MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A new podcast from Wonder Media, I Was Never There, debuts June 9. It was already picked as an audio selection for this year’s Tribeca Festival. The podcast follows a mother-daughter investigative duo looking for answers in the mysterious disappearance of Morgantown bar owner Marsha “Mudd” Ferber.
“[Marsha] was absolutely committed to building a better world and creating businesses and endeavors that were unlike what we saw in the world that our parents and grandparents had built,” said Karen Zelermyer, a friend of Marsha’s, “[The businesses were] based on generosity and sharing and kindness and getting people engaged and helping them feel their power and empowered.”
Marsha was the owner of The Underground Railroad, which is currently 123 Pleasant Street. She also created a communal living arrangement called the Earth House. Jamie and Karen Zelermyer host the podcast. They lived with Marsha at the Earth House, and Karen was a bartender at The Underground Railroad. Marsha rose to local folk hero status after she went missing in April 1988.
Marsha was allegedly last seen by a friend who was running errands with her in Pittsburgh and claims to have dropped her off in Morgantown. The reason for her disappearance is still unknown today, and Morgantown Police are still investigating. Some theorize that she simply wanted to move away and fled Morgantown of her own accord, but she left behind her car, money and coat, leading others to think foul play was involved, or that maybe she was put in witness protection.
“Over the course of the podcast, I would say that we believed every single one of these theories,” Jamie said, “They’re all plausible in their own way.”
Web Extra: Jamie and Karen describe the many theories behind Marsha’s disappearance
The podcasters found that Marsha would supplement the Underground Railroad’s funds through the sale of drugs, particularly marijuana but other drugs as well. Karen was one of Marsha’s best friends during their time living at the Earth House but said that they found many things they didn’t know while researching for the podcast.
Have we learned a lot about Marsha that we didn’t know fully? Yes. Are there things in this podcast that surprised us? In some cases shocked us? Yes. But I still feel like I know her heart.Karen Zelermyer, “I Was Never There” Podcast Co-host
Karen and Jamie said you have to listen to the podcast to find out what their current theory is, but that Karen’s initial reaction was that Marsha wouldn’t have left without telling someone where she was going.
“We used to joke that Marsha couldn’t pass a phone booth without calling someone,” Karen remembered.
Karen, Jamie and Jamie’s sister moved to Morgantown from their back-to-the-land hippie farm in Braxton County. Jamie said that the main inspiration for this podcast was telling the story of her childhood and the movement that is still relevant today.
“I think what I learned from my mom’s generation is that they weren’t afraid to say, you know what, I feel stuck. I’m just going to make a change. I’m going to do something different,” said Jamie, “Whereas when I feel stuck, I’m like, well, my kids are in this school, and do I live in a good school district, and am I going to make enough money, and how am I going to support myself? They didn’t overthink it in that way.”
Web Extra: Karen and Jamie’s Story
Marsha’s case is still open at the Morgantown Police Department. Karen and Jamie said that they hope anyone who knows anything about the case would come forward to the police and understand that it’s not too late.
“There are a lot of us who have lived with great heartache and distress for 34, almost 35 years now, and to bring some peace and some closure to the story would mean so much,” Karen said.
If anyone has any information about Marsha’s disappearance, they can call the Morgantown Police Department to submit a tip: 304-284-7520. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online on their website.