DNA · Influencers · Making a Murderer

Welcome to Eve's post-vacation inbox cleanse

I must confess. When I last had you, my link lists, email folders, and “must listen” playlists were bursting with unread prospects — and I cherry-picked the ones that caught my eye for Tuesday’s issue. But now it’s close to the end of the week, and I have hacked my way through everything I didn’t bother to read before now, culling only the most intriguing stuff for today’s Best Evidence. So, you know what that means: a huge pile of news, press releases, announcements, and more to keep you entertained all week long. Let’s get into it. — EB

  • In the Michael's Parking Lot [Under The Influence] The most recent episode of Under the Influence, a podcast about “the Mom Internet, a place haunted by aspirational marketing where it feels like every other mom is a social media influencer trying to sell you something,” tackles the troubling tale of Katie Sorensen, an aspiring influencer who falsely claimed that her children were nearly kidnapped in a Michael’s parking lot (y’all, why is it always Michael’s?). While a lot of news outlets (and this very publication) covered the case as it went down, this podcast is interesting because it approaches it from a position of influencer expertise, providing a new perspective on what might seem to be a typical Karen case.

  • Two New Laws Restrict Police Use of DNA Search Method [New York Times] Maryland and Montana have enacted laws that would prevent the kind of DNA database investigations that uncovered the Golden State Killer. Privacy advocates are pleased at the news, but folks like true-crime figure Paul Holes are ticked off at the restrictions.

  • Anna Kendrick, Director Chloe Okuno In Netflix Movie Package ‘Rodney & Sheryl’; True Story Of Woman Who Chose A Serial Killer On TV’s ‘The Dating Game’ [Deadline] I am too lazy to go through Anna Kendrick’s IMDb page to count the number of times she’s played a woman surprised to be entangled with a killer, but I suspect the number is “a lot,” for reasons I can’t quite explain. This time around it’s Cheryl Bradshaw, who won a date with Rodney Alcala during a 1978 episode of The Dating Game. So far, Alcala has yet to be cast, but looking at this photo, it seems like Netflix could poach pretty much anyone from Ryan Murphy’s stable and do OK.

  • Day X [NYT/Your podcast platform of choice] I’m going to bogart the podcast description here: What starts with a mysterious gun in an airport bathroom and a fake refugee identity opens the door to a nationwide network of far-right extremists inside Germany’s military and police. It’s a story about a changing national identity — and the backlash against it — raising a question that democracies across the world are waking up to: What happens when the threat is coming from within?” The first episode dropped late last week, the second one is slated for today. I’m listening with my German husband, so that’s a hoot.

  • The #1 Blunder of True-Crime Sleuths [Psychology Today] Like the early days of HuffPo and sites like Forbes, PT has a network of vaguely defined contribs whose work can be a bit iffy. This isn’t one of those pieces, though: Author Katherine Ramsland is a forensic psychology prof, and she’s got a pretty enviable true crime CV. When I read her piece on how we amateurs get it wrong, I saw myself and cringed. You might, too, but that’s OK.

  • Cheat! [The usual podcast platforms] This show just kicked off last week, and I listened to its first couple episodes as I drove from So to NorCal and was thoroughly entertained. Here’s its logline: “‘Cheat!’ tells the inside stories behind some of the biggest scandals in contemporary history and the flawed protagonists at their heart: controversial and contentious figures from the world of pop culture, business, sport, music, politics. Why do people cheat? Is it ever justifiable? And most importantly are cheats – these people we think of as the dregs of our society – actually not so different from ourselves?” So far, it’s covered a Georgia racketeering trial and the infamous flash crash trader, in a bite-sized, manageable, and snappy fashion.

  • How we survived COVID-19 in prison [The Marshall Project] This movingly-illustrated longread is penned by four incarcerated people who started chronicling the pandemic when things got bad last March. It’s hard not to get angry at the way prison officials and workers handled the COVID-19 crisis — at a time when no one knew what they were doing, their decisions still seemed especially confounding. Amazingly, the piece still ends on a positive note, so stick with it.

  • Bay Area police shooting videos follow same recipe; critics call it ‘slick marketing’ [East Bay Times] A consulting firm run by former TV journalists has contacts with over 100 California police departments, an arrangement seemingly intended to spin coverage of police shootings in the cops’ favor under the guise of providing transparency. Here’s the company’s website, if you’re curious.

  • Tom Arnold and Sister Lori on Their Twisted Family — and Why She Became Known as 'Queen of Meth' [People] Am I the only person who didn’t know that recent docuseries Queen of Meth, which my Roku has been advertising to me like gangbusters, is about Tom Arnold’s sister?? If my Roku had mentioned that, I would have started watching! OK, maybe not, because I read this People brief and still haven’t tuned in, but its celebrity-adjacence does make it slightly more attractive. Have any of you watched? How is it?

Friday on Best Evidence: True-crime classics that need a bit of a revamp.

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