Maura Murray · Carolyn Warmus · John Douglas
Plus: Canada’s most overrated bank robber, White Lies drops, and UK police forensics
Happy Tuesday! We hope you enjoyed yesterday’s first-ever issue of Best Evidence, and that you’ll let us know what you liked and disliked by emailing us at email@example.com. Thanks again for helping us get this thing ready for prime time! -- Sarah D. Bunting and Eve Batey
True Crime Obsessed podcast tackles the Maura Murray case. ...Well, specifically The Disappearance Of Maura Murray, Oxygen's 2017 attempt to solve the mystery of what happened to Murray when she vanished in early 2004. I found the show a trial to get through when it aired, and didn't end up finishing it...but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy hearing the piss get taken out of not just that show but the various crackpots on the show who have been trying to insert their assorted crackpot theories and home-sewn podcasts into the case for years now. Should you give Episode 84 of True Crime Obsessed a spin?
That depends. If you're a regular listener to TCO, obviously yes; hosts Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle's clocking of Oxygen properties; despairing of James Renner; and using "Asia McClain" as a verb while advising listeners on how to ackrite in the event of a close friend's disappearance is right on brand for them. If you aren't a regular listener but you also despair of James Renner, or you just want a refresher on the series and/or the case, this is also a solid listen. I made an executive decision to stop caring about Maura Murray case coverage unless and until there was actual news, so I'd forgotten a lot of the...well, "puzzle pieces" isn't quite right, since they don't fit anywhere or add up to shit-all, so let's say "included facts" like Murray stealing credit-card numbers to order pizza, and the various disputed timelines surrounding the bus driver.
But the TCO hosts have a lot more use -- which is to say, "any" -- for the Missing Mauray Murray podcast and for Lance and Tim, its hosts, than my esteemed colleague Stephanie Green and I do. If, like me and like Stephanie, you respect their longevity and doggedness in theory, but think the podcast itself is a narrative C-minus ball of navel lint in practice, the TCO hosts aren't really feeling that. And while Hinds and Pensavalle agree that Renner's rococo theory that Murray stepped out of her own life and into a Canadian one, never to be heard from again, is asinine, my understanding is that they do think that Murray didn't just wander, concussed, off into the woods and die there. I'm not saying it's impossible that a crime of opportunity occurred that night and ended Murray's life; I'm saying discussions of her disappearance that position that as the likelier scenario may not be for everyone.
I'll keep listening, though; last week's episode was just TCO's first on the TDOMM, and whatever you think befell the unfortunate Murray 15 years ago, coverage of the coverage of her case is instructive re: how, and why, we concern ourselves with this genre. -- SDB
Carolyn Warmus, aka the "Fatal Attraction" killer, could be released from prison as soon as June 10. Warmus entered the public consciousness in 1989, when prosecutors say she shot her lover’s wife to death inside the victim’s Greenburgh, New York home. (The movie Fatal Attraction contained a similar plot point -- and was released just two years before -- hence the nickname.)
The case has been the subject of numerous adaptations, including the positively-reviewed Lovers of Deceit: Carolyn Warmus and the "Fatal Attraction" Murder and an ABC adaptation starring Virginia Madsen and Chris Sarandon (the latter of which is embedded above). As recently as 2016, Warmus proclaimed her own innocence, claiming that she was framed by her former paramour. (There’s at least one website dedicated to clearing her name, as well.) A parole board wasn’t dissuaded by her refusal to accept responsibility, however, and ruled earlier this month that she’s served enough of her 25-year sentence to be set free. -- EB
John Douglas seems pleased and surprised that ladies love true crime. If you’re reading this newsletter, you are of course familiar with Douglas, the FBI agent credited with pioneering the now-common practice of profiling. (Holden Ford, the character played by Jonathan Groff in the Netflix series Mindhunter, is based on Douglas, as are many others across the serial-slaying genre.)
Douglas is out on the interview trail to promote The Killer Across the Table, his umpteenth book with collaborator Mark Olshaker. (You can read Sarah’s review of one of the duo’s previous books, Law & Disorder, here.) In a conversation with Vulture, Douglas drops some pretty remarkable tidbits, including how his mother died. Apparently the resident of an assisted living center, the 87-year-old matriarch’s head was crushed when "her TV fell out of the stand and on top of her," Douglas said, explaining that he reconstructed how the death happened after investigators allowed him into the death scene. Of the current state of the true crime genre, Douglas says that "the interest just amazes me. The audiences are predominantly women. And even a lot of these podcast [hosts], a lot of ’em are women, which is great." OK! -- EB
The Golden Boy of Crime: The Almost Certainly True Story of Norman "Red" Ryan was released today. By Calgary-based journo and filmmaker Jim Brown, the book details "Canada’s most overrated bank robber," whose case was covered at the time by a fledgling reporter named Ernest Hemingway. Above and beyond covering the case, Brown says he was interested in how reporters of the day were just making things up. "One of the things that appealed to me about this project," Brown tells the CBC, "was it was an opportunity to basically say to people, if you think journalism is bad now, you haven't seen anything." -- EB
Also out today: White Lies, a podcast on the 1965 slaying of civil rights leader Rev. James Reeb. The NPR-produced podcast sends native Alabamans and co-hosts Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley to Selma to "expose the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt, memory and justice." You can subscribe to it here. -- EB
Folks who are free to fly to England can enjoy the first two episodes of Forensics: The Real CSI. The three-episode show, which follows British crime-scene investigation teams as they pursue real cases, definitely requires that viewers have a strong interest in the science angle of a case, as well as an ability to parse a strong UK accent -- the first ep (the only one I’ve watched) is set in Newcastle, where the patois is less Agatha Christie and more…well, here. Also, trigger warning if you need it: according to a BBC press release, the last two episodes involve rape investigations, so if you prefer that your crimes stay on the murder side of things, you might want to end your viewing after E1. -- EB
What is this thing? This should help.