Tune In: SMU faculty member turns Dallas woman’s disappearance into “48 Hours” episode

When Lisa Stone didn’t update her Facebook page, her closest friends knew something must have happened to her. The Far East Dallas woman was in the habit of posting every day, until the posts stopped in May 2010.

With no evidence of foul play, the police could do little to help. Undeterred, Stone’s friends – a group who have known each other since high school – are looking for clues, news and the public’s help through social media.

Their story, and the mystery that still surrounds their lifelong friend’s disappearance, are the subject of a “48 Hours Mystery” investigation that will air at 9 p.m. Central time Saturday, May 7, 2011, on CBS.

The hour also marks the first full episode co-produced by Lucy Scott, executive in residence in the Division of Journalism in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

> Visit the original “Looking for Lisa” Facebook page

Scott was a New York-based CBS News staff writer and producer for 13 years – six on “The Early Show” and seven on “Sunday Morning.” Currently she chases spot news as a free-lance field producer and writer for “NBC Nightly News,” “The Today Show,” “ABC World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America,” as well as CBS’ “48 Hours” and “The Early Show.”.

She first met with Stone’s friends during Thanksgiving 2010. “I never write anything down in these preliminary meetings,” she says. “I just try to get a feel for what the story is, who the characters are, and whether it will hold up for 42 minutes of television.”

What she heard convinced her that this was a story worth telling. “We talked for three and a half or four hours,” she says. “They were so gracious and so memorable. I took some video with my phone and sent the file back to CBS in New York, and they said, ‘We like this.'”

> See more at the “48 Hours Mystery” homepage

The team, including “48 Hours” correspondent Maureen Maher and director/co-producer Chuck Stevenson, decided to focus on the three friends who were geographically closest to the case: one in Houston and two in Dallas. The group call themselves “The Facebook Detectives,” which ultimately became the episode title as well.

When Stone first went missing, “the police didn’t feel the need to make it a big deal,” Scott says. “She is a self-responsible woman in her 50s, with no children. There wasn’t a kidnapping. There didn’t appear to be a crime against a person. And in fact, it’s possible that she wandered off on her own volition. Her disappearance doesn’t necessarily mean a crime has been committed.

“But there are other things that have been pieced together that make it reasonably likely she’s not just missing – that she was the victim of some kind of crime.”

The mystery is intriguing, but the human element makes the story especially compelling, Scott adds. “You have this group of ‘Friday Night Lights’ kids who were all together on the drill team – the Skeeters of Mesquite High School – and they’re all solid, wholesome people. Lisa Stone was not someone who had a criminal past. These ladies are people you would recognize, people who could be your neighbors. So there are elements about this that just make you scratch your head and say, ‘What happened?'”

> Keep up with the Detectives at “For the Love of Lisa”

Scott’s students accompanied her on several shoots for the program. The group captured footage at Lisa Stone’s home and those of her friends, as well as with the police both at Dallas headquarters and on K-9 searches.

“We interviewed a wonderful police detective named Jim Gallagher, who’s taken this case on,” Scott says. “As executive in residence, this is what I do: I work, and I use my work to teach. And when news comes in, I get to chase it, which is wonderful.”

Scott hopes that “maybe someone will see this show and it might shake something loose,” she says. “It does make you feel good if there is some kind of virtue in your work at the end of the day. It’s nice to be able to say, ‘Maybe this made a difference to somebody.'”

> See more of Lucy Scott’s news work at her homepage

Influential professors honored at 2007 HOPE Banquet

Fifty-three SMU educators were honored by student staff members at the Department of Residence Life and Student Housing’s 10th annual HOPE Banquet Oct. 21. The HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Awards are determined by student staff member nominations and recognize professors whom they believe “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Lucy Scott, executive-in-residence in the Journalism Division, was honored as 2007 Professor of the Year. Two others – Lecturer in English Diana Grumbles and Associate Professor of History Glenn Linden – were named Distinguished Professors, denoting that they have been recognized as HOPE Professors for at least 5 of the 10 years in which the honor has existed. Read the complete list of honorees under the cut.

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