JonBenét · Manson Masks · Madeleine McCann

Plus: The true crime/crafts connection

Welcome to the first Best Evidence for the year 2020. Ha! That sounds wild. But here we are! Thanks to you all for supporting BE and letting us into your inboxes every day. We’re more grateful than we can say — and we’re looking forward to even more fantastic comment conversations, open threads, and discussions in the coming year. — Sarah and Eve


MTV’s newest true-crime venture makes its debut next week. True Life Crime, which drops on January 8, isn’t the network’s first effort in the genre — in 2016, its docuseries Unlocking the Truth made a TV presenter of Ryan Ferguson (himself the subject of recent Netflix roster add Dream/Killer, read all about it here).

According to MTV, True Life Crime will look into “shocking and haunting crimes committed against young people,” aka the folks MTV insists continue to be its target audience. (I guess?) It’s hosted by Dometi Pongo, a person who describes himself as “A true renaissance man” on his personal website. (I rib, but he actually seems fairly charming.) The Wrap has a rundown of the show’s first eight episodes here, and they span a pretty solid geographic swath from urban to the sticks, with a preponderance on female victims (arguably, a true crime-wide predilection that’s worth discussing more). You can catch a couple clips from True Life Crime here and check out the show at 9 PM on Wednesday. — ELB


In 2019, The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann was the #1 show for Netflix viewers in the UK. The eight-part docuseries — which Sarah and I discussed on The Blotter Presents podcast last April — topped the streaming giant’s “most popular releases” list for the country, Deadline reports, which is news not just because it’s interesting to see what people are watching, but because Netflix has typically been super cagey about things like viewership and popularity of products on its service.

Other true crime properties that made its international lists are Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (#10 on the UK release list), Dirty John (#10 in UK series popularity) and The Irishman, which charted on lists across Europe. If you skipped the McCann series when it came out and are looking for an end-of-the-holidays binge, you could definitely do worse: it’s here, and the country-by-country list of Netflix’s chart toppers is here. — EB


Nope nope nope nope nope. That is all I want to type after seeing the headline “Charles Manson Masks, Made With His Ashes, Spark Outrage in Murderabilia Community.” This is an article from Rolling Stone, which (especially via reporter Elizabeth Yuko) has done an extremely solid job covering the murderabilia beat — I feel like I refer to Yuko’s “Inside the Murderabilia Machine” on a regular basis, for example.

So here’s the deal: artist Ryan Almighty and mask-maker Rick “Sik Rik” Fisher have apparently collaborated to create two masks in Manson’s likeness that contain his creamains. It’s unclear how they pair ended up with Manson’s ashes: according to Almighty’s website, “When Manson passed away in 2017 Almighty acquired some of the ‘Old Man's’ ashes,” but I’m not finding anything that appears to verify their provenance Christie’s-style, so — in addition to all the obvious questions about the taste level of this project, as well as the objective artistic quality of the work — one must wonder if the folks who end up with the masks are indeed getting what they believe they paid for. — EB


This decade has been pretty good to us. Cheers to the next! #happynewyear #2020
December 31, 2019

Working on Snapped prompted its showrunner to launch a craft fair. Alyssa Maddox, the co-showrunner of the Oxygen series that my husband, for whatever reason, binges any time I am out of town, is also the co-founder of Retropolitan Craft Fair, a “vintage & handmade marketplace” in Knoxville, Tennessee. Maddox tells Knox News that she started the event because “I need a side gig that's not murder.”

Of course, I find this immensely relatable because back in 2016, I opened a store that sells works from San Francisco artists and craftspeople, as well as some vintage goods. Not because I found my day job in daily news overly dark (which probably says something bad about me?) but because I thought it would be cool and fun. (Which it is! So stop by if you’re ever in San Francisco. OK, plug over.)

Maddox’s event is held twice annually at a spot called the Mill & Mine, and has been running since 2014. Since its launch, it’s grown from 17 to 45 vendors, and is intended to “help local makers and support their businesses.” You can learn more about Retropolitan Craft Fair here. — EB


Have you picked up The Killing Of: JonBenét? The second season of the The Killing Of podcast (season one, on Marilyn Monroe, kicked off last August) dropped on December 23, and its nomenclature is already making me cranky: while its press release calls it “The Killing Of: JonBenét” (which makes sense as a second season, a la “American Crime Story: Whatever”), everywhere else it’s called “The Killing of JonBenet: The Final Suspects.”

In addition to the irritating title, which makes me want to holler take one thing off before you leave the house, there’s the fact that this show, like the Monroe pod before it, comes from notoriously sketchball news org American Media, Inc., via its Broad + Water Studios subsidiary. Broad + Water is (as proudly announced in its press materials) led by Dylan Howard, an alleged sexual harasser who went to extreme legal measures to quash the publication of Ronan Farrow’s Catch And Kill.

I guess the question is, is there anything this (or any!) pod could provide that makes giving it a download worthwhile? I won’t judge you if you say “yes,” because we all consume stuff that comes from allegedly bad folks on the regular. What do you think? — EB

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Friday on Best Evidence: Longread mag journalism recs I accumulated over the break.


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