Six years after becoming a household name because he lost 245 lbs. by eating Subway sandwiches, Jared Fogle met a woman who would help bring about his downfall: reporter Rochelle Herman-Walrond. What Rochelle heard Jared tell her over the years caused severe PTSD and she thinks she’ll continue processing it for the rest of her life.
Jared’s downfall started with an interview
In the new Discovery + multi-part series Jared from Subway: Catching a Monster, Rochelle explains in detail how she helped take down Jared Fogle.
In 2006 Rochelle, who worked out of Sarasota, FL had booked a radio and television interview with Jared. She said he had “an ego,” but described him as a good interview. Jared opened up to Rochelle about his weight struggles and his desire to motivate others, especially children, to live a healthy lifestyle.
After the radio interview, Jared flirted with Rochelle and during their course of conversation Rochelle let Jared know that her daughter wanted to meet him. He agreed, and Rochelle’s daughter later took pictures with the both of them. Rochelle had no idea she was setting her daughter to meet with a predator.
At the television interview, things got dark. Jared, who had gone through a divorce recently, amped up his flirting and even tried to hold Rochelle’s hand. Right before the interview started, Jared’s words took a sinister turn. He whispered something in Rochelle’s ear “so horrific” it forever changed the course of her life.
What did Jared say to Rochelle?
Jared told Rochelle that he thought middle school girls were “hot.” Right then, some students came into the room to watch the interview. Rochelle was shaken by the interaction and just tried to get through the interview.
Later, when she ruminated on Jared’s comments, Rochelle realized that Jared had a lot of access to children because of his motivational speaking gigs at school. She resolved to find out the truth about Jared with the motivation to protect children from him if he was, indeed, a predator.
The set up
Rochelle set up her own private sting operation in an attempt to gather damning evidence on Jared. She took advantage of his attraction to her by calling him regularly and recording the calls.
As Jared trusted Rochelle more he told her increasingly shocking things about his desires and behaviors. At one point he even admitted to having sexual content with a minor as young as 12, and a desire to have sexual contact with even younger children.
When Rochelle contacted the FBI about what she caught on tape, she found herself in a bind. She had technically committed a crime in recording Jared because Florida was two-party consent state, which means both parties have to be aware that they’re being recorded.
Rochelle says that she faced possibly felony charges and that the tapes she gave them would not hold up in court. However, according to Rochelle, the FBI wanted Rochelle to continue secretly record Jared. The difference was that she had to read from scripts and become an “undercover asset” for the FBI.
What law enforcement really needed was specific details, especially about any potential victims. In order to get further information from Jared, Rochelle had to become someone she “hated.” She pretended to be someone like Jared who was interested in the same disgusting, predatory actions.
She says she would meet with federal agents in the middle of the night at an abandoned parking lot to give them the tapes she was recording.
All of this transpired over three years and Rochelle began to be crippled by the stress. She collected horrific information about Jared, but nothing was being done to stop him. Meanwhile, Jared was continuing to travel the world with his motivational speaking.
A sting attempt that nearly broke Rochelle
Rochelle says the stress affected her work, her health, and her family. One day, Rochelle’s daughter found her diary detailing her conversations with Jared. Rochelle resolved that she needed to put a stop to this and catch Jared.
She worked together with the FBI to set up a fake birthday party for her son in order to lure Jared in a sting. Rochelle then had to talk to Jared about repulsive things he wanted to do, including preying on the most vulnerable. He even asked Rochelle to offer up her own children to him. This felt like a “shot to the heart” to her. They were only 10 and 11.
Rochelle found it very hard to hold it together, but was determined to finish what she started. Unfortunately, the sting fell apart when Jared changed his travel plans and the FBI couldn’t work with the timetable.
Rochelle started falling apart
Rochelle’s life started crumbling when the sting didn’t go through. Now, Rochelle had heard Jared try to convince her to secretly record her children for him, and he was still roaming free. She was even afraid that Jared would try to have her killed because of what she knew.
She started breaking down at work. When she tried to explain her situation to her coworker Sean “Ozzie” Osborne, he thought she was showing signs of schizophrenia.
Rochelle felt alone and had no one to talk to about the horrific things she’s been through. She decided to go to the Sarasota Police Department in 2010 to “turn in the FBI” for not doing their due diligence on the information she’d provided them. She told them that she felt like children were in danger, including her own.
At first, the detectives didn’t know if they could trust her. They thought she might be an obsessed fan. However, when they reviewed her evidence they realized she was telling the truth.
Rochelle said that if nothing was done about Jared, she would play the tapes on her radio show. Detectives advised her not to do this because it could cause problems with the investigation and could also put her in danger.
The FBI then raided Rochelle’s home and place of work because they feared she would go public. She was told to stay silent or risk arrest. Rochelle says she’s experienced PTSD from her years talking with Jared, and she feels like the fact that she developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a result of the stress and trauma she’s gone through.
As Rochelle describes it, RSD is an extremely painful disease and while it isn’t fatal, the intense pain often leads sufferers to take their own lives.
After her diagnosis in 2012 Rochelle had to stop working and her life completely changed. Meanwhile, Jared was still free and living a great life.