A woman is found dead in North Carolina after vanishing in Philadelphia.

Judy Smith

Judy’s remains were found 700 miles away


After arriving in Philadelphia, she vanished

In 1997, Judy Smith decided to accompany her husband, Jeff, to a work conference in Philadelphia. Before their flight was to depart, Judy realized she had forgotten her driver’s license and was forced to take a later flight. Jeff reluctantly agreed and the two met up in Philadelphia later that night. The next day Judy went sightseeing while Jeff attended his conference.  According to Jeff, Judy was to meet him at their hotel at 5:00 PM:

“So I got back to the hotel room about 5:30, and she wasn’t there. And by about 6:30, I was starting to get worried.”

Jeff contacted the local hospitals and police.  When nothing turned up, he searched Philadelphia by taxi.  According to Jeff, he traced the path of the tour bus Judy had planned to ride that day:

“I was fearful that something had happened to her, but I actually believed that I would be able to find her.  It was mind-boggling.  I just couldn’t figure out what could’ve happened to her.”

Investigators found a blue and black backpack

Months went by, but there was no trace of Judy Smith.  The Philadelphia police were just as perplexed as her husband. They could find no evidence she had been murdered or abducted.  But Judy’ daughter, Amy Hartford, was convinced her mother had an accident or worse, developed amnesia:

“I thought that my mom didn’t know who she was and was lost in the city, and that was horrible to think.”

On the day she vanished, Judy set out for her day of sightseeing at 9:00 AM.  As always, she carried her belongings in her trademark red backpack.  She had told Jeff she planned to visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  Whatever caused Judy to vanish occurred during the next eight hours.  After the Philadelphia police turned up no trace of Judy, Jeff had no choice but to return home to Boston.  From his office, he faxed and mailed 9,000 flyers about Judy up and down the Eastern seaboard.  He also hired three private investigators.  But according to Jeff, they uncovered no significant clues.

Expensive sunglasses were recovered

Then, five months after Judy had vanished,  a father and son noticed something strange while hiking near Asheville, North Carolina.  According to Lieutenant Sam Constance of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, they found a partially buried skeleton which animals had strewn over a 100 yard area:

“Our victim was a white female, probably in her late forties to mid-fifties.  The pathologist report indicates that there were puncture wounds and cuts on the bra which could be consistent with stab wounds.”

Police requested Judy’s dental records after seeing Jeff’s “missing” flyers in the area.  Forensics confirmed that they were the remains of Judy Smith. Judy’s daughter Amy was in a state of disbelief:

“I was shocked.  I guess you always anticipate that your parent will die, but not early.  We always talked about when I would have kids and looking forward to that day and I guess I just never thought that she wouldn’t be there for that.”

No one could understand how Judy ended up so far away from Philadelphia.  Authorities found Judy’s diamond wedding ring and $167 in cash at the crime scene.  They concluded that robbery was not the motive.  But police had another clue.  Four eyewitnesses in Asheville claimed to have seen Judy just days after she vanished. One of them was retail clerk, Joanne Stucker:

“She seemed very alert to me.  She was very pleasant. I didn’t see anything about her that would indicate that she wasn’t right in any way.  She told me her husband was an attorney and that they were from Boston.  And that they had been in Pennsylvania and he was at a convention.  And she had decided to come down here.”

But if Judy left Philadelphia of her own free will, the question was why.  Judy’s friend, Carolyn Dickey, had her own theory for Judy’s disappearance:

“At the time this happened, Jeff and Judy’s marriage was very tenuous.  I believe that something did happen that triggered her to want to have some time away from Jeff.”

According to Lieutenant Constance, investigators found two clues suggesting what might have happened to Judy:

“We found a blue and black backpack at the crime scene.  I believe that it potentially belongs to our suspect.  There was a pair of sunglasses there. We believe that these glasses did not belong to Judith and that they potentially belong to our suspect.”

What scenario resulted in Judy’s murder in an isolated area of North Carolina?  Who stabbed her, then left her in a shallow grave?  Was it a stranger, or someone she may have schemed to meet in Asheville? Unfortunately, North Carolina investigators still have no idea why Judy Smith was killed.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season twelve with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis FarinaVarious seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. Avatar

    Bill Blaski

    One of the creepiest cases on unsolved mysteries. Judy was supposed to be in New York with her husband. Her body ends up in NC woods? A shop keeper talks to her and can confirm she was alone and not being held against her will. Did she meet a man in NC who ultimately killed her? I keep seeing reports about a guy who they called the national park Forrest killer. Could this be him? Surely she had DNA on the body etc. any updates???


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    Angie, what is the name of the other victim and when did it happen?


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    This one is so bizarre. I think Judy was in Ashville, but why? Tourist?


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    Jason Malloy

    I don’t 100% think that the body found is hers.. for one thing, she supposedly had bad arthritis in one knee, so she’s going to just off and go..hiking.. 600 miles away?? Then be found wearing clothes more suited for winter weather in North Carolina.. and she wasn’t a little woman. And the ME first said that he/she thought the body had been there for maybe up to 2 years.. it just doesn’t make any sense, none of it does.. ugh, so frustrating, I want to know what happened to you Judy!!!!


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    Hey cf, can you direct me to that podcast you heard about the Shuford murder?Thanks!


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    need to know if judy really did go on the plane to philly. it’s weird he would make the comment they were to go together but then she wound up taking a later flight cause of her ID.
    can we confirm he actually had a conference? can we confirm she was really the one that got on the plane? yes there are several eye witnesses but they could be mistakes too. could he have hired someone who looked like judy to walk around philly after her disappearance with her signature red backpack? It seems odd they were the last ones to see each other and no other clues. i don’t think judy ever really made it to philly. maybe when she was grabbing her ID, she was killed while her husband was in philly. and however killed her moved her body to north carolina.
    too many missing clues from this story and all we have to go off it is her husband’s story.


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      i still think Judy was already dead and never even traveled with her husband. did they confirm with the flight that she actually got on?

      i think he made the story up about her not having to take a later flight. this way it shows he was waiting around in philly after his conference but she ‘never showed up’ cause she was already dead and didn’t even go.

      i think the witnesses are lying or were confused about seeing judy. i don’t think she ever made it to philly. and if her close friend mention that their marriage was draining, maybe he had her killed professionally.


  7. Avatar

    Bill Blaski

    Truly one of the best unsolved mysteries. Any updates Unsolved?


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    Why would anyone want to buried an expensive sunglasses along with shirt that that still had money on the front pocket. And who put money on the front pocket anymore. Unless the suspect and victim were on the spot before sunset which explained the sunglasses. But why buried it when you can just throw it away.


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    I think her husband did it or got some one to kill her its funny they had a argument then she’s found murdered very suspicious why was nothing taken


    • Avatar


      Her husband was morbidly obese and law enforcement deemed it impossible for him to have killed her himself. Do research before making comments.


  10. Avatar


    Just watched this case today about Judy smith I think her husband did it or hired some one to kill her


  11. Avatar


    If this happened at the camp ground at the foot of hwy 151 before going up the parkway I have suspension that James Voth might be a person of interest. Back in 1997 I was there with my friend Crystal Shuford and her mother Catherine. Her mother kept saying there were 2 spirits hanging out there waiting to be found. It wasn’t too long after that when Crystal was raped and murdered by Catherine s boy friend James Voth. He had a history of violence towards females and I find it odd that a body was found there after Catherine stated she thinks two body’s were there. I was just a young teenager so I never tried contacting anyone.


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      This is an interesting thought. I just recently heard about the Shuford murder on a podcast and have become interested in that case.


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    Now, I don’t think that any murders were connected to this specific one. But, Jeff and Judy were gone for a few hours, while she was supposedly sightseeing and he was at a conference. In that period of time, how much time was there? That’s all I need to know. At a steady speed rate in an average car, the distance from Philadelphia to Asheville is approximately 9 hours and 24 minutes. Jeff could’ve went to the conference, came back, killed her (during sightseeing or in the room), buried her body in Asheville, came back, and went home. He could’ve lied about the time they were going to meet. Are there records of the conference? Have they thorough checks of his car and room that they stayed in? When was he gone from the room? How much mileage does his car have? How much gas did he use during that trip? How much gas did he use on the way back from Philadelphia? If they have answered all of these questions, they can come up with various recollections of this story. If they haven’t, they need to speak with Jeff Smith once more and get these questions answered as soon as possible.


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      Except that she was spotted by several witnesses in the area. This kind of witness statement is often unreliable but in this case at least one witness provided specific details learned through their interaction. The scenario you posit is impossible if we concede the witnesses are credible.


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      It does state in the story that they flew and he searched the area they were in by taxi, so how would there be gas mileage if he traveled by plane with his wife to Philadelphia?


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    Why hasn’t this been solved already, and did he take a polygraph, and did he gain monetarily from her death?


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      he died.
      & it really does not look likely that he killed her & moved her all the way up in the middle of nowhere, with nobody seeing anything.

      he could’ve, i guess, i have at least one very large friend who’s in way better shape than am i. but he didn’t look like her: she looks like she could move mountains; he looked like a mountain of pastry. & his wife, ah, if she weighed 135, i weigh 72 pounds. put her closer to 160 [which is more honest, from photographic evidence], & nobody’s dragging her body up there after murdering the poor thing somewhere else.

      someone killed her there. for some reason, the heart of the information has obviously never been released to the public. even the brightest among us could not make an educated guess based on everything we know.



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      he’s dead. i dont think he profited, & my guess is he didn’t kill her. although, in truth, we dont know very much.

      i’m only gonna type that, because i’ve already submitted the rest of my comment, & i’m not sure whether or not it dissolved into ether, & i didn’t want the same thing to show up twice.


  14. Avatar


    But did they find her red backpack? And what was in the black backpack. Something isn’t right with this whole story. If she met up with someone else I don’t believe for a minute this person if they murdered her would leave his backpack with her body. Does not make sense. Unless she met up with someone else and she was followed by someone jealous and killed two of them, would explain the extra backpack. It does not say she was raped so I think that usually rules out a serial killer. This poor woman deserves justice.


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      No Name

      If all they found was skeletal remains I don’t think they’d be able to tell if she was sexually assaulted or not.


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      Every weekend i used to visit this web site, for the reason that i want enjoyment,

      as this this website conations truly nice funny information too.


  15. Avatar


    maybe her husband is?


  16. Avatar


    I don’t think the husband did it common sense it had to been a stranger she had met while sight seeing or someone she had known but I believe it was a serial killer


  17. Avatar


    Why are we taking Jeff’s story as true? There’s a reason she wasn’t on the flight with him…she never came to Philadelphia. She was already dead and buried. Jeff concocts a story, then acts it out, through his trip to Philly, onto hiring PIs to look innocent. He had little fear in hiring them because he was directing them to Philly, not Asheville. Th investigators need to focus on finding enough evidence to charge him and stop meandering around looking for someone on the grassy knoll.


  18. Avatar


    First She was going back packing by herself, with out her husband, and second I see him packing her red back pack, and I see him take her to the public place, after he knifed her, at home, need to check with a dog, in front of and around where the car is parked, for blood, as I also, see him using a garden hose, to thin out the blood. Supernaturally.


  19. Avatar


    There’s something bizarre about this case, I agree that it’s weird that Judy would leave her ID behind knowing she and her husband would be flying. But did anyone at the hotel they were staying at see Judy talking to anyone? Did they even see her leave the hotel at all? Why did she go to North Carolina, did she know someone there? Too many unanswered questions.


    • Avatar


      I am interested in that as well. Can they confirm that her husband was at the conference the whole time? Did he come back and meet her lunch? Did they see her check out the hotel and not come back? So many unanswered questions! lol


  20. Avatar


    What ever became of the information offered from the Psyche investigators? They mentioned it possibly being a local wandering in the woods. Also, he wore a signet with the letter “P” on it.
    Since this happened in PA why haven’t you contacted the Vidocq Society located in PA?


  21. Avatar

    Susan Rankin

    Terry Alvin Hyatt is on death row in Asheville NCM298R m from his arrest in 1999. He murdered and raped three women. This probably has nothing to do with this unsolved case but had to put it out there. Hyatt use to be the boyfriend of my sister in law in the early nineties.


  22. Avatar


    It seems strange to me that Judy would leave her driver’s license at home when she knew that she and her husband would be flying. So it seems like she was planning to run away. But that doesn’t seem right because it sounds like she and her daughter were very close. I feel like the whole story isn’t being told in the story


  23. Avatar


    Professional hit. Husband was a lawyer, probably knew the law, knew how to get things done. Marriage tenuous.


    • Avatar


      Way too assumptive. Number one, divorce is a prevalent thing in today’s society. A divorce would cost less than a professional hit man. And number 2, a professional hit man would not leave behind any traces, including that of a backpack and a pair of sunglasses.


  24. Avatar


    There is another unsolved murder in the Asheville area at the same yr time frame could they be connected and is this murderer someone working for city and knows these women were alone The other victim was found with stab wounds too.


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We rely on you to update and correct your Personal Data.  If you are a user of our Sites, subscriber to [CMP product], purchaser of CMP products and services, you can review, update and correct your information directly on CMP’s website or by contacting us using the information in the “Contact Information” section below.


Typically, we retain your Personal Data for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Policy, unless a longer retention period is required or permitted by law.  This may include retaining your Personal Data indefinitely, even after you are no longer a CMP member, in order to provide you with future marketing opportunities and other purposes, as well as to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, or enforce any of our agreements.  


Please note that you can request, at any time, that we delete your Personal Data.  All requests must be directed to the contact in the “Contact Information” section below.  We can decide to delete your Personal Data if we believe that the data is incomplete, inaccurate, or that our continued use and storage are contrary to our obligations to other members, individuals, or third parties.  When we delete your Personal Data, it will be removed from our active databases or anonymized so that the data is no longer identified with you, but the data may remain in our archives if CMP determines that it is not practical or possible to delete it.

Your Personal Data is processed in the United States, where privacy laws may be less stringent than the laws in your country and where the government, courts, or law enforcement may be able to access your data.  By submitting your Personal Data to us, you agree to the transfer, storage and processing of your Personal Data in the United States.

You, as the data subject, have the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority, in particular in the Member State of your habitual residence, place of work, or place of the alleged infringement, if you believe that the processing of your personal data does not comply with legal requirements.

In the event we determine the occurrence of a data security incident, we will notify you by email, US mail, telephone, or other means as permitted by law.

If you have questions, comments, or complaints concerning our privacy practices or if you wish to change, access, or remove your Personal Data, please contact us as indicated below.  We will attempt, where practical, to respond to your requests and to provide you with additional privacy related information.

Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. is the owner of this Website and retains all ownership rights to the information collected at this Website. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. reserves the right to change, modify, add, or remove provisions of this Privacy Statement. Any changes to this Privacy Statement will be posted here, and we encourage you to check back from time to time. In addition, Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. will notify registered users of changes as they occur.

We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit networkadvertising.org. Your use of the site constitutes your agreement to accept cookies, beacons and third-party advertising. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for third-party ads.

ARTICLE 1. Personalization
1.1 We may use the contact information you give us to better tailor your Website experience to your interests, and to send you information about Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. and its services as well as promotional material on behalf of some of our partners. We may use other information that you provide to us to show you content in which you may be interested and to display the content according to your preferences. We will also share this information within Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. in order to enhance your experience on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. Websites.
1.2 In addition, we may share this information with advertisers or other third parties that are not part of the Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. family on an aggregate or other basis that does not disclose your identity or contact information.

ARTICLE 2. Online Surveys/Contests
2.1 From time to time, we may conduct online surveys and contests. These may ask you for contact information (like name or email address) and demographic information (like zip code or age).
2.2 We may use this contact information from our surveys and contests to provide you with information about our company and promotional material on behalf of some of our partners, and to contact you when necessary.

ARTICLE 3. Shopping/Commercial Services
3.1 This Website may offer shopping services, which may be offered by us or by a firm that operates a store under contract with us. If our Website offers shopping or other commercial services, you will use a customer order form to request information, products, and services. The order form will ask you to give us contact information (like name or email address), financial information (like account or credit card numbers), and demographic information (like zip code or age).

3.2 We will use the financial information that you provide to bill you for products and services. By giving our Website your credit card and related personal information, you are authorizing our store to give that information to the merchant and credit card company in order to confirm and fulfill your order.

3.3 We will use contact information from the order form to fulfill your orders. We may also use contact data to get in touch with you when necessary. We will not otherwise use or distribute your financial information without your prior approval.

ARTICLE 4. Public forums
4.1 This Website may make available chat rooms, blogs, forums, message boards, and news groups. Please remember that any information that you disclose in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information. Information disclosed by you or by others enters the public domain and may be freely used by any other persons or entities using the site.

ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at: unsolved@unsolved.com.

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.