I will admit that I cried in front of a group of nurses yesterday, after I got my second COVID-19 vaccination and was sent on my way. Today I am feverish and miserable, which is a bummer for my ability to think clearly and write but a win for my antibodies. So, I hope you’ll forgive me if I take it a little easy today, so I can hop back in bed, watch something silly, and doze off. Thanks for your patience! — EB
A new Netflix series asks if David Berkowitz worked alone. The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness features journalist Maury Terry, who for decades has claimed that the Son of Sam killings were the work of a satanic cult, not a single mentally ill man. The docuseries is based on Terry’s book The Ultimate Evil: The Search for the Sons of Sam, from the press release:
Terry, convinced Berkowitz had not acted alone, would go on to spend decades attempting to prove that the web of darkness behind the murders went deeper than anyone imagined – and his pursuit of that elusive truth would eventually cost him everything. Filmmaker Joshua Zeman (CROPSEY, MURDER MOUNTAIN) draws on archival news footage, conversations with the people closest to the investigation, and Terry’s own words and case files to tell a cautionary tale of a man who went down a rabbit hole and never came out.
The show premieres on May 5. — EB
Attn: financial-crimes fans. The latest Brains Byte Back podcast takes a smart look at cybercrime, and even though that’s not the show’s usual beat (its logline is “how our brains, psychology, and society are impacted by the ever-evolving technology that surrounds us”), it’s worth a listen. Three big names in cybersecurity guest on the show, breaking down schemes like the NetWalker ransomware attack, “a $67M crypto hack perpetrated by the North Korean military,” and (you know that this is how they got me) the Silk Road investigation. You can listen above, or find it here. — EB
Why Did You Kill Me? is a new Netflix doc about the search for Crystal Theobald’s killer. I had to do a little Googling to figure this one out, as Netflix’s description is pretty useless: “The line between justice and revenge blurs when a devastated family uses social media to track down the people who killed 24-year-old Crystal Theobald” doesn’t give me much to work with.
In this ABC 13 report from 2016, we find more: Theobald’s mom, Belinda Lane, created slews of social media accounts using her daughter’s photo and information, using them to catfish the men she believes were involved in her daughter’s slaying. Speaking with the Washington Post, Riverside Police Lt. Christian Dinco says that Lane “was very instrumental, working on social media to help us identify where [one of the suspects] might be.” In the end, over a dozen people faced charges in the case, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports, many of them caught by Lane’s social media pursuits. OK, I’m intrigued! [“Netflix’s coverage embargo is comparatively tight for this one, so I suspect the creation of intrigue is what they’re going for with both that and the vague logline.” — SDB] The film drops on April 14. — EB
OK, here’s another one for our financial-crimes/inside-media-baseball fans...hey, where are you going? This one is a report from the Columbia Journalism Review that details an alleged insider trading scam linked to Bloomberg News scoops: essentially, a manipulation of the market via a manipulation of reporters, which I will note here was also a sub-sub-subplot in the cinema classic Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Here’s a snip:
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Jason Peltz on multiple counts of securities fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and lying to the FBI. Peltz, 38, is accused of working with over a half-dozen unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators to learn about impending takeovers and other market-moving news, and to move money between accounts as a way to hide his role and profits.
The indictment notes that Peltz’s moves were timed closely to stories that ran at “a financial news organization.” While the newsroom isn’t named, federal officials cite five stories and their timestamps— all of which match precisely to pieces that ran on Bloomberg News’ website. Each of those stories had shared bylines, but only one reporter is identified as an author for all of the articles: Ed Hammond, who worked at the Financial Times before coming to Bloomberg more than six years ago to cover mergers and acquisitions. In 2017, Hammond was named Bloomberg’s senior deals reporter in New York — a highly prestigious post in that newsroom.
All the moving parts to this scheme are really, really fascinating — and if we don’t see someone optioning this for a dramatic adaptation soon, I will be very disappointed in you, Adam McKay. If you’re a nerd like me, you can pour yourself a cup of coffee and dive into the full indictment here, and Eric Wemple at the Post also has a commentary-heavy take on the whole affair. Finally, I think this is an interview with Peltz from 2014, if you want to start thinking about casting now. — EB
Friday on Best Evidence: I will feel better and we will discuss something!