Samuel Little · Danny Masterson · The Serpent
Plus: a new book on the victims of the Golden State Killer
|Best Evidence||Jan 5||4||2|
The nation’s most prolific serial killer has died. Samuel Little, the subject of scores of true crime properties, died on December 30, CNN reports. According to the FBI, he confessed to 93 homicides — mostly women, many sex workers — 50 of which had been confirmed by the time of his death.
According to a press release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine his cause of death, but at age 80 and with multiple medical conditions, most preliminary reports suggest natural causes. Officials say that despite his death, work will continue to confirm the identity of his victims. “For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” a spokesperson with the F.B.I.’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, says. “The F.B.I. believes it is important to seek justice for each victim — to close every case possible.”
Little was most recently the subject of a Washington Post series called Indifferent Justice; it’s well worth a read to gain a greater understanding of how his choice of victims allowed him to freely operate for decades without consequence. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here. — EB
HBO has nabbed The Investigation. The Danish series — a dramatic adaptation of the slaying of Swedish journalist Kim Wall — broke broadcast records when it aired last fall, and garnered raves for writer/director Tobias Lindholm (a veteran of Borgen and Mindhunter), with critics praising the show’s focus on the victim instead of the killer.
Now HBO has announced that it’s acquired the six-part series for broadcast in the US, Deadline reports — one of several overseas deals the show has struck, including one with the BBC for the UK, Movistar in Spain, RTL in Germany, and French Télévisions. According to HBO, it will drop on air and via HBO Max on February 1. — EB
Meanwhile, only folks in the UK can check out The Serpent (for now). This is the BBC’s dramatic adaptation of the Charles Sobhraj case, which has been widely cited over the years for many folks’ favorite episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, the Season 5 show entitled “Slither” (sense a theme?).
The eight-part series made its debut on January 1, prompting reviewer Gerard Gilbert to term it “too unremittingly queasy for New Year’s Day,” while others said that the show’s timeline jumps made for confusing viewing. Only those with access to the BBC can be legitimately confused, however, as the show has yet to score distribution beyond that UK platform. — EB
PS I hate it when people do trailer criticism, but, my god, that first needle drop in the trailer…can we please add “Magic Carpet Ride” to the list of songs that should be banned from trailers? (List includes “Spirit in the Sky,” “I Will Survive,” and “Seven Nation Army.”)
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office has released an ebook to give voice to the victims of the Golden State Killer. The SF Chronicle reports that District Attorney Anne Schubert put out a call for people who lived in the region while the killer was active (roughly, the 1970s) to send in their stories. “Officials said the response was ‘overwhelming,’” the Chron reports, “and they received hundreds of emails from people who recounted their experiences during various stages of their lives.”
Those stories — like one from a resident who said that “I remember … hearing the screams of one of his victims when we lived across from some apartments on La Riviera Drive and seeing the blood on the sidewalk as I walked to the bus stop the next morning,” were built into a book called Sacramento, A Community Forever Changed.
According to the Chron, “submissions were unedited for the sake of authenticity, but modifications to the stories were made to ensure that the book was safe for public viewing and to remove personal details that could identify people.” The end result is now free for anyone to read, and can be found here. — EB
One of Danny Masterson’s rape cases must be handled through the Church of Scientology, a judge has ruled. As you might recall, the That ’70s Show star was charged in the rapes of three women last June, but this news doesn’t pertain to those criminal cases: instead, this is over a civil suit filed in August of 2019 “by Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her musician husband Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Marie Bobette Riales and two Jane Does,” People reports.
According to the plaintiffs, officials with the church “stalked and intimidated them” after they made criminal allegations against Masterson. Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield ruled that the harassment claim must be resolved by “religious arbitration,” Variety reports.
So, what does that mean? According to Vanity Fair, since the majority of the plaintiffs are also Scientologists, their claims will be handled by the church. However, co-plaintiff Marie Bobette Riales isn’t a member of the religious group, so her part in the case can continue through the court system. — EB
Wednesday on Best Evidence: More from The Unspeakable Acts Files.