Blood Territory · Prison Valley · Police Chases

Plus: More details on some upcoming true crime adaptations

A new podcast from details the death of a man found mummified in an Australian creek bed...with a twist. Called Blood Territory, the show is from journalist Mark Whittaker, who tells the South Coast Register that he got into the case after learned that the family of 22-year-old victim Jimmy O'Connell was fighting to free the man convicted in the case.

According to O’Connell’s parents, Philip Mather, who went down for manslaughter following a brief trial, wasn’t responsible for their son’s slaying, and that his confession was coerced. They now “visit him in jail every two weeks.”

The podcast is available only on Audible, which kind of bums me out -- honestly, it’s hard for me to remember to listen to things that aren’t available on my main podcast platform. (Will I get better about this over time, and flip back and forth between walled podcast gardens as I do music streaming services? Discuss.) Since Audible can be kind of jerky about clicked-upon links, I’m going to cut and paste the full thing for you here:

…so if you want to find it, you have a fighting chance. According to Radio Today, the show will be available for free until November 20 to anyone with an Audible account. -- EB

A new documentary is looking for answers in the disappearance of a Catholic priest and community leader. Where There Is Darkness is a look at the 2016 disappearance of Father Rene Robert -- who, investigators discovered, was kidnapped and killed by a man named Steven Murray.

Prosecutors announced that they’d seek the death penalty in the case, and here’s where the movie starts to deviate from the standard law and order true crime format: A secretary at Robert’s parish found a “Declaration of Life” document Robert had signed in 1995, which declared that if he were to die at the hands of another, “no matter how heinous their crime or how much I have suffered,” he did not wish that the person responsible face execution. The film, which has been racking up rave reviews and loads of awards, has been screening at film festivals across the country this summer, and (as with many indie films) is offering to allow non-profits and other orgs to “host” screenings in their venues. However, it has yet to find widespread distribution -- so for now, heading to a fest might be your best bet to catch this unusual doc. -- EB

We’ve got some more details on a spate of true crime adaptations headed to a small screen near you. We’ve got a load of press releases here that I thought I’d just aggregate for you with what we know so far, and we’ll of course remind you of everything when these series come to fruition:

Godfather of Harlem (Epix, September 29) Forest Whitaker plays Ellsworth Raymond Johnson, a “Lucky” Luciano associate, mob boss, and bookmaker who ended up doing time in Alcatraz, which I can see from where I’m sitting right now.

Interrogation (CBS All Access, release TBD) claims it’s based on a real matricide case, but it won’t say which one -- presumably, to prevent us from figuring out the ending and/or to encourage Reddit (etc.) discussion on what its all about. Stars include Peter Sarsgaard and David Strathairn, and a second gimmick is that it is “designed so viewers can watch episodes in any order—save for the season finale, which will go live after the other episodes are revealed.”

The Most Dangerous Animal of All (FX, release TBD) is based on a book we’ve discussed before, The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father…and Finding the Zodiac Killer. Casting hasn’t been announced yet, so this is a ways off. Here’s a question: If you’re like 85 percent sure the source material is bunk, could you still enjoy a fictional adaptation of the Zodiac case? -- EB

Valley of the Damned drops on ID next week. According to a press release from the network, the six-part series is about seven murders in Fremont County, Colorado -- a spot known to locals as “Prison Valley” due to the high number of prisons in the area. (It’s true, I’ve driven through there -- it’s basically a road dotted with the kinds of warnings signs that you want to stop and take a picture of, but the warnings are so worrisome you end up thinking “eff the ’gram” and hit the accelerator.) And these aren’t low-security country clubs: folks like El Chapo and the Unabomber call the area home. If you want to learn more about the region, I’d start with this great piece on Out Front, and this photo essay from TIME is great, too. ID has a rundown of the episode topics here, and the show kicks off on September 3 at 10 PM. -- EB

The Guardian's Audio Long Reads has a nice piece this week on the problem with police pursuits. We’re all smart people and know that the fictional take on police chases rarely meets the reality, to the point that some crime victims complain that law enforcement officers “didn’t even bother” to chase a suspect. However, the collateral damage of police pursuits, up to and including innocent lives lost, is staggering. This podcast version of a text article from last month attempts to put the price of police chases in perspective. -- EB

Wednesday on Best Evidence: It’s The Blotter Presents, Episode 110! Sarah and guest John Ramos will take a look at the Gangster Capitalism podcast, plus two longreads on the scandal that rocked competitive bridge in 2016.

What is this thing? This should help.

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