On February 26, 2014, 21-year-old Christian Andreacchio was found dead in his apartment in Meridian, Mississippi.
Meridian police ruled his death a suicide after a 45-minute investigation, but Christian's family and a podcast about the case, "Culpable," contend there's substantial evidence suggesting he was murdered.
After 15 weeks of investigating, teams from Tenderfoot TV and Black Mountain Media, the companies behind "Culpable" — which is currently the No. 2 true-crime podcast on Apple Podcasts, and No. 3 overall — pooled together $100,000 to encourage anyone with information on Christian's case to speak out. The reward for information leading to an arrest is $50,000, with an additional $50,000 to come if there is a conviction.
Tenderfoot has a lot of experience when it comes to producing case-cracking crime podcasts.
The Atlanta-based company launched in 2016 with the release of the "Up and Vanished" podcast, which has been downloaded 330 million times and won "Best Crime Podcast" for its second season at the 2019 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. Host Payne Lindsey tackled the missing person's case of Tara Grinstead a decade after she disappeared and his work on the podcast eventually led to two arrests in early 2017.
Tenderfoot has also worked on popular true-crime podcasts "Atlanta Monster," its follow-up "Monster: The Zodiac Killer," and "To Live and Die in LA."
At a dead end in a tight-lipped town, 'Culpable' took a different approach to gather information.
Jacob Bozarth, a producer on "Culpable," said the writers and producers of the show decided to contribute money for a reward after months of investigating left them determined to figure out what happened to Christian.
"We went into it thinking we were going to tell Christian's story, and as we did our own investigation and started digging in, we realized how deep the story goes," he told Business Insider.
"Culpable" host Dennis Cooper of Black Mountain Media was the first to suggest offering a reward to advance the case. When he proposed Black Mountain Media offer $50,000, Tenderfoot agreed to match that contribution, making this the second time it had offered a reward on a podcast.
The companies have been collaborating on the podcast production. The two companies have worked together before, in a fashion, as Resonate Recordings, a sister company to Black Mountain Media, worked on post-production for "Up and Vanished." ("Culpable" is the first podcast Black Mountain Media has launched.)
"One of the reasons we really wanted to do the reward is because we feel like people know something but they're afraid to speak," Bozarth said. "We wanted to make it an amount that could change someone's life if they came forward."
'We're invested in this 100%': The 'Culpable' team continues investigating after podcast finale.
Christian's mother, Rae Andreacchio, first connected with Black Mountain Media and Resonate Recordings at CrimeCon — the true-crime convention— in 2018, and shared hundreds of pages of information on her son's case, Bozarth said.
"When we heard her story, our hearts went out to Rae and her family," Bozarth said.
Since then, the companies have produced 15 regular-season episodes dedicated to the case plus Q&A episodes. They've also enlisted the help of private investigators to get to the bottom of what happened to Christian, but they're still searching for answers.
"Culpable" has brought national attention to Christian's case, which is why the team has no plans to stop investigating until the Andreacchio family has closure, Bozarth said.
"We're invested in this 100%," Bozarth said. "Even though the podcast formally had a finale, it's not stopping."
The team is used to creating the podcast as new information becomes available. Tips come in even as the show is being produced, Bozarth said, so more often than not episodes are produced in real time.
"I'm up on Sunday at 11:00 p.m. sometimes, tweaking the podcast before the drop at midnight," he said.
The "Culpable" team and the private investigators are still working on Christian's case, sifting through a flood of information from tips with the intention of releasing new episodes.
"There are a lot of opinions and different theories and rumors that you hear from people in that area, and we want to sift through all those things and really find out what happened," Bozarth said.
Anyone with information on Christian's case can share it here or by calling 470-300-4915.