Buried in the Backyard (2018–…): Season 2, Episode 1 - full transcript

In the fall of 1982,
a terrifying scene

awaits Ohio investigators
in a backyard cornfield.

We weren't expecting a torso.

A body?

Yes.
But a torso?

Wow.

It's the first
in a series

of unspeakable discoveries.

The remaining body parts
were buried all over

the cornfield.

Just horrendous.



Who has fallen prey
to this atrocious crime?

The first thing
you think of,

it's got to be them.

And what kind
of killer is lurking

in this small Midwestern town?

A lot of people thought
that there was some kind

of satanic cult going on.

This is someone we knew,

someone our brother
had trusted.

A final dark twist
no one saw coming.

We thought a killer
was released from prison.

People were very scared.

They were afraid
of what might happen next.

I can't believe
they're letting him go.



A nightmare come to life.

Thirty minutes
from the state capital

of Columbus, Ohio,
the small town of Logan

is a step back
to simpler times.

It's your typical
small town.

Industrial.
A lot of factories

and fabrication.

It's a good place
to raise a family.

When, we were,
younger,

we'd take off in the morning
and then we'd come back at night

when we're supposed to be home.

It's a tight-knit community,

population almost 7,000,

it's the, gateway
to Southeastern Ohio

where most of the crossroads
come through Logan.

Everybody is friendly

and,
if somebody needed help,

then they were all there to--
to give a hand.

Didn't lock the doors.

You know,
you didn't have to worry.

Even the happiest small town

is certain to have
a dark underbelly.

And for the last week,
investigators have been

searching for clues
to unearth one of Logan's

most horrific tragedies.

We all met there
about 9:30

on that Saturday morning.

The police department,

we set up a small,
command post

near the cornfield.

The search party
was organized,

broken down into groups,

and some go into the cornfield

and another team behind them

is looking at the river.

Now, we were only
into that search

not even a half hour

when a couple of people
come running back

and one of our officers said
they spotted something

down in the river.

Will Logan's
most terrifying mystery

unravel
in this backyard cornfield?

That smell of the fall
always kind of brings me back

to '82.

You're talking
the middle of October now.

You're coming up to Halloween,
Beggars' Night.

The atmosphere was festive.

A lot of people came out
to the cornfield.

It was kind of in the middle
of the town.

The cornfield was like
the little town's backyard

because a lot of activity
took place down there.

People went down there
to party, and also hunt,

and fish, and--
and target shoot.

Kids could go play along
the river,

or they're throwing corn stalks
in the river,

or rocks.

Nobody spends more time

walking through
these majestic fields

than popular town couple,

19-year-old Todd Schultz

and 18-year-old
Annette Cooper.

Todd met Annette
at Tri-County High School

and they struck up
a friendship,

but then the next thing
you know,

they're-- they're going
together and dating.

They mostly went for walks,

down the railroad tracks

and over into the field.

They were lovey-dovey.

Todd and Annette
couldn't keep their hands off

of each other. I mean,

they were always holding hands

or he had his arm around her.

You knew they were a couple.

There wasn't any question
about it.

They were close.

After graduation,
the couple becomes closer still

when Annette moves in
with Todd and his family.

Sometime in the fall
of 1982,

Annette moved in
to my mom's house.

Todd and my brother, Eric,
shared a bedroom.

And Annette shared the bedroom
with my sister.

They were planning
to move in together.

They were looking for a place.

On this October afternoon,

the typically doting teens

get into it about something.

Annette
was talking to Todd upstairs

and suddenly
she comes downstairs

and-- and she just walked out
the front door.

Todd went after her.

He caught up with her

and he waved at me like,

"Don't worry about it.

It'll be fine."

When dawn breaks
the following day,

the Schultz home
is eerily quiet.

It was about 6:00
in the morning.

I walked upstairs,
looked in Todd's room.

I noticed his bed was made
but hadn't been slept in.

I noticed that Annette's bed
was unslept in as well.

So, I went to my mom
and I said,

"Hey, mom.
Todd and Annette

didn't come home last night."

It didn't make any sense,

and he wouldn't have gone

without saying something
to somebody.

I just was racking my brain

to think of things
that could've happened to him.

It was not like Todd
to just up and leave

and not let someone know
where he was.

Just not come home,

was not like him.

I called Annette's mother

and, asked her
if she had seen them.

And she said no.

Annette's mother
was concerned

about where they could be,

and why they wouldn't be
contacting anyone.

Their worry rising,

Todd's family calls and reports
the teens missing.

We ask the Schultzes,
"Was there anything missing?

Did it look like
they had packed up,

you know, going away
for the weekend?"

We thought that
because they had been going

together for quite a while.

And they just might decided

to go get a justice
of the peace

and get married.

We knew better.

We knew Todd
wouldn't even run off

to elope
without telling somebody

that he was leaving,
or why he was leaving.

It wasn't his character
to do that.

And I said,
"Why would he go on foot

when he has two cars
sitting here,"

you know?

So I didn't put any credence
in anything they were saying.

The day they went missing,

my mom tried to call
as many people as she could

to try to find out
if they knew where he might be

or might've gone.

I was pulling my hair out

trying to figure out
where they could be.

We had tip lines set up
at both the sheriff's office

and police department
that people could call

to offer any tips

or assistance to us.

With each tip,

investigators
start piecing together

a timeline of where and when
the couple was last seen.

Reports started coming in

that they had been seen
previously,

walking down
Gallagher Avenue

with a couple of blankets,
a pillow, and a boom box.

One can kind of assume
from that

that they were walking
to the cornfield

and that they were gonna enjoy
each other's company.

The station
is flooded with calls.

Then a sudden lead
puts investigators

on high alert.

Someone that lived close
to the cornfield

reported gunshots

and the girl screaming.

The first thing you think of,

it's got to be them,

Todd and Annette.

At that point,
we did not know

if Todd and Annette
were dead or alive.

The first head
that we pulled out,

she had blue eyes

and blonde hair.

There was some cult activity

practicing out in the woods.

Maybe it was some sort of a--

a ritualistic killing.

Police in Logan, Ohio

are desperately searching
for 19-year-old Todd Schultz

and 18-year-old
Annette Cooper.

After canvassing the area
for nearly a week,

they receive a startling tip.

Neighbors thought
they heard a gunshot

in the cornfields

and that they thought
they heard a girl screaming.

Some of the houses in Logan

did back up to the cornfield.

It was like the common backyard

for the town of Logan.

As the chilly
autumn air descends,

detectives quickly organize
a search team

and make their way down
to where the cornfield

meets the banks
of the river.

A couple
of the investigators

were looking down
into the river,

along the riverbank,

and he saw something
by the water

and they could tell
it was something

that was organic

or animal

of some sort.

It wasn't until the police
got in there

they identified it
as a human torso.

We weren't expecting a torso.

A body...

with head, arms,
and legs, yes, maybe.

But a torso?

That was a completely
different thing.

Moments later,

another horrific discovery.

They found another torso.

The torsos did not have
any clothes on them,

but they were definitely

a male and female.

Everyone
is silently asking

the same unthinkable question,

where are the rest
of the remains?

There's depressions

in between the rows

and so we scraped one
of those depressions back,

and that's when we found
the first arm.

The deeper they dig,

the more atrocious
the scene becomes.

The first head
that we pulled out,

she had blue eyes

and the blonde hair,

and so did Annette.

The second head,
it was kind of bloody

and matted, the hair,
so it was hard

to make a positive
identification.

We're all in shock
of what we had found.

We thought, "Who could've done
a crime this horrendous

and dismember the bodies
in this manner?"

The only time
that I had seen

anything more horrific
than this

was when I did my tour
in Vietnam.

The kind of person
that would do this

is cold and calculating,

and has ice water
in their veins.

One of the officers discovered

along the riverbank
that there was a boot print

in the river.

That officer
took a plaster cast of that.

We didn't know
if that boot print

was the killer's or not,

but we had a reason
to believe that it could be.

The following day,
the coroner confirms

Todd's family's worst fears,

the remains are those
of Annette Cooper

and Todd Schultz.

We identified the bodies

through medical records
and-- and dental records.

They were killed
by what we thought was a.22

and they were dismembered

by using a sharp knife
or machete.

The report
from the autopsy said

that Todd Schultz's body

had crisscrossed knife cuts

on his torso

and Todd had also

had his genitalia cut off.

Investigators are now tasked

with delivering the news
no parents

should ever have to hear.

When I first found out

that Todd had been murdered,

I couldn't hardly function.

It was crazy

trying to believe

what had happened

and I finally said, "God,

you got to take this,
I can't handle it."

It was shocking
to think that someone

would treat your loved one
that way,

to cut up their bodies

and bury them
in a cornfield.

It was very surreal.

They were so young
and they had their whole lives

ahead of them.

Todd was the artist,
the dreamer.

He liked, um, to draw,
he liked to paint.

He was a good kid.
He was bullheaded at times,

but he was very loving.

Todd was a responsible
young man.

He was trying to find a job,
even if it meant leaving Logan

to better himself

and get solid employment
somewhere.

Annette was studying
computer sciences

at, Hocking College.

She was a pretty good student

and she was,
planning to go

to Ohio University Campus
in Lancaster.

So the news not only
shook our family,

it shook the entire community.

While the families mourn,

investigators have a rare
double murder to solve.

The brutality of the crimes
in their own backyard

has everyone on edge.

After the body parts
were found,

we started getting reports
that a lot of people thought

that there was some kind
of cult going on.

One report
from an anonymous local

has detectives'
undivided attention.

There was some
cult activity

in Southeastern Ohio

that was practicing out
in the woods

near that area.

The strange tip
gives heat to a new theory.

Maybe Todd and Annette,
they might've been victims

of some satanic
kind of cult.

It might not be anything,
but it might be something.

So we continued the search
at the cornfield,

looking for any kind
of evidence that was there.

Word quickly spreads,
destroying any sense

of security this quaint town
once had.

It was around Halloween,
could that have been it?

Could this have been
some sort of,

a ritualistic killing?

At this point,
anything was a possibility.

People were very scared.

They were afraid
of what might happen next.

The remains
of Todd Schultz

and Annette Cooper
have been unearthed

in a cornfield
in Logan, Ohio.

The town's shared backyard
has gone from gathering place

to graveyard as terrified
residents grapple with rumors

of a satanic cult.

There was mention
of some witchcraft

or cults actually practicing
out in the woods

near that area.

It affected the community
so badly

that they actually postponed
trick-or-treat

and ended up having it
on a Saturday afternoon

during the daylight hours.

Frantic to root out evil

in their own backyard,

police do an extensive sweep
of the area.

We had searched
the cornfield.

We found no evidence

of any satanic worship.

You know, no altars,
no sacrificial kind of thing,

no satanic signs at all.

There wasn't any
concrete evidence

that it ever took place.

Somewhere
in this small town,

there's a killer

and the threat hangs
disturbingly close to home.

Ten days after their remains
are discovered,

Logan shuts down

to remember Todd and Annette.

They were in love,
they were looking forward

to-- to spending
a life together,

and-- and then
this suddenly happens.

The memorial service
was open to the city.

Hundreds of people came.

People could come in
and give their condolences.

Everybody was--

was, crying.

I-- I cried myself to sleep

at night, for days.

That was hard,

grieving the loss of a son
and a brother.

It really affected our family.

And then something happened

which struck me
as kind of odd.

Annette's mother
and stepfather

didn't come that night.

They would not participate

in the memorial services,

which raised some suspicions.

Greg's suspicion
turns to deep-seated dread

when his dad reveals
why Annette was living

under their roof
and not with her own parents.

I started to learn why

Annette had moved out
of the house.

I remembered
my dad talking to me

and-- and-- and--
about the conversations

he had had with Todd.

Todd got very emotional
and was crying,

and saying to dad

that he had to help Annette

because her stepfather, Dale,

had been doing things to her.

Annette had told Todd
that Dale Johnston

had been molesting her
since she was 10 years old.

I remember talking
to the police investigator,

sharing with him my concern

that Dale was acting
suspiciously

and I thought that perhaps

he might've had something
to do with the killings.

Intrigued,
detectives dig deeper

into these explosive
allegations.

We asked him,
"What was it like at home?"

And he explained it
very vividly.

He says, "When I come home
from work after a hard day,

I like to take all
of my clothes off

and my shoes,
and sit in my chair,

and read the newspaper."

And we said,
"You sit in the nude

and read the newspaper

in front
of your two daughters

and your wife?"

And he said, "Yes,

that's what I do
almost every day."

Wow.

After that,
it wasn't too hard

to reach a conclusion
that she had left that household

after she had graduated,
to get away from him.

It could be Annette leaving,

that's his motive
for the killing

of Todd and Annette.

Astonished,
detectives don't hold back,

asking him directly
about the accusations

and the murders.

Dale Johnston
never admitted anything.

Never admitted to being
in the cornfield,

never admitted to having

that kind of relationship
with her.

The only thing
he ever admitted to

was he likes to sit nude

and read the newspaper.

Reading
in the nude isn't a crime

but given the claims
of abuse leveled against Dale,

investigators consider him
their strongest suspect.

We asked him
if he would sign

a voluntary consent form

to search his property
down there,

and he said, "Sure."

And he signed it.

We did find a machete

and.22 on his property.

Annette and Todd were killed

by what we thought was a.22

and they were dismembered

by using some type
of sharp object.

If the weapons
are hiding in plain sight,

what other
incriminating evidence

might investigators find?

Officers found

a carpet
and it was blood-soaked.

We asked Dale Johnston
about it, and he said,

he had skinned a deer
in the living room,

and that was the blood
from that deer.

If the blood on the rug

was determined to be human

then we felt we probably

had found the crime scene

where they were killed.

A few months
after the gruesome

dismemberment of Annette Cooper
and Todd Schultz,

detectives have found
damning evidence

that could tie her stepdad Dale
to the crimes.

They found a machete,
they found a--

the.22,

they found the rug with blood.

When we asked
Dale Johnston about it

he said he had skinned a deer

and that was the blood
from that deer.

The question now,

will tests of that blood
prove otherwise?

As it came out,

there was an uncertainty
as to what it was,

and there was question

whether it was animal

or it was human.

And then
the machete and the gun

adds nothing on it

to identify it
being involved in the crime.

There is still
one piece of key evidence

that could put Dale
at the scene of the crime.

Dale Johnston always wore

cowboy boots

and we asked him

would he give us
his cowboy boots?

And he said, "Sure."

We had to just see
if his boots

gave the same impression

that we located
along the riverbed.

Will the boot print put Dale

at the crime scene?

The boot print
was linked to Dale

through an expert
out of North Carolina.

But it was not...

anything really conclusive

beyond a reasonable doubt.

Will
the circumstantial evidence

be enough for an arrest?

Grand jury was convened

and they found probable cause
to indict Dale.

Nearly a year
after the shocking murders,

Dale Johnston is arrested

for the brutal killings
of Annette and Todd.

Didn't offer any resistance

and he went along willingly.

When Dale
was arrested we were elated,

we'd been waiting
for a long time

for them to arrest this guy,

but it was emotional

because
this is someone we knew,

someone
our brother had trusted,

it was a member
of our own community.

Someone whose own family member

had been killed.

There was some
sort of relief at the time

but there were a lot
of people in town

that didn't believe
that he did it.

Everybody
wanted the bad guy.

At that point Dale
was the bad guy.

In January of 1984,

Dale Johnston stands trial

for the murder
of his stepdaughter Annette

and her boyfriend Todd.

Dale Johnston
asked for a trial

by the court,

which means
that the judges and not a jury

will make the determination
of guilt or innocence.

The trial created a frenzy

not only in Logan,
but there was media

as far as Cleveland

coming to Logan

to get the story.

It really captured
the attention of the state.

Prosecutors build their case

on their strongest evidence.

Obviously the one thing

that they had was a motive.

The investigators thought

that Dale was in love

and was having
a relationship with Annette,

and that he became jealous

of Annette's
relationship with Todd

and that's what caused
these homicides.

Throughout all the testimony

Dale Johnston
sits cold and quiet

which only fuels suspicion

in the devastated community.

I thought he's angry with Todd

for taking her away from him,

and he's angry
with her for leaving,

so that was probably his anger

that caused him

to cut 'em up.

The trial lasts two long weeks

but it takes just four hours

for the panel of judges
to reach a verdict.

He was found guilty.

I was thrilled.

There was people

all over the main street,

they all cheered.

Dale was then sentenced to...

die by lethal injection
in the state of Ohio.

For us and for the community

we felt that
that would bring justice.

An eye for an eye,
tooth for a tooth,

a life for a life.

Annette's mom claimed
her husband was innocent,

from the time
that the bodies were found

or kids were missing,
to the conviction.

Dale's defense team
immediately prepares to appeal,

but seven years pass
before an Ohio court

finally reviews the evidence

and they make
a jaw-dropping decision

in the case of Dale Johnston.

The appeals court ruled that

everything
that we had collected

was inadmissible.

And primarily the boot print

on the riverbank.

That indicated
in their decision

that that evidence
should not have been used

to reach the conclusion
of guilty.

The supreme court said that,

you know,
this was a wrongful conviction

and Dale was released.

Dale Johnston
has been sitting on death row

for the grisly murders
of his stepdaughter

Annette Cooper and
her boyfriend, Todd Schultz.

Now, seven years
after the murders,

the Ohio Court of Appeals
makes a staggering decision.

He was released on the--

on the appeal and set free.

That was a slap in the face.

Someone who did
such a-- a-- a--

a violent, horrible thing

was now free
to walk the streets

and go wherever he wanted.

That was very hard,
very difficult.

It was almost like

going through it
all over again.

Opening that wound.

I was so angry.

I can't believe
they're letting him go.

It was just...

unbelievable.

It's very frustrating
with all the work

that we'd done in this case,

when I know the evidence,

and I know Dale Johnston

because I talked to him
so many times.

I believed at the time

that Dale Johnston

killed those two kids.

In the aftermath
of the shocking turn of events,

law enforcement
remains determined

to see justice
for Todd and Annette.

Todd and Annette
were actually good kids

that had, you know,

a bright future ahead of them

that was ended by somebody.

Then finally there's hope,

when a new prosecutor
takes office.

When we reopened the case

I instructed the officers

that we are going at it

as if we were brand-new to it.

And they were to-- whatever--
wherever it took us,

if Dale Johnston did it

he should be convicted
and he should be put away.

If it was someone else,

I wanted know who it was

so that we had

the right person convicted.

That was exciting for us.

We thought finally
we're gonna get some justice.

We formulated a plan to start

re-interviewing everybody
that was interviewed

and to not get tunnel vision

and don't go
just after one person.

It takes 10 years
of reevaluating evidence

and eliminating suspects

until finally in 2007,

police make
a startling discovery.

Fortunately the stars
lined up at the right time

and suddenly
somebody starts talking.

There was a known
criminal to the area

who was currently on probation.

She pretty much
told the probation officer

that she might have seen both...

the victims...

around her house on the day
that they disappeared.

When Judy Linscott
met with her probation officer,

she indicated
that she's concerned that Kenny

might have had
something to do with it.

Judy is referring
to her ex-husband,

Kenny Linscott.

Kenny Linscott
was a known criminal

to the area.

And he was involved
in a burglary ring

that had taken place
in southeastern Ohio.

We went and talked to Judy.

And she said,
"Todd and Annette,

they'd been by earlier."

There was a little
get-together there at her home.

Todd and Annette
didn't stay at the party

much more than an hour
and they had left her home.

Kenny left with this friend

that was there at the time
at the same time.

And then Kenny appears later.

He had come home bloodied,

with the cuts.

He indicated to her that

he had a fight down at

one of the local bars
or something.

We asked her
who the friend was,

and she said she only knew him

by his first name,
and that that was Chester.

Is it possible
that after all these years,

Kenny Linscott
has been hiding in plain sight?

We brought him
to the sheriff's department

in Hocking County,

and we made sure
that he understood that

it was not
a custodial interview,

that he was free
to leave at any time.

He mentioned that he knew
Todd and Annette.

Kenny admitted
that he was partying

earlier in the day but...

he never came out and said
that he was in the cornfield.

So how does Kenny explain

the bloody cuts that night?

Kenny told us
he broke the glass

to his storm door

and when he did try to reach in,

that's when he cut himself.

We spent quite a few hours
with Kenny

and I would say
there were three or four times

when he was right
on the brink of confessing.

And each time he backed off
and did not confess.

Kenny won't talk but detectives

are determined
to find someone who will.

Namely, Kenny's sidekick

on the night of the murders.

People we had talked to

only knew him by his first name.

And that that was Chester.

We had no idea at that point
who Chester was.

With very little to go on,

investigators
aren't able to find

Kenny's mysterious friend.

We kept coming up
with dead leads.

Then, in a stroke of luck,

police unfold a stunning
new piece of evidence,

something
that could finally solve

this 25-year-old mystery.

Someone actually
had written a letter

saying that he had something

that he wanted
to get off his chest.

It had something
to do with the--

the double homicide
of Annette and Todd.

Nearly 25 years
after the vicious murders

of Todd Schultz
and Annette Cooper,

investigators
have a letter in hand

from a local inmate
with a troubled conscience.

The letter basically...

was about the double homicide
of Annette and Todd.

And that he felt
some responsibility

and wanted to get some
of this off of his chest.

And it was written
by a named Chester McKnight.

Investigators
believe Chester McKnight

is the pal
who was with Kenny Linscott

the night of the murders.

We ended up researching
his criminal record,

found out
that he had many arrests

for sexual type of crimes.

He told our investigators

that he had lost sleep,
and that he had been

bothered by what had occurred.

And he-- he had known
for a long time

that he needed to come clean.

Chester stated that
there was a party

going on the entire day, that--

that Kenny and Chester
had both been drinking all day,

and doing some marijuana.

And that's when
Todd and Annette

came to the house

because they had wanted
to purchase some marijuana.

And they told them
that they were gonna go down

to the cornfield to smoke it.

Todd and Annette
are looking forward

to some alone time.

But Chester and Kenny
have other plans.

Once Todd and Annette left,

a short time later,

Kenny and Chester

followed them down
to the cornfield.

Chester really
found Annette attractive

and he wanted to have sex
with Annette.

Kenny and Chester
sneak through the backyard

where Todd and Annette
think they're alone.

And Chester made some advances

towards Annette,

Annette started screaming.

And Todd tried
to get in his way

and fight Chester
off of Annette.

And I think
when that happened

Chester took a weapon
from Kenny.

Kenny took a gun
to the cornfield with him

because he normally
carried one with him.

And Chester shot Todd.

And then he's left
with a witness, Annette,

who just saw him kill
the love of her life.

And so,
he then has to kill her.

And after
they had shot and killed

both Todd and Annette,

they went back
to Kenny's house,

got the machete
and that's what they used

to chop the bodies up.

They throw
the torsos in the river

and somewhat bury them,

and tried to dispose
of the bodies.

I knew that
we had the right person

when the lie detector test

confirmed that--

that he did commit the murder.

In September 2008,

our family met

with the prosecutor's office
in Logan.

And in 50 minutes,

they laid out
an entirely different scenario.

And in that 50 minutes

I went from believing
a hundred percent

that Dale Johnston
had killed Todd and Annette,

to believing
that Kenny Linscott

and Chester McKnight
were the guilty parties

and that Dale was innocent.

Kenny and,
Chester were a--

a nightmare come to life.

That's what we had on our hands.

On September 2nd, 2008,

26 years after the murders
of Todd and Annette,

Kenny Linscott
and Chester McKnight

are arrested and charged
with the killings.

I knew the-- the consequences

which I really didn't care,
you know,

it was something that--

that I had to put to rest.

Chester always did
indicate that he was the one,

and the sole perpetuator
of the murders.

To the victims'
family, you know, I'm sorry.

Chester McKnight pleads guilty

to both murders.

The court sentences you to life

without the possibility
of parole for 20 years.

Kenny takes a plea.

The state is agreeing to dismiss

the charge of aggravated murder,

which was lodged against you.

That is correct, Your Honor.

Kenny plead guilty
to abuse of a corpse

and got time served.

Kenny sat back for years

knowing someone else
had taken the blame

for a crime he had committed

and watched the damage
he had caused

not only to Todd and Annette,

but to the entire community.

For the people
that fought for justice

and the families
that loved Todd and Annette,

the memories
are forever bittersweet.

I never had a chance
to say goodbye to Todd.

And not being able
to see him

and say goodbye like you do

to somebody else that passes,

I found it very difficult
to live with.

When I look back now,

I wonder about
what could've been,

what their lives
could've accomplished,

what impact they could've
had on others,

what it would've done
to our own family.

If somebody needed help

Todd and Annette
were all there to--

to give a hand.

My favorite memory of Todd

was when I was upset crying,

Todd come in

and he took the coffee cup
out of my hand,

and sat it down on the counter,

and he put his arms around me.

And he said,
"I love you, Mom.

And we'll get through this.

Don't worry about it.
It'll be fine."

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