Jon Chrymes is a true crime YouTube Channel created by blogger, writer and director Jon Rhynes. With a passion for giving a voice to the victims, Jon conducts research on each case in order to create mini documentaries through his platform. Started in 2018, Jon Chrymes has quickly risen in popularity, with over 21,000 subscribers. We were so excited to talk to Jon and get to know the man behind the scenes of a dedicated true crime channel.
MMN: What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?
Jon: I was always fascinated with true crime. I’m your typical lover of the ’90s forensic files, lol. I was a firefighter in the early ’00s, and after checking on the fire truck, I’d run in the breakroom to watch the updates on finding Lacy Peterson’s body. I followed that case so closely, it was almost like an obsession. I would read true crime books, and I think what started as wondering how the police would solve a case transformed into questioning, “Why would someone do such a horrific thing?” My interest in science and police work turned into an investigation into the shock in humanity.
Then, in 2018, Kendall Rae stumbled across my YouTube feed. I had a YouTube channel for rap at the time, so I have no idea why her video popped up but I was like, “Wait…someone is actually doing true crime on here?” I binged watched all of her videos. The next day, Tiffany Renee showed on my feed. Even to this day, I support Tiffany’s channel and in the background of my videos you can spot a coffee cup that says “What Would Kendall Rae Do.”
From there, Danelle Hallan appeared and at that point I asked myself, “Could I be good at doing true crime?” I then said, “Nah, don’t go trying to do something just because you saw those girls doing it. Leave it alone.” For better or worse, that’s the honest truth of what I told myself. I then went back to making videos on BattleRap.
Fast forward 1 1/2 years, and a woman by the name of Stephanie Harlowe appeared on my feed. What I loved about her was she mentioned working for Verizon. A former Verizon manager, I was amazed at how much detail she was able to put in her videos while working such demanding and odd schedules. Stephanie was able to do these long shifts at the same time as being a wife, photographer and mother; she never once missed a beat. I watched her go from 3,000 subscribers to blowing up.
I also watched her go live one night, and it was the first time hearing her speak in detail of juggling her life. Once I heard that, I went back into that conversation I had with myself a year earlier. This time I said to myself, “What’s your excuse now on starting a true crime channel, Jon?” I had no excuse. A week later, I started Jon Chrymes. Chrymes is combining my real name of Rhynes with the word “crime.”
MMN: What is your true crime origin? Was there a murder in your hometown? A story that has always haunted you? What got you into true crime in the first place?
Jon: Murder in my hometown… My uncle, “Toot.” He was the only man I knew when I was very little. I had nothing but aunts and an older sister. Uncle Toot would come over and I’d run into his arms and hug him. There was an alley in my grandmother’s backyard. One day, I was jumping on the trampoline in the backyard and Uncle Toot comes walking from the alley. I do a backward flip he tried to teach me weeks prior, but I had to build the courage. I do the backward flip and run and give Uncle Toot a huge hug.
He doesn’t smile. He looks at me for a long time. A long time meaning 15-20 seconds. He then kisses my forehead and walks in the house. I jump for a while on the trampoline, then look at my grandmother’s back door. I hear her talking loud then BOOM. I hear a gunshot.
I was only 6 years old, so I don’t remember my next steps. My recollection after that BOOM, is me being excited that the people I saw on the TV were in my grandmother’s yard. Yellow tape was everywhere. A large crowd was outside.
Uncle Toot murdered his wife and children, left their house, walked down the alley and I was the first person he saw. I can’t confirm his thoughts. I can only guess, but knowing he killed the closest people in the world to him, I think he came there to kill my grandmother and anyone else at the house, including me.
I think a combination of time to think as he walked down that alley, mixed with me surprising him with such a huge smile and excitement of doing a backyards flip, pulled him away from his plan. So he changed it to committing suicide. When he went in the house as I jumped on the trampoline, he argued with my grandmother then closed the door with my sister in the room. He put a mattress in front of the door, put his head on the mattress and pulled the trigger in front of my sister.
I thought of my entire life after being 6 years old and how all of this wouldn’t have occurred if I died; things I would have missed: a black president, taro flavored ice cream, flying on an airplane, my first kiss, etc. I take knowing my full life and I use that when I do my cases now. I can literally FEEL all of what these people missed having their lives taken from them that exact second they were murdered.
Another story that has always stuck with me were the Said sisters that lost their lives to their father murdering them, because they didn’t want to follow his tradition of marrying them off to some stranger in Egypt. I love seeing people fall in love. I loved seeing the older sister, Amina, find her Romeo. I loved seeing just how much he loved her in the documentary called “The Price of Honor,” which tells their story.
For years this story haunted me, so when I made my true crime YouTube channel it was the first story I did, which blew up on YouTube. To go from watching a documentary and it truly sticking with me so strongly all the way to Ruth (Amina’s boyfriend’s mother) being close friends with me is such a surreal and indescribable feeling. There are just no words of how much I truly care about her.
It further cemented the affects we can have on stories and that this stuff is REAL. Their father was one of America’s top 10 fugitives and he was finally caught. When he got caught, within seconds I contacted Ruth. I cried. That feeling, man. And now to know I’ll be at his trial…
MMN: You have covered some really great cases. I loved your Ahmaud Arbery episode, and your coverage of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell. Of all of the cases you’ve covered, which has been your favorite to research?
Jon: I don’t know if “favorite” is the right word I’d use, but the case with the most effect on me as I researched was the Katelyn Nicole Davis case. If a true crime channel had a case that is the channel’s mascot, this would be my channel’s mascot. The research in this case was so hard on my mental health that I had to leave YouTube for a two weeks as soon as I uploaded it. I logged off even with Stephanie Harlowe telling me maybe I should take some time off.
I went into Katelyn’s world figuratively and literally as I drove to her town. The town had been tipped off that a guy was coming to do a documentary on her, so people were looking and following me around. I’ll give you a nugget: when I visit her grave in the video, a man is behind me and I do a voiceover saying, “to the man following me at the graveyard, I know who you are now, and I’m sorry for your loss.” It was Katelyn’s great uncle. I’ve never told anyone this before. He followed me around, but respectfully. I think he was just curious as to what I was doing as I was setting up cameras all around his great-niece’s grave. Katelyn’s case isn’t even a murder. It’s a suicide, but I threw away the rules and covered it anyways, letting my heart lead the way.
MMN: Where can our readers find you on social media?
Jon: You can find me on Instagram @jonchrymes and on Twitter @JChrymes. If you’d like to reach out to me about a case, then look for Jon Chrymes on Facebook, as that’s the inbox I talk to family members of victims and all information on true crime. If you want to meet like-minded people and converse with me about true crime in general, then join my Jon Chrymes (JCG) Facebook group.