The Blotter Presents, Episode 108: Down City And Yahweh Ben Yahweh

Plus: A porn king podcast!

On this week’s episode of The Blotter Presents podcast, Sarah is joined by crime novelist Alex Segura to discuss Down City: A Daughter's Story of Love, Memory, and Murder. Leah Carroll's memoir on the murder of her mother by two drug dealers was well-reviewed on its release in 2017, and Sarah and Alex characterize its storytelling as “flawless.”

The question of when a reporter -- which Carroll is in this case, pulling police records and performing interviews to get to the truth of her mom’s death -- should insert themselves into a story, and when they should remain on the sidelines. In fact, some refer to it as a “moral dilemma,” as the idea of neutrality at all costs has been preached from j-school lecterns since at least the mid-1960s. Obviously, when you’re talking about your own mother’s death, a completely objective stance would seem pretty weird, and wouldn’t make for a great story. Figuring out where to draw that line, and to avoid making yourself the central character of the tale, isn’t something every writer can be trusted to do. Sarah and Alex agree that Carroll falls on the right side of the divide, even when the story gets brutal and sad. You can listen to their full discussion here.

For this week’s Cold Case, Alex and Sarah tackled the 10th episode of The FBI Files’ third season, entitled “Temple of Fear.” The show (which you can watch above) aired on March 6, 2001, a date that honestly feels (at least to me) like several lifetimes ago in terms of the evolution of U.S. extremism, cults, and crime.

Maybe that’s why the show’s coverage of the late Yahweh ben Yahweh, who founded a religious movement then went down for conspiracy to commit murder feels somewhat lacking. Or maybe it’s just because it’s super hard, especially in the old school true crime hourlong format, to cover sprawling cases like this one, with its multiple federal indictments and RICO investigations. I mean, you’re already here, so if you want to watch the embedded ep I won’t stop you -- but if you’re intrigued by the case and are looking for something better to watch, you might be better served by Oxygen’s Uncovered: The Cult Of Yahweh ben Yahweh, which as of send time was available for streaming on NBC’s website here. In the meantime, you can enjoy Sarah and Alex’s chat about the FBI Files take here.

A year and a half after it was revealed, we already have a true crime accounting of a wide-spread case of alleged child abuse. True crime writer John Glatt’s latest work, The Family Next Door, covers the so-called “house of horrors” case of the Tupin family. It must have been written pretty swiftly, as it was just last year that Louise and David Turpin were arrested for allegedly imprisoning, starving, and torturing their 13 kids, who were aged between 2 and 29 when they were rescued from their home in Perris, California, in January of 2018.

It might be the speedy work required to get the tome out so fast that’s behind some of its elementary bobbles -- there’s a lot of repetition throughout the book, especially when it comes to recounting the things said at trial. That makes sense, as the case wasn’t resolved until this April, making for a remarkably swift turnaround for the glacially-paced book biz. It’s tough to read about kids being harmed, even for the most prosaic among us (same, if you’re like me, for crimes involving animals). But, to Glatt’s credit, the incidents of abuse aren’t presented as sensationally as they might have been, making this a solid read for anyone who saw headlines on the case and wondered how it happened, and why it went on for so long. -- EB

I Am A Killer will be back for a second season. The Netflix show, which focuses on the first-person accounts of crimes by death row inmates, dropped its first season last year. In its second season, Deadline reports, the show will for the first time speak with (as yet unnamed) female inmates. A release date for its ten-episode second season has yet to be announced. -- EB

A podcast on convicted murderer and porn king Michael Thevis will be released this fall. The pod will be called Gangster House, and it’ll be produced by Imperative Entertainment, a company that until now has focused only on films. According to Variety, the 10-episode podcast will launch on October 22, which gives you plenty of time to bone up (heh) on the Thevis case. A good start would be “The Scarface of Sex: The Millionaire Playboy Who Murdered His Way to the Top of Porn,” a 2017 piece from The Daily Beast, and this 1978 Washington Post article headlined “I was the GM of Pornography” makes for an excellent chaser. It’s a wild story, and if done right, the podcast could be a real barnburner. -- EB

Thursday on Best Evidence: Hey, folks, we found a Live PD segment that isn’t trash. No, really!

What is this thing? This should help.

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