The Orange Tree

The Orange Tree Podcast, a production of The Drag Audio Production House at The University of Texas at Austin.

‘The Orange Tree’ hosts set sail for new endeavors

The Drag would not be what it is today without Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas. In January 2019, they became The Drag’s first-ever podcasters at the start of their last semester in college. Between classes, the pair began crafting a podcast called “The Orange Tree.” It was to be a longform true-crime podcast about the…

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Reporting true crime without the cringe

It’s no secret that true crime is a popular genre. It’s evident from the countless documentaries, podcasts and crime specials on TV that many people are fascinated by true-crime stories. “If you watch an old “2020” or “48 Hours” documentary, there might be some really cheesy graphics like artificial prison doors closing,” said Haley Butler…

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Episode 7: Fifteen Years

Laura Hall seeks to move on after her release from prison … and she has a lot to say. Colton Pitonyak remains in a West Texas prison as his parents hold onto hope that he’ll someday return to Arkansas. Sharon and Jim continue to fight on Jennifer Cave’s behalf, and they also fight for strangers…

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Episode 6: Wild Card

Fellow inmates say Laura Hall has been talking in jail about her role in the Jennifer Cave case. She continues to talk when out on bond, others say. As Colton Pitonyak’s appeals lawyers look for an angle to try to get him a new trial, the lawyers convince several people to swear that Laura had…

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Co-directors and hosts share reactions to the national success of their first ever major podcast

When Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas started reporting for “The Orange Tree” podcast as college seniors, they didn’t expect the podcast to climb the charts.

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Episode 5: Obsession

A few days after Colton Pitonyak and Laura Hall were found in Mexico, Laura is called in to pick up her impounded car’s keys at the Austin Police headquarters. When she shows up, she’s led to a small room to be questioned by the police. Detectives are trying to figure out what her involvement is…

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Episode 4: Whodunit

It’s January 2007, and Colton Pitonyak has been sitting in a Travis County jail awaiting his trial. His family didn’t post bail, so he has been behind bars since August 2005 when he was arrested after fleeing to Mexico for six days with Laura Hall. The Travis County Courthouse is packed for what everyone expects…

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Episode 3: Vacation

Austin Police detectives search for a UT student wanted in connection with the death of Jennifer Cave. Colton Pitonyak, a promising business student and Jennifer’s friend, fled the scene of the crime right before her body was discovered at his condo. Since his Toyota Avalon is still parked at the Orange Tree Condos, police have…

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Episode 2: Jennifer’s Story

In 2005, Jennifer Cave was navigating through the best and worst parts of her early 20s. She moves to Austin after high school in hopes of figuring out what she wants to do with her life and gets caught up in a party lifestyle. One night, right before the start of a promising new job,…

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Episode 1: The Orange Door

Sharon Cave knows something is wrong the second she gets a call from her daughter Jennifer’s boss saying Jennifer didn’t show up for her first day at work. When no one can give her an answer as to where Jennifer was the night before, Sharon and her family set out on their own investigation. They…

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