116 Deadly Harvest – With Kevin Behr

In Appalachian Ohio and beyond, ginseng hunting is a centuries-old tradition. Prized for its medicinal value and prestige, American ginseng was one of America’s first exports to the Far East. Today, highly regulated but harvested to near extinction, its value has only increased, setting the stage for a black market that often results in arrests, prison time, and tragedy.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Kevin’s ongoing recovery and recent activities
  • Investigation began in Ohio in 2012, when a family reported an overdue hiker
  • Bobby Joe Grubbs had been dropped off for a walk, but did not return
  • Grubbs was known to police
  • Sherrif’s office pinged cell phone
  • Phone was located on 87-year-old Joseph Kutter’s property
  • Property owner gave police permission to search, but nothing was found
  • Cell phone had dialed 911 but disconnected
  • Kutter’s property featured a meticulously tended ginseng patch
  • A second search was launched using cadaver dogs
  • Dogs alerted on a loader bucket
  • Kutter immediately confessed to shooting Grubbs
  • Claimed Grubbs was stealing ginseng
  • A confrontation ensued and Kutter fired his weapon
  • Kutter then moved the body twice in the following days
  • Autopsy revealed ginseng in Grubbs’ pockets – and a business card
  • Grubbs had called family to report finding “the mother lode” of ginseng
  • Kutter pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter
  • Case highlights the mindsets of both ginseng growers and poachers
  • Easy money from ginseng often funds drug habits
  • Ginseng hunting (and poaching) can be a way of life passed down through generations
  • Black market is unnervingly similar to the drug trade


Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches


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