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It's the May budget sweep!
If you’re down with dogging the Duggars, this is the weekend for you. Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets just made its debut on Prime, with four episodes that don’t just cast doubt on the narrative TLC presented regarding the so-called “mega-family,” but scrutinizes the arguable Christian cult the Duggars promoted on and off the show.
This definitely feels like a must-watch (and we have more coverage coming), so I’m recommending it though I haven’t dipped in yet — if any of you have started in on the docuseries, please do chime in in the comments.
Otherwise, my true crime weekend will involve the last two episodes of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace (paid subscribers know I looked at the first four eps in Wednesday’s issue of Best Evidence), and I promised my husband that we could finally watch Jared From Subway: Catching a Monster. That series dropped in March, as you likely know, but it’s the only true crime content he’s asked that we watch together, hence the delay in my consumption.
I’ll report back with my thoughts on the sandwich series next week, but if y’all have any thoughts on this one, please do not hold the mustard in the comment section on that one. — EB
Now. onto this month’s budget doc sweep…and it’s a big one!
Entertainment One to shop Australian true crime docuseries ‘The Black Hand’ [TBI]
Yes, that’s Anthony LaPaglia, who stars in the three-part dramatic adaptation of a tale of “extortion, arson, kidnap, mayhem and murder by The Black Hand, Italian criminals targeting their migrant countrymen in Australia’s deep north.” The series is described by its producers as “premium factual”; I’d class it as fact-based the way Tokyo Vice was considered before those allegations of fabulism.
Composers Find a Tempo for True Crime With ‘Murdaugh Murders,’ ‘Madoff,’ ‘Crime Scene’ Scores [Variety]
Fun piece on how composers reportedly “help make a show riveting, dramatic — even entertaining — while trying not to exploit a real tragedy with real victims.”
True Crime Ghouls Are Using AI to Resurrect Murdered Children [Futurism via Yahoo]
This is reblog of a paywalled Rolling Stone piece that Futurism then paywalled on its own site, which I crab about only in the media sausage sense. Anyway, here’s the gist for free: “the AI-generated characters purport to tell the story of terrible crimes that happened to actual children, although they often tweak key details — an indistinguishable morass of fact and fiction, in other words, that leaves us wondering what, exactly, the purpose of these videos really is.”
iHeartPodcasts Partners with School of Humans to Launch “Queen Havoc and Her Murder Cult,” a New True Crime Podcast that Details the Story of Mastermind Cecilia Steyn [Press Release]
Speaking of Christian cults, this one about “the Charles Manson of South Africa” is two episodes into a 10-episode series.
‘Love & Death’: Max Touts Performance Of Elizabeth Olsen & Jesse Plemons True-Crime Drama [Max]
HBO’s take on the Candy Montgomery case just became its “number one most-watched Max original limited series globally,” a designation that sure has a lot of specifications!
How a Netflix true crime show helped find missing South Elgin teenager [WGN]
The missing kid “was spotted at a shop in Asheville, North Carolina, by someone who recognized her in season 16, episode nine of the Unsolved Mysteries series, titled “Abducted by a Parent.”
Tom Petty items withdrawn from auction after his family alleges they were stolen [LA Times]
This whole story is strange and I wish someone would turn it into a podcast, especially since there’s such a rich vein to mine when it comes to establishing provenance of stuff like t-shirts and hats. The auction house says it got the clothing following the sale of a foreclosed home that belonged to Petty’s ex-wife (also room to investigate all that); the family says the stuff (“jackets, hats, vests, boots, shirts, shoes and autographed items”) was stolen from a storage unit.
‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Review: Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone Lead Martin Scorsese’s Searing True-Crime Epic [THR]
So far, buzz on this anticipated film is positive! But I still don’t see how a 3-hour, 26-minute movie — especially one with as grim a narrative as this one — is endurable without interruptions.
Fire destroys notorious 'house of horrors' in Crown Heights [Gothamist]
Knowing my true crime real-estate obsession, Sarah gifted me this link to the demise of 222 Brooklyn Ave., the former home of notoriously homicidal cult leader David LeGrand.
Powerful Netflix documentary uncovers how police turn rape victims into suspects [SF Chronicle]
Netflix hasn’t been pushing Victim/Suspect on me at all — in fact, the only reason I knew it existed was this article. It’s about Bay Area investigative journalist Rachel de Leon, who “uncovered examples in just about every state in the country in which victimized women have been disbelieved, shamed and revictimized by the U.S. criminal justice system they thought would protect them.”
A year after Uvalde, officers who botched response face few consequences [Washington Post]
There’s a worthy “inside the investigation” video that accompanies this longread, but the TL;DR is unlikely to surprise you: “numerous higher-ranking officers who made critical decisions remain on the job,” despite well-publicized proof that delays from local police cost children their lives.
You have one more day to vote on June’s bonus review. Your topic options run the gamut from OJ to OJ, but that’s the nature of the month: it’s the 29th anniversary of the slayings of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, so that’s where our heads are at this month. Right now things are veeery close (though Chris Darden seems to be in the lead), so every vote counts!
The Twisted True-Crime Life of Joran van der Sloot [The Daily Beast]
”He was the prime suspect in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba. He killed Stephany Flores in Peru. Now he’s headed for the U.S.” That travel to the U.S. is because the true crime content mainstay was injured in a fight in a Peruvian prison, and would apparently feel safer in the states. When he gets here, he’ll “be prosecuted for alleged extortion and wire fraud charges involving promises to lead Holloway’s family to her body,” CBS reports.
Podcast Critic Rebecca Lavoie: "We Need to Be Able to Say 'This Show Sucked and Here's Why'" [The Squeeze]
In this first-personer, Lavoie tells the origin story of podcast Crime Writers On…, and says that “In podcasting a lot of the stuff that is extremely popular isn't just bad, it’s actively harmful.”
Michael Lista’s new anthology ‘The Human Scale’: true crime to reflect on [Toronto Star]
Your interest in this publication likely comes down to your tolerance for Lista, a poet and essayist you’ve likely read in The New Yorker or Slate. This book is an assembly of his true-crime-related contributions to those pubs and more.
One of the Most Sacred Premises in American Law Is Bunk [Slate]
Ugh, which one this time? “Across multiple national surveys sampling more than 12,000 people, we have found that a majority of Americans, more than 60 percent, consider false acquittals and false convictions to be equally bad outcomes,” which means that Blackstone’s Formulation might be mythical.
The ‘Distracted Police Book’ Is a Zine Made for Eric Adams [Hell Gate]
This 132-page photobook “shows exactly how the NYPD like to allocate their time. Playing Candy Crush and texting their side-piece, not keeping us safe.” It’s a great gift for anyone who claims police understaffing is the city’s biggest problem — and I’m hopeful other places where that claim is made (cough San Francisco cough) will see similar publications.
Medical Mysteries Are the New True Crime [New Republic]
I went into this argument skeptically, but Eleanor Cummins won me over. How about you?
The Met says it has a plan to root out looted art from its collection [Gothamist]
”The museum plans to hire four people tasked with researching the provenance of artworks, including a new manager of provenance research, who would help the institution respond to evidence.” Over 60 items from the museum’s collection have been identified as stolen since 2022, Manhattan’s DA says, and this report from March says there’s at least a thousand more with ties to thieves and traffickers.
‘Susie Searches’ Trailer: Kiersey Clemons Goes To Insane Lengths To Save Her True Crime Podcast [Punch Drunk Critics]
I don’t care how good this is, I am done with this device.
This Cop Unleashed a Reign of Terror, Say the Wrongfully Accused [Rolling Stone]
”For years, people in Raleigh were arrested for heroin possession—without having the drug. Now, they’re demanding answers.”
Andy Newman on the death of Jordan Neely and covering homelessness in New York City [CJR]
“The depressing thing about covering this stuff is that if you just look back at stories through the years, every single mayor has tried ways to fix this problem and to somehow prevent people who are severely mentally ill and maybe prone to violence from doing something terrible to other people or to themselves. And every mayor and every governor comes in with a bunch of plans and programs. And we write these stories about these plans and programs. And for one reason or another, it just always happens again.”
Next week on Best Evidence: Duggars, DiD, and driving.