A New Murder Ballad · ID Recs · "Full House" In The Big House

Plus true-crime buttholes, the best of Defector, and "The Staircandy"

Well, it’s here: Election Week. Eve and I will try to keep you well supplied with distractions; if you’d like to start with political shenanigans that aren’t necessarily related to the current landscape, last Friday’s open thread has some great ideas.

And if you’d like to read November’s bonus-review book along with me, Capote In Kansas edged out the Altamont book. A few of the reviews on Goodreads didn’t care for the writing, but past Blotter Presents guest Alex Segura gave it five stars, and I fel like — his choice to come on my little podcast repeatedly excepted — he’s pretty discerning. (Hee.)

But only paid subscribers get my review, so if you’ve been an undecided voter about subscribing, why not cast your vote? Five bucks a month gets you that and all the other extras. — SDB


At last, my City So Real review on Primetimer! I think I’ve recommended it enough times over the last week that y’all get the hint, and I also know that there is a veritable barrage of trending-topic true crime coming down the pike between now and year’s end, so if you don’t get to City So Real now, at least add it to your My Stuff on Hulu and get back to it Thanksgiving weekend. — SDB


A late-breaking Halloween item from a reader, since we didn’t publish over the weekend… Sinnerforhire created “The Staircase crime scene made entirely out of candy,” whilst competing in GISH, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt. Sinnerforhire and her team, PumpConQueens, joined tens of thousands of Gishers around the world for a scavenger hunt featuring “creativity, art, mystery, adventure, puzzles, cosplay, out-of-the-box thinking, and kindness,” and every registration helped a UNICEF clean-water initiative. (Also: “Items shall be judged by Misha Collins and at least 6 official GISH Judges anointed by Misha Collins in a private ceremony.” So, Castiel was in on this, which is neat.)

So that’s the why, and while I’m off creating a team with my SIL and nephew for the next hunt because they would loooooove this, I’ll let Sinnerforhire tell you a little more about the how: “I called it ‘The Staircandy’ when I submitted the photo. Kathleen and The Owl are made out of Tootsie Rolls.”

…The owl. Amazing. Sinnerforhire, thank you so much for lending this work to Best Evidence. — SDB


Of course, thanks to ID’s “True Crime At 9” set of holiday specials, you may not have time. Investigation Discovery’s reeling off “five consecutive nights of brand-new true crime content” starting Black Friday, November 27. To those of you making the jerk-off motion: same here, initially, but we might find at least a couple of these worthwhile. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ll be watching, skipping, and/or saving for later:

  • 11/27: Jessica Chambers: An ID Murder Mystery. Toby Ball and I talked about Oxygen’s take on the case, Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers on TBP Ep 068; I don’t recall how we felt about it, but I also don’t recall finishing it. Unspeakable Crime is a Joe Berlinger joint, so it’s probably better made than a selection from the IDMM library, but it’s also two years old. The case is “gruesome” and crazy, but I suspect you’re better off Googling it. DVR IT FOR LATER

  • 11/28: Who Killed The Lyon Sisters?. This two-hour special tries to heat up a cold case nearly as old as I am; three days after I turned two years old, Sheila and Katherine Lyon disappeared half a mile from their home in Wheaton, MD — the community didn’t feel safe anymore, neighbor turned against neighbor, false leads “plagued” the investigation, etc. and so on. That last clause might sound flip, but unfortunately, I could point to a dozen vanished-child cases from the mid-to-late seventies that shattered Rockwellian harmony (and faith in law enforcement) in just this way…and for that same reason, I didn’t think I’d recommend watching WKTLS, but it apparently features “reporting from bestselling author Mark Bowden.” Bowden wrote the well-regarded The Last Stone — which is sitting right at eye level on my to-read shelf — about the case; he also wrote Killing Pablo and Black Hawk Down, so I choose to believe WKTLS isn’t a slapped-together filler-fest, and because I don’t know the specific case, it’s a yes for me. WATCH IT

  • 11/29: On The Case With Paula Zahn’s 300th episode. Congrats to Zahn and her team — that is a lot of episodes! — but historically the show is video wallpaper for me. Maybe one of you wants to convince me that the Michelle Mitchell case is worth tuning in for. Otherwise… SKIP IT

  • 11/30: Murder In Ypsilanti: Keith Morrison Investigates. Two missing/murdered women; one man who might link them. A frequent framework for true-crime newsmags, so Keith’s the deciding factor here. Me, I love the guy, and sometimes with this genre, the FF button is your friend. DVR IT FOR LATER

  • 12/1: The Witmans. Five years in the making, The Witmans is the “tragic story of a Pennsylvania couple whose teenage son was convicted to life without parole for the killing of his younger brother,” and “exposes the harsh realities of the juvenile criminal justice system through the eyes of two parents on a 20-year odyssey to free their last surviving child,” per Deadline. This one is currently on the festival circuit and isn’t an ID production, just an acquisition, so while I’m not familiar with director David Petersen’s other work, this is likely a cut above the usual ID fare. WATCH IT

If you’ve got anything to add about Keith Morrison; the Bowden book; or whether I’m too quick to dismiss Paula Zahn, let’s hear it. — SDB

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Today in True-Crime Buttholes: When Full House Goes To The Big House, we’ve got college admissions, a porn-king rapist who also wears his mask wrong, and a “journalist” putting the “ass” in “Houston Astros.”

  • Disgraced My Secret Admirer star Lori Loughlin reported to prison last Friday. Loughlin is facing a two-month sentence inside related to the college-admissions scandal; she checked in ahead of her original November 19 report date. Evidently, in return for getting it over with, Loughlin has agreed not to ask for early release on COVID grounds. (She’ll spend the next two weeks quarantining.)

  • New sexual-assault charges were leveled at aging porn star Ron Jeremy last week. The allegations against Jeremy are extensive enough and serious enough that he might not seem to qualify for the relatively frivolous TCB designation, but it’s not the charges; it’s that this Deadline piece outlining the new charges 1) implies that the timing is not unrelated to a “tight” L.A. district attorney’s race and 2) leads with a picture of Jeremy not helping his image by modeling mask compliance. Like, why just be a predator when you can be a tacky dumb-ass to boot?

  • Trump-family ally/Kushner associate Ken Kurson was arrested late last month for cyberstalking three people and harassing two others. One is presumed to be his ex-wife, although she’s not named in the complaint. These allegations first made news in 2018 during an FBI background check; a so-called “swirl” of accusations of harassment, mostly pertaining to Kurson’s 2015 divorce, torpedoed Kurson’s shot at an NEH board position. The Times piece goes into pitiless detail on Kurson’s MO, while also managing somehow to get an implied eye-roll into this quite straightforward sentence: “He now runs a media company and works in the cryptocurrency industry.” Or maybe that’s just my automatic response to the idea of “crypto execs.”

  • I was enh, but cautiously optimistic about Astros-cheating podcast The Edge. Defector (that’s the new site from the Deadspin folks, and that subscription’s a good investment too) is not. fucking. having. it.

    What came of all that close observation and rigorous journalism was 288 pages of tumescent praise of the team’s post-human eggheadedness that had the Wall Street Journal falling all over itself to hail “powerful insights into how organizations—not just baseball teams—work best.” And not one of those insights—not one!—was how the team used a Crotch Cam and metal trash can lids to utterly break the integrity of the sport.

    I have zero problem with Chris Thompson drop-kicking Ben Reiter for missing the story in the most cringingly credulous way, but I would have enjoyed it more if Thompson had also sent Commissioner Rob “Hates Baseball” Manfred sailing between the goalposts for doing little or nothing to discipl— oh, excuse me, here’s Ray Ratto to rip Manfred for his handling of, well, 2020.

    In short, the Dodgers, with one of the best teams the sport has produced in decades, and with an eminently sellable star in Mookie Betts and the redemptive tale of Clayton Kershaw, joined the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox as champions who don’t really get to enjoy being champions because they can’t wear their rings without people looking sideways at them. That’s three of those in Manfred’s six-year tenure. If he can’t stick the landing on the sport’s highest achievement, people are going to ask why he, or we, should bother any longer.

    And if you’re of the mind that Justin Turner’s taking the field after two positive COVID tests constitutes simple assault, well, Albert Burneko doesn’t disagree…but argues that it’s MLB craven and disorganized insistence on a postseason at any cost that we ought to list first in the indictment. — SDB


In higher-brow news, a songwriting team known as Cedar Sparks debuted a murder ballad, “Maggie,” last week. UK site Folk Radio links to “Maggie,” one of two songs “based on a true story of love and murder circa 18[3]3, [in] Easton PA,” and details the singular circumstances surrounding the hanging of the IRL murderer who killed the titular Maggie.

Reporters said 100,000 people watched from the riverbanks. More accurately, the crowd numbered around 20,000. It was a festive occasion, as was the custom. Getter, dressed in white, elected to walk from the prison in Centre Square to the island, rather than be taken by carriage. He made his way to the island over “a bridge of boats.”

The story gets wilder from there, although songwriters Tim Carbone and Lou Rogai (pictured above) are more focused on the killer’s POV than on the cruel and unusual punishment he received. — SDB


Tuesday on Best Evidence: Mugshots, Slow Burn, and a night at the opera.


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