Humphrey, ever vigilant, forwarded Lockhart a screenshot to underscore the gravity of her situation. As Lockhart scrutinized the image, her pulse quickened.

The photograph showcased Humphrey’s computer screen, unveiling the freshest threat in all its malevolence. Yet, it was the inconspicuous browser tab nestled in the upper right-hand corner that seized Lockhart’s attention. There, like a venomous specter, resided an account logged in under the ominous moniker: ‘fetishmaster.’

Doubt gnawed at her. Was anything genuine? Did her podcast truly thrive as Humphrey boasted? Were book sales as robust as Humphrey claimed? The answers eluded her—guarded secrets locked away in the publisher’s vault. Genius Books & Media, Humphrey’s alleged gatekeeper, held the key. They funneled royalties and sales records solely to Humphrey, leaving Lockhart in the dark. But perhaps the scarcity of transparency hinted at a grim truth: the book languished unsold.

Questions swirled a tempest of uncertainty. Yet, one inquiry loomed above all: Who was the enigmatic 'fetishmaster?'

After careful consideration, Lockhart confronted Humphrey via text.


Soooo how long have you been fetish master? I can see that you’re logged into that account in this screenshot. (Pictured Below)


I’m not fetish master. That is super weird. I’m logged in as strangledforestgirl!!!

Humphrey followed up with two voice messages. In them, she states, “I’m not fetish master. That is weird. Honestly, I’m not. I was logged in as strangledforestgirl… I’m getting ready to log in and see what happens, hold on.”

Lockhart responds with a text, “Ladonna, this is a huge fork in the road for us. I need you to be honest with me…”

Humphrey pleads with her in another voice message. “I am being honest with you. I am not fetish master… I don’t know what to say, but I’m being completely honest with you.” Subsequently, she deflected the blame. “Let me go ask Danny [her husband] because… I don’t think he’d do that, but let me ask him... Because it’s not me.”

This pivotal incident eventually drove a wedge between Lockhart and Humphrey, resulting in the disbandment of their podcast and the removal of ‘Strangled’ from store shelves.

Lockhart tells Sirens that she was paid royalties here and there, with strange gaps in payment and her requests to be looped in on sales records and royalty schedules were met with hesitation from the publisher. Publicly, Genius publishing and Humphrey claimed that Strangled was a best selling title, so why were the royalty checks reflecting otherwise? Lockhart said that had she known the book "Strangled" wasn't as big of a seller as Humphrey claimed, she wouldn't have bothered inquiring about unclaimed royalties, as she would have known there were none to relinquish.

Above: The last check Lockhart received directly from her publisher (as of this article).

Regrettably, this episode merely scratches the surface of Lockhart and Humphrey’s tumultuous saga. To uncover the full story, you’ll need to tune in to Pretend anywhere you stream your podcasts.

The first five episodes (along with several bonus episodes) are currently exclusive to Patreon subscribers save for part 1 & 2. Other platforms will debut a new episode weekly. This season features a diverse array of testimonies from individuals whose paths crossed with Humphrey’s, with the first reveal being through Anthony Christopher’s widely-publicized legal case against Humphrey. The revelations began unfolding on an Arkansas news website, drawing widespread attention. Patreon listeners have already been privy to insights from Christopher, Lockhart, Julie Murray, Patti Rush, and Daniel Watson (also known as “D” in Humphrey's 3rd book, “Connected by Fate”), among others.

Join or follow Pretend now to immerse yourself in the unfolding narrative.

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